ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing December 1, 2016
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Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Date: December 1, 2016
© Copyright Reserved
Attendees and Location
140 Promenade du Portage
- Chairman: Jean-Pierre Blais
- Vice-Chairperson, Broadcasting: Judith A. LaRocque
- Commissioners: Yves Dupras, Stephen Simpson, Linda Vennard
- Legal Advisors: Rachelle Frenette, Valérie Dionne
- Secretary: Lynda Roy
- Hearing Managers: Julie St-Pierre, Pierre-Marc Perreault
--- Upon resuming on Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 9:04 a.m.
5274 LA SECRÉTAIRE: À l’ordre, s’il vous plaît. Order, please.
5275 THE CHAIRPERSON: Order. À l’ordre, s’il vous plaît.
5276 Bonjour, tout le monde. Good morning, everyone.
5277 Avant de débuter l’audience, je voudrais prendre quelques minutes pour mentionner que nous soulignons aujourd’hui la dernière étape dans la mise en œuvre des nouveaux choix télé qui découlent de Parlons télé.
5278 As you may recall, since March 1st, Canadians can subscribe to a $25 basic package. As of today, December 1st, all licensed providers must offer all optional channel, also known as discretionary or specialty channels, on a pick-and-pay basis. They must also offer small packages of up to 10 channels.
5279 So after choosing the basis package they want, either the small basic package or one of the provider’s large entry packages, Canadians can now get additional channels in the way that makes the most sense for them. They can choose one channel; they can choose small packages of channels; or they can choose large packages.
5280 Our decisions are, and always have been, about choice.
5281 Les ménages canadiens sont tous différents. Ils ont des goûts, des besoins, des budgets, et des intérêts différents. Ils regardent différentes émissions. Il y a des ménages qui regardent beaucoup de télévision et qui veulent s’abonner à de gros forfaits de chaînes.
5282 Il y en a d’autres qui, de plus en plus, regardent du contenu en ligne et voudraient que leur facture de services télé baisse, car ils ne la regardent pas d’autant qu’auparavant.
5283 Il y en a aussi qui ont annulé leurs services télé. Certains ont une antenne et regardent la télévision locale en direct gratuitement.
5284 All this to say that Canadians have choice when it comes to watching programming.
5285 We, the CRTC, have made available online tools to help Canadians shop around for TV services. We have a checklist so they can figure out their needs
5286 and their budget. We show them the five steps to negotiating a better deal with their providers. We also gave Canadians tools to find other service providers
5287 in their area and links to online tools that compare services across the country.
5288 If they’re unsatisfied with their TV services, Canadians have the responsibility as informed consumers to do their homework. It’s quite possible that, given their specific interests and budgets, they may come to realize they already have the best deal. Or they may decide to make changes.
5289 We’ll be closely monitoring how television service providers are implementing the new TV choices and if they’re following the best practices we’ve identified.
5290 Nous avons renouvelé les licences de la plupart des fournisseurs pour une période d’un an. Quand les licences devront être renouvelées l’année prochaine, nous n’hésiterons pas à agir si certains fournisseurs ne respectent pas la politique en place, ne respectent pas les consommateurs canadiens, ni leur droit à avoir du choix.
5291 Merci and thank you.
5292 Alors, Madame la secrétaire.
5293 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Oui, merci, Monsieur le président.
5294 Good morning, everyone.
5295 So as announced yesterday, we will start with Kosiner Venture Capital this morning by video conference. He’s appearing from our Toronto regional office. And then everybody else is in the same order as indicated in the agenda.
5296 So Mr. Kosiner, can you hear us well?
5297 MR. KOSINER: Yes, I can. I just can’t see you as of right now, but I understand they’re working on that this morning. So if there’s any questions following, if you could just address who’s speaking that would be great.
5298 THE SECRETARY: No problem.
5299 So the panel is here. We can see you and hear you well. We’re ready to hear your presentation. Please, go ahead.
5300 MR. KOSINER: Great. Thank you very much and thanks to all of you for having me this morning.
5301 I don’t think based on my intervention it would be any shock to you to say that we’ve had some grievances with Rogers Media Incorporated over the past licence term.
5302 I think I’d like to start off and say things haven’t always been that way. If you go to page 6 of my presentation you will see that Keith Pelley stated himself -- he was the former President of Rogers Media -- that Evan is a brilliant entrepreneur, which I appreciate. And we definitely have a track record.
5303 I had a show on Rogers TV, on page 7. When I was 13 years old I got to go hang out over at Kiss 92 City TV, which is now a Rogers property, as you know. It was the first news organization to interview me when I was involved in a teen movie festival and kids film festival at the Bloor Cinema in Toronto at age 7. And that really inspired me to get into TV in the first place.
5304 On page 8 you’ll see some photos of my home TV studio and then my attending Rogers master control head end in Toronto along with interviewing the President of SkyDome, which was actually on Media Television on City as well.
5305 So I’ve always been a big Rogers fan. Unfortunately some things over the past year have changed that. So you know, with some CRTC hearing merchandise I would like to see Rogers be made great again.
5306 To start things off and just for the sake of time here as well, I’m going to go through -- because there’s more in-depth information in the package that’s been presented to you. But I’ll touch on each point and hopefully keep the ball moving here as well and we can kind of go from there if you’ve got any questions.
5307 The first thing for us is Rogers’ Vice deal. And there’s a concern about -- and I don’t know the accuracy but I would pose the question and ask -- perhaps you as the Commissioners can follow up -- if Rogers Group of Funds is using, and how much money they’re using to fund their Vice deal. There’s been speculation, and it should be taken just as that, that Rogers and their $100 million deal with Vice used somewhere in the range of $25 to $35 million of their Group’s funds to underwrite that venture. And to me that’s quite a concern for independent producers because that’s less money that others get to work with.
5308 I think it’s an interesting question and to see how that ties in because if Rogers is getting a considerable commercial gain from that, I don’t know if that money was intended to be allotted for independent production and then how that ties in once that deal was done and, you know, Vice is closer to home before Rogers going through there. There’s more information, as I mentioned, in the package.
5309 Again, tied into the funds itself, I think that how Rogers manages itself and their executives ties in greatly to a vertically-integrated company and definitely impacts the stakeholders. And it’s something that needs to be addressed by the Commission that, you know, if there’s poor management that leads to poor business decisions, that then -- when you’ve got independent producers even riding on some of those funds, if there’s not as much revenue coming in, it really impacts all different areas of the vertical.
5310 And sometimes when it comes to the scope of a CRTC hearing it becomes a problem doing a presentation where we’re, as an intervenor, allowed to hit one particular aspect.
5311 And I know just reading some of your transcripts from the prior days and listening in, some of the lines of questioning that have occurred over this hearing about Shomi and other products definitely would be out of scope directly toward Rogers Media’s licence renewal. I think you’ve addressed that well, but it would just be nice as an intervenor to be able to somehow have a bit more of a broad scope because usually one thing impacts another.
5312 So a perfect example of that? We were involved, and sort of still are, in a venture. And Rogers, we assert, uses CRTC process for their commercial gains sort of hijacking the process is the way I’d like to refer to it, although that’s my opinion.
5313 And what they ended up doing was using the intervention process to gain access to a partner that we were working with and try and create their own agreement that -- against them promising otherwise that they wouldn’t interfere. It really stepped on some toes over here. And we just don’t think that’s right, and I wanted you guys to be aware of that.
5314 And just for the sake of time because we’re five minutes in, I’m seeing right now, I wanted to continue on. And there’s more information again about that in paragraph 3 of the presentation.
5315 Going into number four here. We’ve got a concern; it’s an interesting one. We found through engineering and looking at how Rogers distributes some of its online signals that they aren’t encrypting both their sports channels and some of Bell Media’s TSN channels.
5316 We brought this to the Commission in CRTC Complaint 2016-0520-6. You’ll have all that information. And it was asked that the CRTC’s engineers verify this independently prior to forwarding the complaint to Rogers, which then happened.
5317 I don’t know what Rogers necessarily has to gain from it, but it’s definitely a concern that an unencrypted broadcast signal is going around the world. And just with other NFNs and things at play, are Canadian consumers potentially not getting the best deal if Rogers is willing to put it on the Internet for free? I think it needs a bit more attention.
5318 Number five, Canadian content-wise, I don’t even know if there’s a nice way of putting this. But if you’ve watched G4 Tech TV -- and again, I don’t expect the Commission to regulate the programming per se. But I think it should be noted that the Canadian content is probably from about 10 years ago continuously on G4 Tech TV, at least from what I’ve seen.
5319 I was watching the other day and I heard about the iPhone, and Windows 8 is coming out supposedly very soon. And for a tech channel, it would be nice to see some refreshed Canadian content on that channel if it considers to be current with technology. Or perhaps, you know, retitle what the channel actually is.
5320 Number six, again it’s a question that I’d like you to pose to Rogers. There’s been some speculation and buzz in the industry that when Rogers was launching FX they decided to put NHL programming on FX. And if you have ever watched FX in the United States, there’s no NHL programming there. It’s very out of scope and not traditional for a channel like FX to be airing NHL programming, to say the least.
5321 From what I understand, that was done in a way so that it could be bundled and BDUs would have to carry FX strictly so that they wouldn’t be getting a ton of phone calls from potential customers wondering why they aren’t carrying this channel because they want to see their NHL programming.
5322 So I don’t know exactly what rule would have been broken, but it definitely seems like an abuse of power.
5323 Number seven is Rogers contributed to less described video content in partnership with AMI, which is an interesting one. I don’t know if their heart was in the right place but they started doing a partnership for, I believe, at least the last two seasons of the Toronto Blue Jays and airing described video programming that -- I don’t know exactly how to describe it. They’re taking the simulcast of Sportsnet from what I’m understanding and putting just the DV version given AMI’s mandate on AMI Television.
5324 If you look at it though, Sportsnet has a certain, you know -- they’ve got their commitments to described video programming per week. And if you have the same thing on AMI television, between the two channels there’s now 50 percent less described video programming available to someone who’s visually impaired. That, to me, is very problematic and offensive.
5325 And I guess finally, given how many grievances we have -- and this sort of just touches on some of them -- you know, I can see it being a burden on the Commission to have to deal with things that Rogers is -- where they’re going and some of the things that they’re involved with.
5326 And again on number eight here, I’m wondering if some of these concerns would be better addressed with the directors of Rogers as a corporation. So I was able to nicely, with my counsel, look up the Corporations Canada entry and with links for all of their personal information so that you could serve a notice perhaps directly to the Board of Rogers’s various companies.
5327 With that said, I’ve just hit the 10-minute mark as I see, and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
5328 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation.
5329 Vice-Chair, Judith LaRocque will start us off with some questions.
5330 COMMISSIONER LaROCQUE: Good morning, Mr. Kosiner.
5331 My name is Judith LaRocque and I’m the new Vice-Chair for Broadcasting at the CRTC.
5332 I would like you to go into a bit greater detail on the issue that you raise in point 7 with respect to the visually impaired. I would just like to -- you went through it rather quickly and I do want to have a very good understanding of what the issue is here.
5333 MR. KOSINER: Well, first, we thank you. And welcome to your role at the Commission; that’s fantastic.
5334 Number seven is about AMI again and the Toronto Blue Jays, which is part of Rogers’ media programming, as you must be aware as well.
5335 From what I understand, there’s a partnership between Rogers and AMI. And basically what’s happening is the same Toronto Blue Jays game you get on Sportsnet without described video, or if you switch to the second audio channel to be able to get it while watching Sportsnet as you traditionally would do for described video, you can watch only in described video on AMI. So the content remains the same, it’s just taking the dedicated described video feed -- the way I understand it -- and having it only on accessible media television.
5336 The problem with that is that if you -- there’s limited described video programming. If you can’t see, it’s hard enough to go around. And I think you might be aware, or at least some of you are aware that I’ve been a champion for the cause of making described video more accessible for those who are visually impaired and Canadians in general.
5337 There’s 50 percent less content available. So if you take two channels, right, and they’re both airing the same thing that’s 50 percent less than if AMI just aired something else that had described video. There would now be two different shows. So it doesn’t really serve those who are visually impaired.
5338 It might look nice from an optics standpoint for AMI to say, “Hey, we’ve partnered with Rogers and we’ve now got Blue Jays games only in described video to you.” And at face value it sounds great, but it actually really does a real disservice to those who are visually impaired.
5339 COMMISSIONER LaROCQUE: Thank you for that.
5340 MR. KOSINER: Does that clear things up?
5341 COMMISSIONER LaROCQUE: It does, thank you very much.
5342 I’d like to go to your point 5 next, which is the airing of CanCon reruns. I mean, surely that’s a business decision on the part of Rogers trying to fill the 24 hours in a day and after doing an analysis that citizens will watch it or not watch it. I mean, I’d like to hear your views on that.
5343 MR. KOSINER: I think it’s gotten to the point that Rogers has become very greedy. That their executives -- now given some of the other content that they have, they’re really playing hardball and abusing their dominant position.
5344 And I think that as much as it may not come to light right here at a CRTC hearing, I think there’s things that are happening behind your back that are going on. Because I’ve heard different BDUs who have been complaining about the fact that, you know, you can’t take one without the other. There’s interesting things that I’ve heard. And again, it’s speculation and hearsay so I would ask that you do your own investigation.
5345 And it’s just my opinion of what’s going on, but it’s a problem that Canadian consumers get stuck paying for a channel that doesn’t have any relevant content given what it’s supposed to offer. It’s like going into the Apple store and having, like, an Apple II from 1987; would you be happy with that? And paying the same rates as the new one? No, not really.
5346 And it’s not what Americans -- if you go to the States and check out their tech channels, that’s not what’s going on over there. So Canadians are really getting stuck with a channel that’s got old content. I think if I was an independent going out there trying to launch this, no one would pick it up if I told you that we got 10-year-old content that's going to be going on it. So again, I think there's a bit of an unfair advantage there, just with Rogers' leverage.
5347 COMMISSIONER LaROCQUE: Thank you for that. Your presentation deals with Rogers, but I'm going to ask you this question with respect to all of our requests. Are you in favour of licence renewals as proposed by the three broadcasters?
5348 MR. KOSINER: Yes, and I’ve got to tell you, even like -- I don't know what's going on with the Corus dividend, but the fact that they can offer nine percent a year on a dividend is pretty great, as far as I'm concerned, from an investment standpoint, and hopefully they can maintain that and grow. I have no real issues with that.
5349 And you're going to laugh, because you don’t know if I'm going -- which way I'm going on this, but with Rogers, I even think that there is a case to be made that their 9(1)(h) application could be valid, they're -- that -- you know, again, that's your decision to make, but I think that what OMNI has provided through the years, I actually, funny enough, support that.
5350 COMMISSIONER LaROCQUE: Well, you’ve put a lot of information on the public record and I appreciate that, so thank you very much.
5351 Mr. Chairman, that concludes my questions.
5352 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Kosiner. I believe those are all our questions. Thank you for participating in the hearing.
5353 MR. KOSINER: Okay.
5354 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
5355 Alors, Madame la Secrétaire?
5356 MR. KOSINER: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
5357 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. I will now invite Entertainment One to come forward to the presentation table, please.
5358 Just press the button on your mic, please, sir. The light will come on red.
5359 MR. MORAYNISS: Nice.
5360 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah. So go ahead when you can. Thanks.
5361 MR. MORAYNISS: Good morning. My name is John Morayniss and I’m here today representing Entertainment One. I am the Chief Executive Officer of eOne’s Television group.
5362 Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. eOne is encouraged by the CRTC’s ongoing commitment to support a robust Canadian development, production, and distribution ecosystem, and I think we can all agree on the importance of bringing high-quality, made-in-Canada content to Canadians and audiences around the world.
5363 eOne is headquartered in Canada, but we are very much a global company. We know firsthand that the global marketplace has become increasingly competitive with an overwhelming number of premium, high-quality television shows competing for eyeballs, on both linear and non-linear platforms.
5364 SKYPE TELECONFERENCE: --- has left the conference.
5365 MR. MORAYNISS: There you go. I'm still here, by the way. With ---
5366 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry about that. It's just, I guess, the teleconference just kicked off.
5367 MR. MORAYNISS: Yeah, that's fine.
5368 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please go ahead.
5369 MR. MORAYNISS: Yeah, I'm live and in person.
5370 And with news streaming services like Amazon Prime entering the Canadian market, the competition will only intensify. So while the good news is that it's a great time to be a content creator and supplier, the challenge in Canada is that we need a regulatory system that supports creative excellence and recognizes market realities. The stakes have never been higher for the Canadian content industry and we have to get this right.
5371 As we contemplate the future, we see both a short-term strategy, whereby policy and regulation protect and nurture our industry at a time of digital disruption, and a long game strategy where we build a strong, vibrant Canadian content industry that can survive on its own two feet in a globally competitive marketplace.
5372 Our belief is, in order for Canadian content to be successful in a global marketplace, we need a better framework in which Canadian creative talent, producers, broadcasters, and distribution companies can work together more effectively. Canada’s talent pool is first-class, but the Canadian framework for supporting creative excellence is no longer ideal.
5373 I imagine that many intervenors presenting this week would share the same goal: to produce and export world-class, highly profitable, made-in-Canada TV drama that Canadians will choose to watch over competing programming from around the world. Currently that goal cannot be achieved without a Canadian broadcaster first commissioning and investing in that program.
5374 While we’re living in a digital era, we want to emphasize that linear TV is far from dead. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, traditional broadcasters are virtually the only platforms that can unlock crucial financing and trigger the creation of original, high-value Canadian content.
5375 For this reason, we strongly support the CRTC’s decision to maintain the current Canadian programming expenditure requirements. We also strongly recommend that the lion’s share of this investment be tied to programming that is produced by Canadian independents and distributed by Canadian independent international sales companies. This will cultivate a stable and balanced ecosystem where risk and reward are truly shared, and the entire value chain has the best opportunity to remain in Canadian hands.
5376 In our experience, the most successful shows come from these kinds of partnerships. You have a creative writing and producing team that generates great ideas; a studio infrastructure that supports and takes risk on those people and their ideas; a broadcaster that provides valuable creative input, financial support, and creates initial awareness for the project through its platforms; and a distributor -- typically a studio, a major or an independent -- not always -- that gets the content out to the international marketplace and monetizes it.
5377 Throughout the entire value chain, these partners share in the creative risk, but they also share in the reward.
5378 In tandem with maintaining these crucial spend thresholds, we encourage the Commission to reinstate a minimum exhibition requirement for Canadian content during primetime on discretionary services.
5379 Primetime ratings are a key metric for understanding viewer preferences and identifying a show’s success, and they matter to international buyers. It comes down to offering Canadian stories a real shot on Canadian airwaves. And again, it starts with a broadcaster Commission.
5380 But, let’s face it; regulatory mandates only go so far. They don’t necessarily serve commercial imperatives. And they will mean nothing if Canada doesn’t have an infrastructure that allows Canadian content to compete globally.
5381 Now, we understand that in this new digital era, our broadcast partners face a challenge to stay healthy and deliver on their business objectives. We recognize that their continued fiscal success is vital to the overall success of Canada’s creative industries.
5382 So we’ve reached a critical crossroads. The time has come to establish a more effective framework, where broadcasters are incentivized to support Canadian content because it works for them commercially and not because they are mandated to do so.
5383 We believe all financial stakeholders in the value chain -- government, creators, producers, broadcasters, and distributors –- can gain from a regulatory framework that balances cultural commitments and market realities to incentivize risk-taking.
5384 Canadian content regulation has up to now been very supply-side focused. We’ve created a world-renowned physical production infrastructure, but we’re still seeing a creative “brain drain” for above-the-line talent.
5385 In the U.S. and in other markets around the world, there’s a significant uptick in acquisitions of foreign TV programming. There’s no question that Canada is rising with this tide, but not to the same extent.
5386 Speaking on behalf of one of the leading international sales companies in the world, I can say that Canadian drama programming isn’t getting the same pricing as programming coming from the U.S. or the U.K., and the Canadian creative brand does not have the same cache as other territories or regions like Israel or Scandinavia. In other words, there’s a discount on Canadian drama content in the international marketplace.
5387 At an individual level, the nationality of our writers, directors, and actors certainly doesn’t lessen their value. Canadian talent is priced at market rates. There’s no Canadian discount on Jean-Marc Vallee, Kiefer Sutherland, Rachel McAdams, David Shore, Semi Chellas, Hart Hanson, Tassie Cameron; I can go on and on. As both producers and exporters – and Canadians – we’re frustrated because we know the value of our Canadian talent, but we know that somehow they are not being properly served by the existing framework.
5387 This is a uniquely Canadian problem, where the perceived value of our inputs -– our world-class writers, directors, producers, actors, is somehow worth more than the actual value of the finished good. The whole is lesser than the sum of its parts.
5388 To date, Canadian content regulation has been successful in building a strong, robust film and television below the line production sector. The next step in the evolution of our industry is to further refine the system so that Canada becomes recognized as a mecca for not only the manufacturing of content, but where global hits are created and supported in Canada through both investment and access to top-tier talent from around the world.
5389 However, creating global hits is not enough. We need a regulatory framework that ensures the value of Canadian content IP remains in Canadian hands so that Canadian creators, producers, broadcasters and Canadian distribution companies can share in the success together. In other words, we need an environment that supports creative and financial risk-taking.
5390 In order to create hits, one must take significant risks in the R&D process and be willing and able to fail. And Canadian broadcasters need to play a bigger role in that process.
5391 Currently, on a typical one-hour scripted drama program, the broadcaster assumes roughly 15 percent of the budget via licence fees, and sometimes less. On the other hand, eOne and other distributors and studios generally assume between 25 to 35 percent of the budget as risk capital, primarily through distribution advances and minimum guarantees.
5392 We want to incentivize Canadian broadcasters to invest more in Canadian content and by doing so, broadcasters should be able to benefit from the global success of their shows. When broadcasters see success with Canadian content at home and abroad, they will want to keep investing in Canadian content. And we think that’s good for our industry.
5393 I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the Panel and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. Thank you.
5394 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you and welcome. I’ll put you in the hands of Commissioner Simpson.
5395 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Good morning, Mr. Morayniss. I’ve been waiting for this day.
5396 MR. MORAYNISS: I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
5397 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: It’s good, at least from my standpoint. I have a couple of questions that are to do with the reasoning behind and the strategies behind your success because I think it’s a well that a lot of producers would like to drink from and it would be informative for me, and I think for everyone listening to the hearing.
5398 But the first thing I want to ask you, though, is the point you just made that I find really interesting as an individual that has spent a lot of my time in the creative industry. And it sort of goes along the along the notion that Canadian talent and Canadian productions seem to have to go out into the world and be recognized as a success before we recognize them as a success.
5399 Is that anecdotal statement a truism or is it -- and if it is, is it growing or diminishing?
5400 MR. MORAYNISS: It’s not anecdotal. I mean it is but it’s also true and it’s verifiable.
5401 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5402 MR. MORAYNISS: There’s no question that Canadian is a small market. It’s right next door to the United States and certainly, for English speaking Canada, very similar culture, same language.
5403 So there’s always been a need to sort of create a regulatory environment, as you know, and a system of protection to make sure that we don’t get completely inundated constantly with just American programming where the budgets are much higher, where they have more flexibility creatively, and it completely displaces Canadian content.
5404 But you know, right now we’re living in a scenario where, as you know, you can access content from anywhere in the world; you can watch almost any channel you want; you can get content online, legally and illegally; and the competition has blown up. It’s just blown up and it’s going to get even more and more competitive. Amazon’s coming into Canada; it’s only a matter of time before more over-the-top services come into Canada.
5405 So yes, the problem in Canada, I think, for a long time has been that the infrastructure has been very much about, sort of, a cottage industry. It’s been sort of a handful of broadcasters, a small group. You haven’t really seen a lot companies with scale that’s been really built in Canada.
5406 And to my point in my submission, when we compare ourselves to the United States, there’s just been the ability to fail over and over again, to continue investing, making mistakes, investing, taking chances, accessing talent from anywhere in the world, not just from the U.S., and making great content. And we haven’t had that same opportunity in Canada.
5407 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M’hm.
5408 MR. MORAYNISS: And I think to a certain extent the mindset in Canada has been, sort of, you know, “The U.S. is right next door but we’re really more about protecting from the US into Canada” ---
5409 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M’hm.
5410 MR. MORAYNISS: --- instead of realizing, “Oh, my God, we’re right next door to the United States; we have the best opportunity to export our shows into the U.S.”
5411 And to my point that I was making about the Canadian discount, there’s a lot of export that’s happening from Canada into the U.S. but the U.S. buyers are not paying full licence fee for this content.
5412 So that is really the challenge. How do we create a framework in Canada ---
5413 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Exactly.
5414 MR. MORAYNISS: --- where we can take the best talent in Canada and we can create a system where the investment stays in Canada; where the entire value chain stays in Canada; where those talented individuals, whether they’re writers, directors, producers, actors, are working in Canada; but the asset we’re creating is so valuable that not only does the U.S. pay full market rate for it, but all over the world they pay full market rate for it.
5415 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So to pick up -- this is a beautiful opportunity for me to pivot to my next question because the popularity question of the home versus abroad, I heard you say, translates into the economics of the Canadian exports. And I think hear you saying that we’re not getting best buck because we’re not, ourselves, valuing the product to the full extent of its worth.
5416 So is that an attitudinal problem or an economic problem that has to be fixed in terms of getting top buck for top-quality stuff that’s coming out of Canada?
5417 MR. MORAYNISS: I don’t think it’s an attitudinal problem because I -- you know, we’re looking at this and we’re seeing the feedback ---
5418 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5419 MR. MORAYNISS: --- and we’re experiencing the response from a global market about what -- you know, again, I’m talking more about high-end drama content than anything else, what it’s worth in the marketplace.
5420 It’s more about, again, the framework of the way production and development is working in Canada where, again, it’s very challenging for Canadians to spend a lot of money in R&D because you don’t have a lot of well-capitalized companies and the R&D process is becoming very expensive. The idea of developing scripts now and packaging projects with the best talent takes time and money.
5421 eOne is not alone in this, by the way. There’s a lot of larger independents and major studies that are spending millions and millions of dollars every year investing in scripts and getting scripts written and packaging and putting projects together and then taking them out to market.
5422 And they need broadcaster support to do it; they need distributors’ support; they need the bigger studio support to do it; and a lot of the best creative producers are working with those studios to get this R&D done and a lot of times the R&D doesn’t go anywhere.
5423 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5424 MR. MORAYNISS: That’s the nature of, you know, research and development; it goes nowhere. And so there’s a lot of projects that get written off until you find the projects that will be valuable and will, you know, be those assets that will ultimately be returned into the system so that you can continue to spend and spend and spend until you find the next hit.
5425 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right.
5426 MR. MORAYNISS: The problem in Canada is the starting point on the risk side, on the R&D side, doesn’t exist. So the U.S. takes a lot of risks and then the Canadian broadcasters will be the beneficiaries of that risk because they’ll go to the LA screenings, the May screenings, and they’ll pick up the best shows coming out of the U.S.
5427 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And again ---
5428 MR. MORAYNISS: They haven’t spent that money ---
5429 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5430 MR. MORAYNISS: --- on the risk side in the same that the U.S. studios and the US broadcasters have spent that money and, as a result, they’re renting those shows; they don’t own those shows.
5431 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5432 MR. MORAYNISS: Our thesis is, you can create a very similar model in Canada to what’s happening in the U.S. ---
5433 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But it takes more money?
5434 MR. MORAYNISS: --- and you can use the U.S. as a key market to get your shows sold to -- but in a way where it starts in Canada, not where it ends in Canada.
5435 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And I think what you’re saying is that it obviously takes more money; it takes -- there has to be the offsets of risk to go with that. But the view, if I’m reading you right, is that to get to the scale -- not that it’s possible, but to get toward the scale that the U.S. is at, where one show makes it to air but 10 pilots are cut -- whereas in Canada it’s, you know, one pilot cut -- goes to air.
5436 What I think I hear you saying here is that investment going forward, both from the origination of funds through regulation through to the expenditure of those funds, has to be with the view to -- not just domestic need but export returns.
5437 MR. MORAYNISS: Absolutely. Canada’s a small market.
5438 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5439 MR. MORAYNISS: And if we’re recognizing that there’s a cultural imperative as well as a commercial imperative ---
5440 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
5441 MR. MORAYNISS: --- then we have to recognize that, you know, whatever we make in Canada where we support a Canadian creative industry and a Canadian production industry, it’s a global market. But the good news is, it’s a borderless world.
5442 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5443 MR. MORAYNISS: You know, more and more -- and, you know, I said that in my submissions ---
5444 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And distribution’s getting more and more frictionless, right?
5445 MR. MORAYNISS: --- from a distribution -- right.
5446 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5447 MR. MORAYNISS: There’s never been a better time for foreign content, English-speaking and non-English-speaking content, to be sold around the world to buyers around the world. Both global services like Netflix and Amazon ---
5448 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5449 MR. MORAYNISS: --- as well as big buyers like Sky or RTL or TF1, they’re hungry for the best content. And so there’s an opportunity in Canada to really rise above the pack; and we haven’t done it yet but there’s an opportunity to do it.
5450 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So take your point and use you as the control mechanism because you’ve done this. You started out as a Canadian company back in the seventies as a record business and you grew. So taking what you did. And where you are today, and taking what you’re saying about what the industry here, the ecosystem in Canada, needs to do, how long was it before you jumped the rails and went international? And was it out of opportunity or need because the Canadian industry just couldn’t fuel your growth needs?
5451 MR. MORAYNISS: Look, it’s been an evolution and it’s both been opportunity and need. But certainly if you look at what’s happening, you know, specifically in the audio/visual side of our business, music, you know, has had a different trajectory. And there are similarities but there are also differences.
5452 But in the world of audio/visual the opportunity is now. The opportunity to create homegrown content that actually has asset value that’s no different than an American show like Designated Survivor, which eOne produces and distributes, just not Canadian content. There’s never been a better opportunity than now to do it in this marketplace.
5453 And there’s also a need. There’s too much competition. And networks and studios and distributors and producers and the creative talent that we want to stay in Canada won’t be able to survive unless we create a framework to support that kind of global competition and ensure that Canadians can participate and get high-end high-asset value drama, and they’re not just service producing; they’re not just, you know, sort of executing; they’re not just renting; but they’re actually owning and controlling throughout the entire value chain.
5454 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. In taking the reference of audio/visual as opposed to television/film and the like -- videos, music videos -- what’s your blend right now, in that audio/visual sphere, between movie production and TV? And you know, of the two baskets, how are the two doing and which one’s growing?
5455 MR. MORAYNISS: Well, it’s complicated. I mean, they’re both growing. We’re certainly seeing an opportunity and a demand in the TV space and the digital space to grow and the long-form series space. It’s displacing what I would call, sort of, you know, made-for-adult feature films, that independent feature market. You know, eOne has certainly seen that in the last several years where if you look at our growth, TV is growing an digital is growing faster than our theatrical film business. Theatrical film business is still very strong. Storytelling is still important.
5456 And if anything, we’re seeing the lines blur. We’re seeing that, you know, even between our film group and our TV group, the idea of how projects come to fruition and where they end up, whether it’s a film or a TV series, has become, you know, almost, you know seamlessly flowing back and forth. In the old days there was a solid line between film and TV and you didn’t cross it.
5457 Now -- again, I’ll use an example. One of our shows, Sharp Objects, based on Gillian Flynn’s first book -- she wrote Gone Girl -- originally developed as a feature on the eOne side. We couldn’t crack the storytelling so we moved it into the TV side; hired a new writer; spent, by the way, hundreds of thousands of dollars developing this project before we even took it to market. And then we attached a Canadians director, Jean-Marc Vallée. We attached an American actress, Amy Adams. We had an American showrunner. And we put together a project called Sharp Objects we sold to HBO. And eOne owns it.
5458 So you know, the idea that anything is a film project or a TV project, it’s almost like, “What’s the best way to tell the story in this day and age?” But what we’re seeing is there’s really interesting storytelling in television because you can tell a story over a longer period of time. So we’re seeing the growth of TV and limited series and of event television growing. There’s an opportunity in Canada to take advantage of that and to grow that business.
5459 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: One more question on the subject of film versus TV and then I want to dive down into some of the subject of the hearing. Otherwise I’m going to get kicked under the table.
5460 We’d heard this week from some services that movies are so abundant, not only in terms of unlocking existing libraries but with, you know, that frictionless distribution system of OTT streaming services, video on demand, and the like, that movies are getting to be a tougher part of the mix for television because everybody is chasing titles and paying big bucks and movies traditionally are higher-cost productions.
5461 So there seems to be a lessening of appetite for some of the television services to try and make a buck off of it and stay with the TV business.
5462 But with video-on-demand services like Netflix, what I found interesting -- someone said to me that there’s a new form between traditional episodic television and long-form drama, which is a two-hour movie, and it’s binge-viewing, which is really long-form just broken into parts. Because people will spend an entire weekend watching the equivalent of a movie. Are you finding that that kind of episodic exhibition is becoming a replacement for movies? Because the costs certainly are getting to be the same.
5463 MR. MORAYNISS: Absolutely. And you’re seeing the talent, the feature talent moving into that area. Again, my example Share Objects is a great one. Amy Adams is a film star but she’s doing television. You’re seeing that more and more. You’re seeing Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon doing HBO series.
5464 So there’s no question that what you’re seeing in the film business is similar to what you’re seeing in TV, which is you’re seeing very, very high-end, big tent-pole films, what we call four-quadrant films, that are doing very well at the box office but they’re big. They need a ton of support; they’re usually studio-supported big investments, big risk.
5465 Or you’re seeing very niche, very small movies that have a very targeted audience and can do well but within that smaller niche.
5466 The same thing is happening in TV. The bigger shows are getting bigger. They’re becoming more event-y. You need to take more risk. You need to package them better. And those are the noisy, buzz-worthy shows in the marketplace.
5467 And again going back to what’s happening in Canada, Canada needs to keep pace. You know, if we’re sort of in that middle where we’re doing some sort of middle-of-road shows, the budgets aren’t big enough, the packaging isn’t big enough, the casting is not big enough, the writers aren’t -- whatever it is where you can create an event, you’re going to get lost in the sort of broad reach not just from the U.S. but from the U.K. and elsewhere, of these big event series, limited series, binge-worthy series, or even long-form and long-running series.
5468 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: To your presentation this morning, you said that we’re at an inflection point and we’ve got to get busy. We’ve heard a lot about -- you know, as much as we’ve heard the word “flexibility” we’ve heard “partnerships”. And I’ve been trying to peel away the onion to understand what those partnerships look like in terms of structure and economics.
5469 What I find interesting is that from your standpoint -- and it’s why I was looking forward to this discussion this morning -- from your standpoint, globally you’re as big as two out of the three vertically-integrated -- the television segments of the vertically-integrated companies that are here this week, with the exception of Bell. You’re sort of in that same stratosphere with your total revenues. And it puts you at a different place at the table when it comes to the negotiating with these networks.
5470 But why I’m asking the question in that way is there’s been a concern with the independent producers that to get to the table and stay at the table and to make a buck, usually by shaving percentages as it goes from production to distribution both at home and abroad, that there seems to be a model shaping up where the only way that the networks are encouraged to really get in with both feet is to take a larger percentage of the show. Up to 30 percent is what’s allowable now.
5471 But how do these companies -- what changes to the independent producers with that kind of a model that they really can’t get and stay at the table unless they become an unwilling partner with the buyer?
5472 MR. MORAYNISS: Well, listen, it’s a very challenging situation and Canada -- it’s challenging because there’s so limited -- its consolidated, limited buying community. eOne is not a buyer. We’re not a platform. We don’t have any leverage that way. So we rely on hopefully developing really great content that more than one buyer wants and quite frankly developing content that can work for a Canadian broadcaster or a U.S. broadcaster.
5473 We’re developing now -- we have development teams in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. So everything we develop, while it may come out of that market, we’re not thinking it’s for that market. We’re thinking, “This is great. We could sell this first in Canada. We could sell this first in the U.S. We could sell this first in the U.K. It doesn’t matter.”
5474 And when you look at it that way, it’s much more of a competitive landscape. And so it’s not just about pitching a show to Corus, or Bell, or Rogers, it’s pitching a show to the world. And you find that buyer that says, “I want to take a chance on the show. I want to develop this with you, I want to be a partner with you, I want to own the show with you.”
5475 It doesn’t have to be a Canadian broadcaster, but I can tell you if the asset is good then -- you know, Canadian broadcasters are smart and as commercially minded as anyone else. If you offer them a commercial proposal where by investing more you can own more and have more upside that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing.
5476 So you know, for me it’s about competition and it’s about selling a product that someone wants. And if you have something that they want they will buy it and you will get a good deal for it. It happens all the time in the U.S. in a much more unregulated market. Now, granted there are a lot more buyers.
5477 But, again, wearing my global studio hat, the buyers are also borderless in our world. So we can go, you know, anywhere we want.
5478 The key thing, you know, for eOne and other studios is there’s an interesting symbiotic relationship that exists when you look outside of Canada, where you have a very strong creative producing community throughout world -- especially in English-speaking territories -- where they work very closely with larger integrated studios or distributors who are helping support and finance and give them leverage in the marketplace.
5479 They own significant back end or upside of these shows, just like the broadcasters end up doing in the studio. So it’s a really nice partnership and everyone has a role to play. There’s a creative role, there’s an infrastructure support role, financial role, there’s a risk-taking role. And, you know, they partners play different roles, but when it all comes together the whole is controlled by everyone. But everyone has a job to do.
5480 And one of the things that we’re seeing more and more is you need sort of a handful of really strong distribution companies that can take these shows in a national market and have leverage weight in that market when they’re selling shows. They’re not just selling one show. They’re not just selling, you know, one show in one genre but they’re offering a portfolio and, you know, they have the ability to sort of impress upon these buyers why the show should work. They have research and marketing intelligence. They have all the things that large distributors have.
5481 And so, you know, small, medium, and large companies can all work together really well but there has to be a framework to support that.
5482 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you. The last two questions I have.
5483 I’d like to ask you a risk question associated with your very strong conviction that one of the things we should be doing is ensuring that there’s minimums for Canadian production exhibition in prime time on discretionary.
5484 And the risk question is asked that way because while it doesn’t cost any money to impose that kind of regulatory requirement, what’s the risk to the broadcaster if they have either a status quo or an increased exhibition requirement in prime time? And how do you offset that risk given what you first said sitting down was that we’ve got to get behind our Canadian product and get everybody, you know, yelling from the bleachers and watch Canadian product?
5485 You know, how do we offset that risk? Or is there a risk by imposing in the highest revenue area of a discretionary a new obligation or an existing obligation for exhibition?
5486 MR. MORAYNISS: Yeah, there’s definitely a risk and that’s the challenge. You know, when you’re requiring a broadcaster or a discretionary service to invest in CanCon or put CanCon in prime time -- which is the most valuable real estate -- and it doesn’t work, it’s not good, it doesn’t get ratings, they don’t make money on it, it’s a problem.
5487 So the system -- if you don’t fix the entire system then you’re absolutely right. The challenge with imposing those kinds of requirements is risky and probably ultimately won’t work and won’t be ultimately in the long-term interest of a healthy industry.
5488 So you’ve got to have that, we think, because having these shows launch in prime time is absolutely crucial. But you also have to have a framework where the shows are really good, they get ratings, and there’s an opportunity for our broadcast partners to not only rent these shows in Canada but have the opportunity to participate in the success of these shows around world. So that ultimately the connection between prime time success in Canada and the global success of those shows can have as a result of that initial launch in Canada all flows back into the ecosystem so the broadcasters, the distributers, the studios, the producers, the creative talent all participate in that success.
5489 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Last question. Thank you.
5490 Last question. On licence fees, in this model that you see -- and I’m thinking when I ask this question about the smaller independent producers. If the buyer, if the networks take your point of view which is I’m going to get into this thing with both feet because I’m going to do what I -- I’m going to fill my need in the Canadian market but my goal really is to build a product that’s going to travel.
5491 Does that, with what you know about how the industry works, still pose a situation where the creator, the independent producer is still looking at a tiered licence fee and ownership model where they’re going to get that -- as you say -- devalued or minima for domestic and then as it travels and becomes a success they have a different percentage structure?
5492 Is it a one-size-fit-all deal or does the deal change as it goes to market?
5493 MR. MORAYNISS: The deal changes. I mean, again, everything that gets produced is unique. You know, it’s not a one-stop and one-shop or one product that’s all model. I mean, that’s part of the problem and the challenge in Canada. You know, we’re not creating commodities here. These are unique value propositions, unique properties every time.
5494 And we’ve seen it. You know, one show is worth “X”, another show is worth “Y” just because they’re two cops shows. Grey’s Anatomy, a fantastic medical drama and Saving Hope, a great medical drama; they both don’t have the same pricing. You can guess which one is worth more.
5495 But as you create better product, the pricing will go up in Canada and also globally.
5496 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Why I asked the question the way I did is that we had a submission from the Writers Guild yesterday that I relate to which is spec work. And what I worry about is that their problem of not getting paid until green light becomes a producer simile in that if the promise is to take them to the world market but I need your help, I need you to come in with your sweat and we’ll provide the equity but we’re not going to pay for your sweat until this thing is green light. Is that a potential problem with this model that you’re talking about?
5497 MR. MORAYNISS: I don’t think so. Listen, we are spending more and more on development than we ever have on writers. The old system was a writer would come and pitch you an idea and then you’d take it to a network, and if the network liked it then you would pay that writer to develop the script. So you would hone a pitch and then you would take it.
5498 Now what’s happening in the independent production world, in the independent studio world with the major studios is we’re all developing dozens and dozens of scripts every year before we take them to market. We’re paying writers a lot of money to write these scripts and then we’re spending time to package them -- bringing in a director, a marquee actor -- before we take it to market.
5499 So if anything, what we’re seeing globally -- in the U.K., Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere -- we’re seeing more and more investment in development. It’s probably not happening in Canada as much because you’ve got a much more disparate kind of spread out, you know, smaller individual entities, producers and production companies, that don’t have the capital to take that kind of risk, which is why we think it’s important to have, you know, a handful of really strong and better capitalized companies that can take that kind of risk, invest in those writers.
5500 There’s always going to be a writer’s choice when they go pitch a project to, you know, a studio or a producer -- hopefully a company or a broadcaster that has market intelligence -- and that broadcaster says, “We don’t see the value of this project. We don’t get it. It’s a pitch, we don’t like it.”
5501 A writer can always choose to write on spec and then bring it back to market.
5502 If they really believe in what they’re doing they’ll do it. But I can tell you, more and more when we get a great pitch or someone brings us a great book we’ll invest in it. And we’re not alone. Most of the companies that have any kind of capital base are taking a lot more risks now and investing a lot more in the writer community to get these scripts written. Not even just one script; two scripts, three scripts, and taking it to market at that point.
5503 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you. Those are my questions.
5504 And I thank you for your support of the country that got you where you're going and acknowledge your support for the Applicants here at the hearing today. Thank you.
5505 MR. MORAYNISS: Thank you.
5506 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Morayniss, for having appeared. You're an important player in the Canadian audio-visual sector, so we appreciate your participation here.
5507 MR. MORAYNISS: I appreciate it as well. Thank you.
5508 THE CHAIRPERSON: À l'ordre.
5509 Madame la Secrétaire?
5510 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will now invite Mr. Kirwan Cox from the Quebec English-language Production Council to take place, please.
5511 Oh, good.
5512 MR. COX: Mr. Blais, we wanted to deposit a document to put it on the record, which is our intervention or our brief to Heritage for their cultural consultation.
5513 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I take it, obviously, you hadn't finalized that document before this proceeding started, so you were unable to put it on the record ---
5514 MR. COX: Earlier, that's ---
5515 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- earlier?
5516 MR. COX: --- right.
5517 THE CHAIRPERSON: And why is it relevant or probative in the context of this proceeding, because as I understand, the minister's review is about everything within the cultural sector of the Institution Legislation Policy's programs, whereas we're looking at the review of the renewal of three licences or groups of licences under existing legislation.
5518 MR. COX: We say in our speech that we think there are some things that you can do, which you have the authority to do, and some things which you don't have the authority to do, which the government should do. And I'm anticipating you're going to say afterwards, "Well, what the heck are those things you said the government should do? Do you have a list?" because I've been listening for the past few days, and you sometimes say that sort of thing.
5519 And so I wanted to be ahead of the game and say, "Oh, yes, we have a lot of ideas. Here they are, and we've deposited them."
5520 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, so we'll take your request under advisement. Thank you very much. Please go ahead.
5521 MR. COX: Okay. Mr. Blais and Commissioners, we are happy to be given this opportunity to speak to you. My name is Kirwan Cox, Executive Director of the Quebec English-language Production Council.
5522 On my left is Anna Scollan, our Co-Chair and National Industry Relations for ACTRA. On my right is Janis Lundman, a member of our Board and producer of successful TV series' such as "Durham County", "Bomb Girls", and the forthcoming "Bellevue".
5524 MS. LUNDMAN: Good morning. I work in an industry that seems huge when you look at the numbers with over 7 billion in total production, generating 150,000 jobs. That's a lot of money and manpower, but when it comes to broadcasters commissioning shows, they often go to the same few companies in Toronto and Vancouver.
5525 I understand this allows for a certain comfort level, but it also at times makes it difficult to encourage innovative ideas, support new talent, hear diverse voices, or take a chance on us, the official language minorities.
5526 Mr. Blais, Commissioners, you have altered the balance in this Toronto centre calculus by establish official language minority quotas. Your precedent-setting decisions with Rogers, Bell, and CBC have turned around English Quebec production, at least with CMF-funded television.
5527 This year, because of the Anglophone minority incentive fund and CRTC's official language minority quotas, we now have seven English Quebec drama series in production in Quebec. That is up from zero drama series six years ago. In fact, I'm now producing one of those seven OLMC drama series for CBC. Our series "Bellevue" was green-lit in the spring, but too late for the AMF fund. All that money had been spent.
5528 We had a choice of shooting the series in northern Ontario or in Montreal and Thetford Mines in Quebec. Creatively, Montreal and Thetford was a better choice. It offered the landscapes we needed and it had a larger production centre with easier access to crew, equipment, and post-production facilities. It was also an easier draw for cast, which is very important in this competitive global market.
5529 However, Montreal was a harder choice financially because of the lower tax credits. Without the AMI funding, Sudbury was a better choice if the decision were based only on the numbers. Fortunately, due to the OLMC quota, the CBC went with Montreal and that allowed us creative and production flexibility.
5530 Because of the Montreal location, we were able to attract a very good cast with Anna Paquin, Allen Leech, and Shawn Doyle. We had a dedicated crew, many of whom worked with us on "Durham County", and these elements helped us to bring on board a major international distributor which was very important for our financing. The OLMC quota tipped the creative balance and allowed us to make a higher quality and more internationally saleable series.
5531 CRT's quotas have been a success, and not because they force anyone to watch anything. They are a success because they give the OLMC industry an opportunity to compete in a global market. They are a success because they give us the opportunity to tell our stories. And they are a success because they give young people in Quebec and Montreal a chance to start and continue their careers in Montreal and not take the first bus out to Toronto.
5532 We are slowly and steadily rebuilding the English Quebec television production business. Even in these tumultuous times, success is possible but it cannot be done with a five-year expiry date. It takes a long vision and consistent regulatory oversight, not inconsistent experimentation.
5533 In a world of dominant American media, Canadian content would not exist without robust regulation. OLMC content wouldn't exist without your quotas. You give us creative and financial flexibility for our projects, a modicum of economic stability for our companies, and the chance to be the best we can be.
5534 MR. COX: Now the bad news. Even though we are turning the ship around, we are still in mid-course on a voyage counted by the decade, not the fiscal year. Our production remains fragile and volatile, especially in the weaker regulated and unregulated market segments.
5535 In 2014-15, we lost 24 percent of our total production in that one year. Let me break that down. Using both AMI funding and the quota, our CMF-funded TV production grew. Without AMI funding, non-CMF-funded television production fell 16 percent. Without the benefit of either a quota or the official language minority fund, our feature films dropped 35 percent. Where do we go from here? For many years, the CRTC has allowed these broadcast groups to increase their market share for one reason: to increase Canadian content and support section 3 of the Act. Now, these huge, vertically-integrated broadcast groups face severe and real difficulties. Ultimately, we think the solution lies in government policy. Here's the point where you can say, "Aha, but what government policy?"
5536 In the meantime, we ask you to continue the responsibilities these broadcast groups have taken to support Canadian content, and especially to support OLMC production. We ask that these responsibilities be extended evenly across each licensee so they compete on the famous even playing field.
5537 MS. SCOLLAN: So we request that each company have the same obligation. Right now, Rogers has a three percent OLMC independent production quota; with the exception of one year, they have done very well in the average over six percent. We ask that this requirement be increased to 10 percent of their total PNI production, and 10 percent of their development spending by condition of licence.
5538 Bell has a 10 percent OLMC quota on their English tangible benefits for the Astral purchase. Their production data is incomplete but they have done very well with 16 percent OLMC production in one year. We ask that they also have a 10 percent OLMC requirement on total PNI production, and 10 percent of their development spending by COL.
5539 Corus has no OLMC obligation, but they operate a Montreal station that is seen throughout Quebec. Shaw has averaged close to six percent of OLMC production, and we ask that Corus have the same 10 percent OLMC PNI requirement and 10 percent development by COL. These are priority requests. We believe it is fair that each broadcaster which has a local station in Quebec have the same OLMC obligations.
5540 Based on available data, this minimum 10-percent production requirement is well within their capabilities. The 10 percent is flexible since we are asking for a percentage and not a fixed dollar amount, averaged over their licence, and not an annual minimum. The times are indeed a-changing and we understand broadcasters want flexibility.
5541 So do we. We want the flexibility to work in English in Quebec. We want the flexibility to make the best programs we can.
5542 We ask you to make that possible. We ask you continue your OLMC quota and apply it equally to all licences.
5543 We are happy to answer any questions you may have. Thank you.
5544 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation. I’ll put you in the hands of Commissioner Dupras.
5545 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thank you. Good morning. How are you today?
5546 I want to question you on the percentage of quota, OLMC, in English Quebec that you’re asking for.
5547 On the French side of OLMC, the APFC, On Screen Manitoba, and others have asked that the Commission require that large French ownership devote up to three percent of their annual PNI expenditure to OLMC production outside Quebec.
5548 But as English Quebec production community is concerned, you’re asking for 10 percent. I can see the figure but, I mean, why is it higher in Quebec?
5549 MR. COX: We have a different industry. We have a different history. Our history goes back to the 1890s, as a matter of fact. And whereas with the francophones outside of Quebec, their industry is about 20 years old. As a matter of fact, it exists because of the various requirements that have been put in place by Heritage or by yourself. But the level that may be appropriate for us and appropriate for them may not be the same level. And we wouldn’t argue their case one way or the other.
5550 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And can you tell us what’s the calculation you made to come to 10 percent?
5551 MR. COX: We’ve made that calculation based on the experience that we’ve seen and our feeling that we need to be a little bit higher than where we are. To use the example of the CMF, the CMF, because of Heritage, has a minimum of 10 percent for French-language production outside of Quebec. And we don’t have any requirements at all in terms of Heritage or in terms of their rules to the CMF.
5552 In the case of the CRTC, we have consistently argued for 10 percent because that was a bit higher than the status quo. And you have given us 3 or you’ve give us 6, or 10 in the case of Bell, tangible benefits. And you know, we’ve seen the results of all of this and it’s been very successful. We’re not greedy. Because Bell might be at 16 percent one year we’re not saying set it for 16 or 20 or whatever. We’re looking for a stability and we’re looking for a floor that we can all count on and everybody can understand.
5553 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. And when I hear you this morning you tell us, you know, that Rogers, Bell, Corus are all doing, you know, production expense in English Quebec. Why is there a need to regulate?
5554 MR. COX: I think if there were no regulations there would be no Canadian content because the economics would simply say aside from news, weather, and sports, you know, highly local stuff, why get larger production in English, at least, in Canada? And if you were to leave it up to the marketplace it wouldn’t exist.
5555 And the same is true, to a great degree, of our situation. It makes more economic sense to concentrate production in Toronto or in Vancouver and in English. And it doesn’t make any sense to do it in Montreal.
5556 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Why does it make more economic sense in Toronto than in Montreal?
5557 MS. LUNDMAN: Well, I’ll try to answer both your questions.
5558 In Toronto when you look at the tax credits that you have either regionally or content or service productions -- in the production that I’m just work on now with “Bellevue”, it would have more sense economically to shoot in Sudbury and northern Ontario given the tax credits that were there, even though creatively it wouldn’t have made as much sense given what we were trying to do.
5559 And that’s very important now, as John Morayniss and eOne was just saying, in terms of trying to compete on the global market. I now have to produce programs that are going to compete with other drama series that have $3 or $4 million per episode, whereas I have, you know, a US$2 million, CAD$2.4 million. So I have to try and get as much production value as I possibly can out of the locations that I choose and the actors that I work with.
5560 So for me I found the perfect location in Quebec and in and around Montreal. And I did go to Sudbury and northern Ontario; it just wasn’t the same. So for me -- and I have worked in Toronto quite a bit and, you know, done that. But it’s different -- I’m making different choices now as a producer because I have to compete on a much larger scale in a larger world and it’s much more competitive.
5561 Am I answering your question?
5562 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I mean, I hear you.
5563 MS. LUNDMAN: So economically ---
5564 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: But what I’m asking myself, is that a barrier for a broadcaster to buy your show if you have a great project?
5565 MS. LUNDMAN: Okay. So what is now happening since the CRTC regulations and the quotas and doing it in Montreal, they are now -- I’m finding that the broadcasters are now coming to Montreal. They’re having meetings; they’re having open town halls; they’re actively looking for projects coming out of Montreal. And the projects that are being done now, the seven drama projects in Montreal, I don’t think would have been done out of Montreal. They would have either not been done at all or they would have done other projects in Toronto. But they’re actively doing that.
5566 And when our project -- when they came to us in the spring to green-light “Bellevue”, they had two questions -- one, could we deliver on time in February because it was a short date, and two, we had to confirm that we would be shooting in Quebec and in Montreal because that was important for them because they had a certain quota that they had to fill.
5567 So for me as a producer I know that that is making a big difference.
5568 MR. COX: I would just add ---
5569 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: But you’ve heard the groups before us this week. They’re all saying that they’re following the best creative idea projects. I mean, they need to distinguish themselves. Why tie their hands somewhere 10 percent in English Quebec? Why can’t a producer from Quebec, I mean, compete like the others, you know, to try and come up with the best project possible? Why do we have to get involved to give you a minimum?
5570 MS. LUNDMAN: Right. I think that what has happened with the broadcasters -- and I totally understand this -- I lived and worked in Ontario for quite a few years -- is you get a certain tunnel vision where, you know, you have the writers; you have the companies that you know that come in; it’s a comfort level; this is what you want to do. You don’t necessarily want to look outside of where you are and that comfort level unless they come to you.
5571 But if you’re in a situation where, “Oh, now I have to look to Quebec and I have to see what’s there” and you’re going to go, “Oh, wow, there are five other projects there. There are, you know, 20 projects there that I could develop that I could do something with.” Because if that’s not in place, “Well, you can just come to us. We don’t have to do anything. We don’t have to think about it.”
5572 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And what you’re proposing to that effect is that there be processes for consulting associations, that a licensee would have to develop, and otherwise -- I mean, how are your relations with the large players, with Bell, Corus, and Rogers?
5573 MR. COX: They keep improving because of the quota that you put in place. Before that they didn’t bother to come to Montreal because there was no point to it. Since then at least Bell and Rogers have been very active and helpful and we think they’re doing a great job.
5574 Corus doesn’t have a quota, they don’t show up, they don’t care, they don’t bother. And, you know ---
5575 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: As you know, what’s in place are tangible benefits that are to end. And there’s also Rogers when it bought a station it said it would spend three percent, and it’s an expectation. So you had that for a while but there’s no guarantee necessarily for the future.
5576 And today you’re coming to us and you’re saying, “Well, you should impose such guarantees” I mean, in this world where there are no more guarantees.
5577 MR. COX: As long as there is an Official Languages Act and a Broadcasting Act that worries about these things, I think it’s an ongoing obligation that you need to consider.
5578 The other thing that I want to get back to you about is there is a huge advantage to producing in Ontario because of the provincial tax credit. It is about 40 percent higher than the English tax credit in Quebec. So if you were to do a certain project that might cost $4 million, the Ontario Tax Credit if it included a regional bonus would be over $1 million. The Quebec Tax Credit, if it was done in English, would be about $600,000.
5579 Now to overcome that $400,000 or 40 percent disparity, we have to have a countervailing advantage, which only you’re able to provide really in terms of having a minimum that the broadcasters have to do.
5580 This has been a very successful program. You’ve won. You’ve demonstrated that quotas work; it’s tremendous, we’re happy. But it should be an even playing field. All of them should have the same relative obligation.
5581 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And this is how you explain the exodus of production company to Toronto, the tax credit difference?
5582 MS. LUNDMAN: It’s a combination of a tax credit and trying to continue to do productions in Quebec, yes. It’s tax credits, it’s like everybody -- there just wasn’t work. I mean, now there’s seven productions going on in Quebec.
5583 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: No but you said that the English Quebec production community was -- how do you say -- lost a lot of companies to Toronto.
5584 MS. LUNDMAN: Yes.
5585 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And I was asking if that was mainly due to the difference with the tax credit.
5586 MS. LUNDMAN: It’s due to the tax credits and it’s also due to the fact that it’s very easy; all the broadcasters are there. It’s very easy to meet them for coffee, to get to know them on a personal basis.
5587 MR. COX: Also, the talent pool is much deeper in Toronto because of all the Montrealers that are there. And if you want to make something in Montreal, it’s much more difficult because the talent pool is thinner because there’s been less work.
5588 MS. SCOLLAN: Can I just speak to the talent side and not just the company’s side just to the point of how Toronto-centric it is. You have productions that are shooting in Montreal, but because of where the companies are now and where the producers are or the broadcasters are now they’re conducting the auditions, they’re hiring people in Toronto.
5589 And so you have a situation where you have Montreal performers who, you know, want to do a series in Montreal having to send an on-tape audition to a company or to a casting director in Toronto.
5590 And so you see it as a talent level as well where even just to work in Montreal you have to somehow go via Toronto.
5591 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: But if it’s a Quebec producer that succeeds and conclude in an agreement with a broadcaster, chances are that productions will be done in Quebec with talent in Quebec.
5592 MS. SCOLLAN: Chances are but not necessarily. If you look at a lot of ---
5593 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Not even necessarily. So talent is not even guaranteed even though production made in Quebec ---
5594 MS. SCOLLAN: Well, that’s because a lot of our talent has to go ---
5595 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: --- that it will work, you know.
5596 MS. SCOLLAN: A lot of our talent has to go to Toronto where you have ---
5597 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
5598 MS. SCOLLAN: You hear it from not just performers but from other unions, where there’s a sense that you have to go via Toronto in order to get more well-known and eventually find work.
5599 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: But there are some Quebec English producers that are succeeding and concluding agreements with large broadcasters aside because of the tangible benefits and the Rogers three percent?
5600 MR. COX: There are producers that are succeeding, but you need a consistency of work. You need to have not one project but a series of projects so people can anticipate. They can decide do I want to move my family from Toronto back to Montreal, or whatever their personal decisions have to be. They won’t do that on the basis of one project. They have to do it with an expectation that this is now a production centre again, great.
5601 We’re not at the point where the quotas that you have put in place over the past few years have done the job, you can get rid of them, everything is okay, and we will continue at this level. That’s not going to happen if you do that.
5602 So that’s why we’re asking you to be consistent with the policies that you’ve put in place so far which, as we’re trying to point out, have been very successful. But as we’re also trying to point out, they’ve been successful in one area, which is CMF television production.
5603 In other areas which are not regulated in the same degree or do not have a quota, we’re losing, we’re continuing to lose production, even 35 percent in feature films. It’s highly volatile.
5604 So it’s hard to build a talent base and it’s hard to build the kind of relationships with that kind of volatility. You need some steadiness.
5605 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. And do you attribute that to the fact that -- I mean, there are many small production companies not necessarily -- and these small companies don’t have necessarily the means to be able to do multiple projects at the same time?
5606 MS. LUNDMAN: Yes. I mean, I’m a small company; there’s three of us basically full-time. And the change in the AMI fund and the quotas four or five years has made a huge difference for us. It’s allowed us to research and develop projects, it’s allowed us to come up with a business plan, it’s allowed us to stay in business. I mean, we do one project. You know, we develop three or four projects and we really put all of our effort and all of our time into those projects.
5607 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: So even though there would be a quota ---
5608 MS. LUNDMAN: Yes.
5609 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: --- you’re not guaranteed that you’re going to get a project going with a broadcaster. It might be a bigger Quebec production company that’s a bigger supplier to broadcaster that is going to get it all, and small companies are not going to get more even though there would be a quota. I mean, I’m thinking about companies like Mews, Entertainment ---
5610 MS. LUNDMAN: Yeah, we work with Mews.
5611 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I mean, this is a Quebec company.
5612 MS. LUNDMAN: Yeah.
5613 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I mean, it does a lot of projects, has won prizes and all. I mean, it must be hard for a small producer on its own to compete with such a production outfit.
5614 MS. LUNDMAN: With Mews as well. It’s sort of ironic because we co-produce with Mews; that’s one more thing. But whether the quota will help large -- and it does help small companies. I know that we have companies that are in our organization who do documentaries, who do short-films, who do, you know, all sorts of different products. And what it does is it helps the industry that I work in.
5615 So whether I’m directly benefiting that year or not by a quota, I know that it’s going to benefit another company. And I don’t see it benefiting just the larger companies. I see it benefiting the smaller companies as well who are doing all sorts of work.
5616 MR. COX: There’s a small company that usually made documentaries and then they pitched a series, a drama series which was accepted because they met the broadcaster at one of the get togethers that we organized. And it was their very first drama series. And they’ve got the series going, and it’s a very small company.
5617 And the head of that company was constantly saying, “Should I go to Toronto? My God, why am I so stupid? Dammit, I’ve got to get my kids out of that school.” You know, that kind of interior monologue. And now he’s able to say, “Oh, I can work and make a living in Montreal. Who knew?”
5618 So, you know, that’s one example. Another is that a few years ago with the CMF Funding, one year we couldn’t use all the finding we had because the formula they use created a rocky mountain up and down, up and down, kind of thing.
5619 And so one year we got zero regional dollars; the next year we got four million and could only use two million and therefore the next year it was zero. The point is that when funding is so erratic, it means the people can’t plan ahead.
5620 Now everyone knows that there is a regular funding that the CMF is going to spend in Quebec and therefore a year, two years in advance, even three years in advance, people are able to plan ahead and say, “Okay, when it comes time, we know we can depend on this or that. We can depend on a quota; we can depend on AMI funding, whatever it might be.”
5621 And gradually, like that person who was thinking of moving to Toronto and is now going to stay in Montreal, then these people, this talent, can develop because people don’t acquire talent as soon as they cross the border to Ontario.
5622 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Just the fact that you have some money available with the CMF, isn’t that enough to trigger deals -- help you trigger deals with broadcasters?
5623 MR. COX: It’s not enough by itself.
5624 MS. LUNDMAN: Yeah, it -- yes, absolutely, it’s very helpful. It’s not enough by itself, as I know because the funding was not available; it was all used this spring, which is fantastic.
5625 But also what it does with the quota is it creates a situation where smaller companies or people who are just starting out who are very talented have an opportunity to go to the broadcasters and meet them and pitch their projects.
5626 And as Kirwan has said, what’s wonderful now is that the networks are actually coming to Montreal. They come once -- twice a year now and they have these open town halls; they’re 50, 60 people that come; the networks say, “Look it. This is what we’re looking for. This is what we want. These are the kind of projects,” and you get to hear it directly from them; it’s a one-on-one meeting.
5627 And it’s not just the bigger companies or people like me who are more established. It’s also the younger people who are starting out who have these ideas who have an opportunity to go there and pitch them. And that’s what -- one of the things that happened with this particular company; they pitched them at one of these town hall meetings and the network went, “Yeah, that sounds really good.”
5628 So it’s just -- it’s giving an opportunity. Obviously, the project still has to be good but there’s at least a chance, you know.
5629 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Well, I understand very well. I'm going to leave you with the last word unless some of my colleagues have got some questions. If you want to conclude with something additional, the floor is yours.
5630 MS. LUNDMAN: I don’t know. I just -- you know, I thank you for what you’ve done so far. It’s been very helpful, the quota system. It’s creating a successful story, strong companies, talented -- talented stories.
5631 MR. COX: I would like to make one comment, which is that we are always trying to get our statistics in better order and we wanted the CRTC to put official language minority data and your production data into your communications report and we were told that the broadcaster had to fill in new forms for that to happen. We were then told that Bell and Rogers and Corus all said it was too much work; it was a burden, all this paperwork, and they didn’t want to do it. And so, therefore, we were told that the CRTC thought it wasn’t a big burden for us an we should do it instead of Bell because they were more concerned about Bell’s ability to handle all this heavy burden.
5632 So I’d like you to reconsider that question and try and get official-language minority production data into your commutations report and also help to get some of the data in better shape.
5633 Thank you.
5634 MS. LUNDMAN: Thank you.
5635 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Those are our questions for you.
5636 And we’ll take a break until 10:50. So we’re adjourned until 10:50.
--- Upon recessing at 10:38 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 10:50 a.m.
5637 THE CHAIRPERSON: À l’ordre, s’il vous plaît.
5638 Alors, Madame la secrétaire.
5639 THE SECRETARY: We’ll now hear the presentation from On Screen Manitoba.
5640 You can go ahead, ladies, when you’re ready.
5641 MS. MATIATION: Good morning Chairman, Commissioners, CRTC staff. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
5642 My name is Nicole Matiation. I am the Executive Director of On Screen Manitoba, the provincial media production industry association. I have with me today Joanne Levy, whom you met earlier this week. Today, Joanne is present as a current member and past Board Chair of On Screen Manitoba. Joanne has also worked as a journalist and as a development executive for several broadcasters.
5643 During the French-language group-licence renewals, I underlined the important role that independent regionally-based creators play in ensuring a diversity of voice within the Canadian broadcasting system, but I believe it bears repeating.
5644 Manitoba writers, directors, producers, and other media production industry professionals include French language speakers, Indigenous peoples, new Canadians, and others from diverse and established communities. They all create compelling content for Canadian and international audiences.
5645 MS. LEVY: Last week, Nicole told you about several Manitoba productions that are screened nationally and internationally in the French language market; many others in the English-language market also meet international success.
5646 “Polar Bear Town”, a documentary series about Churchill, Manitoba, is the lead series and a top-rated show on the Smithsonian Channel in the US. It’s carried on Rogers Outdoor Life Network here in Canada.
5647 Other successes include “Planet Echo”, made for APTN by Media Rendez-vous, sold to Discovery International; “Illegal Eater”, made by Farpoint Films for Rogers has sold to Discovery Network in Latin America; and award-winning drama “Less-than-Kind”, co-produced by Buffalo Gal Pictures for City TV and HBO Canada is now distributed in many other countries.
5648 The average number of employees for these production companies is four. They are augmented, of course, with any number of independent contractors as needed for projects.
5649 The point is the quality of these productions is not dependent on the size of the production company. The success of these shows demonstrates the producers’ capacity to manage risk, collaborate with broadcasters, and deliver excellent programming.
5650 We look to the Commission to establish a framework that balances the relationship between broadcasters and independent producers, and fulfills the Broadcasting Act’s demand for diversity of voice and regional reflection.
5651 MS. MATIATION: Today’s consolidated broadcasters and emerging OTT distributors operate on an entirely different scale than most independent producers. We support the renewal of the licences of the large groups with measures in place that balance the relationship between broadcasters and the independent production community.
5652 We recommend that the CRTC require licensees to use standardized templates to provide annual regional production reports and plans, PNI reports both broken out by province and including official-language minority community activity. These reports are critical to tracking outreach and development as well as actual production taking place in the provinces.
5653 We would like to reiterate the CMPA’s call for maintaining 30 percent CPE and historic spending for independently-produced original PNI and non-PNI Canadian programming.
5654 Turning to our specific experiences with the large-group broadcasters, we appreciate their regular attendance at All Access, our annual industry forum. These sessions and meetings allow independent producers and writers in Manitoba to develop and enhance their relationships with commissioning editors.
5655 We ask the Commission to renew the expectation and further encourage Broadcasters to meet regularly with regionally-based creators. This is but a first step towards increased diversity of voice and content; ultimately, we believe that decentralized decision-making is required.
5656 Regionally-based producers in Manitoba and other provinces were heartened when Bell Media established regional development offices. Having a locally-based development executive meant emerging and established writers and directors could pitch concepts directly to Bell Media. Unfortunately, this promising approach lasted for only about 19 months.
5657 MS. LEVY: We note the Commission’s new Local and Community Policy Framework and welcome the exhibition and expenditure requirements for local news. We note the flexibility accorded BDUs to support “locally relevant programming”. And we believe that this is an opportunity to increase investment in content produced by locally-based independent producers. In our province, there is no better example than the VOD delivered, MTS "Stories from Home". It develops new, diverse producers who tell stories that are relevant and valued by Manitoba residents.
5658 With the potential sale of MTS to Bell, we are concerned that this successful initiative might be lost, and we ask the Commission to explore measures that encourage broadcasters to augment their investment in content made by locally-based independent producers.
5659 MS. MATIATION: Regionally-based producers, with their smaller, more nimble companies, regularly demonstrate their capacity to create high-quality content for Canadian and international audiences on any platform. The DGC and others have noted that when independent producers do well, their members do well also. We believe that when independent producers can retain and capitalize their intellectual property, and when those producers are based throughout the country, the system is stronger and more diverse.
5660 Thank you, and we are open for your questions, should you wish.
5661 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Mr. Dupras will ask us -- will start off the questions. Thanks.
5662 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Bonjour. Just one question to start on what you said on page 3 of your written intervention.
5663 You referred to experiences your members had in their dealings with broadcasters. You cited an example that licence fees agreements concluded with some members by broadcasters represented 10 percent of the production budget only, but with the broadcaster obtaining 40 percent of net profits.
5664 Is that the situation common, and can you tell us more about that, which broadcaster this has occurred, and is that -- has that been something you've been reported many times?
5665 MS. MATIATION: So a number of producers in Manitoba have reported similar scenarios to me. They’ve chosen not to name the broadcasters in that case. I think that Joanne might have something to add to this.
5666 MS. LEVY: The broadcast licences can range from -- anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent, and for that, we have heard that broadcasters are sometimes asking for some of the back end, and in fact, are even starting to move on asking for the retransmission fees. So if you add all of the various streams together, it can be quite onerous for a small producer.
5667 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Do you know which broadcasters is involved?
5668 MS. LEVY: I have some ideas, but to -- in order to respect the privacy of the producers who brought forward the stories, I think we should refrain from mentioning that. Perhaps if there was an opportunity to have a confidential ---
5669 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
5670 MS. LEVY: --- undertaking, that would ---
5671 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And do you feel this is something that is becoming a practice?
5672 MS. LEVY: There's a slippery slope, and we're starting to see some behaviour that is questionable and we see it starting to grow.
5673 COMMISIONER DUPRAS: Okay, at an alarming rate?
5674 MS. LEVY: Even if it's one or two, it's pretty alarming.
5675 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes.
5676 MS. LEVY: But there -- yeah, quite frankly, in recent times, without the balancing of the power structure between the larger broadcasters and an independent producer, it can be extremely difficult to negotiate your way out of the situations where the broadcaster wants more than they are actually contributing to.
5677 I mean, there's no -- there's nobody who has an issue -- if the broadcaster wants to put in equity, they should, of course, be allowed to recoup in proportion to what they have invested. And there's no doubt about that. We're all business people. We understand that equation.
5678 But when there's a difference in power structure, it can be extremely difficult for a small production company to tell a broadcaster to take a hike, because there aren't very many other alternatives.
5679 COMMMISSIONER DURAS: That's it, okay. But there's always the opportunity also for the producer to agree to give some of its share to the broadcaster to entice him to take the project?
5680 MS. LEVY: Yes.
5681 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. In your written intervention, you request the Commission require groups to file regional production reports and plans. You mention that these should include OLMC activity. You also request that a standardized approach to this reporting be develop and implemented by the Commission.
5682 First, did you have a discussion with the large ownership groups about your suggestion to see if they would be ready to provide the information directly?
5683 MS. MATIATION: No, we haven't had that discussion.
5684 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Why didn’t you contact them?
5685 MS. MATIATION: We were really looking at it from the perspective of the CRTC, that that was information that should be collected because it was already broken out. You know, one of our big concerns is with the regional production report. It doesn’t actually break out the provinces. It groups the prairie provinces together, so it makes it difficult for us to even understand what work has been done within Manitoba.
5686 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: So you find you have issues with the data that is currently available, that's already broken down by region and by language, is not ---
5687 MS. MATIATION: Yes, we'd like ---
5688 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: It's not sufficient?
5689 MS. MATIATION: --- more detail.
5690 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: More detail?
5691 MS. MATIATION: More detail, so that we would know by province what level of activity was taking place.
5692 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. With respect to children programming, you mention in your written intervention that you agree with the CMPA position. So if I summarize, you recommend that the Commission consider different models to ensure that the system will continue to serve Canadian children. You're also of the view that the Commission should continue to treat children's services as a unique case. Is that an accurate reflection of your position?
5693 MS. MATIATION: Yes, we maintain the same position.
5694 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Can you be more specific about what measure you would like to see put in place to support the creation of Canadian children programming?
5695 MS. LEVY: What we've seen in Manitoba -- and we can really only talk from our experience provincially -- is that I believe there's been a certain falling-off in the amount of children's programming that is produced in the province. And we're concerned that that's an area that we used to really excel in, and we're looking for opportunities to make sure that our independent producers have -- are encouraged in that market.
5696 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And can -- do you have any clue why it -- there was a reduction?
5697 MS. LEVY: Well, there's also fewer buyers. As we know, there's been terrific consolidation in Canadian production, particularly as it relates to the broadcasters who will buy children's programming. And it's just that much more difficult and more competitive.
5698 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Well, these conclude my questions. Thank you.
5699 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We have no further questions for you. Thank you very much.
5700 MS. LEVY: Thank you.
5701 THE CHAIRPERSON: À l'ordre.
5702 Madame la Secrétaire?
5703 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will now invite Mr. Steve Hogle from the Saskatoon Blades.
5704 THE CHAIRPERSON: Welcome, and please go ahead when you're ready.
5705 MR. HOGLE: Thank you very much. Good morning, Mr. Chair, Ms. Vice-Chair and fellow Commissioners. My name is Steve Hogle, indeed. I’m the President of the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League. And that is a member of the Canadian Hockey League.
5706 I thank the Members of the Commission for this opportunity to speak today in support of Bell Media’s application. I’m also grateful for the timing of this hearing.
5707 The election of Donald Trump in the United States prompted a great debate regarding the state of the media including whether some of the biases in America might creep north.
5708 Here in Canada Ottawa’s pipeline announcements resulted in emotional responses which varied depending on where you live in this vast land.
5709 I have no desire to play politics. I do however want to use these events to help convey the critical need for local television. Now more than ever we need independent voices of fact, reason, and intelligence.
5710 Canadians have a long history of trusting those voices to report and interpret information, to help us understand what it means, who it will impact, and how it might change our lives.
5711 Those voices may prompt thoughtful reflection and long-term planning as can be the case with government decisions. Other times they demand more immediate action like weather warnings of impending danger.
5712 The breadth of our country is part of its beauty. It also speaks to its diversity. And it makes it abundantly clear there are different priorities in different parts of the land. And it is a craft to determine what is relevant to people in each region.
5713 The voices we hear on local television are incredibly important to me and millions of other Canadians. We value them as citizens, taxpayers, and voters.
5714 The voice of CTV has an unrivalled reputation as a private broadcaster delivering information through its national platforms and its member stations. Many of those affiliates established operations more than six decades ago. They embraced their roles as community leaders looking out in the best interests of the people. To this day they make their communities better places to live, work, and play.
5715 A shining example is CTV Saskatoon which hit the airwaves in 1954. It quickly established itself as the most trusted voice for news and information in the city and throughout central and northern Saskatchewan. And it has never relinquished that title.
5716 In my role as President of the Blades every day I witness the benefits local broadcasters deliver to the people they serve.
5717 CTV Saskatoon has supported our organization ever since we arrived on the scene in 1964. It set a new standard when it helped us secure and then help stage the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship and the 2013 Memorial Cup Championship. Those were huge events for our nation, our province, and our city, triggering incredible civic pride never seen before and huge economic benefits previously unheard of.
5718 CTV’s partnerships on those events required long-term strategic planning and promised great benefits; other times demand quick responses with no payoffs.
5719 The station was incredibly nimble responding to the massive wildfires in northern Saskatchewan in 2015 and the subsequent evacuation of thousands of people. Timely information across a variety of platforms was critical, helping ensure a safe and orderly evacuation. Its work covering the lives of the people at temporary shelters prompted an incredible outpouring of community support.
5720 It was local television at its best bringing people together in person or around virtual meeting places. It cemented the station’s reputation as a true local voice and a vital part of our community.
5721 There was a similar response earlier this year with the tragic school shootings in La Loche in Northern Saskatchewan. The terrible news woke a nation up and ultimately brought people from various regions closer together.
5722 Later, when the Blades later brought bus loads of children from La Loche to Saskatoon so they could take their minds off matters in the north, CTV was there to help, promoting the initiative and then reporting on it. Viewers were moved when they saw thousands of fans at our game give the kids a standing ovation letting them know they were not alone.
5723 Our most recent example working together in the best interests of the community was our celebration of the life of Mr. Hockey. We honoured Gordie Howe, including bringing his ashes home to bury at his statue outside our arena. The moving tribute was captured live on CTV Newsnet, showing Canadians how a man from a small town captured the imagination of a nation, achieving his dream and never forgetting his roots.
5724 We see CTV at the arena daily as crews collect elements for stories that will be told better than anyone else, do in-depth features you will not see anywhere else, or ask pointed questions you will not hear from anyone else. We respect and appreciate that. They hold us and others accountable and make us better in the long run.
5725 Our partnership also includes sponsorships, promotions, and advertising, which helps us further our business case. And it’s easy to see many other coorporations also enjoy this kind of relationship when we see station personnel in action at events across the community.
5726 We share many values with CTV, including the guiding principle of putting the interests of others first.
5727 The station’s Telemiracle is a glowing example. CTV launched this venture 41 years ago. They’ve now raised more than $116 million in Saskatchewan for people in need across the province.
5728 Today, technology allows them to stage Hometown Tour where they take their broadcasts into communities across Saskatchewan.
5729 CTV has proven incredibly adept, building on a storied past while adapting to a changing future. Consumers of content demand information on their terms and the dramatic shifts in the media world create costs and pressures. Small resourceful teams are doing more than ever now. The people of CTV consistently rise to the challenge, unwavering in their commitment to serve the people.
5730 The common denominator between tradition and technology is the ability to determine what content is relevant to what community. CTV’s leaders in their respective markets, in tandem with those at head office, show remarkable resilience, effectively evolving their business model while delivering on the expectations of the people.
5731 They have all helped to make us better. We are better understanding information; we are better caring for others; and we are better growing our sense of community.
5732 In this world of change, we are incredibly well-served to have a voice to help guide us through challenges and opportunities.
5733 I urge you to enable CTV and its affiliates to further enhance their roles and expand their abilities to deliver essential news, relevant information, and community service to millions of Canadians from sea to sea to sea.
5734 I truly hope this submission, along with the other information you receive, leads to a greater understanding and appreciation of the critical role of local television and ultimately to the CRTC’s approval of Bell Media’s licence renewal application.
5735 Thank you very much.
5736 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation and your written intervention. You’re obviously very passionate about the importance of local television for the people of Saskatchewan, I guess, and Canadians generally, and discussion of issues on citizenship.
5737 So in light of that, I was wondering if you had any views about Bell’s proposal to shut down transmitters in Yorkton, Norquay, Hudson’s Bay, Warmley, Wynyard, Prince Alberta, Spiritwood, Big River, Melfort, Nipawin, Regina, Colgate, Willow Bunch, Fort Qu’Appelle, and Golden Prairie?
5738 MR. HOGLE: I’m not up to speed on the latest developments on the technology, but I do know that it is a balance between having rebroadcast stations and installing fiber-optic. And I know in our province, for example, there is a constant move to integrate communities and connect them via fiber lines.
5739 So I don’t know what the balance is between rebroadcasters and fiber. So I wouldn’t be well qualified to address that specifically. I know the business model is evolving as we speak.
5740 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. So you wouldn’t be concerned that lower-income Canadians who might not be able to afford a distribution service, like cable or fibre-optic, would lose, with a shutdown of these over-the-air re-transmitters, their free over-the-air television?
5741 MR. HOGLE: I think access is a huge priority moving forward and that, again, is a balance. I don’t know the business base as well as you people do, but I think you want access as one of the guiding principles, absolutely. How that is received? There is not need for expenditures in some cases in Saskatchewan for access to fiber, but in terms of the free traditional broadcasting, I don’t know if there are areas that would not be served by that and without fiber as well.
5742 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. What if I told you that under our current regime a licensee like Bell could return its license at any time, because it’s not making money, and there’s nothing the Commission could do, anything about it? So for instance, if in a couple of years, during the current licence term, they’re losing money in, let’s say, Saskatoon, they could return their licence and local television would be lost in Saskatoon. How would you feel about that?
5743 MR. HOGLE: We wouldn’t want to lose any local voices in the market for sure. As you can tell from my submission, I am passionate about it. And I think it’s a critical voice in the market and critical voices in the nation.
5744 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I know you’re not an expert in regulatory matters. Do you think we should find a way to make sure that that doesn’t happen without some public process and consultation?
5745 MR. HOGLE: I think public input is always valuable. I think over to you to further that case with Bell, but I think public input is critical in that matter.
5746 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right, thank you.
5747 Well, those are all our questions for you.
5748 MR. HOGLE: Thank you.
5749 THE CHAIRPERSON: So thanks again for participating in the proceeding; very much appreciated.
5750 MR. HOGLE: Thanks very much for the honour.
5751 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
5752 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
5753 Next presentation is from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Halifax, and they’re appearing by video conference from the Dartmouth office.
5754 Good morning. Can you see us, can you hear us?
5755 MS. GODDARD: Yes, I can see and hear you.
5756 THE SECRETARY: Okay, we can now hear you well.
5757 So please introduce yourselves for the record first, and you may go ahead with your presentation. The Panel is ready to hear you.
5758 MS. GODDARD: Thank you. My name is Carol Goddard, and I am Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Halifax. And I’m pleased and delighted to have held that position for 46 years.
5759 Mr. Blais and Commissioners, I appreciate the invitation to present to your group. I apologize for not providing notes to you in advance, but I’ve just returned from the Dominican Republic where a Big Brother Big Sister team as a well as a team from Live Different, a Canadian charity, were down there building homes for needy families. So since my return, my own desk has been my priority for the last two days.
5760 The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to provide quality mentoring services for children and youth, generally 17 to 18 years of age and generally growing up in single-parent families. The profile of single-parent families would lead us all to believe that the majority of those are challenged financially.
5761 We recruit, screen, train, and match qualified volunteers, who spend an average of two to six hours per week as friends and mentors to those kids while supported by the agency’s professional staff through the life of any match.
5762 These volunteers from the community are the primary change agents in the lives of kids, and that positive benefit to kids spills over and has positive impacts for the families as well.
5763 While Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Halifax is one of 110 agencies across Canada -- 11 of those in the Maritimes by way -- we are a federation of agencies, with each agency responsible to provide the resources required to serve our kids according to nationally approved standards.
5764 Therefore, at any point in time the two equally important priorities of a local agency are the recruitment, engagement, support of qualified volunteers and to adequate and sustainable funding to support the cause and the provision for caring, competent, professional staff who support the family, the kid, and the volunteers throughout the life of any match.
5765 Just as a side note, 80 percent of any agency’s budget is for staffing because they are key to the success of kids and volunteers.
5766 Each of these priorities require attention to building and protecting our brand, our credibility, and I think our engagement in the local community. I’m proud to say we’ve enjoyed a positive relationship with CTV Atlantic for over 30 years.
5767 Some of the ways they have been helpful to Big Brothers Big Sisters include, but are absolutely not limited to, creative support, guidance for ad copy, create copy, and campaign design. Technical support on those rare occasions when we have dollars to invest in producing commercials, where they help us stretch those dollars until the dollars scream.
5768 They understand the need for our commercials, that is, the Atlantic region commercials to have local flavour, local visuals, and local voices. Content out of Ontario does not resonate as well as local content despite the fact that our mandate across the country is similar.
5769 They provide regular and timely rotation of TV commercials that we do have, and they are -- you know, those commercials if they could be updated would be a high priority for us and very desirable but the funding is not currently available.
5770 CTV personnel attend our events, they are spokespeople for campaigns, and they help us organize. CTV is in fact a local sponsor for every event that we have during the year. They are known as our broadcaster of choice, I do believe.
5771 Their involvement over the years has helped our annual Bowl for Kids campaign, for instance, which started out as a five-year project and recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. That campaign raises 250,000 in Halifax right now and 500,000 in the Maritimes.
5772 Planned promotion around that campaign with the help of CTV is that while it’s organized out of Halifax, it provides support and recognition throughout Atlantic Canada possibly, you know, providing features in more remote areas of the region including Lunenburg, Miramichi, and areas of Cape Breton, areas that could not access this coverage without a collaborative effort.
5773 Another major area of support for our local agency is support of our social enterprise, where we actually earn revenue to support programs through a clothing textile donation program. This program allows us to employ 17 people who were marginally employed before we were involved in their lives, and this generates over 250,000 annually. That’s net revenue.
5774 CTV has recognized the need to talk about recycling and repurposing of products as part of our ad campaigns, and developed an advertisement with us two years ago that still gets consistent and valuable play. But what was really interesting is that they took the fundraising and the cause to the newsroom with discussions of environmental issues currently gaining more and more traction in Nova Scotia.
5775 Most importantly for us is the recruitment of qualified volunteers to act as mentors and friends to over 100 kids, mostly boys, who are consistently on our waiting list. Our objective in life is not to get rid of the waiting list but to have kids on the waiting list a much shorter period of time.
5776 In April of this year, we held a week-long targeted recruitment campaign where a local 65-year-old Big Brother and his 15-year-old Little Brother were spokespeople for the organization. They spoke personally about their involvement and experience, on a variety of shows and electronic media. They made a direct ask to men, very direct ask to men to get involved and to get involved now, not some day.
5777 This campaign in mainstream electronic media resulted in 92 inquiries of men in just three weeks, an unprecedented response. As a result, we’ve made 30 new matches since that date and we have more than will be made before the end of the year. It proved that targeted local personalized campaigns work better than generic commercials. It proved we just had to ask. And we thank CTV for their part in this substantial success.
5778 In our experience, CTV lends credibility and visibility to our agencies and to numerous other agencies in our community. Their voice helps us achieve measurable outcomes for vulnerable children, youth, and their families.
5779 In our opinion, CTV is a valued part of the fabric of this community and other communities in the Maritimes. As I said, what I’ve commented on doesn’t begin to cover the scope of CTV’s involvement in the community with some of their other programming. Their Maritimer of the Week, for instance, which celebrates individuals in diverse situations and across the region; special investigative reports done by local broadcasters such as Kayla Hounsell, who has done special features on Africa, bringing a view of the world through local eyes; features on smaller communities which they try and try to be more and more inclusive using electronic media more and more. And their easy access to newsmakers and people of influence in the community is outstanding. But despite that familiarity and that easy access, it doesn’t have them hold back in the newsroom when there are hard questions to be asked.
5780 It is our opinion that CTV is a valued, valued partner and we support this application on their behalf.
5781 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation.
5782 Commissioner Simpson will have a couple of questions for you.
5783 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much, Ms. Goddard. I understand the good work done by Big Brothers. I was on the Board of Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver for a number of years and commend your work.
5784 I just have one or two questions and it’s regarding not the good work and the support you’re getting from CTV in Halifax, but you’d referenced, I think, that in addition to fundraising efforts of 250,000 for Halifax there was an amount I heard you say of $500,000 for the Maritimes or coming out of Atlantic Canada.
5785 So am I too assume -- and if I’m correct could you fill me in to the best of your abilities -- what support CTV provides to the other agencies in Atlantic Canada in addition to your own?
5786 MS. GODDARD: Our agency works with CTV here in Halifax to develop the promotional material and provide information on campaigns throughout Atlantic Canada because the agencies in Atlantic Canada work closely on lots of issues and questions.
5787 So CTV knows when those campaigns are being held around the region and advertisements are very clearly identify what’s happening in Miramichi or Yarmouth or places other than Halifax as well as Halifax. And they will make a point of going to Moncton or Pictou or somewhere else to do some special features around All for Kids.
5788 So that helps have All for Kids top of mind and have that endorsement of CTV around Atlantic Canada. And it’s organized essentially out of Halifax.
5789 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: You also referenced that the CTV helps you put together public service announcements for insertion into their PSAs.
5790 So again, just for the record, am I to assume correctly that it’s not just their station in Halifax but also Sydney, Moncton, and St. John that also air these commercials? Terrific, thank you.
5791 MS. GODDARD: Yes. And we try to coordinate them. And I will mention, as you mentioned, Greater Vancouver. They have an amazing campaign right now that we have managed to partner with them on. And you know, we’ve now brought that to Atlantic Canada because you have some water in the background.
5792 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Well, thank you very much. Those are my questions. Very thorough and effective testimony. Thank you very much.
5793 MS. GODDARD: Thank you.
5794 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for that.
5795 I take it you as well would want the stations to continue to be on air if you value the service CTV is providing? Is that correct?
5796 MS. GODDARD: Absolutely.
5797 THE CHAIRPERSON: Great. Thank you very much for participating in our hearing; we appreciate it.
5798 MS. GODDARD: Thank you.
5799 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
5800 Alors, Madame la secrétaire?
5801 THE SECRETARY: Oui. We’ll now hear the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce also appearing by video conference. So there might be a few seconds here until we can see them on screen. And it will be Mr. Chuck Davidson, President and CEO.
5802 Good morning. Can you see us? I guess not.
5803 MR. DAVIDSON: Yes, good morning.
5804 THE SECRETARY: Good morning. You may proceed with your presentation.
5805 MR. DAVIDSON: Good morning. Thank you very much.
5806 THE CHAIRPERSON: Can you hear us, Mr. Davidson? Yes?
5807 THE SECRETARY: Yes. I think he said, “Yes.”
5808 MR. DAVIDSON: Yes, I can hear you.
5809 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Please go ahead, then.
5810 MR. DAVIDSON: All right, thank you.
5811 My name is Chuck Davidson. I am the President and CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and I appreciate this opportunity, Mr. Chair and Commissioner.
5812 The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce has been around for 85 years, and currently in Manitoba we represent 69 local chambers of commerce and close to 10,000 business in the province. Our role is to provide support to those chambers and the businesses they represent to ensure we have a strong business network in the Province of Manitoba.
5813 Secondly, we are an advocacy organization, acting as the voice of business in Manitoba, which means we develop public policy on behalf of the business community, but also communities throughout Manitoba, and advocate those policies to various levels of government.
5814 And the real strength of our organization is that we have the ability to gain access and have strong relationships with politicians, bureaucrats, decision makers, and the business community throughout Manitoba.
5815 As an organization, our mission is to champion sustainable economic growth, leading to greater prosperity for business and communities in Manitoba.
5816 Personally, I have been the CEO for the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce since May 2013, and before that spent over a decade in policy development in communications with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and with a provincial political party.
5817 However, my roots are in media. I am a Red River College graduate of the Creative Communications program in Manitoba, with a diploma in Journalism. I spent the first six years of my career working in private radio for 680 CJOB, which at the time was the number one radio station in Manitoba. And I’ve had a long relationship with Bell Media and CTV, first working alongside their reporters and cameramen providing news coverage to Manitoba listeners and viewers.
5818 Secondly, in my many roles in communication jobs and now as the CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, local television, and in particular CTV, has played a critical role in providing opportunities for the organizations I have represented to share ideas and stories in relation to business in Manitoba.
5819 That is why I am pleased to support Bell Media and their application to renew the licences of its local television stations as well as its specialty services. In Manitoba, CTV has done an outstanding job in bringing local news to Manitobans, and has been a clear leader, in terms of viewers, for years. In fact, CTV is the only Manitoba channel that provides local news content four times a day -- at breakfast, over the lunch hour, over the dinner hour, and late night news -- for Manitoba viewers, and also is the only station that provides coverage on weekends.
5820 I can’t tell you how many times over the years CTV reporters have contacted me at home on weekends to do interviews on local Manitoba business issues such as the impact of the Heritage Classic to Sunday shopping hours.
5821 There is no question that CTV is a vital part of the Manitoba community. It’s a true local voice. And the importance of a community’s local television station should not be underestimated. It ties the community together and serves as a virtual meeting place.
5822 For that reason, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce is supportive of the CRTC’s decision to create a new fund for local television stations and specifically local news. This funding decision will allow the stations to continue to be valued local partners and support the local economy.
5823 We are also supportive of Bell Media’s proposal for the exhibition of local news, as it will ensure that communities continue to receive programming that they value.
5824 For these reasons, and many more that other members have also commented before me, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce would strongly encourage the CRTC to renew Bell Media’s licence for the local CTV stations in Manitoba.
5825 Thank you for your time.
5826 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Davidson. Commissioner Vennard may have a couple of questions for you.
5827 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Good morning, Mr. Davidson. Thank you for appearing at our hearing.
5828 MR. DAVIDSON: Thank you.
5829 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I have basically just one question for you and it has to do with local news.
5830 Can you just give us a couple of examples, since you’re in support of the application -- I presume those will probably be positive examples -- of the commitment -- you write of the commitment. And just give us an idea of how the local news coverage in the province, which is quite large, how does that play out? It’s one thing to cover local news in Winnipeg. What about the rural communities?
5831 MR. DAVIDSON: Yeah. CTV is one of the only stations that does make it a priority to be outside of the perimeter as well. There’s no question Winnipeg is the major city in Manitoba, but they have had in the past a regular reporter based in Brandon, has been something that they’ve done in the past.
5832 They make it a regular occurrence to be outside the perimeter as well to make sure that they are covering local news throughout Manitoba during things like provincial election campaigns, during the federal election campaign. Whether there are issues in Manitoba -- we’ve often had issues with flooding -- CTV is one of the stations that makes sure that they’re on the frontlines of telling those stories and making sure that Manitobans are up to date on what’s happening around this province. So they’re not specifically Winnipeg-based and Winnipeg-focused, which is critical in this province.
5833 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: That sounds quite resource-intensive. How does that work? How do they do that?
5834 MR. DAVIDSON: Well, I think they’re one of the few stations that has a large number of reporters, local reporters, that have been in place or in the changing media times that we've had in Manitoba, when you look at the numbers in terms of where CTV Media, where -- specifically where their supper hour broadcast is, in terms of viewership, they're number one by double over any other station here in Manitoba.
5835 So I think they've played a real role in terms of -- and I think a big part of that is their focus on making sure that they're not Winnipeg-centric and that they are addressing the needs of all Manitobans and providing them with the coverage that viewers are looking for in this province. And I think that's one of the reasons why they’ve had such a high viewership in this province.
5836 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. I have no further questions. Thank you for appearing at our hearing today.
5837 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Davidson for appearing and participating in the hearing.
5838 Madame Secretary, the next intervenor, please.
5839 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. The next presenter will be Mr. Jag Badwal from -- again, from Toronto by videoconference. So it might take a few seconds again until you see them on the screen. There it goes.
5840 Good morning. Can you hear us well?
5841 MR. BADWAL: Good morning. Yes, I can hear you.
5842 THE SECRETARY: Perfect. Please go ahead when you're present.
5843 MR. BADWAL: Thank you. Good morning Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, and Commission staff. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak about my support for the application filed by Rogers Media to launch a new national multicultural service called OMNI Regional under a 9(1)(h) order.
5844 My name is Jag Badwal. I am a proud Canadian of South Asian origin with a Punjabi background and have been involved with the South Asian community for more than 15 years as a volunteer, community organizer, and through the political sector. Throughout these years, I have always witnessed OMNI at the forefront of providing local news stories and covering issues and events of importance to our community. Whether it’s India Day celebrations, special coverage of the Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan in Toronto or Mountain, Sikh Centennial Gala, special Diwali, Eid programming, and much more, OMNI remains engaged in our communities.
5845 OMNI news is an integral part of our diverse media and an important source of current news. The importance of the South Asian community being able to connect with each other on television in Punjabi cannot be understated, especially for our seniors and new Canadians. Whether it’s the debate around turbans replacing helmets for Sikh motorcyclists, settlement challenges for new immigrants, wait times at Ontario hospitals, increase in hydro rates, federal and provincial budgets, Sikh Heritage Month, and so much more, OMNI discuss the issues and tells the stories that matter to us and do so in our language.
5846 I particularly support Rogers' commitment to operate the new OMNI Regional service on a break-even basis, where they would reinvest any profit right back into the programming. And their willingness to accept that as a condition of the licence shows that Rogers is truly dedicated to ethnic broadcasting and not looking at the request as a money-making venture.
5847 OMNI is a unique, exceptional, vital service that provides a strong voice for ethno-cultural communities in Canada through its programming and community outreach. In fact, OMNI is the only television service that provides programming in 20 distinct languages and serves 20 distinct ethnic groups. No other broadcaster does this.
5848 I strongly commend OMNI’s new commitment; four daily, national newscasts in Italian, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Punjabi will be of great value to these communities. These newscasts have played a fundamental role in ensuring that our community members are well informed, active, and involved citizens, and I fully support the commitment by Rogers to reinstate them.
5849 I am also pleased to hear of OMNI’s commitment to devote 40 percent of OMNI Regional’s annual revenues to the production of Canadian programs and 2.5 percent to ethnic and third-language documentaries and scripted dramas. This will help strengthen Canadian productions and support numerous local talents.
5850 If their request for mandatory carriage is granted, I believe that a better-funded OMNI will engage new Canadians across the country and help them to integrate into the Canadian society. OMNI will expand its reach and programming with four regional feeds that will be specifically tailored to ethnic Canadians in British Columbia, the Prairies, Eastern Canada, and Quebec, which will include ethnic and third-language programming produced by local independent producers residing in those regions.
5851 I think this is a terrific opportunity to further bringing Canadians together, thereby fostering a more respectful, tolerant, understanding, and a cohesive society.
5852 Given Canada’s multicultural reality, it is important that all Canadians have access to Canadian news and local programming in their language of comfort at an affordable price.
5853 Knowing OMNI’s history, I fully support this application due to their ongoing commitment to producing high-quality ethnic and third-language programming that reflects our community’s diversity.
5854 I thank the Commission for the opportunity to express my support for this application, and I'm -- and thank you so much. Looking for any questions.
5855 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for that presentation. Commissioner Simpson may have a few questions for you.
5856 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Good morning, Mr. Badwal.
5857 MR. BADWAL: Good morning.
5858 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Good morning. I would like to ask just one line of questioning, please, and you have a strong community background, and my area of interest is in why Rogers is having difficulty being able to sell air time against the audience that it's catering to with OMNI?
5859 I know from my experience living in Vancouver that both the Chinese and South Asian markets are very robust markets, not just by population, but by the business activity, and I'm just curious as to why those business communities operated by the very same audience that OMNI is trying to provide the service to doesn’t seem to be coming back the other way with the kind of support that's in equal measure to their enthusiasm for the programming.
5860 MR. BADWAL: Thank you for your question. I think that definitely affects from the ads and the revenue generations. I think also with OMNI's commitment now to break even and what other profits they have they would reflect -- put back into the programming will reflect that. Especially to the revenue generations, I don’t know the business before, what has happened, but I can tell you one thing though. They were present actually, 11 work in Peel region and they were present in each and every event that we were present, and they were a strong voice for the community on those -- in those events. And they covered seniors' event, they covered everything that we asked for.
5861 And I think that going forward, that they, you know, especially if the OMNI is well-funded, I think they will get this -- they can turn it around.
5862 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So you have no -- nothing that you can contribute as to why the community is not giving -- supporting the station with advertising purchases, in a nutshell?
5863 MR. BADWAL: I think they have supported it. Sorry, I think they have supported it before as well, so I can't tell you the business model, what has happened before ---
5864 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But the station's losing ---
5865 MR. BADWAL: --- and (inaudible).
5866 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But Mr. Badwal, the station's -- the enterprise has been losing money significantly over the years, and there's been a 78 percent decline since 2010. And I know Rogers knows how to operate a broadcast property, and they know how to program, but it just seems like the community's not responding. And it seems that you have no -- nothing you can contribute as to why.
5867 MR. BADWAL: Well, the community, as far as I can tell you, sir, has responded before and as I said, that, you know, the OMNI was present in each and every event, and if they were not welcomed, they would not have been invited into these events. As well, as to the funding, I'm not sure how that worked before, but I can tell you from my experience that when they were -- like, you know, they were present when -- in every event, whether they -- another key turns or cultural events or special events were organized by the community.
5868 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Thank you very much.
5869 MR. BADWAL: Thank you.
5870 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Those are all our questions for you. And thanks again for participating in the proceeding. Thank you.
5871 Alors, Madame la secrétaire.
5872 MS. ROY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Our next presenter is Ms. Queenie Choo and she will be appearing by Skype from Edmonton.
5873 Good morning. Can you hear me and see me well?
5874 MS. CHOO: Good morning. I can hear you.
5875 MS. ROY: Perfect. The Panel is here and ready to hear your presentation. Please go ahead.
5876 MS. CHOO: Thank you so much for the invitation to make a presentation to the commissioners for the application.
5877 Just maybe perhaps to introduce myself and what organization I represent, as well. My name is Queenie Choo and I’m the CEO of S.U.C.E.S.S..
5878 S.U.C.E.S.S. is one of the largest non-profit social service organizations in B.C. and we serve immigrants and newcomers coming to Canada for the last 43 years. So we understand their needs.
5879 And through the settlement services, language training, employment opportunity, as well as the community development, we help them to get established and become a contributing Canadian in our country.
5880 So with that, we have been, actually, collaborating a lot of activities with OMNI to ensure that we can reach out to different ethnic communities to ensure that they can understand what’s going on in the community and better inform as a Canadian in the language that they understand.
5881 And as I mentioned, that OMNI has been a collaborator with S.U.C.E.S.S., a local community non-profit organization, I also have the privilege to be one of the members of the OMNI BC Advisory Counsel allowing the opportunity to provide feedback and communicate with the community in terms of their needs and their wishes to OMNI.
5882 So again, OMNI is the -- because why OMNI is so unique and in particular providing their services to the community, because OMNI is the only television service with a broad service mandate that provides programming in 20 distinct languages and serves 20 distinct ethnic groups. It resonates with what a community needs. Because S.U.C.E.S.S. also is an organization that is multicultural and multilingual in nature so we can see the needs is definitely there.
5883 So if the new commitment to provide four times daily national, 30-minutes newscast in Italian, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Punjabi, that definitely will help to reach our majority of our newcomers and local residents across the country.
5884 And we’re very pleased to hear that with the new commitment to devote 40 percent of the OMNI Regional’s annual revenues for the production of Canadian programming -- that’s exciting news for us -- and with 2.5 percent to the ethnic or the third-language documentaries and scripted dramas for entertainment such as “The Blood and Water” that’s been aired recently.
5885 So OMNI -- with the better funding, we’re hoping that OMNI will be able to expand its reach and programming with four regional feeds that will be specifically tailored to ethnic Canadians in B.C., the Prairies, Eastern Canada, and Quebec, which also include the ethnic and third-language programming produced by the local, independent producers who reside in those regions.
5886 In conclusion, I felt that it is important to make sure that our communities support this. This is a vital opportunity as OMNI is a significant contributors to the Canadian identity as well as the multi-ethnic cultural diversity to ensure we are a country that value inclusion as well as the multi-ethnic culture that make up what Canada is all about.
5887 Thank you.
5888 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for that presentation. Commissioner Dupras might have one or two questions for you.
5889 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thank you.
5890 Thank you for your presentation. What do you see the new OMNI service offering that is not currently being offered by the many discretionary services offered in all languages on satellite and cable -- I think in particular for Mandarin and Cantonese -- to Fairchild and Talent Vision?
5891 MS. CHOO: And I’m going to share with you a little bit of -- a couple of the personal stories because stories can tell a lot.
5892 I remember my mother was thriving and looking forward to the news because she then can understand what’s going on beyond the community, in the rest of the world, that OMNI brings to the household, especially to those people whose language -- who has a language barrier. And you might say other, you know, ethnic -- Fairchild Community Channel provides that.
5893 However, OMNI is providing it for free. And that is also the added value to our Canadians, to our new immigrants, and to the communities who will be connected to the outside world.
5894 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. So you’re talking about the over-the-air signals that are free. I mean, you may know that the Commission has released a new local television policy this summer that would require all conventional television stations to offer local news program. Do you think the news programming that would be offered by Rogers on the OMNI OTAs would not be enough? MS. CHOO: Well, I think that in additional to needs, there is a need for local production of documentaries or dramas that is scripted so that, you know, not only the reaching out to the particular ethnocultural group but also other Canadians that can understand; for example, “The Blood and Water” that I mentioned, which is so well received by the local community.
5895 And I think this is an opportunity to really encourage the local production to ensure there is a great opportunity for the engagement of the community and local production company to really support the diversity of our country.
5896 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Well, thank you very much.
5897 MS. CHOO: Thank you.
5898 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for having participated in this proceeding and having done so from our regional office -- from your -- not from our regional office but from Skype. So that’s always an additional bonus for us to hear outside of where we have a regional office footprint. So thank you very much.
5899 And so Madame Secretary.
5900 MS. CHOO: Thank you very much.
5901 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, thank you.
5902 MS. ROY: Thank you.
5903 I will now invite the representative of VICE Media Canada to come forward to the presentation table, please.
5904 THE CHAIRPERSON: So as experienced intervenors you know that you’re supposed to introduce yourself and then make your presentation, right, Mr. Purdy?
5905 MR. PURDY: Absolutely. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
5906 So good morning Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is David Purdy; and with me today is Michael Kronish; and we are here from VICE.
5907 In our remarks today, we are here to discuss the benefits of our joint-venture relationship with Rogers Communications and how the investment in VICE Studio Canada has enabled the creation of top-quality Canadian content to be showcased to a wide domestic and international audience.
5908 I will first address the nature and importance of the joint venture, not only to VICE Studio Canada but to the industry as a whole, and then Michael Kronish will speak to our Canadian independent productions that Rogers has licensed for broadcast on its television stations.
5909 In 2014, VICE entered in to a joint venture with Rogers Communications. Together, we're contributing to the advancement of the Canadian media landscape while maintaining VICE's independence as a Canadian production company. This $100 million investment has allowed us to build a multimedia, state-of-the-art production facility in Toronto.
5910 No other broadcaster and no other content company has such an innovative arrangement in Canada, which has been made possible by these Rogers investments.
5911 VICE operates as an independent Canadian production company -- since VICE holds less than a 30 percent interest in the VICELAND channel -- and Rogers owns less than a 30 percent interest in VICE's production operations in Canada, which respects the commission's equity ownership limitations and broadcasters holding a stake in an independent production company.
5912 On Tuesday, the CMPA appeared before you advocating that any production company in which a broadcaster holds any level of interest is not independent and should not be eligible to receive PNI monies. We vehemently disagree with their assertion. Furthermore, VICE, as a recipient of PNI monies would be negatively impacted by the CMPA’s proposal because we produce PNI content for Rogers licensed via PNI monies. Any changes to the definition of “independent” would undermine our relationship with Rogers because we would not be able to produce the PNI programming that we have to date.
5913 Our departure from the broadcast landscape would mean the disappearance of a broad range of diverse voices from digital and linear TV, voices largely underrepresented in Canada, such as LGBTQ, First Nations, young people, people of colour, and women.
5914 Our arrangement with Rogers provides a net value to the industry, including broadcasters, content creators and, above all, consumers.
5916 MR. KRONISH: Hi. My name is Michael Kronish and I am the Executive Vice-President of Television for VICE here in Canada. And so what I do is I oversee the development and production of VICE content across linear television and our digital platforms.
5917 The studio produces video content, aimed at a young sophisticated audience, across all genres, including news and current affairs, scripted comedy, documentaries, all with a unique Canadian point of view.
5918 Currently, VICE's content is ---
5919 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just hold on. There’s something wrong with the mics.
5920 MR. KRONISH: Oh.
5921 THE CHAIRPERSON: Maybe -- yeah.
5922 MR. KRONISH: Hello? Hello, hello?
5923 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah, perhaps -- we’re not sure that one works anymore.
5924 MR. KRONISH: Hello? Do you hear me? Better?
5925 THE CHAIRPERSON: There you go. Thanks.
5926 MR. KRONISH: Do you want me to start from the beginning?
5927 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, no. I caught you exactly when the mics seem to have gone off.
5928 MR. KRONISH: Okay.
5929 So currently, VICE's content is in about 100 million homes in North America and across Europe, and by this time next year VICE will have over 50 VICELAND channels across the globe in about 200 million homes.
5930 We tell stories about communities that are underrepresented and we strive to reflect the diversity present in the Canadian and across the world for our youth audiences.
5931 VICE engages with its audience by speaking directly and honestly with them and we look them in the eye and we tell them the truth, bringing the people we reach into the conversation.
5932 Throughout VICE’s evolution, the commitment to presenting underreported stories in an immersive and honest way has remained a constant.
5933 And getting an idea into production, it works like this for us. We pitch our ideas to Rogers, and when we see eye to eye on creative concepts and the business models, we agree and projects are green-lit by Rogers. And that is quite simply how our studio is able to produce Canadian content with a broadcast licence from Rogers. It’s pretty much exactly the way, I believe, all other Canadian production companies work with Canadian networks.
5934 Much of our independently-produced Canadian content is destined for VICELAND Canada. All of the studio productions are distributed throughout the VICE ecosystem and beyond to a global audience.
5935 And in the two years since we entered into the joint venture, the Studio’s been commissioned by Rogers to produce about 130 hours of primetime Canadian content that will air domestically and be sold around the world. This includes VICE's first ever scripted comedy series, “Nirvanna The Band The Show”, a show we are proud to say is set in Toronto; premiered at TIFF earlier this year and will debut on City TV and VICELAND early next year.
5936 As another example, we have RISE, which is an eight-part, one-hour documentary series that brings viewers to the frontlines of Indigenous resistance, also premiering in January. And by the way, it was co-funded by APTN.
5937 Today, we are also thrilled to announce that we’ve agreed to produce a TV version of one of Canada’s classic feature films, “FUBAR”, which will be filmed and set in Montreal, Quebec.
5938 The partnership between Rogers and VICE allows us to get our content across multiple channels so a show like Nirvanna will be cross-pollinated on all of our digital verticals, as well as through Rogers’ own mobile, linear, and digital platforms, reaching millions of Canadians here at home as well as a massive audience globally.
5939 MR. PURDY: So all in all, the two years with Rogers in our joint venture has been an incredible journey, not only for us expanding our ability to develop and showcase great Canadian talent both at home and abroad, but I believe for the industry as a whole.
5940 These types of innovative ventures should be fostered and supported as they are a great platform to finance and create first-rate content that is consumed in Canada and exported successfully abroad.
5941 We’d be pleased to answer any questions.
5942 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for that presentation. And our new Vice-Chair will be asking the questions to VICE. So there we go.
5943 Ms. LaRocque?
5944 MR. PURDY: Thank you.
5945 COMMISSIONER LaROCQUE: Thank you very much; your presentation is very clear. But I’m going to take advantage of your presence here today to ask you an unrelated question. And it’s not a trick question; I’m simply curious.
5946 Yesterday we had a presentation from Women in Film and Television from Vancouver bemoaning the number of women involved in the production industry. And I just wondered -- this is again not a judgement call; just for my own information -- how representative are you in your workforce of underrepresented groups?
5947 MR. KRONISH: I would say from a production side it’s a challenge that we are up for for making sure that we are equitable in the workplace. We take it seriously and we’re presently taking measures to make sure that there is much more representation for women and all -- lots of diversity as well.
5948 MR. PURDY: I’ll just add to that. We formed a group within the Canadian office for just that purpose and we have a number of plans. One is, much like the CBC, get to a point where the number of productions we’re doing that are helmed by women is equal to the number of productions that we’re doing helmed by men. So I mean, I don’t think we’re here today, sort of, to make promises, but it’s something that we’re very focused on.
5949 And I’ll tell you a little bit about their experience in the U.S. and how it’s influencing the Canadians experience.
5950 Our channel in the U.S. roughly is somewhere between 18 and 20 percent of millennial now are Hispanic in the US. And the numbers are that it’s projected to grow to 25 percent. But Hispanics and particularly young Hispanics are very underrepresented on the dial and in scripted and non-scripted show programming in the U.S.
5951 So we created a show called Desus & Mero, which is shot in Brooklyn. It’s two guys who became famous, sort of, shooting a YouTube shoot of a bodega and stuff. And what we’ve seen is an explosion in terms of our audience, particularly amongst Hispanics and underreported folks. Some of our shows now are getting 40 percent of their audience is Hispanic.
5952 And so what we’ve -- in a very -- not necessarily altruistic way but in a smart business way we’ve realized there’s a group of folks in the U.S. and in Canada that are not represented on the dial and we want to change that and we want to leverage that. So we have a huge diversity thrust partly because it’s the right thing to do and it’s 2016, and partly because it’s in our naked self-interest and these people aren’t being well-represented on other platforms.
5953 COMMISSIONER LaROCQUE: Do you see a role for the CRTC? And yesterday we were asked to play a role and be much more directive towards the companies that are before us for licences -- with licence applications.
5954 MR. PURDY: I don’t pretend to know how the CRTC should govern.
5955 I think there’s -- given Brexit and given the sort of rise in, sort of, I think what I would call bad behaviour around the world, we, VICE, think that there’s a huge upside in diversity and that diversity message and that’s underrepresented.
5956 We just concluded a deal in Australia with SPS and we converted SPS to the VICELAND. And the reason we chose SPS as a partner is because their primary mandate and mantra is diversity, and VICE’s primary mantra and mandate is to fill white space and speak to people that are underrepresented and are underserved by the traditional media outlets. So for us we think it’s a great business opportunity.
5957 Personally, I hope you don’t mandate it because it means that we can exploit the opportunity ourselves unfettered by competition. You know, I think if over people start to get hip to it it’s -- when 40 percent of our audience first -- key shows like “Black Market” are Hispanic, it tells us that other people are not doing a great job programming for them. So we want to exploit that.
5958 And not to be self-serving or naked self-interest here, but part of the great thing about the Rogers partnership is because of their OMNI experience and because historically Rogers sort of had success in that space both acquiring wireless customers and cable customers and TV viewers from OMNI; they’ve been a great partner. They get it and they’ve been very supportive, and that’s by this JV is working.
5959 They’re not browbeating us every 10 minutes about the ratings. You know, they know that some of our shows won’t perform as well as, you know, “Storage Wars”, “Pawn Stars”, “Ice Road Truckers”, or whatever the format of the day is but they recognize that there’s a higher value in what we’re doing and they’ve been very, very supportive of our production slate. Not necessarily easy but supportive.
5960 MR. KRONISH: I would just add one more comment, which is just to point out three shows, two of which already aired. “Gaycation” with Ellen Page, “Woman” with Gloria Steinem both received Emmy nominations this year. And a new show that I mentioned earlier called “Rise” which will be directed, show-run, and hosted by an Indigenous crew, in particular an Indigenous producer, director, and host from Canada.
5961 MR. PURDY: “Rise” is Canadian content. “Gaycation” actually Season 1 was not Canadian content but much of the show is edited, and Ellen Page obviously is Canadian.
5962 COMMISSIONER LaROCQUE: Well, thank you for this. I don’t have questions on your actual presentation but I think it’s a tribute to the clarity of the presentation. So thank you very much.
5963 MR. PURDY: Pleasure, thank you.
5964 THE CHAIRPERSON: So I believe those are our questions. Thank you.
5965 MR. PURDY: Thank you.
5966 THE CHAIRPERSON: Alors -- thank you very much -- Madame la secrétaire.
5967 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
5968 Next presenter is ready to appear by Skype again, Mr. Chairman. It is Judy Gabriel from HotBizMedia Inc.
5969 Good morning. Can you see us?
5970 MS. GABRIEL: Yes, I can. Good morning.
5971 THE SECRETARY: And we can hear you very well. So please go ahead with your presentation.
5972 MS. GABRIEL: Okay. Good morning, Commissioners, and thank you for this opportunity to appear before you to talk about why I believe in and support OMNI’s application to obtain mandatory carriage on digital basic service across Canada.
5973 My name is Judy Gabriel. And I’m a former broadcast journalist and television program producer, and the executive producer and owner of HotBizMedia Productions Inc., as well as a community ambassador.
5974 Over the next few minutes I will share with you my story, and how OMNI TV plays a role in boosting citizenship and national pride through its exceptional, unique programming unlike any other television station in Canada.
5975 OMNI plays a significant role as the main platform for welcoming new immigrants and new refugees to Canada. OMNI is the voice of those who come from the war-torn countries and those who struggle to be heard or seen. It is the way that new Canadians can bridge the gap between them and other Canadians who were either born here or have been in Canada for a long time.
5976 I can only imagine what it’s like to come to Canada today. I can because not too long ago I too emigrated here from another country. I remember my first few years as a new immigrant arriving to Canada in late October of 1980. But before I move on, I want to share with you a series of events that led to my coming to Canada.
5977 I was born in the seventies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Eritrean parents. And during this time in Ethiopia, we were experiencing famine and a significant amount of civil unrest -- lawlessness, killings, tribal skirmishes -- which began to become the backdrop of my childhood. My father arranged to have our smuggled out of the country.
5978 I will always remember my last days in Ethiopia. One day I was in school with a uniform, and the next we were on foot in the middle of nowhere running towards an old truck with an Arab driver heading for the Kenyan border.
5979 My father was in jail, tortured and beaten, and he still found a way for us to escape the country and seek asylum as refugee -- at a refugee camp in Nairobi, Kenya. He would later join us after he too found an escape route.
5980 We lived in one of the most dangerous crime-ridden communities in Nairobi, but somehow after five years Canada opened its door to our family. We applied and received immigration status.
5981 But when we arrived here, our unrealistic expectations were met with harsh reality. People spoke very differently. Even though we were educated in Swahili and a little bit of English in Nairobi, nothing could prepare us for the colloquialisms, jargon, and pronunciation of the English word that once was familiar. That had become totally foreign again.
5982 Without the proper communication and cultural understanding, we started off in Canada as though we were looking through an invisible glass, a glass that separated us as refugees, throwaways from another country. We could look but we couldn’t touch. We could be part of a culture and the fabric of the communities we lived it.
5983 But we had television, and television we consumed daily, hourly. Again, it didn’t reflect us, our stories, our culture, our identity.
5984 I’ve been in this industry for more than 20 years, both in front and behind the camera as the owner and producer of my executive company -- my executive production company, sorry -- and have produced shows for Bravo, Biography, APTN, W Network, City TV, CTV, Global. But OMNI is unlike any other.
5985 As an independent producer, I recently produced 26 episodes of an Arab television show on OMNI. OMNI has been running for over 30 years. It is the only one, I believe, that can offer broad in-depth quality multilingual and multicultural programming in Canada. No other broadcasters would have the same capacities and experiences like OMNI.
5986 As a former immigrant and long-time Canadian, as well as one of OMNI Alberta advisory council members, I strongly believe that OMNI is a great platform that helps to shape the cultural definition of Canada. OMNI is not just television; it is an exceptional and unique platform that gives a voice to those looking to be included in a country known for its openness, its high regard for the welfare of the individual.
5987 It’s a platform that brings into Canadian homes and hearts a greater definition of what it is to be Canadian. OMNI inspires hundreds of thousands of new immigrants to see and feel the role they play in building Canada. They build a strong sense of belonging and feeling of national pride.
5988 For these reasons, and due to the current challenging media environments, I fully support Rogers’s 9(1)(h) application for OMNI especially that Rogers has committed to running OMNI as a non-for-profit as well. OMNI is more than a television station; it is our voice.
5989 Thank you.
5990 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you for that.
5991 Commissioner Vennard will have a couple of questions for you.
5992 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Good morning, Ms. Gabriel. Thank you for appearing at our hearing.
5993 MS. GABRIEL: Good morning.
5994 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I really hear you speak with a great deal of passion about OMNI and how it does represent the ethnic communities that it serves. I’d like you to make some comments, if you wouldn’t mind, on how does it go the other way? So with the non-ethnic -- I’m not sure that’s not the proper way to put it, and I apologize if I’m offending anybody with that terminology.
5995 But with the non-ethnic viewers, how do you see the role of OMNI in getting other people to understand the ethnic communities better? Because it’s your voice but I know sometimes that -- and people like to hear news, and they like to hear events and so on in the language -- in their mother tongues and their language of comfort.
5996 But what about the other way around? Where do you think the English language fits in? In other words, is there a mirror here?
5997 MS. GABRIEL: I know what you’re saying, I think.
5998 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
5999 MS. GABRIEL: I think it’s important to understand that there’s a lot of the cultures here but we speak many different languages. I speak five different languages including English. And watching OMNI, for example, and I see it in different languages, sometimes it’s subtitling, sometimes there’s different things that actually help us understand those cultures better.
6000 MS. LaROCQUE: M’hm.
6001 MS. GABRIEL: We all live in this community together, in the sense of Canada. It is a bigger global community, in a way, and I understand that languages might kind of -- might not allow somebody else to understand a language and not understand the culture. But by visuals, you still can understand what is going on with them and different communities in the sense of -- for example, I could see an Arabic community and maybe not understand the language but I can relate and I can see the stories and I can relate to the people within my communities. Does that make sense?
6002 MS. LaROCQUE: Yeah, that makes perfect sense and that’s exactly what I'm talking about because when I -- if I were to turn into OMNI, I can watch the different expressions of culture but I don’t really understand what they are.
6003 MS. GABRIEL: Yeah.
6004 MS. LaROCQUE: And in that sense, it -- I’m wondering if you and/or OMNI thinks that might be something to think about, including in the offerings, because that would then take it the other direction, too, where people who are not of those cultures -- and not just the -- you know, I’m sure that’s really politically incorrect to call it non-ethnic but the various ethnic communities could -- would be able to do that sort of thing as well.
6005 MS. GABRIEL: Yes. And I think having that experience of creating language types of shows -- for example, I’ll use the Arabic language. It’s in Arabic completely and so we use subtitling at the bottom because I had talked to the community members and some of them didn’t speak Arabic and some of them did, and they were within the same community, but they loved the fact that it was in that language and had subtitling at the bottom. And everybody benefitted from that.
6006 MS. LaROCQUE: Yeah.
6007 MS. GABRIEL: It’s also the different generations.
6008 MS. LaROCQUE: M’hm.
6009 MS. GABRIEL: Yeah, the older group of people that are ethnic -- we’ll use the same words; it’s okay -- that are ethnic speak that language but their children and their grandchildren start to adapt to this culture and speak English like I do.
6010 MS. LaROCQUE: M’hm.
6011 MS. GABRIEL: And so it’s kind of bridging that gap for both of us that having the language is very, very important because the gap happens between our parents, our grandparents, and ourselves, and our kids as well, which will be completely English speaking, probably, right?
6012 MS. LaROCQUE: M’hm, right.
6013 MS. GABRIEL: But it’s (inaudible) trying to bridge that gap and they’re trying to show commonality and they’re trying to show our culture to hold onto the language that we have and yet still embrace the English language and be part of this Canadian community and all of that.
6014 So I think it’s important that we have these languages on there and somehow incorporate the subtitling. And I think it helps a lot on a lot of that and it’s pulled in a lot more people and a lot of people have seen that show and it’s -- it impressed me that way because I kind of (inaudible) wonderful how (inaudible) with the community. And so it’s definitely working that way.
6015 MS. LaROCQUE: Yeah. Okay, well, thank you very much for -- no, that’s all I have to ask you. And thank you very much for appearing at our hearing today.
6016 MS. GABRIEL: Thank you.
6017 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, thank you indeed. Those are our questions for you. Thank you very much for participating via Skype. Thank you.
6018 THE CHAIRPERSON: So Madame Secretary.
6019 MS. ROY: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, our next presenter will be appearing from Vancouver, from our regional office, and it is Elfina Luk that we should see in a few seconds. Here it is.
6020 Good morning. Can you see us and hear us well?
6021 MS. LUK: Good morning. Yes, I can.
6022 MS. ROY: So you can go ahead with your presentation. Thank you.
6023 MS. LUK: Thank you.
6024 Good morning, everyone. First of all, I want to say thank you for having me speak here today in support OMNI Rogers.
6025 The screen has frozen, actually.
6026 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, we can hear you very well so why don’t you just keep going and we’ll do that, yeah.
6027 MS. LUK: Okay, sounds good.
6028 My name is Elfina Luk and I am a Chinese- Canadian actor based here in Vancouver, B.C. I have in the past two years been working as a lead character on OMNI’s first original television drama series produced for the diverse Canadian audience called “Blood and Water” which stars an all-Asian cast.
6029 This has given me an amazing opportunity to successfully realize my childhood dream and to continue to pursue my career as a Chinese-Canadian actor while honoring my culture, to go to work each day and adding Cantonese and Mandarin to the mix.
6030 OMNI is extremely important to my community as an actor as it provides a range of opportunities for a group of very talented Asian artists in Canada whom otherwise may not have had the opportunity to realize their dreams or ambitions.
6031 My parents came to Canada from China in the mid-seventies and now for my mother to see me on TV in Canada on OMNI’s “Blood and Water” playing an Asian female fully representing, true to my roots, a Chinese person who has grown up and is living in Canada, and in a way is being celebrated for this, it’s a true gift, both for my mother to be proud of and for myself.
6032 I have a large number of relatives currently living in Canada where Cantonese is still their main spoken language and having access to a channel like OMNI which offers the variety of programming available to them in their mother tongue allows them to stay informed about our country and our communities.
6033 This, to me, feels like an extremely important aspect of creating the availability of OMNI for all cultures that have proudly made their home here in Canada. It is a way for them to feel welcome, to feel settled, and to be seen for where they have come from, and an acceptance to them and their culture and language for which they have left behind to build new lives here in Canada. It is a way to re-affirm for them a sense of belonging, to feel that they have a place and a home in our country.
6034 Born and raised in Vancouver, B.C., I grew up surrounded by media influence. And for a lack of a better term, I grew up wanting to be “white” because this was the majority of what I was exposed to -- TV, magazine covers, billboards, everywhere I turned.
6035 And growing up, I experienced racism on many different levels which ignited a shame of my culture, my heritage, a strong desire to hide myself, my skin colour, my eyes, and even my black hair. I really struggled with finding a place to belong so I dyed my hair blonde; I wore blue coloured contacts; and I turned my hair into dreadlocks. And this was my way to move as far away as I could from being Chinese. I struggled with embracing my lineage and my ancestry.
6036 And When the opportunity came with “Blood and Water”, it opened up and cleared out for me so many challenges I had as a Chinese-Canadian actor up until this point; and even just simply put, a Chinese-Canadian. I was being offered a chance to portray the very identity that I spent so much time trying to move away from and I share this very, very personal experience with you because I have no doubt that many other individuals who come from other cultures have in some way, shape, or form experienced a level of this inner struggle to find a sense of belonging.
6037 I am also a mother to a four-year-old daughter and we are a blended family where my husband is of Czech and Irish descent. And having gone through the childhood experiences that I just shared with you all, it is of the utmost importance to me, to us, to raise our daughter with as much exposure to her culture -- to her cultures and to the roots of her lineage, to have a resource where she and all of whom are of diverse cultures can feel a sense of representation that is otherwise so scarce in our media. A normalcy of diverse cultures is needed and OMNI can provide this.
6038 With better support and funding for OMNI, they will commit to daily national newscasts and original Canadian programming which will create a community, a platform where cultures of all kinds can tune in to receive information on a national level and on a community level which will create a sense of belonging both locally and nationally.
6039 They will commit to four daily, national 30-minute newscasts in Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi and Italian. They will devote 40 percent of OMNI Regional’s annual revenues to the production of Canadian programs and 2.5 percent to ethnic and/or third-language documentaries and scripted dramas like “Blood and Water”. They will expand their reach to four regional feeds specifically tailored to ethnic Canadians in B.C., the Prairies, Eastern Canada and Quebec, which will engage new Canadians across the country and help to integrate them into Canadian society.
6040 OMNI is the only television service offering programming in 20 distinct languages and we, as Canadians, pride ourselves so much in being a multicultural, multi-diverse nation and it’s time to show it where it’s most accessible, on screen, in media, across the country.
6041 I am proud to be of Chinese heritage and I am proud to know that we are celebrated among all Canadians, among all cultures, with all people of ethno-cultural communities that call Canada their home.
6042 And with OMNI we’re not just creating a station; we’re creating a community and a foundation of a belonging that is needed and desired by a large portion of people that make up our Canada and the multiculturalism that we as Canadians so pride ourselves on embracing. Thank you.
6043 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you very much for publicly sharing that very personal story; we very much appreciate it.
6044 I only have one area to explore with you and that’s -- obviously, you’re supportive of OMNI. But I was wondering, in light of other services that are available in the marketplace that are actually targeting the ethno-cultural community -- I’ll give the example of Fairchild, who provides a service -- why do those service providers not meet the needs you’re saying exist in the community?
6045 MS. LUK: Well, I’m not familiar with the other offerings of the other corporations that you’re speaking of. But with the variety of programming that OMNI provides, which is 20 distinct languages, the levels of media -- documentaries, scripted dramas, newscasts -- it’s creating both diverse culture but also diverse information and content that’s going to reach out to a wider variety of cultures and age and interests of people that are living in Canada.
6046 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you’re saying that you value sort of what we call the “broad service obligation”, a lot of language, a lot of cultures, as opposed to a number of distinct service suppliers that might -- you know, one might offer Cantonese and Mandarin; another one might offer Italian and Portuguese. You think that what we should be focused on is this broad service obligation of multiple ---
6047 MS. LUK: I think there is -- oh, sorry.
6048 THE CHAIRPERSON: Go ahead.
6049 MS. LUK: As I said, my daughter is -- my husband is of Czech and Irish descent and I’m Cantonese. I speaking Cantonese and Mandarin. My mom is from Shanghai and my dad is from Canton. And my husband also has Aboriginal in his nationality, in his heritage, in his lineage. And so a broad variety of programming for diverse cultures is absolutely needed, absolutely. If I can provide all these opportunities for my daughter -- and not just my daughter. I mean, I’m talking about 90 percent of the families that we know are in blended families.
6050 So no doubt there is a level of diverse culture that’s already happening within the single family alone. So having the access to a broad and diverse content and culture information I think is absolutely important and that we should absolutely support that by all means.
6051 THE CHAIRPERSON: Great. Well, thank you very much. Your presentation has been very clear. And again, thank you very much for sharing your story and your perspective on this matter before us. Thank you. Thank you very much.
6052 MS. LUK: Thank you very much.
6053 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madame la secrétaire.
6054 MS. ROY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6055 So Unifor Local 830 will be our last presenter of Phase II and he’s also appearing by video conference from Vancouver. So we should see him appear on the screen in a few seconds. It’s Mr. Steve Hawkins.
6056 Good morning, Mr. Hawkins.
6057 MR. HAWKINS: Good morning.
6058 THE SECRETARY: And welcome to this hearing. You’re ready to make your presentation?
6059 MR. HAWKINS: Hi there. I am.
6060 MS. ROY: Go ahead.
6061 MR. HAWKINS: Thank you. I’d like to thank the Commission for allowing me the opportunity to speak at this important group licensing hearing.
6062 My name is Steve Hawkins and I have worked for the past 32 years as a local news camera operator, since 1992 at CKVU in Vancouver. It’s been a great ride, however, a little bumpy over this past decade.
6063 I was elected to the position of local union president back in 2006. I’ve had the opportunity to advocate for local news at various CRTC hearings and consultations over the years.
6064 In my intervention that I’m speaking to today, I gave evidence of how Rogers’ failure to invest in local programming both at CITY and at OMNI have left Vancouverites underserved.
6065 However, it’s with cautious optimism that I appear in front of you today.
6066 I’m encouraged by recent statements made by Chairman Blais recognizing the importance of local programming to Canadians, and that our largest broadcasters, like Rogers, must live up to their responsibilities under the Broadcast Act to provide Canadians with high-quality, well-funded local news, the type of local news programming that makes our democracy so much stronger.
6067 It’s hard to know specifically how to react to Rogers’ applications because their Vancouver operations are so intertwined between both CITY and OMNI. Six hours of daily, local news at CITY, new programming in adherence to the Commissions new Broadcast Policy, along with the possibility of a return of local ethnic newscasts on a new OMNI regional channel -- this could see real growth to local news coverage, something we haven’t seen in Vancouver for years.
6068 I support Unifor National and 723M’s conditional support of Rogers’ 9(1)(h) application and I concur with their statements and submissions from yesterday.
6069 In fact, most of my members enthusiastically endorse this plan. And why not, if it gets daily ethnic news back on the air? Canada’s multicultural communities would be the big winners. For only a few pennies a month it seems like a bargain. What could possibly go wrong?
6070 Well, unfortunately I don't have to look too far back to recall CRTC expectations and directions that failed to deliver. As the Commission works to define its new broadcasting policy, I wonder how you will define well-funded, high-quality local news.
6071 Clearly the Commission has not been applying this measure in a consistent way to the Vancouver television market.
6072 CTV Vancouver employs over 80 people in producing their local news; Global BC employs over 150 people producing hours of local news; and Rogers Toronto operations employs over 200 people producing their local news. Is the Commission aware of how little resources Rogers has at its western stations? “First rate local coverage”? The evidence is to the contrary. Budget news with a bare bones staff is what Rogers has been doing in western Canada for the past decade.
6073 Following the 2014 licence renewals, we witnessed Rogers’ dramatic format change at OMNI, replacing Category 1 daily news with a Category (b) current affairs show, a decision that left dozens of ethnic Canadian journalists out of work just months before the last federal election. And we have a provincial election coming up this May 2017, and it makes you wonder what sort of coverage we’ll be able to -- how much attention we’ll be able to pay to that.
6074 What got less attention at the time was the dramatic reductions to all of the Vancouver operations, both at CITY and OMNI. In fact, the overall staff was reduced by half.
6075 Today in Vancouver, it falls on Rogers’ few remaining employees to scramble every day. BT’s morning team are some of the most creative and hardest-working people in television. Given what little resources we have, “making air” every day is an amazing accomplishment.
6076 It’s with this lens that I ask you to view the importance of Rogers’ current proposal. Without clear conditions of licence on their CITY application and approval along with clear conditions of licence with the Regional channel, Rogers’ Vancouver operations could become a glorified news bureau for Toronto, and OMNI Vancouver could follow their Alberta operations with no daily in-house programming in just a couple of years.
6077 An additional $3 million to fund six hours of local news programming in their CITY stations outside of Toronto? This doesn’t sound like it will go very far. Will it result in well-funded, high-quality news? How many more journalists will actually be added in Vancouver? What are these six hours going to look like? We’ve got very few details to comment on in this process.
6078 If the Commission decides not to grant Rogers 9(1)(h), or require conditions of licence that would see daily, ethnic newscasts back on air in Vancouver, I feel a short-term licence would allow for a full review of your 1999 Ethnic Broadcasting Policy, followed by an open licensing process for all of Rogers’ OMNI licences. Your decision earlier this year, 2016-8, demonstrated just how important it is to have strong, specific, conditions of licence.
6079 To be clear what we need from the Commission to ensure there is local news in the future are specific conditions of licence, not expectations, directions or some other trusting form of "would be nice", but conditions the public can hold Rogers to that will ensure they produce high quality, well funded, daily, original, in-house, local news programming, local journalists, editors, writers, videographers, and assignment editors feet on Vancouver's streets.
6080 Thank you for your time today, and I'm prepared to answer any of your questions.
6081 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Hawkins. Ms. Vennard, Commissioner for Alberta and the Northwest Territories, will start us off.
6082 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Good afternoon, Mr. Hawkins. Thanks for coming to our hearing virtually.
6083 I want -- I have a couple of questions for you, and what I'm going to do is just ask you to put together a couple of things that you said in your original intervention.
6084 The first one -- and I'm just going to quote you a couple of them -- they're short -- in number 30 of your intervention, you said,
6085 "Rogers' operations in Vancouver does not have a single person that works exclusively as a news reporter."
6086 And in number 16, you said,
6087 "If the CRTC is serious about supporting local news, it must impose conditions that mandate specific levels of original local news for each station originated and produced by employees of that station." (As read)
6088 And I'd like to know, what would you suggest would be appropriate?
6089 MR. HAWKINS: Well, instead of just simply an hours' game -- and we saw that with 14 hours -- it was 14 hours in April 2015; it was 14 hours in May 2014 -- yet we did it with, you know, half the staff. Some sort of a payroll calculation to hold them accountable so that they can't change the payroll numbers and keep the hours up, because the quality clearly goes down ---
6090 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: What -- can you ---
6091 MR. HAWKINS: --- you know, as witnessed by having one part-time reporter, you know?
6092 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: What do you think it would take to get high-quality local news? What would that take, because you asked us in your oral submission. You say, " I wonder how you will define well-funded, high-quality local news?"
6093 And so I'm turning to you, and I'm saying, "Considering what you said, and considering your intervention, how will you define -- how would you define it?"
6094 MR. HAWKINS: Well, you know, we don’t have access to the specific numbers yet. When you look at the numbers of employees -- and that's why I went there -- you know, every day when we're out there and a competing television station is putting together a very good product with 18 journalists and we have 1 journalist, you know, that speaks volumes.
6095 So you know, setting specific hard numbers is hard, but something comparative to a city the size of Vancouver, that's why some sort of a payroll calculation that would be a percentage, perhaps, of -- you know, these are the numbers for accountants, not for me. But ---
6096 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: How many reporters, if ---
6097 MR. HAWKINS: Yeah, something like that. I mean, that's the comparison.
6098 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: How many -- how many reporters, for example, if we look at the different people that are involved in that? How many reporters would you say would be required, because when, you know, when we're talking about, you know, high-quality local news, like, I'd like to get some clarity on ---
6099 MR. HAWKINS: Yeah, and I think ---
6100 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- what that seems to be ---
6101 MR. HAWKINS: --- you have to be reasonable here, right?
6102 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- from your point of view?
6103 MR. HAWKINS: Yeah, and I'm going to be reasonable here. I'm not going to say, "Well, Rogers, you should do exactly what CTV and Global have done," and we have the -- for 10 years have not invested in it, so I don’t know that it's reasonable to say that, you know, September 1st, 2017, that we should have, you know, 20 reporters. But certainly, starting out with, you know, a dozen visual contact professionals that would be a combination of journalists, videographers, video content producers, that sort of commitment.
6104 You know, today when we talk about a journalist, it's a very wide range when you're looking at that definition. But it's feet on the street, and people in the local community making editorial decisions.
6105 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So in your estimation, that would be, say, 12, 15, 10?
6106 MR. HAWKINS: Well, as a start, but I mean, if you again, compare it to what -- and if you want to have a product that, you know, over the course of the five years, and you know, these hearings are looking at the five years and how will the industry be after five years. You know, you would hope that over the course of these regulated five years, at the end of the five years, that Rogers and the other players -- but I mean, Rogers is the one that I'm most concerned with -- will be able to build a product in this regulated environment that will thrive in a non-regulated environment.
6107 And as they build this new product that they're talking about, which we have very few details on, you know, hopefully that will be the vision. And there has been some indication that we're not going to make what I think would be the mistake of chasing the other guys, doing what they do well, but to, you know, within the context of local storytelling and strong journalism, to build a new product that's really better positioned for the future than perhaps a legacy product.
6108 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: As I understand from your intervention, you know, when we're talking about news, you’ve got the news itself, the actual news, whatever that is, be it City Hall or something happening in the city or whatever is news; and then with the local reflection, then that's something that happens as well.
6109 So you can see where, you know, we're trying to -- we're looking at how -- what should this look like, as -- and particularly for OMNI?
6110 MR. HAWKINS: Yeah. Oh, yeah, I mean, you’ve got local -- it's soft news and hard news, if you will, and some days ---
6111 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, and I'm not looking ---
6112 MR. HAWKINS: --- you know, the slate is full of hard news.
6113 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I'm not looking for answers -- I'm not looking for answers from you. That's, you know, that's up to us, but I'm looking for your thoughts on these.
6114 MR. HAWKINS: Sorry, could you repeat the question?
6115 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, I said I'm not looking for answers from you. I'm looking for your thoughts on some of these issues.
6116 MR. HAWKINS: Yeah, but specifically, what? On local ---
6117 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: The news and the local reflection ---
6118 MR. HAWKINS: --- reflection?
6119 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: The news and the local reflection on news within OMNI.
6120 MR. HAWKINS: Well, within OMNI, you know, they're doing it all from the studio right now, and it's the national newscasts, you know, that wouldn't be local Vancouver news, it would be regional news. But I certainly would see more journalists on the street telling those stories.
6121 And you know, I was in Fusaki during the Chinese New Year, reflecting those and you know, perhaps doing programming outside of the one-hour local news programming, but doing specific community programs celebrating those important events.
6122 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. I have just one more question for you. You say that Rogers should be given an administrative extension. Would you like to explain that or comment on that?
6123 MR. HAWKINS: Well, that's a comment on their application that would be the application without the mandatory carriage, without the 9(1)(h). And the -- their proposal, and even in some of their comments, they've really indicated that it would be a very short window that they would even be able to commit to their current affairs show. And in their -- in Susan Wheeler's submission that she made in August and gave, you know, a great list of what the 9(1)(h) would present, it also gave an indication as what they feel the current licence doesn’t require them to do.
6124 And it's -- you know, it's just not enough, and they -- their current licence, in their submission, they wouldn't even have to do the current affairs show.
6125 So in that case, I would think that the Commission should review the ethnic broadcasting policy and out of that, have an open process to see who could do the best job of fulfilling the commitments of these licences with an open process, you know? Rogers would be included in that as well as others.
6126 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. I just have one final question for you. I'm wondering, would it be accurate to say that your organization does not support the 9(1)(h) application?
6127 MR. HAWKINS: No, I'd say that we do support the 9(1)(h) application and our suggestions are how to make it stronger. We think that’s a way to support the multicultural community that deserves, you know, free over-the-air local TV and local news. It’s a great way to provide that service to them.
6128 COMMISSIONERS VENNARD: With the changes that you suggest?
6129 MR. HAWKINS: That would be the conditional support, yes.
6130 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
6131 MR. HAWKINS: Certainly their proposal, you know, the details that they gave in August, if they could provide, you know, as a condition of licence, the details in the paragraph 34, I mean, that would be something I think our members would enthusiastically support.
6132 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you. I have no more questions.
6133 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation and your participation in this phase. And you’ve got the honour of closing out Phase II of this public hearing so thank you very much, Mr. Hawkins.
6134 THE CHAIRPERSON: So we’ll start Phase III of the hearing at two o’clock, which will give everyone a little extra time to prepare their final comments. And as everyone knows -- well, maybe not everybody knows, but we do it in reverse order. So Bell Media will go first, following by Corus, and then Rogers.
6135 So we’re adjourned until two o’clock. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 12:47 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 2:01 a.m.
6136 THE CHAIRPERSON: A l’ordre, s’il vous plaît. Order, please.
6137 Alors, Madame la secrétaire?
6138 MS. ROY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6139 We will now proceed with Phase III in which applicants can reply to all interventions submitted on their applications.
6140 We’ll start with Bell Media. Please just reintroduce yourselves for the record and you proceed.
6141 Chairman Blais, Vice-Chair LaRocque, Commissioners, and Commission staff. Thank you for the opportunity to provide these reply comments.
6142 For the record, my name is Robert Malcolmson and I’m Senior Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs at BCE. Joining me today is my colleague, Kevin Goldstein, Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs, Content and Distribution at BCE.
6143 Before beginning our remarks, we would like to thank all the intervenors who participated in this process, whether they did so in writing only or took the time to appear before you this week.
6144 Our comments today will address issues raised by the representatives of the creative community, the labour unions, CCSA, and TELUS.
6145 First, the creative community. It’s worth pointing out that your Create Policy, which will be implemented through this licence renewal process, is called “The Way Forward”. In contrast, CMPA and others, with their various requests, ask you to move backwards to a time when they and we had more privileges and protections.
6146 As we noted during our appearance on Tuesday, the landscape has changed for everyone. The days of a geo-gated ecosystem in which content could be controlled and protected within our borders are gone. Today, our business has no guarantees; instead we must acquire and create content that can compete on all platforms alongside unregulated global players that have no allegiance to our domestic broadcasting ecosystem.
6147 Despite this reality, certain intervenors want the regulated system to step back in time. In doing so, they either don’t want to acknowledge the change happening in the market and the flexible approach outlined in your Create Policy, or they feel it shouldn't be their concern.
6148 Second, Unifor and other union groups have expressed concern about our local news proposal. Unifor would like existing news levels, which currently aren’t mandated, to be transformed into obligations. In our view, setting a higher local news exhibition requirement for those that historically invested in this area rewards those licensees who have reduced their amount of local news and punishes those who have remained committed to local news despite the difficulties facing conventional television.
6149 Furthermore, it fails to acknowledge that the Commission has already set the required levels of local programming, of which local news is a subset. If the exhibition of local news is set at historic levels, this would effectively revise the Commission’s decision on local television programming.
6151 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Thanks, Rob.
6152 Now to the CCSA. We were shocked to hear the CCSA publicly discuss a confidential mediation process, one for which they signed a non-disclosure agreement. Moreover, just because they have not had a successful mediation with us does not justify their complaints about the Commission’s dispute resolution process, a process for which each and every time we attend, we arrive willing and able to do a deal, and have been successful in doing so.
6153 While the CCSA has breached their NDA and compromised the staff-assisted mediation process as a result, we feel compelled to respond.
6154 First, we are not dragging our feet or creating unnecessary delay. After our first proposal to the CCSA in July 2015, it took them six months to respond.
6155 Second, we were reluctant to go to mediation with the CCSA. There is a reason for this and it isn’t because we don’t have faith in the process. Our apprehension was due to our past experience in mediation with the CCSA, as they arrived without a negotiating mandate, we believe, in an effort to “smoke out” our position and to reserve judgment on any final resolution until they could go back to their members and in that case, to other BDUs.
6156 We also asked CCSA to confirm who they represent in those mediation discussions as it became clear to us through our negotiations that they would not be able to deliver all their members to a potential agreement. Our approach on these issues would be seen as reasonable by anyone involved in a commercial negotiation. What is more surprising is why the CCSA sees these requests as concerning.
6157 Third and finally, we don’t have an issue negotiating with the CCSA. What we have is a problem with the CCSA’s view that, because they represent a very diverse group of BDUs, they need to negotiate a lowest common denominator solution. In fact, for the most part, their proposals to date have gotten progressively worse, while we have endeavored to make proposals bringing us closer to the middle.
6158 We are confident that we can find solutions to all outstanding issues. What we can’t do is agree to a “rush to the bottom” through a generic agreement designed to address every single packaging anomaly that CCSA’s members might have.
6159 This hearing is part of a licence renewal proceeding. If the CCSA has specific concerns relating to our conduct in mediation or in a negotiation, they should put facts on the table in a complaint with the Commission. In contrast, the one-sided picture they painted on Tuesday in breach of a Commission-sanctioned NDA is both inappropriate and unacceptable and should be given no evidentiary weight in this proceeding.
6161 MR. MALCOLMSON: Turning now to TELUS. Yesterday, TELUS made several unsubstantiated and sweeping accusations against us, complaining that we are “incented to make competitors invisible in the news” and claiming that we “flood advertising availabilities” with our programs and services. These allegations are simply false.
6162 Our local station journalists have complete editorial discretion and they provide regular coverage of TELUS and its corporate responsibility initiatives, coverage that includes the TELUS brand. We can confirm for the record that our local television staff have never been, nor will they ever be, instructed not to cover TELUS or to remove TELUS branding from events.
6163 Let me provide you with just a few of many examples of how our local stations have covered TELUS’ various corporate responsibility initiatives recently. And these examples are in addition to the story on Internet for Good from CTV Edmonton that TELUS mentioned in its presentation.
6164 First, CTV Vancouver covered TELUS’ Walk to Cure Diabetes on June 13 of this year. In May of this year, CTV Vancouver aired a story entitled “TELUS Generous Supporter of B.C. Women’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit”, featuring TELUS VP Jill Scharr. And
6165 CTV London covered a story called “Motorcyclists in Windsor Rev their Engines in Support of the TELUS Ride for Dad Against Prostate Cancer” on June 2nd of this year.
6166 We also cover the pure business side of TELUS’ operations on a regular basis both on BNN and our various local stations across the country. For example, in the past year, TELUS has been the subject of reporting on BNN no less than 40 times, in fact more than 40 times. And our local stations regularly cover business stories such as one entitled “The World's fastest internet is coming to Vancouver via TELUS”, which aired on CTV Vancouver on October 20th, 2015.
6167 Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, we have attached to this reply a non-exhaustive list of over 35 recent Bell Media local and national news stories focused on TELUS.
6168 We hope this demonstrates with objective facts the false premise upon which TELUS' evidence is based.
6169 We note for the record that TELUS made claims similar to the various advertising claims it raised yesterday during its intervention in the BCE-Astral acquisition in 2013. At that time, the Commission declined to impose conditions of licence and instead, as noted in paragraph 78 of Decision 2013-310, determined that the provisions relating to undue preference found in the regulations adequately address these types of concerns.
6170 We agree. And we note that despite its alleged concerns, TELUS has not filed a single undue preference complaint in the last three and a half years since that decision was issued.
6171 Finally, Mr. Chairman, when we appeared before you on Tuesday you asked the President of CTV News, Ms. Freeman if she would be “more comforted" by a condition of licence related to journalistic independence. Ms. Freeman responded that the existing policy BCE has put in place is "very strong" and "stands on its own". This is the second time in 10 months that the journalistic independence of Bell Media's news operations has been examined and confirmed in a public hearing, and there has been no evidence to suggest our internal policy isn't working.
6172 In fact, you heard this morning from Carol Goddard of Big Brothers of Halifax that CTV journalists are never afraid to ask the tough questions. In light of this, it is our view that a condition of licence is not warranted.
6174 This concludes our reply comments, and we’d be happy to answer any of your questions.
6175 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, gentlemen. I’ll be asking a number of questions.
6176 But a bit like at the Laval hearing, and I know you were following that so you won’t be surprised, there will be likely the same questions -- so head start for the others in the room -- for both groups.
6177 And I think in fairness they can be divided into two bundles. The first bundle of issues I think relate to social issues. Questions not so much of, you know, the industrial infrastructure to support content but more of the social matters that have been brought to our attention through this public hearing.
6178 So the first one in that first bundle relates to Aboriginal produced programming, or Indigenous Canadians programming, Indigenous in terms of First Nations and Métis and Inuit productions.
6179 Although the gentleman did not appear at this hearing, his testimony from High Definition Pictures is of course part of this process.
6180 And I certainly asked in Laval what could be done to improve access by Aboriginal producers to programming opportunities and windows on your services. And I was wondering if you have anything in that regard to help us reflect on that going forward? Certainly APTN is in the ecosystem but I was wondering what you, as one of the important broadcasters in the country, could do.
6181 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Maybe I’ll start at a kind of macro level, and then perhaps it may make sense to actually supplement the answer in an undertaking to be filed next Friday because I think we do actually have specific examples in terms of what we’ve done in this area to support Indigenous producers.
6182 And I was there in Laval and I heard Mr. Torrie -- I think is his name -- from High Definition Pictures last week. We actually have met with him recently and over the years both at our French language operations and our English language operations. I think we actually have a strong track record in this record.
6183 I’m not sure in terms of specific examples of what can be done to include, you know, more stories. As we indicated on Tuesday, we follow the creative. And those pitches can come from anyone. They come from various regions of the country, they come from Indigenous peoples, they come from producers operating in official language minority communities. We don’t foreclose on any of those opportunities. There’s no institutional bias to suggest, you know, we favour one group or another.
6184 So, you know, I think I’d like to put on the record at least, you know, next Friday -- and those intervenors can comment on it -- our actual track record in this regard. And we actually do meet regularly with producers from various communities, including the Indigenous community. And we have commissioned various shows from them in the past.
6185 THE CHAIRPERSON: I’m not questioning your track record or your commitment or anything of that nature.
6186 What I was wanting to explore, a bit like I did at the Laval hearing, is are there ways to soften the path to your door for somebody to pitch an idea or to learn how to do a better job at pitching an idea in that feedback loop? It’s about building capacity.
6187 And in the end, you could very well decide that that’s not the right project for you as a group or that particular licence but it’s more into not getting quotas -- far be that’s not my suggestion if you’ve got it -- but more of a way of operating with the Aboriginal production community to help them out to make the best creative pitch so that they might have a fair chance, the best chance they can with their project.
6188 MR. GOLDSTEIN: It’s really -- you know, I think I’m probably going to be in a better situation to provide it in writing but let me just offer one sort of intro on that.
6189 Our production team -- and I know this is both for our French language operations as well as our English language operations -- travel the country, you know, work with the various industry associations. I know the representatives of On Screen Manitoba that were here today commented on, you know, how the various broadcasters worked at their annual conference. And they said that last week as well in Laval.
6190 You know, we do that already with producers. We are constantly meeting with various producers small, medium, large, and help them in coaching them on what we’re looking for and what they need to provide us with in terms of taking a show from development to production to on the screen.
6191 You know, in terms of the Indigenous community versus official language minority groups or any other individual group, you know, I think obviously there can be workshops and other things that happen. I know for example, you know, I was chatting with our independent production team in advance of this just about some the initiatives they’re doing for example for women producers to help develop that area as well, you know, initiatives that are partnerships between, you know, industry and the production community to help develop skills in this I think are always a good idea.
6192 And we, for example, you know, we have the Bell Media producer lab. We do a whole bunch of different things internally with different segments of the production community to help develop these resources and make them more aware in terms of what we’re looking for. But I think it would probably be better for me to consult internally with our independent production team and provide something in writing by next Friday.
6193 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sure, that’s fine. That’s for the 9th of December.
6195 THE CHAIRPERSON: And just keep in mind that I guess the preoccupation is one of how can we proactively support that? Particularly as, you know, there’s uncertainty in the common years and certainly traveling to meet people or having them meet with you or doing workshops could be at risk of first-level cuts if ever, you know, revenues were not available. And so if you could provide that.
6196 In a similar vein with official language minority communities, and here we’re talking about two types obviously of communities. There’s the English language community in Quebec and the French language production sector outside of Quebec. And I’m not saying you haven’t done it in the past; I’m thinking about the way forward and how you could support -- I think the word you used is “coaching” them to make the best pitch possible to meet your needs.
6197 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Well, I think in terms of the official language minority communities, again, we already do that; we meet with them regularly. I think it’s a bit of a different question than, for example, the Indigenous community. You know, obviously you heard this morning from the Quebec English-language production community. Those are very sophisticated producers who definitely, you know, have experience and know how to pitch something to a broadcaster and to get it produced.
6198 So I think the challenges they have maybe, you know, or that they were highlighting are different, for example, than the Indigenous community. I’m not sure. You know, we have regional offices in Halifax, Montreal, and Winnipeg -- notwithstanding what we said this morning -- and Vancouver. And, you know, in addition to the people who are there, our production teams travel all over the country. Not just to those offices but to various conferences and other opportunities where, you know, producers congregate to meet and have discussions.
6199 So, you know, that’s how you develop and find the best product. And so I'm not sure as it relates to that specific group that the development, in terms of workshops or coaching or anything is necessarily the -- an issue.
6200 THE CHAIRPERSON: During Media Access Canada's appearance earlier this week, they suggested that including a line item in your procurement policies and licensing agreements for described video would ensure that programming is accessible for people who are blind or partially sighted. Is that something you already do?
6201 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Yes.
6202 THE CHAIRPERSON: Across the board or only in specific instances?
6203 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Specifically with our Canadian programming, as the best of my know, for example, specifically with respect to closed captioning. I believe also with respect to described video, it falls into one of the categories that would be appropriate for description. We already build that into the budget line item so that it happens at the production level, and that -- so that's something we do now.
6204 THE CHAIRPERSON: And so it's actually feasible because you're doing it?
6205 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, and we've done it historically and if I remember correctly, I believe anything out of the CMF also already requires that as part of it. And we're going to need to do that, simply, you know -- and continue to do that -- simply to meet the requirements that are going to be coming in, I believe, in 2019 relating to described video. We're already at 100 percent captioning, so ---
6206 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. And it's too bad for my next question Ms. Turcke's not here, but we did hear from Women in Film and Television Vancouver, and a bit in the same vein of social issues, they're wondering how do we ensure that women have a equitable opportunity to participate in the independent productions process and so forth to be key players in what is a collective work with a lot of people putting a little bit into it to make, in the end, a television product?
6207 MR. MALCOLMSON: I think it's something that's hard to regulate. It's organic. It happens, and you know ---
6208 THE CHAIRPERSON: But what measure -- what get measured gets done.
6209 MR. MALCOLMSON: I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, and you know, we were here with -- before you on Tuesday with a female president of Bell Media, a female president of Bell News, the largest news organization in the country, a senior female finance person, and our Head of Independent Production, who is female as well. And you know ---
6210 THE CHAIRPERSON: And that did not go unnoticed, and very good for you.
6211 MR. MALCOLMSON: And when we ---
6212 THE CHAIRPERSON: But I think they're asking more on the production side of things rather than the broadcaster side of things.
6213 MR. MALCOLMSON: Well, when we look at our independent producer relationships, and we look at some of the, you know, leading Canadian shows that we produce, it's interesting when you look at who is the lead producer on each of those shows, and I'll just give you some examples, if you'll permit me. "Saving Hope", for example, Executive Producer, Ilana Frank, female; "Motive", Executive Producer, Louise Clark; "The Beaverton", co-directed by Shelagh O'Brien. The list goes on. "The Killjoys" is directed by a female, produced by a female.
6214 So I think we're doing it organically. I don't have a magic recipe and I don’t think anyone does. I suppose, how do you measure it? It could be measured by reporting.
6215 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think I'd also say, sometimes even when you don’t measure it, it gets done too. And in this area, it's something actually that's been getting done for a long time and is something that's been built into our DNA.
6216 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. So you disagree with their diagnosis? Not their diagnosis, but their -- well, diagnosis, leur "constatation" -- the English word -- their observations, yes, I thank you -- about the role of women in the production sector?
6217 MR. MALCOLMSON: I don’t -- I think it's proper to identify it as a challenge that we should all collectively strive for, so I don’t disagree that it should be highlighted and it should be something that we all collectively keep our eyes on and strive for, and I think we've done that.
6218 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let me move to the second bundle of issues.
6219 We've had a number of parties appear, saying that -- and this has been noted in the past -- that the broadcasting sector plays an important role with respect to feature films. It's a bit ironic, because it is defined as an art form you're supposed to see in a darkened theatre, but apparently more Canadians, historically, have seen Canadian-made films, not in theatres, but on television, and they've been successful, and therefore, that is key to the economic model that supports both commercial feature films but also more Auteur-type feature films.
6220 So what role do you think your group should play in continuing to support feature films?
6221 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I guess one of the challenges we face -- and it's relevant for the discussion on feature films and about a whole bunch of the other asks, you know, for money to this or a percentage to that that came up in this process -- is that in an era when resources were more plentiful and protections existed, it was feasible to have specific obligations to feature films, to drama, to development, to a whole bunch of other different things.
6222 When you move forward and you look at the next five years, none of those protections exist any more, and resources aren't plentiful. They're finite. And as we indicated on Tuesday, our perspective is, we're looking to do the best projects that our viewers want to watch. "Follow the creative" I think was the line that was used a number of times.
6223 THE CHAIRPERSON: M'hm.
6224 MR. GOLDSTEIN: The feature film one, too, is somewhat interesting in that I can think of no more, you know, no genre that is more ubiquitous at this point than film, and available in so many different places. And I think one of the key elements -- and I think Mary-Ann and Randy and Mike and Corrie and others on our team were commenting on on Tuesday -- was that we’re looking for content that is brand-defining, things that we have and makes people want to take our channels.
6225 So obviously, we are a significant supporter of feature films. We expect to continue to be a significant supporter of feature films. But we need to be in a position to evolve and to really go where the eyeballs are. So you know, we're going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on Canadian programming. We do spend hundreds of millions of dollars on Canadian programming annually.
6226 We're going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on PNI, based on our proposals, over the next licence term. It's going to go in a whole bunch of different places, and we need the flexibility to decide what the best place for those places are in any given situation.
6227 THE CHAIRPERSON: In a very competitive model, where, in fact, some people are saying that the television series are of such great quality that even people that traditionally were in the film business, wants -- want to go in that direction, the fact remains that a feature film might be an hour and a half, and when you're competing with limited PNI budgets, you probably can go further with more hours if you do a more traditional television series.
6228 Should I draw from -- well, do you agree with that analysis, and therefore, the risk would be that you might want to, in the flexible environment you're asking for, devote more dollars to scripted television series to the detriment of, some would say, traditional television -- feature film?
6229 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think it's really going to depend on what the project is, you know? We do scripted series, we do documentary series, we do one-off documentaries, we do -- you know, we invest in feature film. I'm not sure that, you know, given the budgets, you know, the size of the envelope we're working with, that, you know, one says that it's definitely going to go this way or it's definitely going to that way, so ---
6230 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you're not ready to make a commitment on a certain level of feature film production that you would support over the next licence term?
6231 MR. GOLDSTEIN: No.
6232 THE CHAIRPERSON: The Directors Guild made the point about the need to avoid the risk of having reruns being calculated for PNI and suggested that there should be a -- their proposal is, I think, doing the math, is about 56 percent of the PNI that would be devoted to original first-run PNI.
6233 I guess my question's in two part: A) Do you think there should be that sort of support? And whether or not you do, what would be a reasonable percentage, in your view?
6234 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think if I understand their proposal correctly, it relates to the distinction between kind of original commissioned product versus an after-market acquisition?
6235 THE CHAIRPERSON: That’s correct.
6236 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Okay, because in calculating expenditures -- and I think the Directors Guild highlighted this, or one of the other intervenors, yesterday -- you know, when you’re accounting, we do so on an accrual basis. So if you invest in a program that you spend $5 million on, you’re going to amortize that over a period of time; but it’s original and you commissioned it.
6237 I’m not really sure it’s a significant issue. You know, as we indicated on Tuesday ---
6238 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, if they raised it, they think it’s a significant issue.
6239 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Well, I -- just because they raised it and they said it’s -- we listened to a lot of things over the last that essentially would involve us completely retrenching on the Let’s Talk TV Policy. And so I recognize their position and what is -- you know, they feel is in the interest of their members.
6240 We are committed to original production. It’s something, you know, that we’ve invested heavily in over the last licence terms and we expect to continue invest heavily in. You know, it’s where we see the ability to create that brand-defining programming. You know, similar to have -- you know, the answer I just gave on feature films, we want stuff that we have and we’re the first place to get it.
6241 Obviously, you’re going to have situations where you need to fill in your schedule or there’s other projects that you may buy. I don’t support, or we don’t support, a specific percentage on original production so I don’t -- I can’t even put one out there as to what would be acceptable.
6242 I think if the Commission were to look at what we’ve spent, based on the information that’s on the record of this proceeding, they’ll note that, you know, we’re heavily invested in original production as part of our PNI.
6243 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. And I know your argument is, in a competitive environment where you have to maintain advertising revenue and subscriptions to your services, you have to actually deliver that brand-defining content and, in a sense, market forces will drive you to do original.
6244 It would seem that your partners in the creative sector don’t have that same level of trust in that outcome and are worried that they may see a decline in original, first-run programming. Is that fear exaggerated in your view, and why so?
6245 MR. MALCOLMSON: I don’t sit in their chair so I won’t comment on the degree of exaggeration. But what I would is -- and we said this in our presentation in-chief -- we’re living in world where there are very few or no regulatory guarantees; there are no financial guarantees in our business.
6246 And so I think the production community, collectively, has to recognize that the world has changed and collectively we’re going to have to take risk together. And what we’re looking for a is a regulatory environment that allows us to take risks, to allocate risks, and to, as we’ve said throughout, go -- you know, follow the creative and make the best television possible because we’re going to have to or we’re going to find ourselves in trouble.
6247 So we understand their perspective but we don’t think the answer is regulatory guarantees.
6248 THE CHAIRPERSON: The Writers Guild raised issues about developmental financing in terms of the cycle of production; you invest in development. Some projects get green lit and go into production, and of course you’ve got to promote and ensure the discoverability of that content.
6249 The first part of their concern is that the amount of money you have historically spent on development may not have been properly reported, and they referred to the Annex. Do you agree with that assessment?
6250 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I was unaware of any issue with respect to that. I’m happy to go back and look into it further but I didn’t think it was improperly reported.
6251 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Could you look at the documents they’ve annexed in their presentation ---
6252 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Sure.
6253 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- and undertake to either confirm that the numbers there are correct, in your view, or make the corrections that you think ought to be made?
6254 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Absolutely.
6255 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is that okay?
6256 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Yeah.
6258 THE CHAIRPERSON: If you were to have to estimate how much in any given year over the past three years you spent, either as a percentage or in absolute terms, on development of scripted programming, what would be that amount?
6259 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I would have to take a look at scripted. I asked what we did in terms of development; I was told, at least in the last year, last few years, it kind of ranged, I believe, between 1.2 and 1.4 million dollars a year.
6260 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. The concern, obviously, is that it’s not that Master Chef or Amazing Race-type programming isn’t valid -- it’s very entertaining; it draws audience -- but I think their interest is more in scripted.
6261 And it’s not that you don’t need to do development in that category; I get that. But would it be possible for you to -- using the definition they proposed of what developmental activities are, to come back to us and indicate how much, on average, over the past three years, you’ve spent on development of scripted programming -- Canadian scripted programming?
6262 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think we could do that but I would want to at least put something on the record on this. And I -- I think we heard from Mr. Morayniss from eOne this morning about -- in your discussion with him about when a great project comes to them, they’re willing to invest and develop it, and invest significantly, and sometimes take it from a film to a -- you know, to -- you know, from a film division to a TV division in terms of what’s the most appropriate.
6263 We have had significant success both from an audience perspective and a critical perspective with our scripted programming, whether it’s “Saving Hope”, or “Motive”, or “Orphan Black”, or “Killjoys”, or any of these shows that we’ve done. You know, they are garnering audiences, especially the ones that are on conventional television, between a million and, you know, high millions in viewers, comparable to some U.S. fare.
6264 I think our track record in terms of being able to identify the stories, and pick the right stories, and develop the ones that make sense for us to the benefit of our viewers is fairly clear.
6265 So -- but yes, we can absolutely ---
6266 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you know, as you know, we’re not prejudging. Your position is, of course, you might not want to have a percentage involved of spend; I get that. You want flexibility and you want to be able to follow the creative; I get that. But we have to build a record with all the ---
6267 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Sure.
6268 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- decision-tree information required.
6269 MR. GOLDSTEIN: So we’re happy to figure out over the last three years, on average, what we spent on development on scripted, as I think you just indicated, Mr. Chairman.
6271 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right.
6272 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think our position on this is, you know, development’s great. You know, we would love to have unlimited resources to develop projects. But the reality is that if you devote too much resources in the development space, you’re taking away resources from the production space as to actually ends up in the programming that airs on your channels ---
6273 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
6274 MR. GOLDSTEIN: --- because when you actually look at the amount of projects that you actually give development resources to, and then the percentage of those that actually end up as being a project, it’s very, very small.
6275 THE CHAIRPERSON: As is one would expect, right, because you have to do more R&D to get the one that works in the end, right? And even when you think it’s going to work, it might not. That’s the risk of this sort of programming.
6276 I want to talk about shutdown. And I do want to correct myself. I think -- I wasn’t wearing my glasses; I may have suggested you were shutting down more places earlier when I was asking questions than you were. But there were transmitters being shut.
6277 But even your own supporting intervenor, who is a great passionate supporter of local television, when I put to him the possibility that there may be not re-transmitters but originating stations shutting down, he did express a certain level of concern.
6278 And I was wondering what level of comfort you could give us about your intentions about maintaining the stations -- the originating stations you have over the air in the next licence term.
6279 MR. MALCOLMSON: Well, you heard from us on Tuesday and I think, unlike in the past, you didn’t hear any discussion of, you know, wanting to shut down originating stations. I think, you know, the perspective that was given to you by the business representatives was, “We’ll continue to invest in local television.” We’re trying to make a go of local television. It’s important to our business. It’s important to our audiences. It’s important to our brand.
6280 And the other assurance is an assurance that you’ve created in your own regulatory policies with your local and community TV policy, whereby access to the funding, the ability to redirect the funding, is tied to maintaining the operations of the originating stations over the next licence term. So that’s a significant financial incentive for all operators that are subject to that condition. And you heard Ms. Turcke speak about the internal desire within our company for her to have 100 percent of the money that’s available to be redirected.
6281 So I think our track record, the financial incentives you’ve created, and the importance of local to our business, should provide assurances to people in those markets.
6282 You know, the decision to close the rebroadcast transmitters is not something that is taken lightly either. But in today’s environment we have to make choices like that. You know, so those type of decisions are balancing legacy infrastructure versus investment in programming. And we want to invest in local. We want to invest in our originating stations.
6283 THE CHAIRPERSON: But as you know, operating a broadcasting undertaking is a permission; it’s not an obligation. And would you agree with me that you can return a licence at any time and say, you know, “We can’t make a go of this” and return it?
6284 MR. MALCOLMSON: That’s certainly not within -- that’s not how we think about it. But I would agree with you from a regulatory standpoint that licences can be surrendered.
6285 THE CHAIRPERSON: And in fact, in this process you’ve indicated you’re seeking not to renew the transmitters here and the public has had a chance to comment on it.
6286 Are you of the view that the potential loss of the flexibility on local television is a sufficient deterrent? Because five years is a long period of time in a period of uncertainty and you might find yourself one day realizing that, “You know, what? Regina, we can’t make a go there. It’s a money loser. And yes, we might lose a bit of this, but on a current cost of money it makes sense, notwithstanding all that, to close down Regina.”
6287 And I’m wondering if you wouldn’t prefer to create a little bit of -- since you’re saying that’s your intention -- of comfort to everybody who’s following this, some sort of a regulatory rule or condition of licence that would ensure that before you do close one of these OTAs, the originating OTAs, that the public has a chance to comment?
6288 MR. MALCOLMSON: Again, Mr. Chairman, it’s not -- you know, closing local stations is an avenue of last resort. It’s not something we’re thinking about or would ever want to do. But in today’s environment five years is a long time. I think all the operators would like to maintain as much flexibility as possible. You’ve created a strong financial incentive, through your regulatory policy, to keep local stations open, which is appreciated and appropriate. But if you’re asking, you know, will we sit here today and agree to a condition of licence not to close stations or to consult before closing stations? We’re not in a position to do that, no.
6289 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you undertake to provide an answer by the 9th of December?
6290 MR. MALCOLMSON: An answer beyond the answer I gave? We’re happy to prove an answer in writing, yes.
6292 THE CHAIRPERSON: And your view -- because I’m asking you would it be appropriate for the Commission to impose a condition of licensing codifying the potential loss of the transfer of the flex from the local television -- the local community money? That’s one way of creating an incentive for not closing down local stations.
6293 But another one would be to impose a condition of licence that you have to continue to operate all the OTAs in the group.
6294 MR. MALCOLMSON: We would not support either of those two proposed conditions of licence.
6295 THE CHAIRPERSON: Why not?
6296 MR. MALCOLMSON: Again, Mr. Chairman, the state of convention television is such that until the business model is fixed, we -- you know, it’s losing hundreds of millions of dollars. And we need the flexibility to assess ---
6297 THE CHAIRPERSON: But all those conditions would do was if you were to come to a decision that you need to close one of them, we at least have a public process where Canadians have a chance to comment on whether you have justification for closing this station or that station.
6298 MR. MALCOLMSON: And as I said, Mr. Chairman, if we’re losing money year over year, we need to be in a position to make business decisions. And ---
6299 THE CHAIRPERSON: But this is a group renewal. You’ll still be making money presumably in other parts of the business?
6300 MR. MALCOLMSON: Well, our conventional television stations are not making money.
6301 THE CHAIRPERSON: It’s a group renewal where you’re having flex from the OTAs to the specialties. I mean, it’s very odd to me, and I’ve said this on a number of occasions, that everybody wants flex, they want to be considered as a group, but they calculate loss on a licence-by-licence basis. It can’t be both.
6302 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think, Mr. Chairman, the reality of the operations are, if we look at the last five years, since we’ve had a group-based policy -- so we introduced the policy in 2011 and conventional television was struggling then. Not as much as it’s struggling now but it was struggling then. Specialty was really healthy. You know, a lot of protections, you know, broad packaging, guaranteed carriage. It was reasonable to think at that time that if conventional went down a little bit, obviously you had the health on the specialty side to protect it.
6303 I think what’s underpinning our argument on flexibility is it’s no longer a situation where you don’t have it here but you have it over on the other side so you can make up for it. We’ve got a situation where the place where we didn’t have it before is worse and the place where we had it before is declining.
6304 So we’re now moving into a situation where the group overall is much less healthy than it was before, and the ability of one side to support the other is grossly diminished. So I’m not sure we can make that commitment at this time to say we’re going to continuously underwrite losses on conventional television when, to be honest, we don’t know whether or not -- what the situation is going to be for the other side that is seemingly healthy.
6305 THE CHAIRPERSON: In the Bell-Astral transaction you were willing to make such a commitment. What’s changed?
6306 MR. MALCOLMSON: What’s changed, Mr. Chairman, is that the ---
6307 THE CHAIRPERSON: You weren’t asking for a favour from the Commission, right?
6308 MR. MALCOLMSON: We were asking for an approval, yes.
6309 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah. And so now when you want flexibility, an ability to shut down, without even speaking to the viewers you serve by at least having a process -- what I’m suggesting is that it’s not that you couldn’t close a station but that there would at least be a public process before you do so so you could be accountable to the viewers you serve.
6310 MR. MALCOLMSON: I appreciate where you’re going, Mr. Chairman, but we’re not prepared to make a commitment to come back to you before we would have to make the unfortunate decision to close a local station.
6311 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right. Do you want to add anything on that subject? Because I’m trying to close the record on it and the Commission will have to make a decision eventually on it. Do you have anything to add on that aspect?
6312 MR. MALCOLMSON: No, we don’t.
6313 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you’ve had a full opportunity to comment on the potential of a condition of licence that would deal with this issue, in your view?
6314 MR. MALCOLMSON: We certainly understand what you’re asking of us, yes.
6315 THE CHAIRPERSON: You didn’t answer my question.
6316 MR. MALCOLMSON: Yes.
6317 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6318 I’ll turn to my colleagues to see if they have any questions. Legal? No.
6319 So thank you. Thank you very much.
6320 --- Witnesses are excused
6321 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madame la secrétaire.
6322 MS. ROY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will now invite the panel from Corus Entertainment to take place.
6323 MR. MAAVARA: Okay. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Panel, CRTC staff, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Gary Maavara and I’m privileged to be here today with Doug Spence, who is a member of our hardworking and award-winning finance team at Corus. And on my left is Sylvie Courtemanche ---
6324 MS. COURTEMANCHE: No awards.
6325 MS. MAAVARA: A woman who is -- I’m talking right now, excuse me. A woman who heads up our GR and regulatory function at Corus and is known for her smarts, her great experience, and her leadership in the industry. And I can say that it’s a real privilege to work with both of these people.
6326 At the outset, we would like to thank the intervenors who supported the renewal of our programming licences. We really appreciate the support from more than 260 public and private organizations, academic institutions, charitable groups, as well as members of federal, provincial, and municipal governments from across Canada.
6327 These testimonials demonstrate the vital role that Corus plays in the communities we serve. We understand our responsibilities and we intend to meet and exceed expectations.
6328 We also wish to note the written reply to interventions filed by Corus on August 25th.
6329 You’ve heard a great deal from each applicant and the intervenors and others about change and the speed of change. The Commission has said that these GBL renewal hearings need to take into account the new market realities within the Canadian broadcast system.
6330 You heard from the Corus panel on the investments outside CPE that we need to make to meet these changes.
6331 We must market more to help consumers discover our content over the clutter of content from streaming services. We must invest in building television everywhere platforms to follow our consumer. We must invest in advertising technologies to answer the digital competition. We must invest in a direct to consumer relationship in order to retail our channels in this new à la carte universe.
6332 We must create companion content such as short form, webisodes and digital news to be relevant to our consumer. And we must recognize that in this golden age of television, costs are increasing and audiences are fragmenting more and more each year.
6333 Consider what took place in the market just as we sat in this room this week.
6334 For example, some of you may have seen the story on Netflix this morning in the Globe & Mail. I don’t have much time so I won’t go into that. But on Tuesday, DHX published a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid designed to illuminate how children ages up to 12 consume entertainment content and brands.
6335 The survey found that kids have embraced mobile on-demand viewing, and that tablets are their preferred screen for consuming content. In the households surveyed, 72 percent of children's daily viewing is from streaming services such as YouTube, Netflix and others. These are emblematic of the rapid changes in audience behaviour.
6336 There is much more in that report but you get the picture.
6338 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Yes, the market is changing constantly. However, we have also faced profound changes in Commission policies that many seem to have overlooked.
6339 In March 2015, the Commission eliminated genre exclusivity. But last year, the Commission also changed the licensing regime. The reality is that any Canadian can now launch a service of any type. The only real hurdle now is meeting the Direction on Foreign Ownership. There is no regulatory wait time to starting a new service. These channels are exempt for at least a year and after that their obligations are minimal so the natural and regulatory barriers to access to the market are virtually gone.
6340 We have reviewed the negative interventions and note that all support the renewal of our licences save for one. We have also carefully listened to the conversation this week. As you heard, the cost structure is shifting beneath us rapidly. All players need to adjust their expectations in such an evolving market.
6341 We will abandon many of the old ways of doing things and will constantly experiment with new approaches during the next licence term. We will need to do more with less, and our strong belief is that every actor in the Canadian system needs to do the same, including the producers who benefit from CPE.
6342 We are an integrated media and content company. Winning as a pure play media company at home gives us the platform to win as a content company globally. There is a lot at stake for both the system and for Corus.
6343 We respect the varying perspectives but we believe that what intervenors are suggesting are founded in the past and may actually lead to extremely damaging unintended negative consequences.
6344 The CMPA made vague allegations about our production activities. They did not submit a shred of evidence. Corus asked them for specifics on their issues in writing and at a meeting last July. We got nothing. We then met with them for over two hours after Banff and again they offered up no facts.
6345 Last week their lawyers told us they would take us to arbitration and we wrote back asking them what it was about. Again, no facts. So here are some facts.
6346 The “snowflake” analogy refers to how every deal is unique and we can’t be forced into a one size fits all template. That said, there are four categories of production outside of news, sports, and public affairs.
6347 First, are Producer of Record projects where Corus owns the intellectual property and we retain an independent producer to make it for us. We assume all costs and the producer has zero financial risk. They do participate in the returns beyond what we pay them and they get the tax credits.
6348 Second are Format PORs, which are essentially the same except we licence a format from a third party and then ask a Canadian producer to do it for us. A producer could do this directly if they want to adopt the risk. We do it and assume the risk, and they get the same benefits.
6349 In these situations, presumably producers are using these budgets to offset some of their fixed costs of operations. That also serves to reduce their overall risk and frees up resources to use elsewhere. We know because we are a producer too and Nelvana takes on its share of service work.
6350 In fact, we just completed production of the fourth season of the internationally acclaimed series “Bubble Guppies”, a series in which we have no right to participate in distribution and ancillary revenues but a series we are proud to have worked on with a valued international partner. We are happy to keep our teams busy and cover some overhead costs.
6351 The third area is where we licence the series pursuant to the Terms of Trade Agreement. If one examines the Terms of Trade Agreement and the budgets submitted to the CMF et cetera, one soon realizes that most projects are completely funded by the Canadian pre-sale and government supports and hence the producer has minimal risk.
6352 In Canada, as the CMPA agreed in response to the Chair’s questions, the producer risk is about whether they get a project picked up. The relative risk of the small amount of development the producers engage in prior to securing broadcasters development funding or commissioning dollars pales in comparison to the broadcaster investment in the licence fee. Welcome to the real world we say.
6353 The fourth category is where we produce the project in house through companies such as Nelvana.
6354 So how much producing does Corus actually do in each of these categories? This year, we did not commission any POR or produce any in-house
6355 live-action scripted drama. None. This year we commissioned eight percent of all other categories of our series as POR, five percent was format POR, and 10 percent was affiliated in-house production. Seventy-seven (77) percent was pursuant to the Terms of Trade agreement. In sum, 90 percent produced by independent producers.
6356 In the area of our benefits series spend, 12 percent was POR, 88 was Terms of Trade. No affiliated and no format POR projects. So all of this was done by independents.
6357 It is also important to note that many of the financial terms of the contracts are determined by funding agencies such as the Canada Media Fund.
6358 Programming pricing is influenced by other factors as well. The Commission sets the spend minimum, the CPE, and the hours. The combination of Commission and funding agency rules set the market. And as you have heard from everyone, new content is much needed to maintain subscribers and viewers except for the major hits that have residual value. So we want and need content.
6359 Budget elements are set by the CMF. A producer who comes in with broadcast licence fees below the standard is simply not going to get approved.
6360 And in terms of the health of the business, you simply need to look at the CMPA’s state of the industry report to know that, you know, independent productions are their highest level in history. Yes, we do want to own and control more content.
6361 Our aspirations for content ownership are measured and limited by our own appetite for risk, available capital, and the need for a diverse creative supply chain. This means that we need to support a vibrant independent sector. We know there is no monopoly on good ideas, and we want to ensure we have access to as many good ideas from as many sources as possible. So we might produce a bit more, but not much more than now.
6362 The problem in Canada is scale and some of the rules that constrain export development. Companies such as eOne have been eloquent -- just this morning -- in describing these changes and the changes needed. And we won’t repeat them here, but these are the reasons why we are working with CACE, the new export association.
6363 MR. SPENCE: There has been a great deal said about CPE at this hearing, and most of it is premised upon a lack of understanding about how the CPE rules were applied. First of all, they are applied on each licence. There is no such thing as a group licence.
6364 The group CPE is simply the mathematical result of combining all of the CPE COLs contained in the individual licences.
6365 In 2011 our CPE requirement was 31 percent on Corus Category A channels, 16 percent on Corus Category B channels, and 28 percent on our Corus TV stations. There were some variations, particularly Teletoon and CMT that we won’t list now for brevity.
6366 The legacy Shaw local stations CPE requirement was 22 percent and the CPE for the Shaw discretionary services varied greatly between the various licences. In each case, it was the individual licence that had a set CPE requirement.
6367 There is not and never was a legacy of 30 percent. It was a target going into the last GBL hearings based on historical spend for a period of time that pre-dated the current licence term. Should historical spending for the broadcast years 2007 to 2009 really be the benchmark for a licence term of 2018 through 2022? We don’t believe such benchmarks would recognize today’s and tomorrow’s market realities.
6368 And as we said in our application and on Monday, the Corus English-language portfolio changed materially during this licence term. Corus shut down its Category A pay services and launched many new services that were either Cat B or exempt. All these changed the overall calculation.
6369 Established services do more CPE. New ones simply cannot. The Commission understands that so we start as exempt with no CPE and then we go to a 10 percent. A new launch changes the overall CPE level.
6370 That is just the mathematical result.
6372 Each of Rogers, Bell, Corus and the others are operating in different genres with varying cost structures. We reach different viewers and advertisers.
6373 It is not just about a level playing field, a phrase that the Commission has often challenged in this room. The fact is that we are not even playing the same game.
6374 And let’s not forget that subsection 9(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act mandates that the Commission establish conditions according to the circumstances of the licensee. So at the end of the day it is regulation by licence and class of licence. Having an across-the-board CPE will stifle innovation and ignore reality.
6375 Our CPE proposals are substantial, and will allow us to meet market realities over the next six years and fund diverse and high quality Canadian content that will attract viewers. It is what we think we need and can spend.
6376 The fact is that Corus has asked for a reduction of one percent from its existing CPE requirement, of 27 percent in aggregate to 26 percent. That is because we need to address market realities. And we are about innovation. We try new things more than anyone else. The CPE structure must allow us to compete with both domestic players and foreign players that do not have CPE requirements.
6377 Twenty-seven (27) percent for basic and discretionary services translates to substantial contributions to the system and a strong economic engine for the production sector. And it is what we can afford to dedicate to CPE in the context of our other obligations.
6378 Ten (10) percent for six services new to GBL, consistent with new requirements for services that did not have a CPE previously, will promote innovation and encourage new services to the system.
6379 Similarly, on the subject of PNI, Bell, Rogers and Shaw are at five percent. Corus is higher at nine percent. The blended new Corus PNI is seven percent.
6380 Our proposal is not about parity or standardization. It is about adapting to the new rules.
6381 With the elimination of genre exclusivity, higher PNI obligations will simply limit our ability to meet evolving consumer demands.
6382 And we will spend 75 percent of PNI with independent producers. There is no change in that.
6383 The demands by CMPA, DOC, and others for new conditions of licence are simply an attempt to change the Let’s Talk TV policy and in particular to re-establish the genre exclusivity policy.
6384 The Commission asked if we would be prepared to do a higher PNI percentage if it granted our request to eliminate advertising restrictions. We do not believe our request for a standardized PNI should be tied to our advertising request.
6385 Could we do seven percent? Probably. But increasing the amount must be recognized as out of step with the rule changes. But to do seven percent PNI, we would absolutely need the CPE established in accordance with what was proposed in our GBL application.
6386 MR. MAAVARA: On the subject of producer independence, the CMPA proposed to change certain definitions. This is effectively a change to the rules that applied to the licence application we filed, and we said so in our written brief and reply. But this is a licensing hearing, not a policy review, as the Commission well understands.
6387 There are problems that we have with most of these proposals, but one of the most fundamental is their proposed definition of independent producer. They would change the criteria from a relationship test to one of status so our Nelvana would become a non-independent producer regardless of who it is dealing with. So if a broadcaster was already at its limit, it would not be able to use Nelvana content as independent because it would be deemed as non-independent.
6388 Similarly, the CMPA says that this would have no impact but it means also that we could not licence anything from DHX at those times when we were at the independent limit. And that would effectively put them out of business in the kids genre.
6389 And vice-versa, it would also mean that Nelvana could not produce anything for DHX to the extent that they were at their limit. That would basically put the two most successful kids animation companies in this country -- and especially successfully in exports -- out of business. We believe that this would damage the Canadian broadcasting system.
6390 On the subject of Teletoon French, Corus wishes to correct the misinformation provided to you yesterday by the ARRQ et al. Contrary to their assertions, Corus has maintained its offices in Montreal where decisions on programming for its French-language services are made. It was in Montreal where we commissioned series such as “Tête à claque” and “Les Grandes Geules” for Teletoon franco that were later dubbed for the English market.
6391 There is a separate CPE requirement of nine percent for French-language content and we propose to maintain it, and we were proposed to maintain that.
6392 It is unclear to us how many animation producers the association actually represents. Tellingly, they could not tell you how many animation producers there are in Quebec. And they clearly do not represent the animation producer who testified last week in Laval and said it would be harmful to split the Teletoon licence because it would impede the financing of this costly content.
6393 Although we provided a broad reply to the CPSC/SCFP written intervention in our written reply, we consider that the proposals made by this group represent a reversal of the Commission’s local TV and tangible benefits policies.
6394 This is particularly the case with their proposals for our Montreal TV station CKMI, which is not only unfair but unworkable. We operate a group of TV services. We are not operating CKMI on an individual basis, which is essentially what they propose we do. More importantly, CKMI is hyper-local in its coverage of issues specific to the Anglo communities of Montreal and the West Island. Yesterday, for example, 100 percent of the stories in our main 5:30 newscast in Montreal were about the local community.
6395 The suggestion made tracking locally reflective content also does not work. The Commission measures our compliance through machine-readable logs. Excel spreadsheets are not machine-readable logs.
6396 It would make no sense to ask our journalists to be responsible for filing our logs. It would be irresponsible. They should be focusing on gathering and reporting the news.
6397 We suggest and recommend that the Commission task their own Logging Division to work with broadcasters to fully understand the complexities and collectively form a viable and measurable solution. We continue to believe the audit approach is the best because it avoids moving resources from journalism to meeting administrative obligations.
6398 On the subject of accessibility we share the view of the intervenors and agree that work needs to be done. We have a meeting coming up at Corus Quay to discuss next steps on some the things that we need to do.
6399 We will work with the groups and we share their goals.
6400 On the subject of undertakings, Mr. Chairman, you asked that we identify the questions in Exhibit Number 3 that will require extra time to respond. We will require until end of day December 12th, to respond to question (iii) ---
6401 MR. COURTEMANCHE: No, “2, little 3”.
6402 MR. MAAVARA: Well, 2(iii). See I’m a lawyer, right? I say “sub 3”. Sorry. He understood it -- question 3, question 5, and 6. We will answer the remaining questions contained in this Exhibit on December the 9th.
6403 Members of the Commission, this completes our reply comments and we are happy to answer any further questions you may have.
6404 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. And yes, Mr. Maavara, I saw what you wrote here so I know exactly which one you couldn’t answer on such date. But thank you, Maître Courtemanche for correcting that.
6405 I should have given a spoiler alert earlier when I asked the questions of Bell because, as I told you, I’d be asking exactly the same bundle of questions here. And they fall under two categories. The first bundle relate to social issues broadly or questions, I think, that are more importantly under the citizenship moniker.
6406 And the first one -- even though we didn’t hear the evidence, it was put on the oral phase of this hearing, the testimony of High Definition Pictures -- and I was wondering what your view was on creating a structure to support increased production by Indigenous producers in the broader broadcasting system beyond APTN.
6407 MR. MAAVARA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’ll do a slight preamble and turn it over to Ms. Courtemanche.
6408 First of all, I’ll say that the precursors of this company are -- the former Canwest was the only broadcaster to support the establishment of APTN. And Charlotte Bell and I were sitting in this room late, nine o’clock, one night as the only intervenors were there to say that we thought it was a good idea. And I’m really proud of the fact that we spent time with them after they got the licence in Winnipeg developing their first business plan. And we very much support the work that APTN is doing.
6409 In our brief we talked about some of the things that we’re doing on an ongoing basis and you used the phrase earlier after “softening the path”, which I thought was a lovely illustration of the challenge. We’re doing a range of things from training and development to offering people jobs and that sort of things to soften that path.
6410 And I’ll turn it to Sylvie to talk about some of the other things that we’re doing.
6411 MS. COURTEMANCHE: For the record, I mentioned this in Laval last week. But I was there at the beginning of APTN because I was their consulting lawyer when they applied for the application and were successful. And I agree; it was a terrific initiative.
6412 But what Mr. Tory said last week in Laval was that we shouldn’t be ghettoizing this type of content just to APTN. And I think he’s absolutely correct.
6413 We’re pretty proud at Global TV. We were the media partner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We heard PSAs in areas where the hearings were being held to publicize the hearings. We wanted to encourage people to come out and, you know, provide the testimony. You know, we did interviews with the Commissioners. And so we obviously -- you know, the events associated with the Commission were obviously very important.
6414 We do PSAs every year for the National Aboriginal Day and all kinds of initiative of that sort.
6415 And we also are the producer that airs in primetime the Inspire Awards and we provide a cash investment in live production. And we’ve committed to this partnership again in 2017.
6416 And we have a number of Indigenous interns in our newsroom through our Journalists for Human Rights Indigenous journalist program. In 2016, four such interns were hosted. And this represents over $176,000 in scholarships to 18 students across the country. And we’re members of various organizations such as SABAR and so on and so forth.
6417 But you know, no, that’s not enough; we can do more, absolutely. It’s just like the accessibility issue; we can always do better.
6418 One of the things that we talked about in Laval last week is -- I talked about my philosophy that we should incent behaviour. And you know, we talked about carrots and improving our eyesight. But at the end of the day we thought that some of the things that we could possibly do -- and a lot of this has to do with communicating our expectations to these producers because unless they know what they’re really looking for, they’re not going to be able to pitch, you know, what we need for our various services.
6419 So we thought that, you know, doing some sessions in Banff, perhaps even creating some kind of a toolkit, maybe even making it available on our website, these are all things that we want to explore.
6420 The other thing that we talked about is if there was expenses that were related to the development of a project that would either end up -- you know, you would either move ahead with the development and/or the production of that service, well, the costs associated with stimulating that kind of content could be claimed back as CPE.
6421 So I think those are all really, really good initiatives, lots of talking, being very clear on what is it we’re looking for and the types of projects to pitch, and incent us to really go out there and get that.
6422 Did I blab long enough? Yeah, okay. Thank you.
6423 THE CHAIRPERSON: So if I’m not mistaken, that was going to be an undertaking in Laval on how to develop all these ideas that you’ve just summarized here?
6424 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Yeah, that’s for tomorrow.
6425 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. Would you be able to, as an undertaking, also put that ---
6426 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Oh, you want me to do the same thing?
6427 THE CHAIRPERSON: To put it in this record since it’s a separate record?
6428 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Right.
6429 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes? Thank you.
6431 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Yes.
6432 THE CHAIRPERSON: For the 9th, please.
6433 MS. COURTEMANCHE: The 2nd for Laval, the 9th for this hearing?
6434 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
6435 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Correct.
6436 THE CHAIRPERSON: There will be more of that, by the way. Take out your calendars.
6437 In a similar vein, for the OLMC communities, both in their England-language form in Quebec and the French-language form outside, what do you think we should do to encourage and provide them with more opportunities, as you say, to pitch ideas and to eventually maybe connect with broadcasters?
6438 MR. MAAVARA: Again, Mr. Chairman, I’ll make a couple comments and then I’ll turn it over to Sylvie.
6439 You recall that in our benefits package one of the things that we did -- we did some innovative things. For example, we were funding a French theater in Winnipeg with the idea that it would be helping the creators in that part of the world to develop scripts and that sort of thing. And we’re really quite pleased with the way that’s rolled itself out. And we’ve tried to help producers in both areas in ways like that.
6440 And I’ll turn it to Sylvie for specifics.
6441 THE CHAIRPERSON: I would say that in the same way that you want to encourage, you know, Indigenous productions, we do the same measures. I think there’s -- you know, it’s not two groups that you should be treating differently, you know? The same measures that would encourage broadcasters to, you know, get a higher number of such productions on air would apply to OLMC as well, so I would again say that we need to have better communications.
6442 We do go out; like, we do go to their annual convention every year -- well, at least on the French side -- but we do go out, we do reach out, we do go to Banff, we do make a point of being accessible. But having said that, we can do better and we need to have more visibility. We need to be clear on what it is we're looking for, as far as content, you know, same things -- toolkits, having something on the website that really explains what we're looking for. If we communicate better what our expectations are -- and the same thing, if there's an incentive in there, the same type that I was talking about for the Indigenous programming -- then I think that, you know, that will spur it on. I'm not -- you know, it’s not going to happen overnight, but we have to do better and it's our intention to do better.
6443 THE CHAIRPERSON: If I'm not mistaken, you had an undertaking in the Laval hearing on this issue?
6444 MS. COURTEMANCHE: It's on my list.
6445 THE CHAIRPERSON: And would you be able to take that same response and put it on this hearing?
6446 MS. COURTEMANCHE: I'll just -- it's the same response. It'll just be in the other official language.
6447 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's fine.
6448 MR. MAAVARA: We may nuance it a bit.
6449 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, since the situation of the group is different here.
6450 And what's your view of the Quebec English-language Production Council, which -- well, perhaps this is too blunt -- but you know, thanks for the past, but we want more?
6451 MR. MAAVARA: I think we need to have some thinking on that so we can come back to you with a more wise response.
6452 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, for the 9th?
6453 MR. MAAVARA: Yes.
6454 THE CHAIRPERSON: It's a lot of pre-Christmas work for everyone.
6456 THE CHAIRPERSON: The other issue I asked, of course, and it's in response to the intervention by the Vancouver and Film and Television in Vancouver, and they're looking for more equity, not -- well, I guess perhaps in the broadcasting sector, but mostly in the production side, that, you know, directors, writers, the very -- various technician positions. And how do we get from where we are today to where, ideally, we'd want to be, as a society?
6457 MR. MAAVARA: Chairman and members of the Panel, I'm going to be a little bit pedantic and I'm going to get to the production side of it, but I want to start with Corus first, because I'll respectfully submit that we walk the talk, and the way to get decisions made over here means that you have to have an upfront structure that is sensitive to issues such as this.
6458 So for example, on structure, one of the major developments that the securities regulators are looking at is women on boards and women in senior management. And we filed our prospectus last year, and in a couple of weeks, we'll be filing our prospectus for this year, which includes that information.
6459 But we're proud to say that, for example, our chair of our Board is a woman. We have three directors who are women on our Board, all from Alberta. We have other Albertans on our Board, but they're not women. And we've had up to half of our directors have been women on our Board. And I would venture to make the observation -- and I could probably prove it, but I'm roughly certain that the number of women that we have on our Board would put us in the top one percent of the TSX. There's probably the bottom 50 percent have no women at all, and we always have had, and they make a really important contribution.
6460 In terms of senior management, our executive leadership team, you saw Barb Williams, our Chief Operating Officer, who was here last week. Our Executive Vice-President of People, which is what we call our Human Resources operations -- but I have to say that our Human Resources operations is really pretty broad. It's all about development and training and a lot of other things and communications -- is a woman. Our Chief Integration Officer is a woman.
6461 In terms of the top three layers of management in the company, it's -- I'm not sure exactly what the number is. Last year it was around 45 percent. I think it's roughly the same. Of course, we're a lot bigger, but if one goes across the org charts, we have senior women working and making decisions everywhere.
6462 And I'm proud of the fact that the Law Department, which I manage, it's made up of 50 people; 37 are women and 2 of my 5 direct reports are women. And when I go, my guess is that that number will increase.
6463 But also in other key roles, our Head of Marketing is a woman, our VP Finance is a woman. And in two areas where women have a very difficult time -- and I know it because of my business experience -- my daughter is a scientist and a mountain climber, and she deals with sexism in both areas almost every day, and she's had the benefit of some mentoring from people in our industry about how to deal with that.
6464 But we have a -- our Head of Technical Operations in Nelvana is a woman. Really unusual, and she's probably one of the most respected people in that sector. And we have a senior IT person who's a woman. Again, not very common.
6465 So let's turn to the subject of what's on the screen. Start with news. Our flagship national news program, both during the week, is hosted by Dawna Friesen, and on weekends, Robin Gill. We could go through the whole country. I won't go through that, but for example, in Toronto, our morning show, a flagship show, Carolyn Mackenzie is the host of that.
6466 Of course, we run a lot of networks that are dedicated to women: W network, Cosmopolitan television, and Oprah Winfrey, and obviously, a lot of that programming is targeted at women.
6467 In terms of productions, we're really excited about some of the things that we're doing, and these were done with intent. For example, "Mary Kills People" is a catchy title, and all of the lead -- this is a medical show. The lead is a doctor, a woman, and the important thing about that show is that the creator and writer is Tara Armstrong, the director is Holly Dale, the executive producer is Tassie Cameron, who I think her name was mentioned earlier today. We're really excited about that show. It's made by women and it's for women.
6468 But just randomly going across, "Ransome" on Global TV, Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny -- I apologize if I pronounced her name incorrectly -- those are -- they're the co-executive producers.
6469 A show on one of our other channels, "Backyard Builds", Jessica Benchemam is the producer. We have Sarah Richardson, who's not only on air, but she's also the producer of -- her latest show is "Sarah Off the Grid", but she's done many things for us and others.
6470 "Love It or List It", a show that we talked about the other day as a format that is going around the world, Maria Armstrong owns the company and produces -- is the executive producer of that show, and we're proud to say that Maria came to that independent business from Corus.
6471 And the last title I'll mention -- but there's a whole long list of them -- Anna Olson, who -- her newest show is called "Bake"; not only does she host the show, but Jennifer Fraser is a woman, is the producer of that. So that gives you a taste of where we're a going.
6472 THE CHAIRPERSON: So all good examples, and how do you take that model and extend it to the independent production sector and the whole ecosystem that also feeds into what you're doing in your group?
6473 MR. MAAVARA: Well, I guess that's a great question. I -- the reason why I went through all the decision-makers at the front end is because of course, we have women in the programming area who are asking the right questions, and are really -- John Marina's talked a lot this morning about supply site. We really try to get producers to bring us the stuff that we need.
6474 THE CHAIRPERSON: M'hm.
6475 MR. MAAVARA: So that's really an attitudinal thing.
6476 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6477 MR. MAAVARA: And from a regulatory perspective, I think it's very difficult to do and I think I would invoke what John Hilton has characterized -- John Hilton, former Commissioner of CRTC, former General Counsel of CRTC. He uses the term "regulation by the raised eyebrow", and Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, I think this is one of those where you use the raised eyebrow as the stick to get this done.
6478 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm trying not to move my facial muscles, because I've been accused of raising my eyebrows often, and the journalists seem to take that photo and put it on the front pages.
6479 Thank you, Mr. Maavara.
6480 On the accessibility front, I took note of what you said in your oral -- in reply. On this issue that MAC raised in their oral phase about using your procurement policies and licensing agreements to incent described video for blind or partially-sighted Canadians; is that your practice currently?
6481 MS. COURTEMANCHE: We’d have to come back on the 9th to make sure. I wasn’t clear about that.
6482 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So when they appeared, they suggested that including a line item in your procurement policies or licencing agreements for described video would ensure that programming is accessible for people who are blind or partially sighted.
6483 And so question A is, is it something you already do?
6484 MR. MAAVARA: For the most part, our agreements require delivery of programming with this included in it. The challenges that we’ve had for the most part have been the just-in-time delivery of programming these days. We’re trying to keep -- for a whole bunch of reasons, not just this one -- we try to keep the producers a little earlier in their delivery because we have so many things to do. And the challenge that we sometimes have it that it doesn’t get done.
6485 But Mr. Chairman, I can tell you this is a subject that is really important to us. So important, in fact, that we invested by buying Fast File and we’re now one of the leading providers of those services, not only to ourselves but to others. We understand the operational challenges.
6486 As we said in our comments, we know there are problems and we really need to find a solution.
6487 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Yeah, we’ll confirm but I’m very sure we have such a provision in our contract.
6488 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, so you ---
6489 MS. COURTEMANCHE: But I will confirm it.
6490 THE CHAIRPERSON: For the 9th of December?
6491 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Yeah.
6493 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, so let’s move to the second bundle of questions. And these are more the relationship with the production sector, the creative sector.
6494 Feature films, the argument being made is that despite a lot of money and good intentions most Canadians see feature films on the broadcasting system. What are your views about ensuring that that broadcasting system, of which you are part, continues to support the creation and the exhibition of feature films?
6495 MR. MAAVARA: Mr. Chairman, we listened to the folks from Bell earlier, and as they were talking I was thinking about our context. Of course we’re out of the pay business and that is a terrific window. We just couldn’t continue in that area.
6496 We do run a lot of films but, for example, W Movies is going to be flipping over to the Cooking Channel next week but on channels such as W Network and Showcase there are films. The first challenge is brand fit in a channel that doesn’t provide the consumer with the diversity of expectation that a pay channel gives. Because when you turn on a pay channel, you as a consumer understand that it could be anything.
6497 On a W Network or on Showcase, it kind of has to fit the brand so that by itself reduces a lot of the titles that you might want to run. And when you compare that need with what’s being produced, you know, very often the fit doesn’t work.
6498 THE CHAIRPERSON: The Directors Guild appeared and said that in this ecosystem that we’ll be working under over the next five or six years will be a need to make sure that of the PNI -- whatever that percentage is, and I took note of your points -- there needs to be some of that that is clearly defined as original first run. I think they proposed what comes out to be 56 percent of PNI.
6499 Whether it’s that percentage or another percentage, do you think we should have a original first run percentage to ensure that we aren’t in a world of reruns?
6500 MR. MAAVARA: There’s a number of aspects to that, and I’m going to ask Mr. Spence to speak to some of them in a moment.
6501 But I think first of all, as a matter of -- as, I think, the Bell people said eloquently earlier and we talked about on Monday, just layering in another rule isn’t going to solve the problem and it in fact could make the challenges that we have worse. But the attitudinal aspect of it is, as we said earlier and we said on Monday, is that we really need originals.
6502 This business is being driven by new content, and the only repeats that have high value are the big hits. And everybody knows what the big hits are. But everything else -- consumers, when a consumer basically has access to the whole menu at any given time they’re going to pick the stuff that they like or that is new.
6503 A second aspect to that is a financial one in the context of the proportioned attributed to new and not new. And I’ll turn to Mr. Spence for that.
6504 MR. SPENCE: Sure. As Gary said, this is a business that really lives off original first run. And I must say that the overwhelming, the vast majority of our CPE is spent on original first run. And including -- in addition, the overwhelming vast majority of our PNI dollars would be spent on original first run.
6505 I think there’s some confusion about how those dollars are actually expensed through the income statement and reported in the CRTC returns, but we have to remember that the CRTC returns are to be presented in accordance with Gap. And Gap requires us to amortize these assets over their useful life.
6506 So I don’t know how we could spend more on original first run without increasing overall CPE levels. And I think -- so they’re just asking for more money and that’s kind of the root of it. I don’t think there is really a problem related to original first run.
6507 There are going to be repeats on television. That’s a fact of life. As a broadcaster, we need to maximize the value of that asset. And if that show performs, and even in reruns it does well, we’re going to air it because hey, we got a hit. Isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t it better to air hit shows so that more audiences get more of a chance to see them?
6508 I think this is a high-quality problem that we have. And I think overall it comes back to the fact that it’s because companies like Corus and Bell and Rogers, they’re spending their CPE dollars on original first run. We spend very little on kind of a second window, secondary licence acquired programming.
6509 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is the problem the way we try to get at this issue through financials which, as you mentioned, are through Gap, probably accrual accounting over the life of the -- depreciated life of the asset and that perhaps a better way would be to actually list the productions that are original first run on a year-to-year basis? The various guilds would know exactly because of the way they need to have the information what production budgets are involved.
6510 MR. SPENCE: So are you asking about listing the ---
6511 THE CHAIRPERSON: So let’s go by show title as opposed to in addition to the financials.
6512 MR. SPENCE: Yeah. And I think it was highlighted earlier that in some cases they’ve looked at the show titles that are included in that first run spending. And you might say, “Okay, what was included in first run spending in 2015?” And you’ll find a title from 2012 in there because it is an original first run. It’s still in its first ---
6513 THE CHAIRPERSON: But it’s being depreciated or amortized.
6514 MR. SPENCE: But it’s being amortized.
6515 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, it’s not taxed over a number of years.
6516 MR. SPENCE: So, I mean, you could look at what is being commissioned in a given year in terms of what’s being contracted. But how that translates into what is actually being reported as original first run or being reported included in CPE may bear no resemblance because a show that’s commissioned and launched in June of a year may have very little cost associated with it in its first year in a year ending August 31.
6517 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you be willing to take let’s say three productions that are original first run in your perspective and show how you’ve treated that year-to-year to illustrate your point? So I think it would help us maybe to see that.
6518 MR. SPENCE: Yes. I think we might seek some confidentiality on that.
6520 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, you can always seek it. Just remember the rules about abridgement.
6521 MR. MAAVARA: And we intend to ---
6522 MS. COURTEMANCHE: I have an abridged version.
6523 MR. MAAVARA: You know, we intend to also file on the subject of amortization because what was said here the other day was ---
6524 THE CHAIRPERSON: So this will be part of the assumptions and description of how -- on this particular undertaking?
6525 MR. MAAVARA: Yeah, we’ll talk about how Gap and IFRS treats programming.
6526 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
6527 MR. MAAVARA: And we can tell you that there ain’t no single way to amortize. It’s a subject that’s been -- our audit committee in the last six quarters has probably spent a half hour every meeting talking about amortization. It’s enormously complex.
6528 MR. SPENCE: There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
6529 THE CHAIRPERSON: The Writers Guild, of course, made a big point about development financing and there’s two aspects of their concerns. A), they don’t think that the reports they’ve attached to their oral submissions properly reflect, in their view, what was spent on development. And so that’s the first question. Do you think it does or does not?
6530 MR. MAAVARA: Well, first of all, we were pleased to see that we lead the pack on that. The interesting thing about the reporting also is that, with respect to Corus at least, Nelvana is a huge development engine for us. So there’s a whole part of that budget that doesn’t get reported to you, which is in fact development. And all of our successes and failures in there are part of that.
6531 You know, these hearings are both long and sometimes short. And when I was listening to John Morayniss this morning I was kind of thinking that there was so much that he was talking about and I kind of wish that he could spend a day with the Commission to talk about the nuances of where this business is going on subjects like development, for example, and what they are doing and what we are doing to develop programming on subjects like international pricing, some of the challenges that we have of that with, you know, 500 Canadian producers running out there and affecting pricing and why we need a few big studios that can try to have some pricing influence.
6532 You know, this market is only going to grow externally. We might increase internally by a percent or two percent or three percent. But if we want to take 8 billion to 12 billion it’s got to be offshore. And it’s people like John Morayniss and companies like Corus as well who have that aspiration. We can’t sit still. We’re either going to grow or we’re going to get run over.
6533 THE CHAIRPERSON: And certainly his perspective fed into the Let’s Talk TV framework and positively so.
6535 MR. SPENCE: I just wanted to add, because Gary moved quickly over it, that Nelvana’s investment in development, that is expensed within Nelvana itself. It is not included anywhere in our programming undertaking filings. And it should be, as such, Nelvana assumes that risk. That’s part of being a producer and so that company has to assume the risk over its development costs.
6536 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you be willing to provide us -- and I assume that you might be wanting confidentiality but you can always ask for it -- about how much you are, over the past three years, have invested on development both for Corus and -- I think you’re making the argument that you should get credit for Nelvana so you should probably include that.
6537 MR. SPENCER: No, I’m not arguing that we should get credit for Nelvana. What I’m saying is Nelvana has its own ---
6538 THE CHAIRPERSON: I’m not saying credit in any regulatory ---
6539 MR. SPENCER: Okay.
6540 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just an acknowledgement that you are investing in development as a corporate group.
6541 MR. MAAVARA: Yes, well we’ll seek confidentiality. I mean, you can start by looking at our annual returns and that sort of thing. I mean, some of it’s in there. It’s not necessarily easy to break out.
6542 But our point simply is that, you know, we are a large producer. We understand this and we understand that we have to spend money on development. We get it. And that’s all risk capital.
6543 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
6544 MR. MAAVARA: As Mr. Morayniss said, you can do 10 different things and one of them works.
6545 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. And the WGC did propose a definition of what they consider to be -- and we’re talking about scripted programming for this response, not all -- I think the point here is about scripted programming -- using the definition that they proposed, or if you can’t meet their definition, at least explain how your definition is not aligned with their definition, which is the one they use in their -- it’s on the record of the transcript; you’ll see exactly what they’re referring. Is that all right?
6546 MR. MAAVARA: Yes.
6547 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6549 THE CHAIRPERSON: Your CMPA “partners” -- I guess I have to put that in quotes -- pretty much threw you under the bus yesterday. You’ve addressed a lot of that in your presentation today. Is there something you’d like to add?
6550 MR. MAAVARA: Well simply, as we said in our reply, our written reply, and as we’ve said on Monday and as we’ve said today, a lot of their definitions we feel are not appropriate in this proceeding. This is a licensing proceeding; it’s not a policy proceeding. And our licence application was based on the existing rules.
6551 You know, in terms of throwing us under the bus, the important thing, as we noted in the numbers, is most of what we do is with independent producers and we love working with independent producers. And we’ve been quite successful with independent producers.
6552 And we mentioned on Monday and again today the Export Association. Those big producers -- we understand what their challenges are and we’re working with them to try and figure out how to move forward.
6553 We’re not confused about the fact that a CMPA leadership has pressure from its members with respect to certain things. Having said that, we’re not going to accept them dropping things into a process that are not appropriate. Frankly, we’ve been dealing with that for the whole year. We’ve had this constant refrain about Let’s Talk TV and different guises over and over again on various things that we’ve been involved with. And I was surprised ---
6554 MS. COURTEMANCHE: We had the appeal. We had the governor in council, you know, petition that we had to deal with. This thing has just -- you know, it’s never productive; it’s always about, you know, trying to reverse what the Commission has done, you know?
6555 MR. MAAVARA: And you know, I have to say I was surprised this morning -- I hadn’t even realized that they had filed an amended definition, which I feel is -- if you’re going to ask me the question about section 18 or section 28 the answer is going to be -- and I listened to Andrée Wylie yesterday -- the answer from Corus is going to be, “Yes, it is.”
6556 And if we end up in this circumstance where we’re facing new definitions, you can bet that we’re going to be looking at section 18 and section 28.
6557 The fact of the matter is, they put a new definition on the table, which I don’t recall them mentioning it during their oral presentation. And I didn’t read their written because I heard them. But there it is. And they said, “Oh, because of what Corus said we’re sliding this new thing in.”
6558 We respectfully submit that that’s -- the first part of what they did was inappropriate and this is inappropriate again.
6559 Are we going to talk to them about agreements going forward? Yes, we are. They took us to arbitration and to extend the agreement in a decision in arbitration which we lost, which I take the blame for personally on that; I made a mistake.
6560 Having said that, the agreement was extended until the end of August of next year and the terms of the agreement says that we’re going to start talking about what we do next in March. And as we’ve said in our brief, we’re going to see what our licence looks like from the Commission and then decide on what we’re going to do next.
6561 There are a lot of elements of the agreement which work. But the biggest challenge that we have with the agreement, which the John Moraynisses of the world and anybody who’s doing the kind of programming that you really want will say, is that it doesn’t work. And we learned that literally at Banff the first weekend after the agreement was signed. Because people came to us with a big-budget production and they said, “Are you guys interested in this?”
6562 And we said, “Yes, we are but we can’t do it.”
6563 “What do you mean you can’t do it?”
6564 “Well, we can’t do it because we get no back-end out of the deal the way it’s structured now so we are not going to invest and bring you up to that 5 million or 10 million level and not get anything at the back-end.”
6565 And you know, if Reynolds was here he’d say, “Oh, you do get some back-end. But it’s the back-end after the back-end after the back-end of the back-end.” Nobody in their right mind would do that.
6566 So what happened? The producers said, “We’ve got to find a way around that. Otherwise we can’t finance the big productions.” And CMPA has accused us of doing POR to get around that, but we’re not. The statistics bear that out. We’re not doing any scripted drama through POR. That’s through companies like eOne.
6567 THE CHAIRPERSON: I just realized that we’re having a very good conversation but time has gone on. I think it’s probably best we take a short break, and so we’ll take a 10-minute break; come back at four o’clock to continue.
6568 MR. MAAVARA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6569 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 3:49 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 4:02 p.m.
6570 THE CHAIRPERSON: À l’ordre, s’il vous plaît. Order.
6571 So with respect to your point that the definition attached to the CMPA’s oral presentation, it is our understanding that it was part of the written submission; that it wasn’t necessarily new.
6572 But in any event, I was wondering if you’re making some sort of procedural argument?
6573 MR. MAAVARA: Yes, I am. Yes, we are. And if it was -- I have to confess that we really haven’t had a chance to look at it. We literally never noticed it until Doug came in and he handed me the document. And I went through it and I saw this thing at the back, and there’s a footnote note that says, you know, we changed this because. That gave me the sense that it was something new.
6574 In any case, our position is that the thing that they did before was not acceptable either. I would make the submission that with respect to the original filing -- and a submission was made by DHX and others -- and this new filing one of the challenges in the process is that in fact DHX, who are not part of this process, would not have the ability to comment on it.
6575 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you want to make the motion now or do you want to put it in writing and do it tomorrow, copying the affected parties? And we can deal with that ---
6576 MR. MAAVARA: Tomorrow?
6577 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Or another date, I mean, you just mentioned tomorrow.
6578 MS. COURTEMANCHE: How about the 9th?
6579 MR. MAAVARA: Yeah, how about the 9th?
6580 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not tonight, okay.
6581 MR. MAAVARA: Yeah.
6582 THE CHAIRPERSON: So would you be able to by the end of business on Monday provide your motion as to why that particular evidence should be removed from the file? Copy the CMPA.
6583 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Yeah.
6584 MR. MAAVARA: Yes.
6585 THE CHAIRPERSON: And we will give them until the Friday next to respond.
6586 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Okay.
6587 THE CHAIRPERSON: And then you will have until the end of day the following Monday to reply to your original motion; is that all right?
6588 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Yeah.
6589 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah.
6590 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Monday the 5th, Friday the 9th for them, and Monday the 12th for us?
6591 THE CHAIRPERSON: I’m glad you have a calendar.
6592 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Mental.
6593 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, very good.
6594 And I’m going to make sure that legal counsel communicates with the CMPA to tell them about this, about the deadlines, and they’ll be able to read the transcripts as to the deadlines.
6595 On another subject matter, it’s about the closure or the potential closure of originating stations. Obviously we’ve heard over a number of years how much Canadians value local news and information, value their local television stations. And I was wondering if you had a view as to how the Commission could ensure in one way or another that the shutdown of OTA stations is not taken lightly and that the public affected by such closure would have an opportunity to comment on it.
6596 MR. MAAVARA: Mr. Chairman, members of the Panel, I can tell you that from a Corus perspective this subject is a really important one to us. And as we outlined on Monday, we have no plans with respect to the termination of any of our stations. In fact, we’re quite proud of the fact that we’ve managed to do some things that in the context of the market are somewhat counter-intuitive.
6597 For example, launching a new news program on our station in Oshawa and having morning shows in Kingston and Peterborough. And I can tell you that they were quite well received.
6598 We’d have to think about the regulatory solution to that. You know, as a first observation, obviously there is no requirement to operate a licence. But we certainly do recognize -- again, this may go into the raised eyebrow category of regulation but we recognize the responsibility that we have on local. And we’re also -- I have to say that we’re quite sanguine.
6599 One of the challenges with both local radio and television is frankly that we as an industry fell asleep. We really stopped marketing the medium. Having said that, we’ve woken up. And for example, some of the things that Think TV is doing with the leadership of people like Catherine MacLeod and Laura Baehr they’ve really gone out there and talked about how important and powerful these media are.
6600 We’ve got really strong teams and we’re working hard on sprucing up the quality of radio, for example, on a local basis. And Troy Reeb has really been working hard on that. We’re literally revamping all of our stations, trying to make them a lot more relevant.
6601 You know, we’ve had conversations with the Commission in the past about radio. We’re not here to talk about radio but we’re looking at -- the thing about radio and TV on a local basis is it’s really closely aligned with the business community there. And the community understands that even with all this new fangled stuff, the best way to drive their local business and the awareness of community events is through local. We get that.
6602 The challenge for us is to bring that advertising back, and we’re working really hard on that. We’re trying a lot of different things. So we’re positive, we think we can maintain and build that revenue by improving the content and keep all of these things running.
6603 THE CHAIRPERSON: I’m glad for that but that’s not quite my question.
6604 Could we envisage a condition of licence because as noticed that it’s a permission to operate an undertaking and it is not a duty to do so. So if we have a condition of licence associated let’s say with a given over-the-air licence and you return it, I’m not quite sure what recourse the Commission could have to make sure that the viewing public in that area has an avenue of recourse.
6605 It’s not to say that there can’t be a situation where you might have to close the station. We don’t know. Five years. But could we envisage a condition of licence perhaps that attaches to other stations in the group to ensure that there is no closure without the possibility of a public process?
6606 MR. MAAVARA: Let me preface the response to that with a small and really important nuance. And it hasn’t been discussed this week in any detail, but that’s the 600 megahertz issue.
6607 And of course the undertaking has two elements to it. It has the frequency element and then there’s the rest of the operation. And one of the things that we just don’t know yet is how the frequency issue is going to resolve itself. That of course is a huge issue for us because of the large number of transmitters that we have, the capital investment. We just went through a huge capital investment to go to HD and now we’re facing another one.
6608 But it’s not only about the capital investment. We don’t even know how it’s going to work. So that’s part of the equation as well as to how we’re going to operate these undertakings.
6609 On the specific regulatory question, I’m reminded of the conversations that we’ve had with the Commission in the past. For example, when we shut down a music service and we surrendered the licence and it took a couple of years before the Commission actually issued the decision to say that it in fact had been surrendered, and we had a lot of conversations about the obligations to run an undertaking.
6610 So again, I’m not sure -- in the same way as with court applications, I’m not sure how this court could necessarily supervise that.
6611 With respect to a form of public process, I think it would be difficult for Corus in the context of we’re going to have a presence in the local community, whether we run a television operation or not, because of a lot of the overlap with radio.
6612 I don’t think it would be the worst -- and I’m speaking personally, and I might get yelled at when I go back to the office but I don’t think so. A public process might be worthwhile.
6613 THE CHAIRPERSON: We understood. The public process I’m referring to is just an amendment to a condition of licence that would otherwise prevent you from shutting it down, but if you wanted that to be removed to allow you to shut it down ---
6614 MR. MAAVARA: Right.
6615 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- it would be a public process.
6616 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Well, you used to have a condition of licence when we were affiliated with the CBC that said we couldn't disaffiliate from the CBC unless we got your approval before.
6617 THE CHAIRPERSON: Exactly, yeah. That -- I mean, there are precedents.
6618 MS. COURTEMANCHE: Yes. No, no, and ---
6619 THE CHAIRPERSON: There are precedents.
6620 MS. COURTEMANCHE: --- that's one of them, right?
6621 MR. MAAVARA: I guess I'm being too much of a lawyer, though, in the sense that I'm just thinking, and it's not our job to do your job, but I just don’t know how you could enforce it. It's hard to get somebody to do something.
6622 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, except that if you have an application in front of us to close Station A, it may have some feedback on your other licences ---
6623 MR. MAAVARA: Yeah, we understand.
6624 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- and how you operate them and how we would allow you to continue to operate them.
6625 MR. MAAVARA: And fair enough. Understood.
6626 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Anything to add on that?
6627 MR. MAAVARA: Well, again, we -- this is one -- this is a really complicated one, and we'd like to think about that one a little bit.
6628 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you could come back ---
6629 MR. MAAVARA: I think we owe it to you to think about it.
6630 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah. You can come back on the 9th of December for that.
6631 MR. MAAVARA: Or maybe even on the 6th of January.
6632 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, just in your reply phase, you mean?
6633 MR. MAAVARA: Well, you know, this is a complicated issue.
6634 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's fine. I mean, if you don’t -- I mean ---
6635 MR. MAAVARA: It really is.
6636 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- we've discussed it at length with other -- another applicant, and I'll do it with Rogers. I mean, in my view, the record is pretty fulsome, in terms of your opportunity to comment on it, and you'll have a final reply. That's ---
6637 MR. MAAVARA: Yeah.
6638 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's fine. I don’t need to belabour the point.
6639 MR. MAAVARA: Thank you.
6640 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay? Just double checking. I'll pass the floor to my colleague, Commissioner Simpson, who has a couple of questions for you.
6641 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I just have one area I would like to ask one or two questions on.
6642 With respect to independent producer percentages, you know, we have heard very clearly -- and you've commented on the CMPA perspectives, in particular, on their request for some redefinition or a tightening of the interpretation of what an independent producer is -- but -- and we've had your reply.
6643 But I'm -- I just wanted to bring forward a similar comment that was made by eOne this morning, Entertainment One this morning, who also said that -- implored on us that we should maintain strong independiture thresholds, and to spend, on program production, in a way that independent producers maintain control of that product as much as possible.
6644 He had said that every effort should be made, that the independent producer money should be spent in a way that the broadcasters -- or with independent producers that are not affiliated in any way, shape, or form with the broadcaster. And I was wondering if you would comment on that?
6645 MR. MAAVARA: Well, I think most of the reason why I used earlier, on the -- why it would be so terrific for John to spend some more time with you is because he said a couple of other things, which nuanced that point. Should producers have control over the copyrights? As a matter of regulation and as a matter of practice, the answer is yes.
6646 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
6647 MR. MAAVARA: But what he also said was, "Let's find ways to incent the system, and especially in the context of exports." And that is a really important point. And I don’t have the transcript, but what he literally said was, "Let's give broadcasters some equity."
6648 And remember, equity is risk. When we put money into a project in that context, we're saying, "We are going to risk money that this is going to return." It's -- and as every producer who's ever appeared before you will say, the, you know, going out there into that big market is risky, because you're going to not necessarily get what you want, if anything at all.
6649 So I think his point was nuanced. Should there be an independent, vibrant sector? Absolutely. Corus feels that way, absolutely. That's -- and we have to find ways to maintain that, but it doesn’t mean the system doesn’t need to be fixed, and we've made submissions to the Department of Canadian Heritage as part of their process, and we've done a lot of things in the past to talk about how can we make the system work? And one of the fundamental things that we agree with eOne on is, we need to have studios.
6650 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
6651 MR. MAAVARA: On the particular topic of independence, one of the wonderful things about the world is that there are unintended consequences. So for example, Corus is a big producer, have been for a long time. Blue Ant has just come on the scene, and they're a producer. DHX was a big producer for a long time, then they became a broadcaster.
6652 What if, say, the five biggest producers in the open-access market that we talked about earlier, with content being absolutely the most important thing, what if Mr. Morayniss was sitting here six months from now, talking to you about his six new channels? Does that mean that suddenly, poof, the house of cards on independence collapses? Why? Because there's nobody of great value.
6653 So, you know, at the end of the day, does there have to be an independent system? Yes. And in the biggest haven of creativity in the world, the United States, remember what happened when the rules changed in the United States, way back in the Cap Cities Disney day? Everybody said, "The networks are going to buy the studios. That's going to happen."
6654 What happened? The studios bought the networks. Disney bought Cap Cities and ABC, NBC Universal, it's at Viacom, et cetera, et cetera.
6655 But the second interesting thing that happened that I remember vividly because I was Head of Programming at CTV at the time, the Disney guys had just bought ABC, and they went to see the ABC people, who we knew very closely because we were working on things like the Olympics with them. And they said, "We got all these great shows, and wow, it's going to be terrific. We're going to have all those Disney shows on the ABC network."
6656 And the ABC folks said, "Excuse me? No, no, no, no, no, no. That's not the way it's going to work. We need the following kinds of things in the following time slots. So just because you own us doesn’t mean --" And that's prevailed to this day. The programmer at -- and the programmer who's running a kids' channel at Corus -- I mean, sure, we have Nelvana, but it's the programmer who's telling Nelvana and the other customers of Nelvana what to do. It's not the studio that's telling.
6657 And again, John talked about that this morning where he talked about supply side. We've had this focus on supply side, but it's all going the other way.
6658 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But if you take, admittedly, that he's in a unique situation where he can walk down one road as an independent producer and argue the point that he made that -- that was the question I asked you -- and at the same time, he's got the ability that you have and Bell has and Rogers has to start advancing the notion that we're all coming to that we've got to start promoting instead of protecting, and that means perhaps having a different kind of skin in the game.
6659 And when I did my interrogation with you the other day, I noted the fact that what has made Corus a very different animal than the competitors is that you’ve already figured that out and walked down that road of building product for export.
6660 And if we are at a point -- it could be just a window right now of time -- where to get Canadian product to the global market it requires a different kind of partnership, one where there is a sharing of ownership and fees, doesn’t -- and this is the way I flip it -- where I'm going to flip it over on you -- doesn’t the idea of total independence of the producer fly in the face of how Canadian product can get to world market when you look at what you're doing, which is that you need to build content that you own and control, which is your incentive to spend with the long term in mind?
6661 MR. MAAVARA: You know, I'm going to confuse you a little bit, I'm afraid, but I think the first thing that we need is a strategy.
6662 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
6663 MR. MAAVARA: And the problem that we have in Canada right now is that we don’t have a strategy.
6664 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
6665 MR. MAAVARA: And strategy is about making choices. And I'm proud of the fact that some of the things that we did. For example, we sat down with the CMF and Telefilm. We were talking about benefits, and we said, "We're going to give you a few million dollars every year, and that's going to be going just to export. And one of the conditions that we'll say is you can't work with us at all, so we're seen to be of clean hands on this.
6666 And the reason why we did that was because we wanted them to have some resources so that when they were planning to go to MIP or to anywhere else -- it’s to really develop a strategy for how you do this. And by strategy I mean, you know, what is the goal that we have for the industry and what do we need to do as an industry to do that?
6667 If Mr. Morayniss was here he’d say one of the things we need to talk about is distribution. Because too many Canadian producers, they fight with is for distribution rights, great, and then they go to MIP and they sign a contract with an international distributor for a penny a pound and they go, “Oh, that’s terrific; we sold our rights.” And this is Mr. Morayniss’ point -- all of that capital is somewhere else. That’s just stupid.
6668 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: That’s the point I’m making. I’m asking you, in the course of trying to hold fast to PNI spend at 75 percent being held fast, to true independence, does that limit your desire to walk that product down the road unless you’ve got a bigger skin in the game?
6669 MR. MAAVARA: Well, I’ll say yes, it does, but it doesn’t have to be us. You know, we would love to do some of that but -- you know, you look at the state of the sector right now, we’ve got some of the best people, on the creative side, in the world. We’ve got the best technical teams in the world. We’ve got an industry that’s chugging along at roughly $8 billion. You cannot rent a piece of -- a developer came in to see me the other day and he wanted to buy our warehouse where we store documents because he wanted to turn it into a studio because you can’t get studio space in Toronto. Like, zero.
6670 Again, back to Mr. Morayniss, if we could change some of the rules on distribution and instead of -- everybody can go to MIP; that’s great. I’ve never been there but apparently it’s kind of interesting; you get to meet a lot of people. It’s really important to have face to face and all that. But imagine if there was only three distributors there talking with the internationals and they could do to the world what the American distributors do to us, which is, “You know you really want that one show? Terrific.”
6671 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And you have about five others, yeah.
6672 MR. MAAVARA: “I just happen to have my shelf here.” And I remember when I -- you know, the early days of Global they were running shows like The Flying Doctor``, for those of you who remember that show. It was an Australian show. Why were they doing that? Because the distributor said, “You’ve got to buy it.” There’s nothing wrong with that.
6673 But Canada has to do that. The eOnes of the world or Corus and whoever has got to show up with the big basket of goods and say, “By the way, the price just went up, but still -- and the volume is bigger.” You need a strategy to do that.
6674 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But I still don’t know if I’ve got an answer, though, in that -- and I’ll give up soon. But if your appetite corporate -- because you know, I think there may not be a system strategy right now in Canada but I sure see a strategy within Corus. And within that strategy, is that the strategy we should be trying to roll-out system-wise, ripping a page out of your ingenuity?
6675 MR. MAAVARA: Well, the short answer is, “Yes.” I mean, you know, we’re one of the few companies -- producers in Canada that actually has off-shore sales offices. I don’t know how many it is; it’s probably three or four. eOne is one of them; we’re one of them. There aren’t very many others. And one of the things that we’ve learned is to understand the market you have to be in market. And that required investment. And when a lot of producers say, “I can’t open an office in Paris,” yeah, we get that. But figure out a way to solve the problem.
6676 And one of the things that we said to the Canadian Heritage process, for example, was you have a consular officer in every embassy across the world whose focus has mainly been hi-tech. Why don’t you have somebody who’s in charge of IP, intellectual property, and culture?
6677 And in my own experience, when we did the Olympics in Barcelona and the Olympics in Norway and working in Japan, that officer was really, really helpful because in a lot of regions of the world the only way they you can get in to have the business conversation is through government. So government has a role to play.
6678 But that brings me back to strategy.
6679 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Well, here’s one for you. What would your reaction be if somebody threw out a formula said for every percentage increase in PNI there’s a proportionate watering down of -- or diminishing of the independent producer spend, if your strategy is that you’d rather promote your own product or something you have a bigger stake in than in independent production?
6680 MR. MAAVARA: Yeah, we’d have to think about that. On first blush I don’t know -- you know, having to limit spending and PNI, that’s not a challenge to us.
6681 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah, I get that. That’s why I asked the question.
6682 MR. MAAVARA: The real challenge for us is the development of the risk capital to produce -- because theoretically we could produce more than 25 percent. It’s just a function of reporting it, right?
6683 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
6684 MR. MAAVARA: And we probably do.
6685 So well, it’s a good question. We’ll think about that one.
6686 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Would you?
6687 MR. MAAVARA: Sure.
6688 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Is it reasonable to offer it up in an undertaking?
6689 MR. MAAVARA: Yeah, but not for Monday.
6690 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: For the 9th.
6691 THE CHAIRPERSON: For the 9th. It’s obviously for the 9th, yes, like everything else.
6692 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
6693 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
6695 THE CHAIRPERSON: I believe those are all our questions. I don’t know if you have a final comment to make?
6696 MS. COURTEMANCHE: I do, Mr. Chair. If you give me 20 seconds I’d appreciate it.
6697 Mr. Chair, there are some individuals in the industry who mistakenly believe that I like to give people a hard time. I don’t think personally it’s true, but if it is my colleague and friend, Gary Maavara, has been bearing the brunt of this for the last 10 years.
6698 Many of you already know that Gary is facing challenges that make putting up with me pale in comparison. But we wanted at Corus to state for the record that we are proud and honoured to call Gary our colleague and friend. We wanted to recognize that he made it to Ottawa this week and that through courage, grit, and determination he participated all week at this hearing.
6699 Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Gary.
6700 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, let me breach protocol a little bit and say Gary, you’ve been a good friend and good partner for the CRTC and the Canadian broadcasting system. Bon courage, mon ami.
6701 MR. MAAVARA: Merci, monsieur.
6702 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam secretary, let’s go to the next intervenor, please. Maybe we can take a five-minute break too.
6703 MS. ROY: Okay. Good idea.
6704 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 4:29 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 4:33 p.m.
6705 THE CHAIRPERSON: A l’ordre, s’il vous plaît. Order, please.
6706 Alors, Madame la secrétaire.
6707 MS. ROY: Yes, we’ll now hear the reply from Rogers Media. Please, go ahead.
6708 MS. WATSON: Thank you.
6709 Good afternoon, Chairman, Commissioners, and Commission staff. My name is Colette Watson; I am the Senior Vice-President, Television and Broadcast Operations, at Rogers Media. With me today are Susan Wheeler, Vice-President, Regulatory Media; and Bart Yabsley, Senior Vice-President, NHL Properties and Content Distribution.
6710 We’d like to thank those who appeared before you in support of our applications as well as the thousands who filed letters with the Commission in support of OMNI. Their contribution to this proceeding is extremely valuable and appreciated and we believe demonstrates the exceptional nature of OMNI.
6711 Before addressing some of the issues raised by intervenors in this proceeding, one of the things that has become evident is that the three Applicants are approaching the future with different strategies. Each of us is placing a different emphasis on certain aspects of its business as it moves forward. This speaks to the need for regulatory conditions that ensure broadcasters operate under terms that permit them to pursue strategies designed to meet the needs of their audiences.
6712 As you’ve heard, these strategies are influenced by the distinct mix of assets each company owns as well as the overall size of the company and the number of services it operates.
6713 That’s certainly the case for Rogers. The strategy we’ve developed for the future is grounded on four core principles.
6714 First, we believe content ownership will be vital to our success in a multi-platform environment.
6715 Second, quality must prevail over quantity. Consumers have so many options today to watch television programming that Canadian content has to be great to succeed.
6716 Third, content must be produced for all platforms. In a crowded marketplace we need to give consumers every opportunity to discover our content. Relying solely on the linear platform will not ensure that programming will be seen by all audiences. This includes persons with disabilities and that’s why we are investing in our digital platforms so that they can support the pass-through of accessible programming.
6717 Fourth, local programming is a differentiator against global media companies. When everyone goes global we come home. Our ability to offer local news, information, and entertainment programming is an advantage that we want to exploit. These four principles are the basis upon which Rogers will operate going forward.
6718 MS. WHEELER: We believe the group licencing framework is effective. We have noted throughout this proceeding that all groups should be subject to the same standard requirements with respect to things like CPE and Canadian exhibition. With respect to PNI, we do not believe the contributions should exceed historical levels.
6719 A number of intervenors have come to this hearing asking the Commission to impose new obligations on our services or to adopt additional conditions that would be inconsistent with the Commission’s recent policy and regulatory frameworks.
6720 We think those proposals should be rejected. The Commission just concluded one of the most comprehensive reviews of its television broadcast policy in years, balancing a variety of interests, and see we no reason to amend it before it has even been implemented.
6721 Our concerns apply to the proposal made by the CMPA and others to impose new programming requirements and change longstanding defined terms. For example, the request to impose a new Terms of Trade obligation on broadcasters despite the fact that the removal of the obligation was announced in 2015.
6722 We are also very concerned about the request to change the definition of independent producer. Changing the definition now would have a material impact on our naissant and partnership with VICE and their ability to create innovative content for Canadian audiences. We fail to see how that is in the public interest.
6723 We also wish to address our proposal to remove the conditions of licence governing our commercial relationship with BDUs, which are now covered by the Wholesale Code. The current Wholesale Code was adopted over a number of proceedings that spanned almost five years. When the new code was announced last year and we accepted a condition agreeing to abide by it, we did so with the understanding that its comprehensive terms would govern our relationships with all BDUs.
6724 These earlier conditions of licence are outdated. They were imposed at a time when the Wholesale Code did not exist. The Wholesale Code has safeguards to address the relationship between programmers and BDUs both vertically integrated and not. These specific conditions of licence are no longer needed, and are inconsistent with Wholesale Code. Maintaining them would be contrary to the objective of streamlined regulatory obligations.
6725 MS. WATSON: There’s been a lot of discussion in the proceeding about OMNI’s exceptional nature. Our position is that OMNI has always been exceptional. What is different is that the business model is no longer sustainable.
6726 Our application to operate a new national discretionary service called OMNI Regional pursuant to a 9(1)(h) order is the only way to ensure the service will continue only way to ensure the service will continue to meet the needs of Canadian ethnic and third language communities.
6727 Our proposal provides a model that will not only allow OMNI to survive and be sustainable, but it will also enable us to offer news and information programming that many of the intervenors have said that they want OMNI to provide.
6728 Today, OMNI simply does not have the financial resources to offer newscasts and other programming in multiple languages without an additional revenue stream. That is a fact that cannot be ignored in this proceeding. OMNI's revenues have fallen by more than 74 percent since 2010. Newscasts cannot be restored on OMNI without granting our 9(1)(h) application. Any proposal to impose a requirement for OMNI to provide newscasts without this approval is a condition that we cannot accept.
6729 Intervenors here have described OMNI Regional as exceptional and its third language
6730 newscasts as essential. OMNI Regional will fill the gap that currently exists on the basic service and provide third-language and ethnocultural Canadians with affordable access to news and other programming in multiple languages.
6731 No one else is operating a service in Canada today that is comparable to OMNI or OMNI Regional. And we do not believe that anyone would be willing to do so on a break-even basis and at a rate of only 12 cents. At a low wholesale fee, and with restored exceptional news programming, OMNI Regional will add value to the basic service.
6732 As a result, there should be no concern about the fairness or appropriateness of granting our application in this hearing. OMNI is a trusted source of quality news programming that meets high standards of journalistic excellence. No one has disputed that in this proceeding. Our application is unlikely to be replicated by any other applicant on the terms we have proposed.
6733 We do not believe that it would be procedurally unfair to approve our application in this proceeding. There was an extended public consultation process and close to 4,000 intervenors participated. In our view, holding a proceeding to review the Ethnic Broadcasting Policy and then issuing a call for competing applications is unlikely to result in a better application and will simply delay Canadians' access to important news and information programming that OMNI has committed to provide in this hearing. We see no reason to wait.
6734 In closing, we again wish to thank the close to 4,000 individuals and organizations who filed letters of support for our application and those who appeared on our behalf. We believe this is strong evidence that we can be entrusted with the privilege of continuing to serve Canada's multilingual and multicultural communities with an exceptional service.
6735 Thank you for listening to us today. We’d be pleased to address any questions you may have.
6736 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for that.
6737 Before I get to my two bundles of questions, perhaps a question on paragraph 12 which deals with wholesale safeguards.
6738 How would you react if the Commission proposed to carry forward the safeguards by condition of licence but suspend their application while the Wholesale Code remains validly in place?
6739 MS. WHEELER: So to carry forward until the Wholesale Code was put into regulation?
6740 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, there’s a party that has challenged the validity of the Wholesale Code.
6741 MS. WHEELER: I understand.
6742 THE CHAIRPERSON: So that those conditions would only re-arise if in the remote situation that that case was successful by that Applicant.
6743 MS. WHEELER: Okay, I understand now. I guess we would believe that if the Wholesale Code is -- if that challenge is successful, then it would equally apply to conditions of licence in terms of the authority or the appropriateness.
6744 THE CHAIRPERSON: I don’t believe the conditions of licence have been brought to any court.
6745 MS. WHEELER: I guess it would speak to administrative fairness in the sense of ---
6746 THE CHAIRPERSON: In fact, they’ve been in place for some time well past the 30-day notice period.
6747 MS. WHEELER: Right. I think it would speak to the administrative fairness of requiring a licensee to challenge a set of regulations or set of conditions that have been found already in a separate proceeding to be outside the Commission’s jurisdiction.
6748 THE CHAIRPERSON: But is your view that the Wholesale Code is outside our jurisdiction?
6749 MS. WHEELER: No, I was responding to your scenario that the appeal was successful.
6750 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. So you should be quite happy because your view is that the Wholesale Code is valid and therefore those conditions which would be suspended would never come back to life.
6751 MS. WHEELER: I think our issue with the Wholesale Code conditions that are implied to our licence is that they are inconsistent with those that have already been adopted under the code. The ones that apply in our licence don’t speak to market forces, they don’t speak to viewership, they don’t speak to a number of other issues.
6752 THE CHAIRPERSON: They would be suspended. They would be suspended so there would be no possibility of a conflict between the two of them.
6753 MS. WHEELER: The conditions of licence would be suspended?
6754 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, while this Wholesale Code remains valid.
6755 MS. WHEELER: Yes, we would. If the Wholesale Code remains valid and the conditions of licence are suspended in the interim, yes, we would accept that.
6756 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, good. Thank you. It was a little bit more painful than I thought it would be but anyhow there we go.
6757 So let’s attack the two bundles of issues. So I guess we can be more efficient here because you’ve heard them asked twice. We have had concerns brought forward about how to encourage Aboriginal production outside APTN.
6758 And, yes, you will tell me that you have done some in the past and that’s all very good. I’m not questioning that. It’s more the way forward. How do we ensure that Aboriginal producers are helped to understand what your needs are and how they have the best chance of putting forward an idea to you?
6759 MS. WATSON: I’ll ask Ms. Wheeler to comment on any regulatory solutions.
6760 One of the things we’ve adopted -- we have a small team and so not specifically on Aboriginal, but what we’d like to do is spend more time perhaps mentoring some of these groups. I personally have agreed to mentor our ethnic producers on second gen on City so I can absolutely extend that offer to some of these other groups. That’s more one-on-one and I am only one person. And our department also can offer to do that.
6761 Is there a more wholesale regulatory fix? I don’t see an obvious one.
6762 MS. WHEELER: No, I don’t think we see a regulatory fix to this. It’s one of policy. Certainly you can encourage and monitor, perhaps provide -- require licensees to submit reports on their progress in achieving certain diversity levels. But in terms of additional quotas, I’m not sure that that really solves the overall systemic issue.
6763 THE CHAIRPERSON: I did not mention anything about quotas and I, for one -- I think our Discoverability Summit indicates that we’re ready to use our convening power to advance issues. And it’s more in the spirit of how do we build the capacity within the system.
6764 MS. WHEELER: Understood. And I think the opportunity that’s raised with the minister’s cultural review will allow parties to put some thinking toward how they might incorporate some of those things into a broader policy framework that would, you know, ensure more diverse Canadian programming.
6765 THE CHAIRPERSON: And with respect to OLMC-produced programming, both in English in Quebec and French outside?
6766 MS. WATSON: In and of itself, our City of Montreal station serves that purpose with respect to Anglophones in the City of Montreal. Are you referring to in-house or independent production, both?
6767 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think what we’ve heard is that the independent production communities in those official language minority communities are concerned of making sure that they have access to broadcasters like yourself.
6768 MS. WATSON: And by all means. And every producer has access. Not every pitch is successful, as you can understand. We’re currently in the process of working with a Montreal group now on an independent production and our door is always open to them. Perhaps what we can do is offer to have regular, perhaps, biannual meetings with the association in Quebec to continue the dialogue and build a relationship.
6769 MS. WHEELER: Yeah. And on that note we actually do have a meeting scheduled for January with the English-language producers in Quebec to discuss further collaborating opportunities. We’ve had a successful relationship with them to date flowing out of our acquisition of City of Montreal and we’d like to continue that.
6770 THE CHAIRPERSON: So I have it in front of me too, Successful Women in the Broadcasting Sector, and we’ve heard comments. And I’m sure the road was not easy.
6771 But we’ve heard from Women in Film & Television Vancouver and they’re saying, you know, we need to work better, more broadly, not just in broadcasting but in the independent sector as well, to move towards more equity. What is your reaction to that?
6772 MS. WATSON: It’s one of empathy and sympathy. I get it.
6773 Again, mentoring, meeting, networking is how we’ll try and do it. We have a very strong Rogers women network at Rogers within the corporation. There are the associations, Women in Film & Television, that do actually engender new relationships and then allow for these relationships to turn into business relationships. I think we would just continue to keep plowing.
6774 You’re right; it’s been a long journey and it will continue to be. And I feel my job as someone who’s gotten to this level is to ensure those who follow me have an easier way.
6775 MS. WHEELER: Yeah, I think in broadcasting it may have been a bit easier because we’re working within a corporation that will put programs and opportunities in place that will benefit, you know, certain segments of the company. And it’s for their development and advancement. In the production community they’re all individual entrepreneurs so there’s not that one cohesive program that people can participate in and benefit from.
6776 So I think they experience some unique challenges. And I agree with Ms. Watson that looking for opportunities to collaborate perhaps with other organizations like the Women in Communications and Technology, like the CMPA and, you know, get involved in the broader programs -- like, there’s excellent programs, like the Jeanne Sauvé program -- just to expand that network and give profile to some of the challenges that people, women in their sector are facing. It would give broader awareness and perhaps reach a larger number of people who could affect change in that regard.
6777 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6778 The MAC had made some suggestions concerning procurement policies and licensing agreements to ensure that there’s more described video for accessible -- made accessible for blind and partially sighted Canadians. Is this something you already do?
6779 MS. WATSON: It is. Everything we commission has that requirement. The CMF applications also include that requirement.
6780 It is something we seek to buy when we acquire programming. As Mr. Maavara pointed out correctly earlier, the last minute arrival of some programming often omits DV. We seek to rectify that and get it on for the replay and it is something we will continue to work with. It is something that we hope on the American side would become a priority in which case then it would just simply be passed through.
6781 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is there a penalty in the contracts with independent producers when they don’t deliver the described video along with the principal tapes?
6782 MS. WATSON: I am not familiar with the fine print of the contracts so I’d have to get that back to you.
6783 THE CHAIRPERSON: Don’t you think that would be a way to focus the mind so that they did deliver it on time?
6784 MS. WATSON: There is no problem; with respect to everything we commission it comes always captioned and DV’ed.
6785 THE CHAIRPERSON: When you go to air?
6786 MS. WATSON: For -- you mean penalties with respect to the American programming?
6787 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, no, I’m talking about -- I’m just in the Canadian context here.
6788 MS. WATSON: Yeah. It’s not happened on the Canadian side.
6789 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it’s the foreign content that sometimes arrives without the described video. I understand.
6790 MS. WATSON: Yes.
6791 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let me move to the second bucket of issues.
6792 And Rogers has been historically a big supporter of Canadian feature films. Some intervenors fear that the way forward might be a little bit of a challenge for feature filmmakers because they don’t see any particular support mechanism through your presence, or English-language broadcasters as a group, supporting the creation and broadcast of Canadian feature films. What’s your reaction to that?
6793 MS. WATSON: As a corporation, Rogers has been funding Canadian feature films through the Telefund project for I’m going to say over 25 years, and I think over $30 million in investments or 50 million; I may be behind. But let me correct that number on December 9th. So tens of millions of dollars investing in Canadian feature film. We continue to help promote, along with Minister Joly on minister Movie Night, with respect to promoting Canadian film. We buy and air Canadian films on City as a television network. And outside of that we’re focused on television creation. And so I have no more additional solutions to offer you than that.
6794 MS. WHEELER: The only thing I would add, and it’s not obviously pertinent to his proceeding, but our VOD licence also contributes a certain portion of its revenues back into feature film. So there’s that support mechanism that exists there as well.
6795 THE CHAIRPERSON: That goes for the financing of the production. What about with respect to your airing of such productions?
6796 MS. WATSON: We do air Canadian movies, actually. We have a package of Canadian movies and they are typically aired on a Saturday or Sunday night. And that is the best, I guess, form of flattery, is to buy them and air them. And so we don’t participate on the PNI at CPE level with respect to creating those, but our contribution is to buy and air them.
6797 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, presumably that would count in part to your CPE once you license them?
6798 MS. WATSON: I stand corrected.
6799 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. The Directors Guild made a point that we, the Commission, should be particularly concerned about original first-run and have suggested that there be a percentage. They presented the 56 percent as a percentage of PNI that should be directed to original first-run content. How do you react to that?
6800 MS. WATSON: I would echo the statements by the previous -- by Corus, who appeared just prior to us. It’s about the amortization calculation. And so I would merely echo their position that pretty much 100 percent of PNI is original; it’s just a matter of how we expense it on the P&L in terms of amortization. So I’m not convinced it’s the right thing to do.
6801 THE CHAIRPERSON: The Writers Guild, in a similar vein, is concerned that the production cycle might be at risk if we aren't putting enough money in development. And they pointed out in their annex to their oral presentation that, in fact, you seem to report zero for development. Do you think that that information is correct?
6802 MS. WATSON: I don't, so obviously that was an error in filing. We spend about five percent of our PNI commitment in development and happy to file those numbers in an abridged ---
6803 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you undertake to update that chart ---
6804 MS. WATSON: Yes.
6805 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- as it relates to your company?
6806 MS. WATSON: Yes.
6808 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. For the 9th of December? Yes?
6809 MS. WATSON: Yes.
6810 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you're saying that year in, year out, you invest about five percent in scripted?
6811 MS. WATSON: It -- in development, so it varies.
6812 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is it scripted development or all development?
6813 MS. WATSON: Scripted.
6814 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6815 MS. WATSON: So we would -- you know, if I look at the '14-15 broadcast year, the '15-16, and the one we're currently in, the one in the middle had less. The one we're in now, I've exceeded by about 40 percent what we spent in the previous year, just because we're in the middle of projects. And so it fluctuates, but it's always around five percent of what we spend.
6816 THE CHAIRPERSON: So on the five -- on the three-year horizon you're mentioning, it would be about five percent ---
6817 MS. WATSON: Yes.
6818 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- for development, more or less defined how the Writers Guild was defining it?
6819 MS. WATSON: Yes. Now, we have -- just to be clear, we have spent some money on members who are not members of the Writers Guild.
6820 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right, so that might not come out in their numbers, but they were proposing a definition of what development funding would be, and that's the one. So you think you're about in the same -- you're using ---
6821 MS. WATSON: Yes.
6822 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- about the same definition?
6823 MS. WATSON: Yes.
6824 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6825 This issue of closing of stations, you know, Canadians have told us they value a lot over-the-air television. The Commission has done its part to help over-the-air television maintain its existence a number of ways: putting it on the basic -- continuing to put it on basic, providing some flexibility to move money around to support local news. You yourselves have said it's important.
6826 The fact is that we sometimes find ourselves opening our newspaper in the morning to find out that yet another media outlet has been closed. In fact, some of Rogers' media outlets have recently been closed. You’ve been unable to find buyers for those. But the viewers who value that may not have an opportunity to make a comment on that closure.
6827 What do you think we should do about that?
6828 MS. WHEELER: I think that if a company needs to take the decision to close down an asset, it's not something that's taken lightly, and it would be something that they would have already considered the public reaction to and felt that they still, in their business interest, needed to go forward with that particular action.
6829 I'm not sure what value would be had by -- if that business decision is made, I'm not sure what value there is in embarking on a public consultation to talk about that business decision.
6830 I think that the Commission has the ability to -- if someone no longer wants to run a particular station or an undertaking, and there is a public demand for that undertaking, there is a process the Commission can embark on to solicit applications for those who are willing to take on that responsibility and uphold that mandate.
6831 THE CHAIRPERSON: What would you say if the consequence of closing a station, an over-the-air station without permission, might affect some of the other benefits you're getting from the group licensing, like flex, going forward, or somehow otherwise affecting the benefits you're getting from a group approach? What would you think about that?
6832 MS. WHEELER: That we would not be able to -- is the question that we would not be able to benefit from the group licensing benefits if we were not committed to maintaining the operation of the assets that are comprised within the group?
6833 THE CHAIRPERSON: Something like that, yes.
6834 MS. WHEELER: And those would apply only to over-the-air stations or to specialty services as well?
6835 THE CHAIRPERSON: The over-the-air stations, which I think is what Canadians have said they valued most to provide local news, and which you’ve repeated is essential.
6836 MS. WHEELER: And we have no intention of closing any of our City stations over the next licence term, but there are a number -- you know, we don’t have a five-year view, and there are a lot of, you know, things that are beyond our control, like the 600 megahertz we're packing issue and the need to invest in transmitters within -- under the -- under a scenario where we're not reimbursed for the costs of that.
6837 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
6838 MS. WHEELER: So ---
6839 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm not suggesting an absolute prohibition on closing, just a bit of process before you do to explain the very valid business decisions you're making. I think you would have -- you would put that forward explaining, you know, the consequence of 600. It's not an absolute prohibition; it just suggests that ---
6840 MS. WHEELER: Sure.
6841 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- you'd have to ask and obtain permission before you do so.
6842 MS. WHEELER: I think that as a large company who banks on the trust and loyalty of Canadians, we would take it upon ourselves to explain that business decision to the public without a regulatory requirement to do that.
6843 THE CHAIRPERSON: I guess I'll have to send you all the complaint letters as well, which we will receive.
6844 MS. WHEELER: I'm sure we would receive them directly as well.
6845 THE CHAIRPERSON: They seem to find us more quickly.
6846 Anything else to add on that particular issue?
6847 MS. WHEELER: Again, any decision we would make to shut down a station we wouldn't take lightly, and so we would, you know, we would want to communicate that decision in the best way we can to Canadians so that they understand the decision that we'd made.
6848 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let me turn for a moment to your 9(1)(h) application, although it was unclear to me whether a legal argument was being made or not about the fairness of the process. I don't know how you interpreted the -- what we heard from Fairchild and others. Do you think we are permitted, legally, to approve your 9(1)(h)?
6849 MS. WHEELER: Yes, I do.
6850 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do you have anything to add to what you've already said in your oral phase here?
6851 MS. WHEELER: No, I think any suggestion that you shouldn't consider the application or grant the application in this proceeding really is more of a policy argument, not a legal argument, one that, you know, suggests or assumes that there will be a greater demand and that you would want to balance a number of applications.
6852 We don’t believe that's going to be the case and we think the delay and the time involved in doing that when you have a very solid proposal in front of you that will result in the immediate reinstatement or at least the short-term reinstatement of news and information programming to third-language Canadians, I think, is something that would outweigh any benefit associated with a longer competitive process.
6853 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
6854 MS. WATSON: I'd also like to add, the Commission has a few precedents with respect to that with APTN and CPAC back in -- I forget the years.
6855 MS. WHEELER: And we've put that on the public record.
6856 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think we'll be able to find ---
6857 MS. WATSON: Yes, yes.
6858 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you're saying when we originally grant a 9(1)(h), it was done in the context of (inaudible) ---
6859 MS. WATSON: Yes, yes.
6860 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- proceeding?
6861 MS. WHEELER: And that's in our written reply comments as well.
6862 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah, yeah. Good. And it's my last question, before I turn to my colleagues to see if they have any questions, but it's clear that Canadians from multilingual, multi-ethnic communities are very passionate about the kind of programming that OMNI does and might do on OMNI Regional. How do you ensure that you're at à l'écoute -- sorry, it's late in the day, so the French point -- that you're listening and hearing what those communities want?
6863 What do you -- what would you do, you know, in concrete terms, to be responsive to their needs?
6864 MS. WATSON: We currently have advisory boards for OMNI. Should the 9(1)(h) application be granted, we would change the makeup of our Alberta board to become a Prairie board. We would invite members from Manitoba and Saskatchewan to join that board. We would create a board -- an advisory board for the Atlantic region as well, and we quite enjoy working -- I personally quite enjoy working with these boards. We meet with them twice a year and would continue -- could grow that with respect to expanding the geography of these boards.
6865 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you’d be okay were we to grant a 9(1)(h) that that would be embedded in regulatory obligation?
6866 MS. WATSON: Yes.
6867 THE CHAIRPERSON: I believe that is the extent of our questions. See, the advantage of going third is it’s more efficient because you already thought about the answers before.
6868 So thank you very much. Yes, did you have anything to add?
6869 MS. WHEELER: Mr. Chairman, I just have one other comment.
6870 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah.
6871 MS. WHEELER: So back to your first question about the conditions of licence being suspended. I have a slight caveat that our preference if you want to insist on holding us to those conditions of licence that they be reframed so that they use the same language of the provisions used in the Wholesale Code.
6872 THE CHAIRPERSON: So that when they re-arise from the ashes they would be at least parallel to the code itself, okay.
6873 MS. WHEELER: Yes.
6874 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, fair enough. I hear you. We’ll see what we do with that. Okay, thank you.
6875 So thank you. Those are all our questions.
6876 Madam Secretary, is there anything else you need to do?
6877 THE SECRETARY: Yeah, just a quick note for the record, Mr. Chairman. There are non-appearing items on the agenda of this public hearing. Interventions were received for some of these applications, and the Panel will consider these interventions along with the applications and decisions will be rendered at a later date.
6878 That’s it for me. Thank you.
6879 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. So before concluding this public hearing, I’d like to thank the many people that made it possible.
6880 First, I’d like to thank the interpreters and the stenographers. Thanks to them nothing that is said here is lost.
6881 I’d also like to thank all the reporters, bloggers, and social media users who in good faith attempt to bring the hearing beyond the walls of this hearing room and into the digital world. I have no words either good or bad for those who have embraced the new post-truth philosophy. It just seems odd that those who criticize from the sidelines never intervene or put their views on the public hearing.
6882 Les usagers des médias sociaux qui suivent nos audiences de près permettent à ceux qui ne peuvent y assister de la suivre aussi.
6883 Now we issued an amendment to our process, and I just want to remind everyone that the undertakings are due on Friday the 9th of December. That on the 16th of December final written submissions from the intervenors will be able to be made. And final reply by the Applicants will occur on the 6th of January.
6884 Now, keep in mind that we’re doing two parallel hearings at once and there’s a lot of paper arriving at the Commission concurrently. So we would be very thankful if everybody who’s filing their documents clearly indicate on the first page whether they are making comments with respect to the Laval hearing or the Gatineau hearing, and whether they are making an intervention or a reply. That way we will be able to post those documents quickly and efficiently for all. So we’d very much appreciate that.
6885 I also would like to thank my colleagues, Members of the Panel, who as always put a lot of work and preparation into this hearing. Particularly our new Vice-Chair who, however, after a number of weeks now is a veteran.
6886 Je voudrais aussi reconnaître le travail du personnel du CRTC, que ce soit ici à l'audience ou encore à partir de nos quartiers généraux ou des bureaux régionaux. Vos conseils judicieux sont une grande aide pour le panel dans la prise de décision. Merci à vous tous.
6887 Je remercie encore une fois vous tous et toutes pour votre participation. Et donc la présente audience, du moins sa phase orale, est maintenant terminée.
6888 Merci beaucoup à tous et nous sommes en ajournement. Merci.
--- Upon adjourning at 5:10 p.m.
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