ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing March 29, 2017
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Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Date: March 29, 2017
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Attendees and Location
Terrasses de la Chaudière
- Chairman: Jean-Pierre Blais
- Commissioners: Linda Vennard, Christopher MacDonald
- Legal Advisor: Crystal Hulley
- Secretary: Jade Roy
- Hearing Manager: Rachel Marleau
--- Upon resuming on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 9:32 a.m.
2579 THE CHAIRMAN: A l’ordre, s’il vous plaît. Order, please.
2580 Madam la secrétaire?
2581 MS. ROY: Merci.
2582 We’ll now proceed with Phase 4 in which Applicants can reply to all interventions submitted on their applications. Applicants appear in reverse order. We will begin with Northern Native Broadcasting. Please reintroduce yourself and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
2583 MR. SMITH: (Greeting in Native language). Good morning.
2584 My name is Greg Smith, CEO of CFNR. To my right is Ron Bartlett, our Sales Manager. And to his right is Craig Ellis, our Program Director/Technical. And to my left is Tewanee Joseph from Squamish and to his left is Brian Schecter, our Consultant. And in the far left is Gary Milne, our Consultant.
2585 I will get right into our presentation.
2586 Yesterday we spent time expressing our understanding of the definition of “local” and emphasized the significance of following proper protocol and consultation. These are basic yet critical principles of effective relationship building.
2587 Following proper protocol and proper consultation lays the foundation for building strong relationships starting from the grassroots, and the “local first” and successes all comes naturally.
2588 Anything short of this will face disappointments, struggles, and eventual failure. AVR comes to mind as an example.
2589 AVR failed with its top-down network approach, and because it attempted to offer a scalable model, centralized their decisions on behalf of major cities. FPR is AVR 2. Stripped of its rhetoric, it will be a nationally-centric broadcaster interested in efficiencies and scalability ignoring the needs of local First Nations as evidenced by their lack of consultation and permission from the primary territory holders -- landholders.
2590 In the past two days we have heard much about consultation. We witnessed the consequence of not respecting the consulting process amongst Aboriginal Nations. Mining projects have failed because they did not consult; Northern Gateway failed because they did not consult; some B.C. LNG projects have failed because they did not properly consult.
2591 As you heard from our presentation, NNB-T followed proper protocol. Our presence has already been embraced by the Aboriginal population of Vancouver.
2592 MR. BARTLETT: What is “local”? Local is where the majority of all programming originates from.
2593 We are local when we expose our heart for our community and join the search for missing Indigenous women. We turn over the entire station to helping our people, our community, to search, to weep, to pray, to raise awareness about why we must care for each other.
2594 You will hear news on CKUR Vancouver exclusive to our community, news like following a former residential school survivor, Chief Ray Jones, as he shares his sacred journey. Follow Ray Jones’ journey when he reconnects with his culture and tours the site of the Gitksan Residential School he attended in Edmonton.
2595 Being recognized and respected as “local” is when we are invited to broadcast and live stream the honoured Hobiyee celebration in Vancouver, 2017.
2596 Receiving a provincial business award recognizing our local community involvement is “local”.
2597 “Local” is in everything we do, in news, sports, music, culture, storytelling. It is in our DNA.
2598 MR. ELLIS: What will CKUR look like? Our platform, “Urban Aboriginals”, will continue to be moulded and influenced by our friends, our listeners, and Nations. This daily feature is where we explore what matters to urban Aboriginal listeners. Language, music, community and culture will be part of a daily diet of exploring Aboriginal culture on the west coast.
2599 Fast forward, if you will, and journey with us on our dream. It’s now August 2022. CKUR Vancouver Urban Aboriginal has been on air for 5 years. This is what’s happening today from our First Nations Long House Broadcast Centre.
2600 We will be broadcasting all day from the Salish Festival Days, from the grounds of the local host First Nation.
2601 Families are invited to join us on the banks of the Fraser River for the Young Warriors canoe races.
2602 Step back in time as we continue event coverage from one of the local First Nations communities, enjoying some bannock, tour the traditional longhouse, experience ceremonial dancing and storytelling.
2603 Sunday it’s coverage of the Junior Aboriginal Basketball tournament which takes place at the Vancouver Pavilion. Our live coverage of the finals will also be streamed online.
2604 Next weekend it’s our annual cultural celebration in the First Nations Cultural Centre. Vancouver, this is your invitation to join us for this rich cultural experience and features our “Young Peoples Aboriginal music competition”, drum festival, Khelislum language workshop, and carving workshop.
2605 Our vision of urban Aboriginal radio is taking shape in Vancouver. It’s working because first we asked permission. Now our Nations from Squamish to Chilliwack, over 20 Nations, have embraced our story and are contributing to our story.
2606 MR. SMITH: Mr. Chairman, we were asked yesterday in our presentation if we had considered working with the other Applicant if we were not successful in our bid for the Vancouver licence. Only if that other Applicant has followed proper protocol, engaged with territorial landholders, has properly consulted, and is committed to being local on a long-term basis, then yes we would. Otherwise, no.
2607 Prior to these licences becoming available, there was a WAAB group in place -- which WAAB stands for Western Aboriginal Association of Broadcasters -- comprised of five Aboriginal radio networks, including ourselves, CFWE, NNB-Y -- which is in the Yukon -- NCI in Winnipeg and MBC in Saskatchewan -- that was functioning very effectively. When the five licences were becoming available, APTN got themselves involved with WAAB with the intent of seeking buy-in from our group, our WAAB group, to go after all five licences. The result of this action on the part of APTN was NNB-T and CFWE did not share in the vision in the end.
2608 Today, WAAB -- or CAAB as it’s known today, Canada Association of Aboriginal Broadcasters -- is on life support and it will most likely cease to exist if the CRTC awards the Vancouver and/or Alberta licences to FPR.
2609 Twenty-seven (27) years ago NNB-T was granted approval to build a local Aboriginal radio service in Terrace, B.C.; today that number has grown to approximately 80 communities, all who have embraced NNB-T, recognizing our continuous commitment to community.
2610 In closing, we heard more than once over the last two days the indecision on CRTC’s part of whether to go with a national network or regional with this process.
2611 It is our wish and hope that with your better understanding now of the NNB-T’s track record, and our meeting or exceeding all of CRTC’s criteria, that serious consideration will be given to the question of “who has the greatest potential of succeeding in best serving the Aboriginal population?”
2612 I want to thank you, the Chairperson and Commissioners, for seriously considering our application for the Vancouver licence. Thank you.
2613 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much.
2614 So for you and others who will be appearing shortly before us in this fourth phase, we might be asking some questions. Just don’t assume we’ve made up our minds on anything yet. We’re just testing ideas and hypotheticals right now. And it’s in that spirit that we ask these questions based on the record we’ve heard so far.
2615 I’ll start us off and then I’ll see if my colleagues have questions as well.
2616 Your presentation actually has addressed a number of matters. But I’m particularly struck that what you’re saying is in the end, as we step back from this entire public hearing, the true question we should ask is very much in light of what best serves the Aboriginal population, and that's the ultimate test we should be applying.
2617 And could you unpack that a little bit? What elements should we be considering, sorry?
2618 MR. SMITH: I believe we outlined the basic principles that would guarantee success, and that's being local, committing to being local ---
2619 THE CHAIRMAN: Right.
2620 MR. SMITH: --- consulting -- properly consulting.
2621 THE CHAIRMAN: Right.
2622 MR. SMITH: And consulting is an ongoing, as Ron described yesterday. The process has to be continuous in approaching the communities. Like, we can't -- we have to be accountable to -- we are accountable to the communities that we serve, and that's the key. That’s the key to our success, is that we are -- we have been accountable to our people from day one and will continue to do so, and that's our same approach in Vancouver.
2623 THE CHAIRMAN: Do you consider that we should look at -- I'm not saying your business case isn't reasonable, but we have a number of matters before us -- the reasonableness of the business case and its likelihood to succeed? Because we know with AVR that one of the problems is there may have been some good intentions 10, 15 years ago, but it fell apart for some of the reasons you mentioned, but also because the business case never materialized.
2624 So in the end, what happened is, we had stations that closed, that plugged in an iPod and didn’t do news and local content, so -- because of the business case. So would you say that when we look at who has the greatest potential of exceeding in best serving the Aboriginal population beyond what you’ve just mentioned, should we also look at the reasonableness of the business case?
2625 That's a yes?
2626 MR. SMITH: Yes.
2627 THE CHAIRMAN: Okay, sorry, because the transcript doesn’t ---
2628 MR. SMITH: I'm (inaudible) in ---
2629 THE CHAIRMAN: --- hear (inaudible).
2630 MR. SMITH: --- a general comment, sorry.
2631 THE CHAIRMAN: Okay, so you would agree that ---
2632 MR. SMITH: Yes.
2633 THE CHAIRMAN: --- that's also part of an analysis?
2634 MR. SMITH: Yeah.
2635 THE CHAIRMAN: All right. Thank you for that, and I think there's some wisdom in the way you framed that ultimate issue.
2636 MR. SMITH: Oh.
2637 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Could you explain to me more, though -- because this is something we're struggling with -- how a successful application by another player in the Vancouver market would affect the revenues in Terrace, which is the territory or the -- that you're supposed to serve? And I'm having difficulty trying to figure out why the cross-impact?
2638 MR. BARTLETT: Thank you for the question. We've experienced the same effort that's being proposed today with AVR when they were brought forward as a national radio network in 1990 that was covering the national scene for Aboriginal. And when they were -- they were in their heyday, they had grants coming in from various sources and they had money to spend and they spent it with public appearances, with knocking on agencies' doors, are -- agencies that are representing the corporates buying for Aboriginal.
2639 And with my WAAB partners, our sales managers, we work together. We were at one time -- in fact, it was -- we were representing a bigger vision that what currently today is being proposed by the CRTC for APTN. We had four provinces and one territory, not just three provinces. It's still there today, CAAB is there today. We're presently bigger than what is being presented. We have five individual, unique areas -- four provinces, the Yukon Territory -- that's currently being represented by CAAB.
2640 The backbone is there right now that we could be doing exactly what you're talking about, national. National is actually bigger with CAAB than it is being proposed right now with APTN. They only have three provinces. We now have four provinces and one territory. That's five, larger than what APTN is proposing.
2641 But that's at risk of falling apart. It's on life support right now because of APTN's action. And if that falls apart, we're going to be replacing something that's bigger with something that's smaller and destroying the relationships that are there currently between those four provinces and that one territory.
2642 But in going on about how it will affect us, when the advertising pie -- and we had referenced that yesterday, and you said as yourself, "It's only so big", and it is only so big -- that when it's being considered for British Columbia, the first thing that they do is go for the major population centres. Because we're not a measured market, we're a fringe buy, and whatever is left over in the budget, we would then -- it would be doled out.
2643 But if there's now two players -- and it's a province -- it's a provincial budget; it's not, you know, something that -- and when these agency buys are being created, they're being created in their head offices in Toronto and in Vancouver and in Montreal. But they're looking at the province and how best they can divide that pie.
2644 Well, now if you have two players instead of one in that province, it's being split. So we would -- it would directly affect our current CFNR Northern Native Terrace operating budget. Our average on -- per year is about $300,000 in national advertising, and if we're splitting that pie -- and again, it's only so big -- in half, it would cost us, directly impact us right now, between $100,000 and $150,000 in sales.
2645 And this isn't just speaking of hypothetical. This happened to us when AVR was promoting themselves as a national Aboriginal media. And our sales managers in those other provinces -- in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and ourselves, and the Yukon territory, we all recognized that. We all felt it, and we said, "This is not right." And we knew we were representing more Aboriginal folk than they were, but the agencies, through smoke and mirrors of AVR at the time, they convinced them that they were a real player in the provincial marketplaces, so directly affected the impact of our existing -- not potential future, but our existing structure.
2646 And it will impact us in the fact that because we're so communities (inaudible), we have high overhead cost, very high, more than -- Stephen Simpson, when he came up and took a look at our operation, he said nobody's doing radio like we're doing today, super serving our communities. That costs money to -- as we've mentioned, the all-Native tournament cost us $35,000 to have 18 people there doing what we do, for a week to serve the community. And if we have to lay off some of those people because another company is coming in to split that provincial pie, then we have to lay off people. It affects our business.
2647 But then from future, we consider ourselves to be the provincial, and our other networks respect that. They would not try and come in and apply for a licence in our territory. We respect their territories. This is our First Nations protocol.
2648 But when we're working in Vancouver -- and we do presently work in Vancouver; we have clients in Vancouver right now that are reaching out to the communities that we serve before they travel to the city. We also, with the First Nations communities, we work with them. The Hobiyee celebration that was referenced is their First Nations new year. At the beginning of February, it wasn’t any other medium but their provincial medium, Northern Native Broadcasting. They invited to come as a respected partner that they could trust to share their vital cultural celebration without worry that we would misrepresent them.
2649 We are part of the community. We know the culture. We're immersed in it, so we can represent them. And they trusted us out of any other medium; not APTN, not anyone else but Northern Native Broadcasting to come in. We brought in our live stream and that's how we connect.
2650 Right now, we can show you -- Google analytics data that cannot be tampered with that shows Vancouver as the biggest audience that we have right now. We are already working in that realm, and that -- that -- and we can't survive on our radio transmitters any more. We have to be in the digital realm.
2651 But we've taken that seriously. In the month of February, we had 500,000 -- half a million -- page views. Most of those came from Vancouver. We're already working in Vancouver. We're working with the communities in Vancouver, and we have revenue coming from Vancouver.
2652 We sell our page -- our website by page views, cost per thousand. So the revenue we're receiving presently, supporting our existing operation, serving the Vancouver market through our live streaming, through our web broadcast, we can show you that it's -- the majority of our business is in Vancouver right now.
2653 So by taking that away from us, we're going to be negatively impacted. The communities in Vancouver who already have a relationship with us will be negatively impacted.
2654 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you for that. And in a sense, I understand your logic with respect to regional and national buys, that the Vancouver situation would ricochet into Terrace, but it's my understanding that in radio, contrary to television, what drives revenues is local advertising.
2655 So I'm not understanding the logic of your argument that the presence of somebody who is in Vancouver and looking for local advertising somehow has an impact on Terrace where they’re doing -- you’re doing local advertising and driven by local advertising there.
2656 MR. SMITH: We break our revenue streams down internally, national, which would be provincial, regional, which would be our regions in the province and local to one city. And right now a big part of our revenue streams are in the national realm, so that’s provincial. We work all over the province and Vancouver is just one other community in the province.
2657 THE CHAIRMAN: As I said, I get the logic on regional and national. What I’m saying is why does that same logic apply to local advertising?
2658 MR. BARTLETT: You know, I think that we have to ---
2659 THE CHAIRMAN: Do you consider Vancouver ---
2660 MR. BARTLETT: I understand. If I can -- I’m not -- I’ll see if I can understand completely your question. How does another broadcaster operating in the City of Vancouver affect us in Northern Native/Terrace?
2661 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. And you made the argument that a national ad or a regional ad sale with an agency would impact because that I get ---
2662 MR. BARTLETT: Yeah.
2663 THE CHAIRMAN: --- buying the region but I’m not following your argument in the same way when it comes to local.
2664 MR. BARTLETT: There’s a -- you know, in being in this business now in sales in Aboriginal media for a long time and understanding how to succeed in it, the Mom and Pop stores in the city are not your client. You cannot effectively give a return to the investment. Our clients -- our clients are the larger corporations who need to build relationships with those communities and those corporations are looking for opportunities to connect the dots in the province. In Vancouver, there’s 70,000 Aboriginal people. So those corporations like the major energy industry corporations, the mining industry corporations and others and then the folks that need to get the messaging back and forth, the communities that these people are from, their home communities need to reach them as well.
2665 So it is one market in a sense and that’s where a large percentage of our income comes from. It’s not the Mom and Pop stores. It’s the corporates, the larger advertisers that want to reach that target audience and it’s defined as a target audience in the corporations, that would be our local that would cross over from Vancouver to our network.
2666 THE CHAIRMAN: Some people, some people might argue then, based on your answer that you are in fact operating outside of your territory.
2667 MR. BARTLETT: You may, but I think that within our radio license we’re not. And our digital licence is, you know, there is no bounds on that. It’s the world-wide web and we operate with that and we receive revenue from the whole province.
2669 MR. JOSEPH: Yeah, it’s a good question.
2670 I think if you look at it from a First Nations perspective, First Nations themselves don’t have -- are not flush with cash beyond transfer payments and own source revenue. So they’re not there to spend huge amounts of budgets on advertising, especially when it comes to members within the community. They have to be accountable to the programs and services they need to deliver.
2671 When it comes to location, the companies that Ron was referring to in the private sector, the companies that want to develop joint venture partnerships with First Nations are all not located in Terrace. They are located elsewhere. I’ve been in situations personally where companies have said, “Look it, I want to go with you, but there’s also someone else there so I want to go with them”.
2672 So in actual fact, a lot of the revenues that we’re talking about are not at the in in that region. They come from elsewhere and that’s what Ron is referring to; large companies that went from LNG to energy projects to other kinds of projects, mining and others, those companies are located elsewhere. They look at the province as a whole and they look at where they’re going to invest their dollars into joint ventures or consultation. And so part of those decisions are not made locally. They are made elsewhere.
2673 And that’s what Ron is referring to and also -- oftentimes what ends up happening is that First Nations organizations or companies get played against each other. Like companies and saying “Look it, we’ll support you, but we won’t -- can’t support them.”
2674 And so the decisions that are being made -- I don’t know how many of the headquarters that they have up in the north, but there’s not many headquarters for the companies that are investing into those communities.
2675 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I’d like to turn to another matter because you mentioned that the origins of AVR there was a business case that was based in large measure on grants, on benefits money from other transactions. And that, of course, twittered away, it disappeared over time and part of the cause of that, of the demise of AVR, one of the many, was related to that financing.
2676 When you look forward, is it reasonable in your view to think that there are new grant monies that would become available, whether from the federal or provincial? And is there any reason to believe that there’s benefits money from transaction in the radio sector?
2677 MR. SMITH: Yeah. I’ll ask Ron to assist me with the answer, but I don’t -- with this grant or this five licences that are becoming available and will eventually be approved to whoever, there is no -- it is our understanding from Canadian Heritage that we will not be eligible for any Canadian Heritage funds because it’s under the umbrella of Northern Native Broadcasting who is already receiving monies. So it is our intention and it’s always been our intention and -- to become self-sufficient over the long term and not depend on grants and other pockets.
2678 THE CHAIRMAN: So from what you know, one has -- and looking at trying to figure out a reasonable business case, and I go back to my question about, you know, what should we be looking at -- at who has the greatest potential of succeeding, best serving the Aboriginal population. You agree with me that the reasonable business case becomes part of that.
2679 And would it be correct to say that your view is, in light of everything we know about potential new sources of grant money or benefits money or other non-commercial source of income, that that is highly unlikely and as a consequence, you, as a reasonable group of business people, have said, “No, we have to make it work from a commercial perspective by selling advertising.”
2680 In your case, and I take your point that maybe the market is unique there and you have to look at it in the region as a whole and in the province as a whole.
2681 MR. SMITH: Yeah.
2682 THE CHAIRMAN: That’s -- would you agree with that?
2683 MR. SMITH: Yeah.
2684 THE CHAIRMAN: Okay, great.
2685 Thank you.
2686 Those are my questions. Maybe I’ll turn to my colleagues to see if there are any questions.
2687 No. Legal?
2688 So thank you very much.
2689 MR. SMITH: Okay.
2690 THE CHAIRMAN: Any last ---
2691 MR. SMITH: Yeah, just a housekeeping one. A couple of us will be catching a two o’clock flight so I -- depending on how long this process takes, there may be a couple of other representatives.
2692 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. I think you should be okay.
2693 MR. SMITH: Okay, thank you.
2694 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Thank you.
2695 THE CHAIRMAN: Madame le sécretaire.
2696 MS. ROY: I would now ask First Peoples Radio to come to the presentation table.
2697 THE CHAIRMAN: We’ll just take a five-minute adjournment to make sure -- I think -- people were taking off stride there. So if you can make your way up, we’ll just adjourn for five.
--- Upon recessing at 9:59 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 10:00 a.m.
2698 THE CHAIRMAN: A l’ordre s’il vous plaît. That allowed me to top up my coffee; that’s great.
2699 So Madame le sécretaire.
2700 MR. ROY: Thank you. Please reintroduce yourself for the record. And you have 10 minutes.
2701 MR. LAROSE: Merci, Madame Roy. Thank you everybody.
2702 Good morning Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. Thank you first for the brief break you gave me, as well as the opportunity to reply to interventions.
2703 I am Jean LaRose, the CEO and a first director of FPR and I am also the CEO of APTN. To my right is Darcy Smith, a first director of FPR and APTN's Chief Financial Officer. To Darcy's right is Debra McLaughlin of Strategic Inc. To my left is Karyn Pugliese, a first director of FPR and APTN's Executive Director of News and Current Affairs. And besides Karyn is Joel Fortune, our legal counsel.
2704 First, we would like to thank the more than 140 intervenors who wrote to the Commission in support of our application from each of the five cities and from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals and communities, societies, educational organizations, and businesses.
2705 Many intervenors recognize we would provide greater exposure for Aboriginal musicians and artists, offer much needed Aboriginal language programming, and provide local news, information, and public affairs content.
2706 Intervenors also recognized APTN’s strength and experience as an Aboriginal broadcaster, and noted our record in reflecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples and providing high-quality, informative, and entertaining content.
2707 We would also like to thank Jennifer David, Gabrielle Fayant, and Douglas Bartlett for appearing yesterday.
2708 We received only one written intervention from a non-applicant opposing our applications. This was from CMAC. We responded in detail to their comments in writing.
2709 We wish to correct two factual inaccuracies in CMAC’s presentation yesterday.
2710 First, our commitment to Aboriginal music is to play at least 25 percent Canadian Aboriginal music selections in total. This is, of course, one in four songs played. This is a minimum commitment. We think you understood this when we appeared on Monday, but we wanted to be absolutely clear.
2711 Second, CMAC has incorrect information about board representation on FPR. The First Peoples Radio board will consist of seven directors. Three directors will be APTN senior managers. The other four will be independent directors, as stated in the draft by-laws we filed, confirmed in our written reply, and discussed with the Commission on Monday. These four directors will be drawn from the communities to be served. They will be independent.
2712 Wawatay has criticized our “urban-centric mentality”. Our service responds to the needs, expectations, and interests revealed in the market research conducted in each city. These communities stated clearly they wanted authentic, professional, entertaining, inclusive, accessible, and popular content, featuring music that could stand beside any other radio service they could choose. We are urban-centric. These are urban radio applications.
2713 AMMSA and NNB-Terrace have questioned our business plan and in particular our revenue projections. We reviewed with you on Monday the basis for these projections.
2714 Essentially, they represent the level of revenue that an urban station can expect to achieve in these markets with modest audience share. Our revenues and anticipated rate card and expenses are below market averages and would rank us in the bottom third of each market.
2715 This is not overly ambitious. We wish to remind the Commission that all of our projections and assumptions are based on the most comprehensive research -- in fact the only research of Aboriginal communities -- presented in this proceeding.
2716 It was also suggested that we would rely exclusively on a centralized sales team in Toronto. That is not the case. Each market will have two local sales representatives, and they will indeed be complemented by a national sales team. It is necessary to have local sales representatives because 80 percent of our revenue is local. A local and national sales team is a real strength for our applications.
2717 As for the competitive impact of the sale of advertising on new urban stations on the Communications Societies, only Edmonton has an existing urban station and that station, as we heard on Monday, relies extensively on bingo revenue and the benefit from its very broad regional coverage in Alberta.
2718 Our proposed music format has been called “broad”. In fact, it is not wide in scope by today's standards. In developing this format, we researched the music with the assistance of David McLeod of NCI and Dave Charles of Media Results, a well-known music program expert with decades of experience.
2719 This format gives Aboriginal musicians performing in many genres the widest possible exposure. Plus, it is highly listenable as demonstrated by the clip we played, the only sustained music sample you have heard at this hearing.
2720 We have a well-defined target audience. In sales terms, it is 25 to 49, possibly skewing female. It is not 12 to 24 as one intervenor suggested. And our primary target audience is First Nations, Inuit, and Métis listeners and other listeners living in the city.
2721 We have been criticized for the level of local programming we will offer.
2722 We will have 12 staff at each station focused on local programming and production. This is one person less than NNB-Terrace has proposed.
2723 Our schedule includes 10 daily local newscasts on weekdays, 7 on Saturday, and 6 on Sunday. These have been fully budgeted.
2724 We understand what local programming means for the Commission and we are well aware of our obligations.
2725 We recognize that programming must include local Aboriginal languages. By our third year of operation, at least five hours a week of our Aboriginal language programming will be local and it will be specific to the languages spoken in the market.
2726 Our language content will also provide opportunities for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities from other parts of Canada, present in these cities, to hear their languages. We have proposed nine hours of Aboriginal language programming a week, which is more than an hour a day. All of this content will also be offered online.
2727 I believe if you look at the quality and completeness of our application from an objective point of view, you would be hard-pressed to conclude that it looks like a TV application. We do not understand that comment.
2728 We have a plan for launch and it’s not going to take 24 months. Our plan is to be on the air within approximately one year from licensing in two locations -- those are probably Toronto and Vancouver -- together with the head office. After that, we will focus on launching the remaining 3 stations within approximately 15 months of licensing.
2729 We have consulted widely regarding our applications and made every effort to spread the word.
2730 First Peoples Radio is supported by APTN and APTN is involved directly in each of these markets and in Aboriginal communities across the country. Community relations and consultation is part and parcel of our mandate and our daily functioning.
2731 Many of the people consulted in our focus groups suggested, without prompting and without knowing who commissioned the research, that APTN should be entrusted to offer local Aboriginal radio service in their city. APTN has a strong and trusted identity.
2732 APTN is aware of our responsibility as a media organization. We are exceedingly careful to avoid blurring the line between our activities as a media organization and any political or other organizational support we may receive. We have remained independent from any political pressures in the past. And there have been pressures.
2733 Our approach in this process has been to put forward the very best broadcasting application we could for the Commission’s consideration. If we succeed, we will follow our established protocols and ensure that all local organizations are fairly consulted, especially in regards to the recommendations of board members for their region.
2734 Our ongoing consultation within each community will not stop with launch, and we have explained at length how we will connect with listeners and with local organizations and elders on an ongoing basis.
2735 We would expect that the Commission would consider this to be the appropriate process for any successful Applicant.
2736 We have been criticized both for being too national and for not being an actual national network.
2737 In the past, Aboriginal Peoples with the Commission’s support sought to create a national Aboriginal radio network presence for Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. That plan unfortunately did not work. However, the vision has remained alive for very good reasons.
2738 We believe the best way forward will be to create strong local Aboriginal radio services, with meaningful content, that is popular and provide a high quality of service in each city. These services should also be connected together and supported by a national infrastructure. This will allow communities to talk to each other, to share stories amongst themselves and with all Canadians. The Commission called for an innovative approach and this is what we have proposed.
2739 Our focus at this time is to provide the best quality of service that we can in each city and to serve First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities in those cities and with all of the resources we can generate through our operations. This is the only funding model and this principle has guided our application from the start.
2740 By its nature this is a competitive process. But we also recognize the hard work and the dedication that the Communications Societies put every day into serving their communities. What we are proposing to do is a different vision from what they have, but when all has been said and done with this process, APTN will continue to work with them. And if FPR is successful, you have heard in our application that we see an ongoing role for the Communications Societies in creating and sharing programming.
2741 Thank you for this chance to reply to interventions and we are happy to respond to any questions you may have.
2742 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. As I said earlier, we’ll be asking some questions.
2743 Obviously you’re applying for five markets so my questions -- there may be more here than others as a result of that. And then I’ll turn to my colleagues to see if they have any additional questions.
2744 Your colleagues from NNB-T suggested that ultimately the question the Commission has to ask itself is who has the greatest potential of succeeding in best serving the Aboriginal population? Do you agree that that’s the right test?
2745 MR. LAROSE: Well, certainly it is -- the test here is to create something for the benefit of the Aboriginal population in those urban centres. I think what we are seeing here are two different visions of that approach.
2746 Our vision has been to go to those individuals who live in those urban centres, to ask them what they were looking for, to ask them what they expected from such a service, to ask them how they would be best served, what they would listen to and what they would want to hear. We’ve conducted extensive research to that point and Debra can reiterate some of that for the benefit of the Commission.
2747 But certainly we have -- I think the key point for the Commission is to ensure that whatever their decision is focused on, it has to be in the best interests of the urban Aboriginal communities that we seek to deserve. Often these communities have a different perspective, a different way of life from people in remote areas. We see that every day in our role as APTN. We deal with that every day in our role.
2748 And what we have done here is to look at those markets very specifically and propose to you something that we have been told is what they expect. They will look for a service to which they can connect but a service that is also interesting enough and broad enough that will keep their interest and that will also reach to other communities.
2749 They feel it is very important that our stories be shared with everyone and they feel that this is the format that they would listen to themselves but they would want to hear to present their stories.
2750 THE CHAIRMAN: And what of the reasonableness of a business case? Is that also a consideration we should have when we are looking at the question of who has the greatest potential in succeeding in best serving the Aboriginal population?
2751 MR. LAROSE: Well, as we presented -- and I’ll ask Debra to elaborate a bit on this -- but we have done extensive research; we have done a lot of analysis; we have reviewed the markets very, very closely to ensure that what we were proposing as a business plan, as a business case -- which took over a year to assemble, to write, to analyze, and to really test -- we believe that the business case that we have is the best case scenario for these stations.
2752 And Debra, can you maybe elaborate on some of that?
2753 MS. McLAUGHLIN: Certainly.
2754 One of the challenges in serving these markets is recognizing that whatever the territory within that market is in terms of Aboriginal rights, is that the urban markets become a melting pot where people across Canada have merged. And I’m thinking back to the Toronto focus groups where I had someone discussing their life in rural Manitoba. That isn’t part of an Ontario Aboriginal group, but we had people from B.C. speaking to us in our focus groups in Ottawa. So it’s a much broader group.
2755 And I don’t want to generalize too much, but certainly within those specific groups the feeling was that it had to be very competitive to what they were listening to now. The propensity to use radio was equally high in this group so they were currently in the absence of an operating AVR or any other -- the commercial entity or broadcast entity -- listening to radio.
2756 So we would be asking them to replace their tuning, to switch from one to another. So it had to be at least equal in terms of what they were getting elsewhere.
2757 Certainly the content and the presentation by Aboriginal people in the on-air positions, the addition or introduction of Aboriginal music was a big driver, but they also were connected to the other stations and to the markets where they lived.
2758 THE CHAIRMAN: And in terms of reasonable business case, I take it from your comment to the second to last -- at page nine of the written presentation of your oral closing comments you refer to, “...with all...the resources --” and I’m quoting here:
2759 “...with all...the resources we can generate through our [operation]. This is the only funding model and this principle has guided our [application] from the start.”
2760 In other words, you’re saying that -- would you agree that commercial revenues and reasonable commercial revenues, with what we know today, is the only foreseeable financing model for the operations we’re looking at and that it is very unlikely, from what we know today, that there would be grants or benefits money as there may have been in the past?
2761 MR. LAROSE: Absolutely. And to speak a bit broadly and answer you in a bit more broadly fashion, over the last year I’ve been involved in negotiating with Heritage to convince the department that there needed to be more money allocated to the Communications Societies both on a capital funding basis -- because some of them haven’t seen any capital funding in over 20 years, 25 years if not more -- as well as on their operational basis. They’re being asked to produce programming, whether it’s radio or television, on the basis of a 1980-something. They haven’t had an increase in their funding in over 40 years. In fact, they’ve seen decreases.
2762 So it’s obvious from the budget that was tabled last week that this -- even though the department was very hopeful that there would be additional funding to be provided to them, that this will not happen. So I don’t see any chance for additional funding from a government source in the near future and certainly not from, you know, CCDs or what have you as there are very few transactions happening.
2763 Therefore, this means that we have to plan based on what an economic model of a commercial radio system has to be. And this is what our plan is proposing to you. And we are also looking at it from a conservative perspective to ensure that we are not being overly optimistic and flame out and burn in mid-flight.
2764 THE CHAIRMAN: Hopefully that won’t occur for anybody who’s applying for these services.
2765 You’ve already addressed -- one of my questions was going to be on the allegation that your business case was too ambitious. But you’ve already addressed that unless you have something to add on that particular issue?
2766 MR. LAROSE: No, I think we’ve made the case a few times already this week. I’m hoping we’ve made the case, anyways.
2767 THE CHAIRMAN: Your colleagues from NNB are concerned that your possible licensing will have a revenue impact on them. This is the assumption that you’re successful in the Vancouver market and they’re not. Do you have a view on that?
2768 MR. LAROSE: Well, again, this is a difference in perception or maybe in experience. We believe that the urban model is totally different. It’s a very different market for advertising.
2769 And again to that point I will ask Debra to elaborate how we’ve researched that market and how we have come to a different conclusion.
2770 MS. McLAUGHLIN: The urban market will -- and the expenditures from advertisers that we’ve looked at -- will follow basically the same plan that most advertising -- our advertisers follow. And that is it’s planned by market at an agency level and it’s designed to reach a particular target market, whether that is Aboriginal or it’s women or a particular demographic. And it is planned by market and major markets do get planned first.
2771 But for a decade or more I represented the markets in the interior of B.C. for television. And what was happening in Vancouver had very little or no effect on those interior markets in the television market and they would be planned in the same way in terms of allocation. And that’s simply because if you had to reach those markets for a particular reason, if a franchisee was there then you were designated to that market and you had to spend in that market because the franchisee put money in as a result of doing business. So they did need some money.
2772 But it’s only -- and the specific accounts that we looked at that were targeted to Aboriginal people actually made the point to us that they would be more likely to spend in the smaller and regional markets because those are the people that they’re trying to reach in regards to their proactive environmental stance, their activities around sustaining the land or supporting those people. They would be actually -- those types of accounts would be less likely to spend in downtown Vancouver or in downtown Toronto.
2773 So there is a clear divide in the types of accounts. And some of the accounts that I’ve heard referred to over this process are those specifically targeted to improve the corporate image amongst First Nations.
2774 So you know, our plan in Vancouver or Toronto or Ottawa is following the usual advertiser route. If there are people listening then they will spend money. And we will get some accounts that are specifically targeted to Aboriginal people but it will be most likely urban Aboriginal people. So it will be from organizations within those communities that are local that are looking to target that group.
2775 THE CHAIRMAN: I take it it is not your goal to have an impact in that scenario on NNB; is that correct?
2776 MR. LAROSE: Our goal is not to negatively impact on any society. Because of the nature of what we are proposing, we are confident that in fact, we will not be having a negative impact on them. We're coming in with a different format, coming in with a different approach. We're targeting a market that is unique. The urban Aboriginal market is quite unique.
2777 Yes, there are people who have come in from communities who still have a strong connection, but there are also people who are just living an urban life and that community right now doesn’t feel connected to any specific entity. They have moved across the country. That is a group we are targeting as well. So we don’t think that we will have a negative impact on any of those societies.
2778 THE CHAIRMAN: Despite your best -- again, I'm building on that same hypothesis. Despite your best intent not to damage NNB, what would you do if it became evident that there was an impact, and therefore, by ricocheting, impact on Aboriginal communities that were relying on that service as well?
2779 MR. LAROSE: Well, certainly the -- we would have to review what kind of impact we're having and how we are impacting. The key point we would have to focus on here is, first of all, we would have to ensure that as a first step, we ensure the viability of what we have launched. The goal here is to be successful, and it's not to sort of undermine ourselves at the expense -- or at the benefit of others; but at the same time, our goal is also to ensure that we don’t have a negative impact.
2780 And as I've mentioned here, it certainly is part of our plan also to see how we can work with those societies. We've -- we haven't closed the door on any one of them. In fact, you know, Bert and I were talking after the -- at the end of the day yesterday, and we've agreed that, you know, whatever the outcome, we will still work with each other.
2781 Reference was made too that CAAB is on life support. Well, APTN was invited on CAAB when we came aboard to present in the AVR decision -- or in the AVR hearing, sorry. We were invited to be part of CAAB, with the goal of coming before you at this point as a united group, and that had been the intent. The original bylaws we drafted included AMMSA and the societies as members. Those were obviously changed after the fact. They were never tabled. They were never filed, so they were just draft, but the goal from the outset was to be inclusive of everyone.
2782 So if we found that we were having an impact, we would want to discuss that impact and we want -- first of all, we would want to see that in fact, that impact is due to the presence of FPR. And if it were, then we'd want to see with the society and try to find a way to work together or to accommodate that impact or to look at how we can both work together to minimize that impact.
2783 Our goal as APTN has always been both to provide a service as APTN, but not at the expense of any of the societies. And that's part of our mandate, that's part of our vision. So certainly, as we go forward, you know, whether it is in, you know, personally me lobbying on their behalf with the government or other entities, or in trying to work together in these initiatives, the goal will be to find ways to work together and not to impact each other severely.
2784 THE CHAIRMAN: It's been suggested that because you come as an organization, or the shareholder comes from the television world, that you're not experienced in radio, and that by consequence, it makes you less prepared to deal with the specificity of the radio, in terms of where revenues come from -- local as opposed to national, regional -- and that your content tends to be national rather than local.
2785 MR. LAROSE: Well, that's certainly true for APTN, but it's also -- when you look at our news content or what have you, it's certainly very local or regional to an extent. Each of these cities have an APTN presence that covers local, regional events, and also national events when those emanate from those regions. We also are very present in those communities in sponsoring events and being in attendance at many of the events by the communities.
2786 We've -- and just as an example, with Aboriginal Day Live, this year, we are in eight cities in four of the five cities where we are applying for a -- for the licences. We have concerts in those cities on the 21st of June. We'll have a presence all day. We have community events planned. We've been working with the communities, the First Nations communities, the leadership, the organizations. In every one of those cities, APTN is welcome when we approach them to launch an initiative, to work with them.
2787 In 2010, for the Olympics, after we were accepted by the consortium as a broadcaster, we then turned to the four host First Nations that was at the time led by the CEO, Tewanee Joseph, who is here with NNB Terrace, and we developed a Memorandum of Understanding and of cooperation that we both signed, and we worked together to ensure that the Olympics were a success.
2788 So I think APTN has always been a community-focused entity in the sense that we work with communities to the extent that our resources allow us to. And certainly, there have been disappointments. There's -- sometimes there's not enough money for every activity we would like to support or to attend or to present, but we have been very focused in the community on a regional level, and FPR will ensure that we are even more local. We will be present in those cities. The staff will be hired in those cities.
2789 We may not have done radio, but we have -- we know our audience, we know our communities, and we will ensure that the people that we bring on board are people from the communities that can -- that are knowledgeable of radio and those that have an interest but aren't knowledgeable yet.
2790 APTN has a proven track record in mentoring and training people. We have a partnership with Seneca College. We have a partnership with Inspire, where we provided funding through AMF that turned into 1.3 million in grants and subsidies and bursaries for young Aboriginal students studying in the field of media.
2791 We are starting to see the first results of that in journalism students in radio and TV program, in media programs. These students are coming out. Some are studying radio. They will be given opportunities to work.
2792 So the goal here is certainly, from APTN's point of view, is to be very local, to be very present to serve that community, but to serve the urban community that often has different expectations than those in more remote or rural areas. And that is a unique trait that was clearly identified in our research, and I think the -- to Jennifer's point yesterday, when we launched APTN, we were sort of -- there wasn’t much experience in the field of television broadcasting, as you may recall. We had never been part of television, really, you know? We were the odd, visual sometimes, but we were never given opportunities.
2793 I was never -- no one has ever been the CEO of any network, major network. Nobody has ever been the Director of Marketing, Director of Current Affairs, News, Current Affairs, or a CFO of any broadcasting entity. This is all talent that APTN developed over the years through mentorship programs, training, sunset contracts.
2794 We've hired non-Aboriginal people on a set term with a very, very clear mentoring process, to train our people, to train our staff, bring them in, bring them up to speed, and then they leave. The goal here is to -- a transfer of knowledge and expertise to Aboriginal people that never existed before. And we think that this model, that worked very, very well for APTN, especially for those societies who sat on the Board and who've been witness to this, I think they will attest to the fact that APTN has been successful in that regard. And we are here to make that success also present for FPR.
2795 THE CHAIRMAN: It's been suggested by some -- and there's a certain amount of concern by participants -- that you might raid the human resources of existing Indigenous broadcasters, to the detriment of those existing players.
2796 MR. LAROSE: Work opportunities happen everywhere. We constantly lose staff to CBC or other entities. We've just lost one of our key players to CTV. There may be -- there -- not necessarily a raiding exercise, but certainly, we've -- I've already been approached by a few individuals who've said, "We'd be interested to working with FPR if you're licensed."
2797 We have young reporters who have said, "We're leaving APTN. We're going to FPR. That's where we want to be. We want to do radio."
2798 We're going to be raiding ourselves, to a certain point, as well.
2799 You know, the reality is, when you look at, yes, the societies have been around for 20 to 25 years, but the breadth of talent that we have, the talent pool that we have, isn't that huge. What we're proposing here with FPR is to create a whole new level of opportunities for Aboriginal people, Aboriginal people who will be involved in the operations, in the sales, in the marketing, in the communications on air; create, you know, positions for morning-drive people in major urban centres, drive-home talent, people who will now have opportunities as -- for example, Gabrielle Fayant who was here yesterday, who does a program for CKCU, mentioned at the end that, you know, she’d love to work at the Ottawa station and, you know, have a program there.
2800 So these are all opportunities that really don’t exist for us in many other areas. I think what we would be doing is creating a new talent pool as well. And yes, there may be people who will move from other entities, but that’s our daily life here at APTN; that’s what happens to us every day.
2801 THE CHAIRMAN: It has been suggested by some and by some particularly forcefully, that local Indigenous leadership is not supportive of your applications, that there was a lack of consultation and you should not be launching in B.C., Alberta, or Ontario without that local support.
2802 MR. LAROSE: Well, to answer this we sent -- when we decided to move with FPR and when the process opened we sent over 1,700 letters that included to all those organizations, what have you -- local organizations, regional organizations, national organizations, political organizations. Some -- a lot of the other organizations besides some of the political have responded.
2803 We did not target the political field specifically because, as I have mentioned in my presentation, we’ve always been very, very careful to walk a line between being seen as a political -- or being seen to support one political perspective more than another. It’s very key to us that we remain objective as a news media organization or we would lose all credibility with our communities. And that to us is key.
2804 But in every case where we have done -- as I said, again, for Aboriginal Day -- when we were planning the cities where we wanted to hold the events, where we would be hosting events and daily events, we did then turn to our -- we have actually a director of community relations with staff that attends and ensures that the protocols for every region are followed, that we go in, meet with them, meet with the leadership, make a presentation to them, first of all ask them for permission to go to their territory, make a presentation, and at the end ask them if this is an acceptable event for us to host in their community and, if so, how can we work together to make it happen?
2805 For example, in Edmonton some of the local communities who are outside the Edmonton area have committed to bring in school children for that day to bring in various -- share some of their -- bring in artisans, bring in some of their drum groups and others. We also have urban organizations who have enthusiastically joined in. One of the political organizations even negotiated a better site for us in Edmonton for the event.
2806 So I think there are different ways to look at it and I’m not criticizing how others view protocols. We have developed protocols based on the feedback we have received from elders and others as we go across the country and we follow that protocol.
2807 And certainly if we were licensed, we would be going into all of those communities and we would be going to the four host First Nations in Vancouver; we would be going again to the same communities that we have for Edmonton and we have for Calgary in the past, and every other community, and work with them to ensure that they’re made aware of our plans, that they are then accepting of our intent, they’re supportive of it. And then we would work with them to ensure that they’re part and parcel of it as we go forward.
2808 THE CHAIRMAN: The last area I’d like to address is the need for continuous consultation. You’ve raised it a little bit already. I take it at face value that you’ve done the research and done what you thought was necessary to evaluate the current needs of the Indigenous communities, including what you’re assessing and put forward for our consideration, how your service would support their needs, including cultural and linguistic needs.
2809 But a five-, seven-year term is a long time. And I was wondering how you would ensure that, you know, you continue to be aligned with the needs of the community.
2810 I know sometimes people refer to board membership. Let’s come back to a basic principle. Board members have fiduciary obligations to the corporation and they’re not there to represent groups. And oftentimes people think that, well, if they have a representative on the board that that’s the way to have their perspective met. But that’s actually very bad corporate law. There are other ways of ensuring representation.
2811 So how would you ensure -- in light of the fact that a board member is not there to represent a community; they’re there to act in the best interests of a corporation. What other mechanism, governance models, approaches would you use to ensure continuous consultation?
2812 MR. LAROSE: Well, certainly -- and you’re absolutely right when it comes to governance model. Our goal is not to use the -- or to appoint individuals who would be there to represent the interests of the communities specifically and not in the interests of the corporation. That would be suicidal.
2813 But on the flip side, individuals from a community also -- and when they’re chosen with recommendations from the community, usually will be able to bring a perspective forward that is not a management or is nor a directional but is input into what he community expectations are. I mean, we expect that of a board. We expect people to bring expertise, knowledge, and experience as well as a point of view to ensure that the organization is a living entity and grows and continues to meet the needs of its audience. So certainly that is one element.
2814 But the other element, as we’ve said, will be to bring in people from the community, whether it be on the talk show, whether it be as individuals who are guests on the various programs, who are guests on some of the language, or that they may very well be elders. Certainly we will be consulting with all of them.
2815 And you know, every year we have put in our plan that there will be a structure consultation with the community. We will be bringing in the elders; we’ll bring in some of the organizations, some of the other groups within that urban environment and basically, with a very structured approach, get their feedback on how well have we done; what have we done; what have we not done; what should we do; what should we not do anymore; how can we do better?
2816 The goal will be to learn from the entire community -- not just from a select few but to get the entire community involved in giving us feedback.
2817 Because as I’ve said earlier -- and you know, Aboriginal people who live in an urban environment quite often live in an environment in which they have become part of to the point that they do not always necessarily share the perspective of remote communities. They have become urbanized. And often their goals and their interests, while they remain connected, while they still want to be connected to the language and everything, they are living an urban experience; they are living an urban lifestyle.
2818 And that is something that we have to understand as we’re doing this, is that if we try to present to them a model that is not reflective of their interests and their expectations, they will just not be there. And they were very, very clear in telling us that.
2819 So you know, some of it did surprise us as we were doing the research. We didn’t expect that level of push back. But people were very clear: “If you’re not going to give me what I want -- and right now this is what I’m getting; this is how I’m getting it; this is what I want to hear. If you’re not going to give me that, I’m not going to tune you in. I’m sorry; I’ve got so many choices. You’ve got to meet my expectations or I’m not there.”
2820 So we don’t want it to become, you know, a perception of a service or we don’t want a service that is not meant to address their needs. And we think that our proposal is the best one for that.
2821 THE CHAIRMAN: Okay, thank you.
2822 Let me turn to my colleagues to see if they have any questions.
2823 No? Legal? No.
2824 Well, thank you very much for answering our questions this morning. Thank you.
2825 MR. LAROSE: Merci, M. le Président.
2826 THE CHAIRMAN: Merci beaucoup.
2827 MR. LAROSE: Commissioners, thank you.
2828 MS. ROY: I will now ask VMS Media Group to come to the presentation table.
2829 MS. VIRK: Sorry, if we could have a moment. I think our last team member just stepped out for the bathroom.
2830 THE CHAIRMAN: Okay, that’s fine. Let’s adjourn for a short period, like two, three minutes. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 10:43 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 10:44 a.m.
2831 THE CHAIRMAN: A l’ordre s’il vous plaît. Order, please.
2832 So please go ahead.
2833 MS. ROY: Please reintroduce yourself for the record and you have 10 minutes.
2834 MS. VIRK: Mr. Chair, Commissioners, it has been an honour to appear before you in these proceedings.
2835 I’ll just quickly go through reintroductions again.
2836 My name is Suman Virk. I’m an executive and lawyer representing VMS Media Group. And our full team is here so let me introduce you to them again.
2837 To my right is Jodi Stonehouse, an Indigenous producer, broadcaster and researcher at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, our Head of Aboriginal Programming, and our senior staff liaison to the Aboriginal Advisory Circle. Jodi’s show, by the way, is currently the top-ranked First Nations organization with most influential voice in Edmonton and number four in Canada, according to rightrelevance.com.
2838 To Jodi’s right is Bradley Williams, our Indigenous youth and community liaison for Edmonton. And he will also be doing our digital activities.
2839 To his right is Vince Tripathy, our Head of Sales.
2840 On my left is Kristopher Peters, our Indigenous youth and community liaison for Calgary, who will be involved with engineering and productions.
2841 On Kristopher’s left is Calgary-based Jeremiah Manitopyes, aka Drezus, our Aboriginal music and talent advisor. And in case you didn't know, I should add that among his many recognitions, Drezus played at the Indspire Awards in Ottawa just last Friday, and took home four Indigenous Music Awards in 2015 for his album “Indian Summer”. He has a new album coming out this spring.
2842 In the back row, from left to right, is out ATM Pal Virk, a shareholder of VMS Media Group; Ranjit Sidhu, also a VMS Media shareholder and Head of Business Development; and Peter Miller, our Regulatory Counsel.
2843 MS. STONEHOUSE: We want to start by noting and thanking our many supporters, intervenors, and most importantly from the Aboriginal community. Hai, hai; miigwetch; Masi cho.
2844 You heard yesterday from Michelle Robinson calling from Treaty 7 Territory and several Indigenous Calgary nor-for-profit agencies; and Tanya Kappo who, among other things, is a leader in the Idle No More movement.
2845 Supporting interventions also were received from Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, Métis Settlements General Council, and the Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief of Alberta, Craig Chief Mackinaw -- Chief Mackinaw.
2846 Interventions from local MPs, MLAs, and the city councillor of Edmonton, local media, cultural, charitable and social organizations, as well as our advertisers, demonstrate the depth of respect that VMS Media Group has earned in Edmonton and Calgary and the support for our innovative model for our Aboriginal radio productions.
2847 We now would like to reply to the issues raised by other Applicants and intervenors about our applications.
2848 MR. TRIPATHY: First, let’s address the issue of impact on other ethnic stations in the market. Common sense alone suggests that our impact is going to be minimal.
2849 We are already in both markets with 126 hours of SCMO ethnic programming that will now become 50 hours of FM ethnic programming. We know the demand is there because of the hurdles our current listeners go through to receive the programming that we currently air.
2850 Fifty (50) hours of new ethnic programming is also a level that could appear overnight anyway if someone else decided to fill the 26 hours a week leased by Buttar -- 1811258 Alberta Ltd. -- and if other commercial radio stations availed themselves of the flexibility to air up to 15 percent ethnic programming without CRTC approval.
2851 As the new Edmonton ethnic radio licensee, Buttar nevertheless appeared yesterday asking you to rewrite and overlook statements they made when seeking their application last fall. They made sweeping observations that are simply not true.
2852 Most significant, despite arguing that licensing VMS in Edmonton would “negatively affect our establishing operation”, they did not answer a direct question from Commissioner MacDonald to quantify that impact.
2853 Perhaps that is because they already have told you that any impact is going to be minimal.
2854 When the Chairperson at the Edmonton hearing, Vice Chair Menzies, asked, “...what would be the impact on your business plan if there was more than one licence [that] came out [in] this proceeding,” Buttar’s unequivocal answer was:
2855 “Having more than one licence would create a competition in the market definitely, but that's something that we are totally capable and willing to take on.”
2856 They told you yesterday there is no evidence to indicate that Edmonton can support another station targeting ethnic communities. There is. It comes from their own mouths.
2857 MR. MANITOPYES: Buttar and AMMSA both raised the issue of VMS’s proposed program schedule, a matter you also raised with us.
2858 We respect that the Commission needs to be assured that Aboriginal programming on VMS will be of quality and given prominence throughout the schedule.
2859 With other applicants you have to guard against the risk that they will gravitate to playing more mainstream music in peak periods to generate greater revenue or that revenue targets are not achieved, and local services get cut.
2860 To satisfy yourself on any such concerns, you look for an achievable business plan and impose appropriate COLs. In respect of our placement of a large block of Aboriginal programming on weekdays from 8:00 p.m. on, that was a deliberate choice based on input from the community. For our younger Aboriginal audience, this is a prime listening period.
2861 MR. WILLIAMS: To respond on a few other matters, on the suggestion of AMMSA that VMS applied because they lost an ethnic application in Edmonton, look at the timing. We filed our application in January 2016 like everyone else. Edmonton ethnic applications weren’t even filed until three months later.
2862 On AMMSA’s comment about “knowing your audience” and criticism about the use of the word “costume”, that was the point. It was an example of appropriation of culture and a topic for our cross-cultural programming. Please read the transcript
2863 On Buttar’s criticism that our survey had only two Aboriginal language speakers in Edmonton, again, that was the point. The number of Aboriginal language speakers in urban Alberta is low, perhaps 7,500 in Edmonton or under 1 percent of Edmonton’s population. That’s why providing Aboriginal language programming is such an economic challenge.
2864 Also, to be clear, the loss of language is not our fault. The legacy of the Indian Residential Schools is that many of our people are not able to speak the language. And this is reflected in the research findings of only having two speakers.
2865 Furthermore, this is why our station is committed to creating relevant interactive language programming.
2866 MR. PETERS: Another argument -- made by CMAC in particular -- was that:
2867 “It is not appropriate for a non-Indigenous media group to apply for an Indigenous radio licence at the current time.”
2868 As the Chair pointed out, in taking this position, CMAC ignores the Call and turns a reasonable preference -- that all things being equal, Aboriginal ownership is ideal -- into a fiat.
2869 The Commission wisely did not limit the call to Type B Native FM applications for a reason. All things are not equal.
2870 The Commission has already had the experience of granting these 5 licences to a single Type B Native FM Applicant. Not putting all eggs in one basket, not choosing a single operator of all stations, not choosing a single model is the Commission’s best hope of not repeating what happened with AVR.
2871 In fact, beyond the regional and national model choices the Commission has noted in this hearing, there is essentially a third choice: a local model, a model not dependent on multiple markets or existing regional service, but a model that reflects the contemporary reality of the urban Aboriginal experience. MS. STONEHOUSE: The issue of Aboriginal ownership aside, as confirmed in CMAC’s Table 1, VMS rates highly on duty to consult with, and solicit support from, Indigenous Nations and representative organizations.
2872 Just to correct one thing on that chart, we did receive support from an educational institution. The Dean from the Faculty of Native Studies, Dr. Chris Andersen, along with Professor Dr. Tracy Bear from the Faculty of Native Studies from the University of Alberta, wrote letters.
2873 While CMAC chose not to include VMS in their review of programming and other commitments, we thank Wawatay for recognizing VMS yesterday for both the “partnership” it has struck between non-Natives and Natives, and, “with surprise”, the higher levels of news and local Aboriginal content that VMS has proposed as compared with other applicants. Partnership is the right word to describe our approach, as stated in our application, and this extends to other applicants licensed in this proceeding.
2874 And compared to FPR, NNB and AMMSA, in absolute hours, for each of our proposed stations, we have at 25.2 hours a week, more Aboriginal spoken word programming than all but AMMSA's Calgary Application; at 17.6 hours a week, the most Aboriginal local spoken-word programming; at 9.45 hours a week, more Aboriginal language programming than NNB and FPR; and at 7 hours a week, the most locally-produced news programming.
2875 But where we have ethnic programming to support these key Aboriginal commitments, the other applicants have mainstream country music and/or pop music.
2876 The misleading assertion made by AMMSA is that only VMS would have "split programming" or that VMS would be "a half-Indigenous station". By some definitions we would be considered 100 percent Indigenous, as we are a station of global Indignity. Directly to AMMSA's point, we are offering 63 hours a week of pure North American Indigenous content, and our commitment to Aboriginal music, including airplay and CCD of $50,000 per station per year, exceeds all other applicants.
2877 Let's talk -- let's ask some equally directed questions about AMMSA and the other applicants. Where are your youth? Where are your mentorship programs? How are you included our disenfranchised youth in your day to day services? Where is the integration of your social media in your new programming, and where are young girls and women?
2878 Let's ask ourselves whether the best model for Aboriginal broadcasting over the future is the model of rural and reserve broadcasting, which has been implemented for the past 25 to 30 years.
2879 Why am I with VMS? Because they welcomed me. They welcomed all of us. And why has AMMSA never done that?
2880 The Commission has a rather important principle. It's called diversity, and I urge you to reject the monopolistic notion suggested by some in this proceeding that the only legitimate Aboriginal broadcaster in a region is the one that already exists.
2881 I implore you to license someone with a different approach. Alberta needs a new player, a new vision. We are that vision and that player; someone who has not only matched, but exceeded commitments made by the incumbent, but also has added two new elements: first, our 12.6 hour a week commitment to Aboriginal access programming; and second, our 12.6 hour a week commitment to cross-cultural programming.
2882 We ask the CRTC to license a new player, a new voice, a new set of programming ideas, for a new, younger, urban Aboriginal constituency.
2883 MS. VIRK: We thank you for inviting us into this process and considering our applications. That single word in the call -- "innovative" -- sparked our imagination and sent us on a discovery of -- a journey of discovery and wonder, of new ideas and of new partnerships. We would not have been here without it.
2884 We are immensely proud of what we have accomplished together as a team; how we have challenged stereotypes, while demonstrating true, realizable commitments to serving younger Aboriginals in Alberta's two main urban centres.
2885 We believe we have met your call and offered innovative, significant and achievable proposals to serve the Aboriginal community in Calgary and Edmonton. We also believe that licensing us would be an important step in fulfilling TRC's recommendations to "connect Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians". We hope you agree.
2886 We're happy to answer any questions you may have.
2887 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Like I have done for others, my first question is an admittedly 100,000-foot question -- but would you agree with your colleagues at NNB that ultimately the real test for the Commission in looking at all these applications is asking the question, "Who has the greatest potential of succeeding in best serving the Aboriginal population?"
2888 MS. VIRK: Absolutely. That has to be the first test that the CRTC should be looking at. This is about serving the Aboriginal community and how are we going to serve that Aboriginal community? And Jodi can further elaborate on that.
2889 MS. STONEHOUSE: Thanks, Suman.
2890 In our conversations we recognize, in Alberta, that we had more Indian residential schools than any other province, which means we have more intergenerational survivors, and we have more children in the Family and Services system right now in foster care in Alberta. On this panel, we are all intergenerational survivors, and Jeremiah, as you heard yesterday, is a direct survivor of the Indian residential schools. And so we are very clear about the work ahead of us, about the programming that is necessary in bringing our families back together and working on that healing towards reconciliation. We are very prepared for the work that is cut out with this work in radio.
2891 THE CHAIRMAN: And I take it that you would agree with the others so far that there is very little likelihood of grants or benefits money being available, and then, as a result, the success of a potential new undertaking will rely on a commercial model -- a unique one, in your case? I think you'd agree with that. You've stated that much. But you would agree with that?
2892 MS. VIRK: Yes, and with our advertising base right now, it's a stable and big enough base that we might -- we will have excess once the CMO -- SCMO stations are shut down and those advertisers are moved over. We're going to have some excess advertisers that we're actually going to have to let go.
2893 So at this point, we haven't even considered grants in our financial plan, and we haven't considered major national advertisers. We have some with the SCMO, but not -- we haven't gone into that route too much, and we haven't thought about speaking to those companies that want to specifically advertise and target the Aboriginal communities. So that is a whole new path that we can go down.
2894 So we have a stable model without the grants, without those other aspects, and we're going in as essentially a stable, self-sustaining business plan, and with a strong base of advertisers that we've already made through our connections in the community.
2895 MR. TRIPATHY: Mr. Commissioner, if I could just add on to that for a moment; this licence and this group truly is unique, relative to the other applicants that you’ve seen. So you brought up the first component, which was the need to target Aboriginal. You'll see as you go through our wrap up that we're very competitive; in a lot of cases, exceed what's needed by the Aboriginal community. Just as importantly is the recognition of the reason that we're here, which is the AVR situation.
2896 So the models that we talked about -- and we outlined national, regional, we're local. And when you think about our background and the SCMOs and the Calgary market as well as Edmonton, we truly are based on local. We've got the local experience, and we agree with the people from FPR. We respect the societies that have made applications here. They’ve done a great job. But urban is not rural, and we've got the experience already in the urban markets, Calgary and Edmonton, that are going to allow us to understand what needs to get done financially in order to be successful.
2897 And for sure, it's going to be a cross-subsidy-type model that's going to get us there initially, but the end goal is to make sure that what we've already currently promised the Commission is only going to build out as time goes on. And ultimately, our experience of local revenue is going to ensure that we don’t have to rely on funding from other organizations.
2898 In addition to that, our SCMO experience in both Calgary as well as Edmonton has allowed us -- although we certainly won't be relying on it -- to access national dollars. And you can appreciate a combo rate card as an example that maybe allows people to not only target ethnic people, but for a monetary minor amount, to all of a sudden to be able to be introduced to the Aboriginal community and to build out on that.
2899 MR. PETERS: I would like to add to that just a little.
2900 THE CHAIRMAN: Sure, okay. Sorry, sometimes we don’t know where the voices come from.
2901 MR. PETERS: Of course, yeah.
2902 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
2903 MR. PETERS: One of the things that may not have been noted here by anybody, but maybe touched upon by Tewanee earlier this morning was what -- as I volunteer to different multiple organizations such as Inspire, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Professional First Nations Association -- what I've seen and what I've noticed as different than the Canadian economic kind of forecast in the next few years is that there is a great explosion -- a tremendous revolution, if you will -- of First Nations business. And through this new change in the market where First Nations are now being sought after by -- as Tewanee mentioned -- larger corporations to form joint ventures, then to partnerships to work together to help solve issues in their communities -- also working with, like, let's say oil and gas, for example -- we're going to see a greater influx of dollars available through the economics for Aboriginal markets such as advertising on radio.
2904 And that wasn’t touched upon by anybody here, but because I'm at that level with the volunteering work that I do outside of the VMS group here is, there's going to be a big change and especially coming from British Columbia and Alberta, where, you know, Canada is looking to the tar sands and looking to mining projects and the Site C Dam, B.C. Hydro, and then eventually to solar and renewable energy, this is going to create a new dollar value out there in the economics of Canada -- and especially western Canada -- and for First Nations.
2905 So that will allow our model -- which is not based solely upon grant -- room to grow. And I think the VMS group has stated that with that growth, may, in turn, provide more hours for Aboriginal programming for our group's presentation. Thank you.
2906 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. If you are licensed, how would you work with other successful applicants?
2907 MS. VIRK: Like Jodi had stated earlier in the closing remarks, we are open to partnerships. This is about building bridges in the community and growing as a community and including everyone. It's about reconciliation, and that means other Aboriginal groups, whether it be non-profit or business groups. So other successful applicants coming from this proceeding, absolutely; we would look to partnerships with them.
2908 MS. STONEHOUSE: Because we are young, innovative leaders in our communities from Treaty 6 and 7, we are very well connected to the grassroots and can also support other applicants in connecting with young people who are doing extraordinary things in our communities.
2909 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Now, I had two other questions, but you've addressed them proactively in your opening remarks, so I'll give you an opportunity, if anything you wanted to add on them.
2910 The first one is -- the first question would have been on your ownership and governance, and the suggestion that perhaps it did not reflect the Indigenous communities this call was intended to serve. Do you have anything to add on that, other than what you’ve already stated?
2911 MS. VIRK: I think that the timing of this application -- I know that there's been a suggestion that it's a back-door entry into another market. And the timing of this application was before that call to application, so I think that the Commission can be reassured that this is something that's not happening.
2912 Jodi's going to -- if she has anything to add.
2913 MS. STONEHOUSE: Actually, if I could get you to just to clarify what you asked?
2914 THE CHAIRMAN: Well, some of the intervenors were suggesting that maybe because of your unique ownership and governance, that this might not be meeting the intended purpose of the call ---
2915 MS. STONEHOUSE: Right.
2916 THE CHAIRMAN: --- because it's ---
2917 MS. STONEHOUSE: Well, I believe it actually exceeds the call. When we think about diversity and reconciliation and collaborating, the work that we intend to do is, one, we have financial support, which we didn’t have anywhere else to do the work that we need to do, and we are fully aware that in order to lift our people out of poverty, in order to lift our people out of despair, to do some of that healing, we have to have voices of inspiration. We need to plant seeds of hope. And we fully know what that means.
2918 When we see Drezus on stage and travelling around Canada, young people flock to him. And when we see Kristopher talking about engineering plans where he's growing gardens in communities to sustain people, these are programs that we intend to bring to our people to remind them of how to be self-sustaining families.
2919 And so when we think about the programming, the financial business plan that we have, it exceeds what other applicants have put forward. When we look at our programming and our cross-cultural diverse programming about bringing in Canadians so that we can build the relationship, we can rebuild our relationship and heal the relationship, I didn’t hear any other applicants talk about that.
2920 And I think that is the most critical work that needs to happen in our country right now, is how do Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples relate to one another, how do we build relationships together, and how do we build the best possible Canada? And that's exactly what we are going to do with our programs.
2921 MR. TRIPATHY: I think the -- if it gives any comfort level to the Commission, just a reminder, we did go through a survey process in both Edmonton and Calgary to try and get an understanding of what the Aboriginal community was looking for. We have had extensive support, and I know you'll be reviewing the interventions from a number of Aboriginal groups that have come in to support this particular application.
2922 We are in a situation where we've opened up 20 percent of our programming that's going to allow for people if they do want a voice that they don’t feel is being heard to come in and bounce that off.
2923 And then the final point would be that we've got a advisory board that we're going to have to be accountable for.
2924 And actually, I guess I'll add one more. We aren't a not-for-profit, and I know that's going to probably sound a little odd, but what it means is that we're going to have to be accountable to our constituents, and that's going to be the local advertiser and the local listener and their interests, both in Calgary and Edmonton.
2925 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
2926 And the other issue which you have also addressed -- but one last opportunity if you wanted to add anything -- this notion that there may not be room in the market for additional ethnic services, that there may be a ricochet -- negative -- an undue impact on existing or recently-licensed players.
2927 MR. TRIPATHY: We feel like we've addressed it already as a group. The majority of our revenues are going to come from our SCMO that we've currently got in place in a transfer fund as opposed to affecting other competitors, just to summarize.
2928 THE CHAIRMAN: But you will agree with me that it's easier to tune into a regular radio station than an SCMO, so the shift might actually be easier to do, that the impact of your new service may be greater than an SCMO service?
2929 MR. TRIPATHY: You mean as far as the revenue side is concerned?
2930 THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, yes.
2931 MR. TRIPATHY: There's no doubt that our current revenue base is certainly looking forward to the opportunity to go out and reach more people in the marketplace for sure. And the ideal situation is going to have us driving the revenue off of that to support our Aboriginal programming that we'd like to get to as part of it; that internal drive, the Aboriginal focus that you want, the financial concerns you’ve got.
2932 And then the other part that we haven't addressed, which is diversity and that which is a premise of what the CRTC is about, the ability to address those core elements and then on top of it, allow a new entrant a new voice, diversity voice in the Edmonton and Calgary market, I don’t think should be taken lightly. A diversity of culture, both ethnic as well as Aboriginal, I don’t think should be taken lightly either.
2933 And those are other components that are going to allow for probably -- and I have been in the business for a little while -- one of the nicest situations out of a situation that really wasn’t that great coming into this -- into these hearings, the AVR situation. We really and truly believe that we've got the ability to meet all those and a lot more as we move forward.
2934 MS. VIRK: And in specific, just addressing the concern that you have about the new Edmonton licensee, I mean, for -- in their own words, they have stated in the past hearing that having more than one licence -- and that was another 100 percent ethnic licence -- they would be willing to -- totally capable and willing to take that on.
2935 So I think at this point when they're coming back and changing what they originally have said after they've -- after Mr. Buttar clearly stated yesterday that there's been no other changes in the Edmonton market, from his point, I don’t think that there's a real background or reasoning to him changing his opinion now and saying that there's no way -- or it's really going to impact him, in terms of his new commitments and new licensing and all that.
2936 THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. Well, thank you for that. I'll turn to my colleagues, see if there are any questions, additional questions? Legal? No? So thank you very much.
2937 Let's just try to plough on, okay?
2938 Madame la secrétaire.
2939 MS. ROY: I will now ask Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta to come to the presentation table.
2940 Please re-introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have 10 minutes.
2941 MR. CROWFOOT: Good morning. First of all, I’d like to introduce myself. I'm Bert Crowfoot, CEO of the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society, CFWE. To my left is Carol Russ, our Finance -- Director of Finance. Owen Martin on the far left is our engineer, technical person. And to my right is Boyd Leader, our Director of radio.
2942 First of all, I’d like to thank the CRTC, Commissioner Jean Blais -- Jean-Pierre Blais, Commissioners Linda Vennard and Christopher MacDonald for listening to our voices over the past three days.
2943 I’d like to thank them and the CRTC for acknowledging the protocols and traditions of our people, for the Algonquin people for allowing us to do business in their territories, and for our elder, Monique Descent, for opening these hearings in a good way.
2944 I’d also like to thank the other Applicants for some great ideas, ideas that we might poach and implement into our programming plans.
2945 Before I go on, there’s a couple of comments made in the other presentations that I’ll address.
2946 One is the misconception of AMMSA’s bingo revenue. We’re not a bingo radio station, but it’s true; we do generate millions of dollars a year in revenue. And because of that we’re able to -- we’ve got money in the back to pay for everything. We’re not financing any of our expansion. It’s all there ready to go.
2947 Advertising has always been our weakness but we’ve addressed that with the addition of Devin Gray. He was formerly with Corus. And we’ve added two more salespeople so we’ve got a total sales staff of five.
2948 Yes, cities are a melting pot, but they are still a traditional territory.
2949 The other things about -- you know, there’s been a lot of research done by consultants. But I wonder how many of those consultants are actually in the community, in Calgary -- in the Indigenous community talking to people. I’ve been to Calgary a few times. I’ve been on the First Nations. I’ve been talking to the people, talking with a former APTN board member, Mr. Lee Crowchild. He might still be on the board. I better not say that because they’re just going through their election process right now.
2950 And the other thing I noticed is that David McLoed and Deborah Charles weren’t here today to support First Peoples Radio.
2951 The other thing is the comment by VMS Media about our youth and women. I’ll let Boyd address that.
2952 MR. LEADER: I think it was pretty evident when we went through the expense for a small organization to bring our young Dustin McGladrey to experience this as to what our commitment is to our youth and our young people on staff. He’s a very invested young man, very passionate young man. And that’s just the kind of person that we’re looking for: objective, invested, culturally-aware, proud.
2953 I think that through Bert’s work on the Advisory Board of Mount Royal University in Calgary dealing directly with the teachers of the youth -- I think that my work with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology -- I’ve been on their Advisory Board in Calgary for four years. We passed a motion last year to create programming by the youth that would play on AMMSA.
2954 Dr. Steven Olson from SAIT has invited Bert to go on outreach trips with the college on reserve to try and find youth and give them a voice. And also our work with Lethbridge College for the past four years on their Advisory Council.
2955 So we are invested in youth and we are welcoming.
2956 MR. CROWFOOT: I’ll commence with the presentation.
2957 Indigenous broadcasters have always respected each other’s territories. An example is a small community in northern Alberta, Janvier, wanted Dene programming which we weren’t providing at the time. They approached MBC and MBC approached us with their request. We agreed and gave them permission to broadcast in that community.
2958 MBC was there for many years, but just recently the community asked to come back to CFWE.
2959 In a letter dated Oct 5th, 2000, David McLeod of Native Communications Incorporated filed a letter of intervention in support of AMMSA’s intervention opposing AVR in Calgary.
2960 He wrote:
2961 “As an Aboriginal radio network within Manitoba reaching over 55 communities, we supported the last licence application which was submitted to the CRTC by Jump FM 106.5 for the City of Toronto, which was thankfully accepted.
2962 “We did so because we know the importance of reaching our people through the medium of radio. This recent application by Aboriginal Voices Radio, however, fails to recognize the established stations that currently exist throughout Canada, stations that have similar goals.
2963 “NCI believes there should be a consultation process with all Native broadcasting societies in Canada before such an application is reviewed or even considered.
2964 “As Aboriginal people, we recognize and respect the tribal territories of our people. The CRTC application should also recognize this factor in relation to designated radio territories.” (As read)
2965 There is a saying in British Columbia that if someone erects a totem pole in somebody else’s territory it is a declaration of war.
2966 Modern-day totem poles can be equated to erecting transmitter towers. Indigenous protocols must be respected in relation to our designated territories.
2967 The Western Association of Aboriginal Broadcasters, WAAB, was established around 2000 to formalize the working partnership between the four founding members and to work towards common goals.
2968 The four founding members were Native Communications Incorporated, Missinnippi Broadcasting Corporation, Northern Native Broadcasting Terrace, and the Aboriginal Multi Media Society of Alberta.
2969 It was later changed to the Canadian Association of Aboriginal Broadcasters, CAAB, to make it a national organization instead of western Canada.
2970 We also had the Yukon involved as an associate member.
2971 When the possibility of a new radio national network first came up, APTN and the members of WAAB were excited about working together. And this is in a -- I got these words from a memo that John wrote to the board about the potential of working together.
2972 In our discussions, our best chance of being financially successful while delivering the cultural news, information, and entertainment that our audience deserves, is by working as a group and not against each other.
2973 By working together, we would be utilizing our current strengths. CAAB members are already on the ground and have a history. We are established entities focused on the needs of our specific treaty and language areas.
2974 By taking these local assets and sharing them with the other members, we become stronger locally and nationally.
2975 In sharing a national news/talk program, we would attract better guests and solicit calls and opinions from all corners of the country. We could also share cultural and other programming.
2976 We would also benefit from sharing music playlists. Each station would be given a taste of local music and it would give artists an opportunity for national airplay.
2977 The cost of employee benefits is extremely high. The larger the group, the more reasonable the benefit cost would be to each individual society.
2978 As a united front, we would be much more attractive to national advertisers.
2979 This model had all CAAB members and APTN on board and in control of First Peoples Radio.
2980 A draft of the bylaws of First Peoples Radio had a minimum of four directors and a maximum of seven. Three seats were designated as AMMSA Director, MBC Director, and NCI Director. The other designation was APTN Director. NNB-T had withdrawn from the FPR group and was not listed as part of the board.
2981 Then the idea of a united national organization began to fracture when NNB-T decided they were interested in the Vancouver licence and to apply on their own.
2982 AMMSA was the only organization directly affected by First Peoples Radio applying for licences in Calgary and Edmonton.
2983 AMMSA evaluated the situation and decided the competition for staff, advertising, et cetera, would affect our operations, so we decided withdraw from First Peoples Radio and apply on our own.
2984 NCI and MBC were not in a financial position to be a full partner with First Peoples Radio, so APTN took over and now controls First Peoples Radio.
2985 Unfortunately, CAAB has been divided with NCI and MBC supporting First Peoples Radio, and AMMSA and NNB-T supporting each other.
2986 It has created strained relationships between the communications societies. CAAB has been inactive since this process began and will most likely not survive.
2987 But the strong working relationship between NNBT and AMMSA will continue, sharing ideas that would make us each stronger.
2988 It’s sad as what started off as a great cooperative of Indigenous broadcasting, is now near dead.
2989 In closing, five markets in three provinces does not make a national network. I’ve heard talk of “all or nothing” when it comes to these licences. This is worrisome because in 2017 there is a need for a strong Indigenous radio service.
2990 In our first AVR intervention we were concerned about AVR’s expanding without building a solid foundation for their proposed national service. As this unstable foundation crumbled so did the network, going from nine to five and finally no licences.
2991 If First Peoples Radio is truly interested in radio and not just a business venture, they should be allowed to build that foundation in Ottawa and Toronto. Once that foundation is built, they should expand when other markets become available.
2992 But if the concept of a true national urban network is the goal, then would NCI be willing to give up their licences in Winnipeg and Brandon? What about Saskatoon and Regina in Saskatchewan? This would make it a truly national urban network.
2993 One of the First Peoples Radio intervenors yesterday, Mr. Bartlett, said he was listening to NCI and would love to hear a national FPR program on that station.
2994 Bingo -- I’ve always wanted to say that. But bingo. That is what this is all about, local broadcasters making time available for national programming.
2995 You must ask the question: why are we doing this? Many individuals have dedicated their whole lives to Indigenous communications. We do it because we love the job and are in it for the right reason, to serve the people.
2996 Here is an opportunity to create three regional Indigenous broadcasters: FPR in Toronto and Ottawa, AMMSA in Alberta, and NNB-T in British Columbia. Add to this the strong regional Indigenous broadcasters in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and we have over 100 years of Indigenous broadcasting experience. Now that is a powerful national Indigenous voice, each having a strong knowledge of the regions we serve.
2997 No disrespect to Wawatay, but I feel that they are just not ready for this step, just as we were not ready in 2000 for the Calgary application.
2998 They and other Indigenous Communications Societies have a valuable listening audience that must be part of this information sharing.
2999 Let’s stop this divisive competitive process and start working together instead of against each other. Let the Canadian Association of Aboriginal Broadcasters get active again, sharing programming and advertising opportunities.
3000 I’m sure the other Indigenous Communications Societies would love to assist First Peoples Radio get started. The national approach failed once with AVR and maybe it’s time for proven Indigenous broadcasters to do the job.
3001 Care must be taken to ensure that Indigenous radio be successful because if it fails, it would be another embarrassment to the CRTC, the Indigenous broadcasters, and to all Indigenous people. Thank you.
3002 THE CHAIRMAN: Well, thank you very much for that presentation. I only have a few questions.
3003 First of all, as I’ve asked the others, would you agree that how your colleagues set the 100,000 foot test, your colleagues from NNB, that ultimately the Commission should ask itself who has the greatest potential of succeeding in best serving the Aboriginal population? Do you think that’s the right test we should look at overall?
3004 MR. CROWFOOT: I believe it is. I think -- anyway, I’ll just leave it at that.
3005 THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. And is there any particular -- I mean, we looked at programming and we look at business cases. Are those the sorts of things you would think that we should be looking at when deciding who has the greatest potential?
3006 MR. CROWFOOT: I think you need to look at the financial stability of all the different applicants. You know, where is their investment dollars coming from? Are they financing it? Are they borrowing it from someone else? Are they fundraising? You know, that’s the first step, getting it off the air.
3007 Advertising is not going to come in in the first year and a half. You’re not going to be making $2.5 million in two years, especially if you’re not on the air in 18 months. It takes times.
3008 And you know, someone had mentioned earlier that Aboriginal businesses are going to be a huge part of this, but, you know, over 30 years of broadcasting we’re finding that Aboriginal businesses -- you know, they want it for free. You know, they’re saying, “It’s your job; it’s your mandate to help us.” And it’s really hard to pry advertising dollars out of them.
3009 But you know, a lot of them have come and a lot of them are seeing the value of Indigenous radio to reach the audience.
3010 THE CHAIRMAN: And would you agree with the others who have answered earlier today that there’s not a lot of likelihood of grant or benefits money becoming available in the near future?
3011 MR. CROWFOOT: In 1987, when the Alberta Government cut their funding of $100,000, we set a goal of self-sufficiency. Windspeaker lost its funding in 1990 and it’s been self-sufficient for the last 27 years.
3012 Our goal is to become self-sufficient. And as I’d mentioned, the monies that we receive from Heritage Canada is a very small percentage of what we operate on. If the funding is gone, if they cut that program, we’ll still be here. We’ll be here because -- I mean, we’ll have to -- I mean, we run a really lean operation as it is. I mean, we could get leaner but right now our advertising over this past year with the addition of Devin has increased -- what was it? Fifteen (15) percent over the last year?
3013 MR. LEADER: Year to year 15 percent, yeah.
3014 MR. CROWFOOT: Fifteen (15) percent year to year. And I see nothing but -- you know, Devin is not full time yet and once he becomes on full time we’ve added two salesmen to give us a group of four. We’re also looking at regional sales reps for the different areas that we have. And we’ve got two people really interested in that.
3015 So Missinnippi Broadcasting brings in 2 million of those, $2 million a year in advertising. NCI brings in $1 million a year. And NNB Terrace brings over $1 million a year. We’re the low person in that. We’re at about $400,000.
3016 So we have nothing but the upside with addition of all these staff. So my goal in a year or two or three, once we become self-sufficient, is that, you know -- I mean, that to me is going to be the proudest moment in my life, is to -- you know, I’ve never relied on funding.
3017 THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. Well, that’s clear.
3018 MR. LEADER: Excuse me; may I add something about the funding too?
3019 THE CHAIRMAN: Sure.
3020 MR. LEADER: With the NNAB over the past few years, where many societies have seen a decrease, we’ve actually seen an increase because of our innovative approach to language, addition of language, our companion internet radio stations, 100 percent Indigenous music radio stations. We actively work with Heritage Canada to look for ways to preserve and be that keeper of the languages.
3021 THE CHAIRMAN: Okay, thank you.
3022 Now, obviously you’ve set out your preferred scenario for the outcome of this. And I’m not saying it’s not a valid -- but it may not be the ultimate outcome; we haven’t decided anything.
3023 So should you be successful for the Alberta stations, how would you work with the other successful applicants? It may not be your preferred scenario.
3024 MR. CROWFOOT: Well, the preferred scenario is that we would make time available for national programming or programming from other regions. We’ve already started that with NNB-T in that we’re sharing advertising -- they’re sharing their advertising expertise with us. We’re sharing our digital, our online. We developed an app that everybody else is wanting to copy.
3025 And so yes, you know, we’d look to sharing programming. But language programming is not something that you can share readily. I mean, it’s -- you know, you bring language from northern Saskatchewan and we played it -- we played Cree from Saskatchewan. And then we had a few people come in or call in and say, “Look, that’s not right.”
3026 And one even -- Russell Woodford even came in and said, “Look, I’ll do it for free. You know, I’ll come in and I’ll do whatever you need to do just so that it’s the right dialect.”
3027 But what we are interested in is news from across the nation from other areas. We’ve been working with our -- you know, we've had some issues the last few years with Windspeaker. It was going through some different phases trying to evolve from a print to online to web, and as of January 1st, we've turned that around. Some of our stories in the last month are getting 55,000 hits, page views. And our News Director, who has 25 years' experience with Windspeaker, former editor, has done an amazing job, and I'm really pleased with that.
3028 So we're looking at that, the news part of it. I mean, Windspeaker was national. It covered national news. We had stringers across the country. And all of that's being revived in the -- on the news side of things. So yes, we'd be willing to work with other organizations.
3029 WAAB used to be an amazing organization where sales people would come together. They would go on trips to Vancouver, to Toronto, to Ottawa, to different ad agencies. One person would sell for other agencies, so you know, it was a great organization.
3030 THE CHAIRMAN: My final question is the following -- is what would you say to those that would look at your preferred scenario as the ultimate outcome and draw the conclusion that you are giving incumbents an unfair leg up, that there's not a lot of room for others to come in if you take your perspective? In other words, if there's already somebody in BC, they get the leg up.
3031 And some might argue, isn't this a bit of a tension with, you know, the desire of the Commission from time to time and its objectives in the Broadcasting Act to encourage a bit more competition?
3032 MR. CROWFOOT: Competition is good. I've coached for many, many years at a almost national level and it makes you stronger. But the one thing that I'm seeing is, a lot of people are proposing, we're going to do this. We're going to do many, many, many hours of language programming. It's hard to find those people that speak the language. It's hard to find those people who are willing to come in week after week after week. I mean, people come in, they'll do it once, and then they, you know, they don’t come back.
3033 And we've been very fortunate to find the speakers that have come in, they have been dedicated. Jim Cardinal has been awesome, and Dustin McGladrey is actually learning to speak Cree, which is kind of cool. I mean, he's giving me lessons, and I'm not Cree, but he's giving me lessons on, oh, it's supposed to be like this or supposed to be like that. So I mean, that, to me, is -- you know, I'm proud to see that. So anyway ---
3034 THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. Thank you.
3035 Colleagues? No legal? No?
3036 So thank you very much for answering our questions. Thank you.
3037 Madame la secrétaire.
3038 THE SECRETARY: I will now ask Wawatay Native Communication Society to come to the presentation table.
3039 Please re-introduce yourself for the record, and you have 10 minutes.
3040 MR. GAGNON: Thank you, Jade.
3041 Good afternoon, Commissioners. Thank you very much. My name is John Gagnon, CEO of Wawatay Communication Society.
3042 THE CHAIRMAN: It's been long, but we're not quite in the afternoon yet, but we're getting ---
3043 MR. GAGNON: Pardon me?
3044 THE CHAIRMAN: We're not quite in the afternoon quite yet.
3045 MR. GAGNON: Did I say afternoon? I might be ---
3046 THE CHAIRMAN: Not quite yet.
3047 MR. GAGNON: --- a little frazzled here.
3048 THE CHAIRMAN: We're getting there.
3049 MR. GAGNON: So we’ve been hearing some interesting things in the last couple of days, and I guess to say that Sun Tzu, you know, had said in the Art of War that only the weak have to fortify. So for us to be named out that something that we're not capable of something at this point is kind of absurd, since we do have 40 years' experience in this position.
3050 I'll start off my comments by saying the overwhelming support from our community citizens and leadership is sure sign of consultation and consent of what our people in Ontario want, as it is concerned to reclaiming, enhancing, and retaining the language and culture through broadcasting in Ottawa and Toronto. Knowing this, that with such great support, a class act would dictate the bowing out of a competition where it is evident the opposition is not wanted.
3051 The original intent of these licences was to serve our people with a holistic approach, empowering our community and promoting sustainability for our people. Community empowerment is the goal with the vision of having a performance arts centre, which is a space that will be set up with live multi-media broadcasting capabilities, and will give the venue -- a venue for the performers to perform and a platform to broadcast from.
3052 As a person hailing from a family that has been devastated by the IRS legacy and the loss of language and the trauma that my elders had to deal with, and the fact that I worked in the residential school field for many years, I find it appalling that there are agencies using the TRC's Calls For Action without actually giving any attention to one of the main points, and that this can only be run by the people and the communities of the region and that language base.
3053 I was appalled and saddened to hear Jennifer David speak. For the record, we've been broadcasting this, and everyone at home has been listening to people speak. So -- and those sitting in the audience, they could hear the individuation and the disconnect from her community in her voice. To say APTN started from scratch is to disregard and disrespect all of our elders and leadership that helped create Wawatay and the founding member of APTN.
3054 To say APTN started from scratch is ignorant to the fact our founding members brought 40 years of experience to APTN. I always said that a blanket statement will only warm empty minds, and in one statement Jennifer took away honour and respect from the elders and our ancestors who worked so diligently on building Wawatay and assisting APTN.
3055 Again, I was appalled when I heard Ms. Gabrielle Fayant-Lewis speak. It was quite evident she did not know the history of APTN, and she believed whole heartedly that APTN was not political. She also believed that APTN would be playing lots of Indigenous music; however, in their application, there's only seven percent slotted.
3056 Was Gabrielle misinformed about her loyalty, did she go on record to fight for something she doesn’t understand or wasn't properly educated? Only with proper marketing and revenue can we develop the talents in our communities to bring the music and Indigenous music up to standards. There will be more than seven percent, but we have to start building these.
3057 Contrary to other applicants also in this proceedings, Wawatay support comes from the broadcasting zone, and not from cities that, you know, these corporations were incorporated, and our support needs to come from Ontario, not from Winnipeg or have another agency tell us that's from another province what should be done here in Ontario, and then in the same sentence, say that we've got to respect our tribal boundaries. It's outrageous.
3058 Our revenue model is not naïve to the market in both cities. The honour to have the chance to innovate a cross-cultural revenue source can substantially change the poverty standards and remove employment barriers for our people here in Ontario. Profitable radio programming identifies the optimal time to pursue revenue sources. Wawatay is aware that the morning and evening drives would best be served in the spoken word of English or French, depending on which city we're talking about, to attract the audiences with values for the greatest offer.
3059 So, the next hurdle would be how would we attract our audience outside of our culture zone? To us, it would be like a drum beat, something you can hear far away, but it gets stronger as you listen more and move closer.
3060 You know, I'd like to tell a little story about years ago when I was in university and I was the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper and sitting on council and also working a full-time job. It was about 4:30 in the morning, and working from the editor's office, I could hear drum beat through the halls. This -- you know, nobody's in the schools.
3061 So you know, I -- it caught my attention. I looked out the door. I didn’t hear or see anything. And then I went and sat down at my desk. I went back to work. And the drum beat come back. And it was odd, so I followed the sound through the school, you know, til I got to the back -- outside in the back of the lot of the university, where I met two elders who were just starting a sacred fire.
3062 And they were, you know, unpacking their bundles, and I asked them; I said, “Where is that drum beat coming from?”
3063 And they both looked at me a bit astonished and said, “What drum beat? We haven’t even started singing yet.”
3064 And that was my introduction to the culture that was taken from our family. And this was the beginning of this journey.
3065 And listening to the people in the fields I’ve worked with over the last 15 to 20 years, it’s quite evident that what is needed is something that Wawatay is here and has the ability to deliver.
3066 So our content and how we deliver news and information will attract many listeners, you know, tired of the same old cookie-cutter-shaped programming that’s out there now.
3067 Our method is meant to remove the sensationalism of negative dysfunction in our community and it is time to factually report of the news of our communities both negative and positively with grace.
3068 Within a year we can re-evaluate how to price and value and our sales database and it is a key component to our business model.
3069 But this is not just about money. So these are not markets for us to value as currency but to value as a means to social benefits our children and their children will prosper from. So it is alarming to hear that when you asked another Applicant whether they would give up one market versus the other, they would give up Ottawa because it’s not the largest market to get revenue from. So obviously money is the only -- the outcome for some of the Applicants here.
3070 But for us it’s really, to get down to the meat and core of it, to bring some kind of pride and some kind of want to exist in this world for our people. It’s something that I don’t think many people really have to worry about in their lives. But I know for our side it’s certainly a huge, huge impact in who we are and how we are going to live in the province with our Canadian brothers and sisters.
3071 Now, the drivers and decision coming forward for this type of service to have our stories told from our perspective is comprised of all Nations of this province and their languages. Spoken word is the best format to preserve various languages as it is recorded and archived and can be recalled at any time.
3072 The fact that we will be on the air with our stories and our perspective and world view, will be the niche we can be successful with. But more so, we believe what mainstream Canadian citizens want is the change that we can deliver. By teaming the Oji-Cree, the Cree, the Iroquois, the Mohawk, the Odawa, the Ojibway, the Potawatomi language speakers, we will then also be bringing all their community stories together and their values and principles and things that can be shared amongst Ontarians and the First Peoples that are from Ontario.
3073 Our programming will obviously need to be a step up above the rest because, you know, we have to have a product that somebody’s going to want to tune into. So for us it’s based on the four holistic premises of intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and of course the physical.
3074 As mentioned before, we will utilize the languages for their most optimal responses from listeners and their most relevant times. So to compete with daily times slots, as the morning and evening drive home, it’s evident that we need to use the English language. The projected advertising revenue for each market, which was a question that was asked by Commissioner MacDonald -- those numbers were actually extrapolated from the CRTC’s data on advertising in both markets.
3075 Now, again I think I’m going to end this off with how I began.
3076 When treaties were created, the air rights were not considered and was not entertained in any dialogue. So we have not relinquished any rights to our air space just as much as our water rights. Although, for time immemorial the Nan people have been using the skies for directional purposes, ceremonial needs, and especially the seasonal goose hunts.
3077 As a sovereign nation we beg the question how we lost the use of these airwaves and whether we need to ask permission to use them again. We also wonder whether not the CRTC should have consulted as AMMSA and NNB had mentioned. They should have consulted with us.
3078 And for the record, I don’t recall receiving any letters from APTN with regards to consultation on the FPR proposal.
3079 As you can see in our application, as well the intervention submitted by the AFN Regional Chief Isadore Day, a letter from the Chief’s in Assembly at the Chief’s of Ontario meeting in November unanimously voted in support for Wawatay to accept these licences. This is consultation and consent.
3080 If it hasn’t been written down -- I think we did the process for everybody. Because what we did is we brought people together and voted unanimously, uniting the Peoples of different cultures under one banner. And that’s language.
3081 And I also spoke to the Declaration of Independence that came in 1977 from the Treaty 9 area. For 40 years this document has been out and we’ve been looking for viable communities and viable partnerships with our southern partners here in Ontario. And this is one way that we can actually, you know, move forward in creating these partnerships.
3082 And again Wawatay the brainchild of our elders. This is a legacy that they built. And anybody who’s been part of a legacy project would know they wouldn’t want it smashed by some company that just came about a year ago. This is something that ---
3083 MS. ROY: I’m sorry. You have about 30 seconds left.
3084 MR. GAGNON: Thirty (30) seconds.
3085 MS. ROY: Yes. Please conclude.
3086 MR. GAGNON: All right. I’m going to go right to my clincher.
3087 So I’d have to say that I fear that if we are not chosen for both of these licences when our Chiefs have spoken their consensual wants, this legacy, would could be a noble means of retribution for ill policies, can be turn out to be a mud pie.
3088 FPR receiving these licences would be a direct threat to our broadcasting area and our corporation. And by virtue of our citizenship within the province, it is our expectation the ownership of the licences remain in province and held by Wawatay, keeping in mind that great resolution from Chiefs of Ontario. Thank you.
3089 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much.
3090 As I said to others, just a few questions.
3091 But I’ll start, as I did for the others, with the first question. And your colleague from NNB suggested that ultimately, at the highest level, the Commission must ask itself who has the greatest potential of it succeeding in best serving the Aboriginal population.
3092 Do you agree that that’s the right test?
3093 MR. GAGNON: I guess I could -- I’d have to say no, I don’t think so. And I don’t mean to be disrespectful. I think the test has got to be based on language and environment. Who is it that has the space that can come in here? Who has spoken to all the Nations within this province? And who’s got an agreement from those Nations? That is the test.
3094 That’s something I don’t think any government has ever seen, total unanimity in any kind of vote, you know, with exception for the Parliament and the Missing and Murdered Women. That was a, you know, total unanimous vote to have the inquest begin. These are things that are very important to our social status as a society in Canada.
3095 And what you guys choose is going to be seen by the rest of the world for the rest of time as to whether you bolstered the people of the province or you set them aside for an idea that somebody wanted to make money from music and advertising.
3096 THE CHAIRMAN: Right.
3097 MR. GAGNON: And so that’s ---
3098 THE CHAIRMAN: What is the correct test if that wasn’t ---
3099 MR. GAGNON: I would have to say the culture, environment, and language. And I mean, if those three things can be met, I think success will come from many different angles as opposed to just financial.
3100 THE CHAIRMAN: If ultimately -- and I’m not challenging that that’s the goal ---
3101 MR. GAGNON: Sure.
3102 THE CHAIRMAN: --- from your perspective -- isn’t the means to achieving that goal -- in other words an appropriate business case -- not also part of the analysis, that between two groups, one that has that as a goal and another that has also a similar goal but has the means and the business case that’s sustainable, that we need to perhaps lean in favour of that group that has a sustainable business model?
3103 MR. GAGNON: I would agree with that, of course. But this business model doesn’t happen without the language and spirit of the people.
3104 THE CHAIRMAN: Right.
3105 MR. GAGNON: So there is no other Applicant in these proceedings that have the strength and the longevity and the values and principles of our People and our language. There’s nobody that has what we have.
3106 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. I don’t think people are questioning that.
3107 But perhaps I can turn to your projections. Because your projections in your business case forecast that nearly 92 percent at the beginning -- and then going down to 80 percent but it’s still considerable -- of your projected revenues would be based on federal, provincial, municipal grants or other kinds of funding. Yet, we’ve just heard this morning from your colleagues that they don’t see any likelihood of new grant and contribution money being available and that there’s unlikely to even be tangible benefits from radio transactions or television transactions. So a neutral observer might conclude that your business case is really based on a hope rather than something commercial and solid.
3108 MR. GAGNON: That’s amazing because our People only have hope. And that’s all we’ve ever been living on. And like, I mean, with the idea of being a treaty partner in this nation, then being widely underfunded in so many different other programs, this one here seems to be one that Canada would want to invest in.
3109 And yeah, in our December application for our final application, our projections changed to a seven-year model as opposed to the five-year. And of course the grant monies tailor off the end as, you know, operation dollars, sales, and other items started coming up.
3110 And of course I don’t think there’s anybody here that didn’t start with federal funding. And it’s amazing that, you know -- you know, I’m happy for the other agencies that, you know, seem to make money off of bingo. And we’ve attempted it and we’ve tried the bingo in our province. And it seems that, you know, maybe there’s not a lot of people -- maybe there’s more money in Alberta than there is in Ontario because we’ve had a hard time selling tickets and not a lot of people have money to spend on gambling.
3111 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. But you know, as I look at your point being that you will look over time to diversify your source of funding, you’re actually forecasting some rather significant year-over-year increases in fundraising and advertising revenue growths of 40 percent. Yet, one could ask what kind of track record you bring to promise 40 percent growth in advertising when most of your -- the other Applicants are nowhere near that sort of growth model.
3112 MR. GAGNON: Yeah, I guess that would be a lack of confidence for what they have for their product that they have to sell.
3113 For us, our highest in Wawatay’s history was over 5 billion intake for the year and that surpasses anybody that’s here. And that was in our heyday. And of course that’s what we’re trying to get back to. But we need the capacity to build and educate our youth to start utilizing our language for our services.
3114 But from what we’re selling now, in a small market of 300,000 people, you know, you can only forecast what would happen if you had a market of 3.5 million people.
3115 And contrary to what anybody else has said, I’ve had Anishnawbe Health in Toronto wanting us to be in their building. They’re building a new building on the Lakeshore and they’ve offered us a very, very sweet deal. So like, the numbers for our operations might even lower because of some of these opportunities that we have.
3116 Especially here in Ottawa we’ve looked out for -- you know, in both Toronto and Ottawa our real estate research showed, you know, astronomical payments for rent. But if we could partner up with someone else who would be able to give us space, you know, that’s a story on its own.
3117 And I think once we’re awarded these licences, people are going to come. It’s going to be like the bandwagon mentality.
3118 So I am all confident that money is our least worry. I think that our biggest goal and worry right now is the ability to bridge partnerships and show values that both Canadians and First People share. And once we break down those barriers we’re going to see that we’re a lot alike.
3119 It’s been 350 years and we really haven’t gotten to know one another. And I mean, we have to do it provincially. Like, every provincial agency should have been looking after their own licences.
3120 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. I mean, optimism is great but you project 67 percent of your advertising growth coming from incumbents that are already in the market. And others in this proceeding don’t even come close to that number and more in the 25 percent.
3121 MR. GAGNON: I can’t answer for anybody else’s -- why their projections are lower, you know? And I don’t think ---
3122 THE CHAIRMAN: You don’t think it might be because they’re more realistic in light of the market experience?
3123 MR. GAGNON: Well, I think when it was stated that FPR would like Toronto -- if they had to take one, they wanted Toronto versus Ottawa because of the market -- I think it pretty much tells you that there’s a lot more money to be made in Ontario than there is in any other province because our population is greater.
3124 So I think -- I don’t think these are optimistic numbers. I think there’s -- you know, there are numbers here that in our best years they don’t even match. And like I say, we’re in a market of 300,000 people and we surpass these numbers. So why would we think negatively on coming into a new market that has a whole new gamut of information that needs to be shared with northern Ontario? The development of our north hugely hinges on the ability to educate our people on what progression is and what it is to develop.
3125 And it’s not going to happen between an outsider. There’s no way you’re getting into our community with FPR. That’s not happening. There’s going to be centric -- Ottawa and Toronto-centric.
3126 And I don’t think it criticizes urbanized First Nations because urbanized First Nations originally came from the community. And they’ve been individuated from their community and their families. And they’re sitting -- like what we heard, you know, the disconnect, you know, that you would say that, you know, APTN was started from scratch and we had no bearing in that whatsoever; we didn’t bring anything to the table.
3127 So that person completely disrespected our elders and my elders. And I take that to great offence because nothing in this country that started with a First Nation agency or corporation started with, you know, a boatload of money. Everything started from the grassroots and that’s why those that have the longest standing are still here because they have the grassroots behind them.
3128 I heard things about other agencies throughout the country and it always comes back to, “Well, Wawatay is the strongest because you carry the language.”
3129 So if we’re talking about language and culture, how can somebody who’s weaker in that facet than us have the upper hand when essentially it’s just money. And anybody who is entrepreneurial or has any business sense will go out and make money. And that’s by having a great administrative team.
3130 Unfortunately, I couldn’t have my admin team here because they’re busy running radio stations right now. And we had our president here, who is very busy with other portfolios. A lot of our professionals and our leaders in our province are spread thin working on multiple, multiple portfolios.
3131 So to have someone like Margaret Kenequanash, Executive of Shibogama, come and speak on our behalf, that wasn’t lightly chosen. This person had to take away from the work that she’s doing for our People to come and speak on our behalf.
3132 You know, so here I sit alone as everybody else has, you know, teams. And again, it only needs one person to convey a message. You know, and that’s why we have the title of Chief Executive Officer.
3133 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. And don’t worry; you’re doing a very good job even if you’re on your own. I know it’s a difficult task.
3134 My last area of enquiry deals with Ottawa. Would you agree that that market is a bit different than the other markets in light of the large Inuit population?
3135 MR. GAGNON: Absolutely. That’s why ---
3136 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. So you agree with that, that it’s ---
3137 MR. GAGNON: Oh, yeah.
3138 THE CHAIRMAN: So you make a lot of comments about the need to respect the wishes of the communities. And I was wondering if you could help me understand to what extent you’ve explored with those communities, the Inuit communities, in Ottawa or oftentimes they come down here for healthcare and other reasons, sometimes for a longer time -- to what extent you consulted or reached out to those traditional Inuit communities and leadership up north?
3139 MR. GAGNON: Sure. I guess we spoke with the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation, which -- well, with the Chair and President of that and the CEO over the last year.
3140 THE CHAIRMAN: Those aren’t the land claim societies?
3141 MR. GAGNON: No, no, no. But these are representatives -- media representatives of their people. So like, they’re going to have a demographic ---
3142 THE CHAIRMAN: But they’re a bit like APTN in the sense that they’re a media arm; they’re not ---
3143 MR. GAGNON: Right.
3144 THE CHAIRMAN: --- the actual local communities ---
3145 MR. GAGNON: No.
3146 THE CHAIRMAN: --- like your elders or your chiefs?
3147 MR. GAGNON: No. And see, the thing is we went for support within our communities, within our region. You know, so the people are migrating to the cities normal to get -- you know, to find a better life. It doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s their community. It’s now their community to live in but their home community -- my home community is not from here. But we have consulted with other media agencies from those.
3148 And of course, I have Inuit in my own family. I’ve got nieces and nephews who are Inuit and -- from the Quebec side -- and asking them what they like is something that happened over a few dinners, you know, family gatherings. These are very basic.
3149 But we did put Inuktitut, spelled with an “I” in our application as
3150 THE CHAIRMAN: Right, I saw that.
3151 MR. GAGNON: Yeah.
3152 THE CHAIRMAN: But it didn’t flow from the sort of community consultation that’s similar to what you’ve done in the ---
3153 .. MR. GAGNON: Well, no. It did -- I guess it would be informal consultations, but knowing that there’s a great population in Montreal and Ottawa for Inuit people, that it was a no-brainer to, you know, to include that language as part of our plan.
3154 THE CHAIRMAN: Right. So from the Inuktitut perspective, but how about from the broader cultural issue which is also one that you’ve advanced as being important, beyond strictly speaking language?
3155 MR. GAGNON: Okay. Then that’s where we do find some complexities because what we’re doing is we’re amalgamating multiple cultures. And we’re afraid of creating a mosaic melting pot of, you know, Aboriginal culture.
3156 You know, there needs to be some distinct differences known to the people. Like, where I come from there are no headdresses, you know? There are no horses. So that stereotypical idea of the Indian doesn’t come from where we come from. And the same as the Inuit people.
3157 So you know, even contrasting from Manitoba to Ontario, that border doesn’t really exist for our people. You know, this is something -- if we go back to Rupert’s Land it’s even more of -- the Crees had occupied more space, more land. So this idea of working on the culture -- like, the culture is like a large word for what everybody does in this specific region.
3158 So for us, these are things that our elders would be dictating. Like, right now we’re just in the process of beginning, getting the licences and start building this -- you know, this noble effort. Once we start getting these licences then our elders are going to be pulled into the play and how we deal with certain aspects of things.
3159 Our board members are going to be business-savvy. And people that have worked with either government or the banking institution which we do have a very good skills-based board presently and we’re still in the means of our AGM this year is meant to add the two places for Ottawa and Toronto for those board seats. And of course, those are going to be people from those regions.
3160 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
3161 I’ll just turn to my colleagues. Anything legal?
3162 No. So we have no more questions for you. Thank you very much.
3163 MR. GAGNON: Thank you.
3164 LE PRÉSIDENT: Madame la secrétaire?
3165 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci.
3166 This concludes Phase 4 and the consideration of items 1 to 5 on the agenda. For the record, there is one non-appearing item on the agenda of this public hearing. The Panel will consider this application and a decision will be rendered at a later date.
3167 This concludes the agenda of this public hearing. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
3168 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci beaucoup, Madame la secrétaire.
3169 Juste avant de conclure et d'ajourner nos travaux, je voulais faire quelques mots de conclusion.
3170 Certainly, it has been a very rich hearing in many respects. I'm just reflecting that as -- you know, after you get a few years as Chair of the CRTC you’d think it would get easier. And it’s not. In fact, this is a very hard case and my colleagues and I will have to reflect a lot on this matter.
3171 But it`s probably even more important than many of the matters the Commission considers before it. It is, as I said in my opening comments, a direct link to the Reconciliation and the path forward beyond the TRC. And we will endeavour, to the best of our ability, to serve our society with all its diversity and the objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act.
3172 So I would like to thank everyone who participated in the hearing whether through interventions, written interventions, appearing Applicants and Intervenors who appeared at the hearing. I would also like to thank those that make these hearings possible including the interpreters, the technicians, Commission staff, whether here in our head office in the hearing room here in Phase IV or across the regions.
3173 I would also like to thank those that cover these proceedings. The media table was a little thinner this time around yet these are very important issues, so I thank those that did participate.
3174 But mostly I would like to thank my colleagues here and those who are not on the Panel but who will be consulting eventually on our decision-making. And as I have said earlier, we will try to do our very best to come up with, as best we can, a wise outcome from this public proceeding,
3175 So thank you all. The hearing is adjourned. Merci beaucoup. Nous sommes en ajournement.
--- Upon adjourning at 12:08 p.m.
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