ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing November 24, 2021

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Volume: 3
Location: Gatineau, Québec
Date: November 24, 2021
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In order to meet some of the requirements under this Act, the Commission's transcripts will therefore be bilingual as to their covers, the listing of CRTC members and staff attending the hearings, and the table of contents.

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Attendees and Location

Held at:

Outaouais Room
Conference Centre
140 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Québec


Table of Contents

Phase II – Interveners’ Presentations

2786 TLN/Ethnic Channels Group

3004 Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation

3031 S.U.C.C.E.S.S.

3050 Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce

3063 UBC Digital Emergency Medicine, interCultural Online Health Network

3073 Coastal First Nations/Great Bear Initiative

3274 Karen Tanaka

3298 Daniel Taylor

3305 Saskatchewan Premier Ball Hockey League

3319 Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs

3367 Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the National Pensioners Federation (NPF)

3605 Cogeco Communications Inc.

3795 John Roman

3853 Quebec English-Language Production Council (QEPC)

3902 DHX Television Ltd. d/b/a WildBrain Television


2936 Undertaking

3739 Undertaking


Gatineau, Quebec

National Capital Region /

Région de la Capitale-Nationale

--- Upon commencing on Wednesday, November 24th, 2021 at 10:32 a.m./ L’audience débute le mercredi 24 novembre 2021 à 10 h 32

2781 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning.

2782 Madame la secrétaire.

2783 MS. ROY: Merci. Bon Matin.

2784 We will now hear the presentation of TLN Ethnic Channels Group.

2785 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues. And you have 15 minutes for your presentation.


2786 MR. Di FELICE: Mr. Chair, Members of the Commission, Commission staff, my name is Aldo Di Felice and I am the President of TLN Media Group.

2787 With me today is Slava Levin, CEO of Ethnic Channels Group, and Kevin Goldstein, our regulatory counsel.

2788 Thank you for giving us the opportunity to appear before you today. We will now begin our presentation.

2789 There is no debate that the proposed merger of Rogers and Shaw, if approved, will have a transformative effect on the Canadian communications industry. It will create a stronger major player, ultimately a stronger Canadian system overall. We support that goal.

2790 However, from a BDU perspective, a combined Rogers/Shaw will control nearly half the English-language market, which will give Rogers the ability to heavily influence what programming services are provided to Canadians, and how.

2791 TLN and ECG are here today to highlight issues that are specific to Canadian independent ethnic broadcasters. Since we filed our written intervention, we’ve had the opportunity to reflect on our position.

2792 We accept that the broadcasting landscape is changing and that this transaction is a necessary response to those changes. As a result, we are now able to support this application. TLN and ECG just want to ensure that Canadian independent ethnic services remain viable and continue to be supported by the Canadian Broadcasting System.

2793 We heard what Rogers said earlier in this hearing about commitments to independent programming services. We commend their efforts. However, our understanding, following questions by the Commission, is that Rogers does not propose to extend any protections of continued carriage, revenue stability. or consumer packaging availability to Canadian independent ethnic services.

2794 Canada is a multicultural society, and it is important that our broadcasting system not only continues to reflect that diversity, but also protects and enhances it.

2795 The Canadian ethnic television sector plays a critical role in the Canadian Broadcasting System. Over 20 percent of Canadians, nearly eight million people, prefer to speak a language other than English or French at home. Yesterday’s Throne Speech in Parliament underlined the government’s commitment to increasing immigration levels.

2796 With immigration on the rise, this number is expected to increase by two million in the next few years, and the need for domestic ethnic media will only grow.

2797 Domestically produced and operated broadcast services provide Canadians with critical information and entertainment in their languages of comfort, helping them understand, appreciate, adjust to, and integrate in Canada.

2798 Canadian ethnic media also reflect the values of Canada as a multicultural country, something foreign-language media channels often do not do.

2799 It is essential that the contributions made by independent ethnic owned and operated Canadian multicultural channels continue to be recognized and that this merger does not create a situation where we, and other operators like us, become collateral damage.

2800 The Canadian ethnic television sector can generally be divided into two groups.

2801 The first group is comprised of discretionary services like TLN’s and ECG’s that are independently owned and operated by ethnic Canadians themselves. They offer programming in several languages for a designated multicultural community. There are dozens of such channels available on Canadian BDUs today, but they have been forced to operate with major handicaps. The current linkage rules alone do not address issues such as carriage, buy-through costs, packaging, marketing, and access to viewership data.

2802 The second group includes only one service, OMNI. OMNI is a hybrid over-the-air television and discretionary service owned by the Applicant that is available on basic in virtually all Canadian homes. OMNI offers programming in 20 languages at different times on multiple channels to serve many different ethnic groups. The OMNI model represents an approach to multicultural broadcasting that was developed at a time when broadcasting policy was influenced heavily by spectrum availability.

2803 Whether or not the OMNI model remains the right approach for ethnic broadcasting in an era of infinite capacity is beyond the scope of this hearing.

2804 Originally, we had asked for Rogers to be forced to divest OMNI or give up its 9(1)(h) status. On reflection, we are no longer seeking a divestiture of the service and believe it would be better to assess the

2805 ongoing appropriateness of OMNI’s mandatory carriage status in 2023 when its current order is set to expire.

2806 MR. LEVIN: We also recognize that this transaction gives rise to a wide range of policy and

2807 competitive issues and its impact on ethnic broadcasting may seem to be a minor concern.

2808 However, for ethnic broadcasters like TLN and ECG, how this merger could impact the continued availability and viability of our ethnic television services is critical, and is the central focus of our appearance today.

2809 Up until now, Rogers has maintained a view that the existing Commission rules and regulations, such as the Wholesale Code and the standstill rule, alleviate any concerns associated with combining Rogers’ and Shaw’s BDU operations, and they reiterated this view yesterday.

2810 Unfortunately, the practical reality is that these rules offer very little protection for independent ethnic discretionary services. None of these rules mandate continued carriage and, as we highlighted in our intervention, the standstill cannot be used to create an effective access right. They also provide no packaging certainty, and the provision of the Code is designed to ensure vertically-integrated players don’t make packaging decisions that favour their own services over independently-owned channels don’t really come into play for ethnic services.

2811 Notwithstanding the changing technologies and consumer trends, ethnic television services continue to rely heavily on traditional BDU distribution, and we will, for the foreseeable future, certainly beyond the next three years. In this regards, Rogers and Shaw’s success is essentially our success.

2812 However, Canadian independent ethnic operators already operate in a very challenging environment. This is putting pressure on our ability to serve the needs of our multicultural communities.

2813 The Canadian BDU market is relatively small and already concentrated. Canadian ethnic discretionary services that wish to be successful and sustainable need carriage on all of the three largest BDUs in Canada -- Bell TV, Shaw, and Rogers.

2814 Assuming this merger is approved, it would be impossible to develop a viable business plan to operate a domestic Canadian television service without carriage on the combined Rogers/Shaw system. This is what keeps us up at night.

2815 Without the necessary safeguards in place, there is no assurance that our services, or those of other ethnic television channel operators, will continue to be available on terms which allow us to survive.

2816 MR. GOLDSTEIN: This scenario was also specifically addressed in the 2008 Diversity of Voices policy. In that policy, the Commission noted that it would not approve transactions “that would result in one person being in a position to effectively control the delivery of programming services in that market.”

2817 Rogers has argued that given that there is no overlap between the markets in which it and Shaw operate terrestrial BDUs, subscribers will continue to have access to several providers. While this is technically accurate, it isn’t what the Diversity of Voices policy was focused on. What that policy was concerned about was the ability of one distributor to influence the range of programming voices in a market. There can be no doubt that should Rogers’ application be approved as currently structured, it is the combined Rogers-Shaw entity that will be in a position to dictate how and which programming services are available to Canadians in all those markets.

2818 Over the last decade, the Commission has reviewed and approved numerous “mega transactions”. In each of those situations, ex ante safeguards were imposed to attempt to limit anti-competitive behaviour and ensure the merger was consistent with broadcasting policy objectives and the public interest. TLN and ECG believe that similar measures must be taken in this situation to ensure the continued availability of Canadian independent ethnic television services.

2819 In our written intervention, we proposed a series of protections to ensure that this merger will not have a material negative impact on Canadian independent ethnic television operators. These include a requirement that subscriber revenue for ethnic programming services not decrease for a period of five years. Given that Rogers will be combining its affiliation agreements with those of Shaw, its size and scale and the potential for this transaction to expedite the transition to unregulated distribution platforms, this will provide a measure of revenue stability for ethnic programming services.

2820 And a ban on negatively re-packaging ethnic programming services for a period of five years. This would ensure a combined Rogers-Shaw cannot use its market power in the BDU sector to harm ethnic programming services’ visibility, reach, and ability to serve their intended audiences.

2821 We also note that this would help address the fact that the commitments Rogers made on Monday concerning the carriage of independent programming services would not apply to Canadian independent ethnic services.

2822 Finally, given its share of the BDU market post-merger, Rogers will be uniquely positioned to improve the distribution of independent ethnic discretionary services.

2823 Canadians should be able to have access to television services in the language of their choosing at a reasonable cost. The basic package currently consists of numerous television channels in both official languages, APTN, and OMNI. This approach ignores the needs of ethnocultural communities, especially from the largest ethno-linguistic groups.

2824 In order to address these issues and to ensure that a merged Rogers-Shaw best serves the needs of Canada’s multicultural population, Rogers should commit to explicitly offer its BDU subscribers the option to add an independent Canadian ethnic channel in one of the major ethno-linguistic groups at no additional cost to the subscriber.

2825 On Monday, during questioning from Commissioner Lafontaine, we heard Ms. Dinsmore from Rogers characterize these asks as offside the Commission’s Let’s Talk TV policy. In essence, her position is that Let’s Talk TV promotes a more dynamic wholesale and retail environment relating to the distribution of programming services.

2826 This is true. However, what Let’s Talk TV also stated was that:

2827 “The Commission is prepared to intervene where it finds that parties are acting in an anti-competitive manner." (As read)

2828 And:

2829 “Such targeted intervention may be necessary to ensure a healthy, dynamic retail market that maximizes consumer choice and flexibility and provides Canadians with access to a diverse range of programming.” (As read)

2830 The safeguards we are proposing are directly consistent with this point given the size and scale Rogers will have post-closing, and we believe clear guidelines up front are the best way to achieve this.

2831 That concludes our opening remarks. Thank you again for the opportunity to participate in this hearing. We’d be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

2832 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Goldstein and your colleagues. Thank you very much for the presentation.

2833 I will turn the microphone to Commissioner Anderson.

2834 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thank you. Thank you for your submissions, and thank you for your presentation. We truly appreciate your contribution to the hearing.

2835 Okay. So first off, I would like to talk about local and community television and then go into competitive safeguards, because we have heard a lot from intervenors about the existing safeguards and proposed added safeguards that might ensure that this proposed transaction remains in the best interests of Canadians, including independent programming services.

2836 So going to local and community television, you state that providing Rogers with the flexibility to allocate significant new funds for news to support entirely its own local television stations would be unlikely to maximize the benefits of the Canadian Broadcasting System as whole.

2837 Can you please explain why?

2838 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I'm sorry, Commissioner Anderson. I don't think we made that statement. We're -- we don’t operate in the local or community space. So our comments are limited to Canadian independent ethnic discretionary services.

2839 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Okay. I understood that you supported IBG's statement with respect to that type of programming, so am I to understand that there is no agreement -- you have no position?

2840 MR. GOLDSTEIN: No. So we're an IBG member.


2842 MR. GOLDSTEIN: And obviously, we support their submission. We're here today to talk specifically about the issues that affect Canadian independent ethnic discretionary services, so that’s -- IBG represents a variety of members with -- of diverse interests, and so that’s, I think, an issue for some of the IBG members.

2843 We don’t disagree with their -- we don’t disagree in any way with their statement, but it's not really a core issue for us.

2844 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Okay. Thank you for that clarification, then.

2845 MR. GOLDSTEIN: No problem.

2846 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Let's move on to regulatory safeguards.

2847 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Sure.

2848 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: So you had suggested that after the transaction, the only recourse for independent Canadian ethnic services against unfavourable treatment would be to file an undue preference complaint and face the overwhelming resources of Rogers and Shaw in trying to advance such a complaint, which is a sentiment that has been echoed by a few intervenors.

2849 So how do you suggest that we address this concern?

2850 MR. GOLDSTEIN: So perhaps I'll start and then, you know, whether I'll ask if Aldo or Slava want to add, you know, to their more specific experiences in this regard.

2851 I think an undue preference process, you know, which I think you heard from a variety of intervenors yesterday, coming from different elements of the system, whether they be distributors or independent programmers, is a fairly involved process that takes a significant amount of time.

2852 It also has an extremely high bar to meet, effectively, that you have to be able to demonstrate material adverse harm.

2853 And I think that some of the issues that come into play, you know, really could -- would be less than material adverse harm on their own, but when you combine them, it becomes death by a thousand cuts, or probably more like 50 cuts, in this instance.

2854 And so I think that the most important thing that could happen would be really, really clear guidelines that are at COLs or you know, and other safeguards put in place that remove a degree of subjectivity to the analysis and essentially say, "This is what you can do, this is what you can't do," and therefore, you're not trying to demonstrate that someone acted in a way that has a specific monetary impact on you. You really are just in a position to make a determination as to whether they did something or didn’t do something.

2855 So I don't know, Aldo, if you want to add anything to that, or Slava?

2856 MR. DI FELICE: I would start by saying that invoking an adversarial process to resolve disputes is, for the reasons that Kevin just pointed out, a very dangerous thing for a small independent broadcaster to do. Ultimately, even if the uncertainty of that process results in a favourable decision for the broadcaster, ultimately, there is the possibility of ruining the relationship with the carrier.

2857 So in our case, for example, despite the fact that we may have unresolved disagreements, we have never invoked the process, the formal process, with Rogers.

2858 But we're asking -- and certainly not with Shaw as well. Shaw, after them having been an original investor in TLN in 1997 and subsequently Corus being a majority shareholder for 20 years, so -- and we have had a great working relationship with Shaw, and I dare say, a working relationship with Rogers as well.

2859 So what we're asking for though is something that will alleviate those concerns regarding invoking an uncertain process that creates enemies rather than friends.

2860 What we're asking for is that we simply be treated no less favourably, for a period of time, than we are today. That doesn’t resolve unresolved issues, but simply allows us to know that things won’t be worse. We want to be no worse off. And Rogers will be better off and stronger as a result of this merger, and we support that. We don’t want that to subsequently trigger our becoming worse off. That’s the essence of the protections that we are proposing.

2861 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Salva, do you have anything to add?

2862 MR. LEVIN: I think Aldo said it very well. I don’t need to say more on this.

2863 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Okay.

2864 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thank you. So, you’ve mentioned just now that you would prefer to have -- or you’re seeking clearer guidance potentially in the form of conditions. And so, I was wondering if you wanted to elaborate and provide some specific examples of some safeguards that would provide you with some comfort.

2865 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think there’s really -- you know, in terms of safeguards, there’s two specifically that we’ve, you know, highlighted, and we mentioned them again today in our opening statement. I think the first would be that there would be a commitment that essentially subscriber revenue would be, you know, essentially frozen in time as to where it is at today, because I think, you know, just to build on what Aldo was saying, you know, there’s a bunch of advantages that Rogers is looking -- you know, we’ll gain as part of this transaction, and we don’t have a problem with that. You know, there’s a bunch of reasons why they’re doing this.

2866 You know, the -- but, what we want to prevent is kind of the flowing out of this that the position that we’re in is worse off between a combined, larger entity than it would be with two pretty large entities to begin with.

2867 MR. LEVIN: Being separate.

2868 MR. GOLDSTEIN: You know, when they’re separate. When they’re separate. So, the first commitment essentially would be, you know, essentially ensuring, you know, revenue stability for a period of time. We said five years. And then the other one would be, you know, to not have any negative repackaging of the services during that same period because, you know, there’s two issues in play. One is revenue, the other is exposure, and we don’t want to see a situation where, coming out of this, whether there is revenue stability for a period of time, that at the end of the line they say to us, “Well, by the way, your service has no subscribers anymore, so now you’re not really of any value to us.”

2869 You know, the objective in creating a degree of revenue stability is to help with the transition that the industry is undergoing that Rogers has talked about at great length at this hearing and others have as well. And we don’t deny that that transition is happening.

2870 The challenge for TLN and ECG and other independent ethnic services is that our audience, our constituents are very heavily reliant on the traditional BDU echo system. And to think that overnight they’re somehow going to move to an app-based environment is a bit naïve. They’re not. It’s going to take time, and we need to develop the strategies to ensure that that transition is orderly. So, I don’t know if either of you want to add to that or...

2871 MR. LEVIN: I’d add to this packaging, maintaining status quo is important, but fixing the current packaging because we don’t have control over those packages. And in my case, there’s a lot of packages just don’t make any sense financially to the consumers. They’re too expensive.

2872 Moving to the app environment, it’s about educating. And the BDUs need to educate their consumers if they want to go to the app environment and help in promoting it, and I think that’s the challenge we’re facing right now.

2873 MR. DI FELICE: I would add perhaps one more thing. We have to look at this in context, but what we’re asking for is not an improvement in our situation. Since Let’s Talk TV, speaking for TLN Media Group specifically, we’ve seen an erosion in the visibility of our channels, our flagship channel and our flanker channels, an erosion in our visibility, and then consequential erosion in our ad revenues. That’s reflected quite starkly in our financial statements that are filed on an annual basis over the last five years. So, anybody looking at the statistical and financial summaries will see that.

2874 Our response has been to double-down and make substantial investments because we are committed to the traditional broadcast system, the regulated system. So, we’ve made substantial investments in content, both acquired content that’s exclusive and high profile, and in Canadian content production telling multicultural stories. So, we are currently in a position that is difficult. And what we’re suggesting simply ensures that it does not become worse.

2875 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thank you. So, Rogers had spent quite a bulk of their submissions dedicated to showing us how they were planning to transition over to the online broadcasting as their main platform. And you just said that you think that the traditional BDU system is going to remain in place and important. Did you want to elaborate on that at all in light of Rogers’ submissions on Monday that really heavily focused on transitioning onto a digital platform?

2876 MR. LEVIN: So, I think we need to be very clear what the word “online” means, because it has a double meaning: online within the broadcast regulated space or outside of the broadcast regulated space. When we’re referring to traditional, we’re referring to the regulated online, or IPTV space. So, we’re not saying that the traditional system is going to go away. We’re saying that they’re going to take the legacy system and migrate it to their IPTV system technically online, however you would like to characterize it, but it’s within the broadcast system, within the regulated system, not outside.

2877 MR. GOLDSTEIN: So, I think just to add to that, I think there are two things at play, okay? So, there’s regulated IPTV BDUs, okay? There’s -- you know, that’s what Rogers, certain elements of their subscriber base is under right now, and Shaw’s, and they’re going to be moving 100 per cent to that. There’s also, you know, apps and services that operate under the Digital Media Exemption Order. And Rogers would like to put a very specific emphasis on that, and they’ve indicated -- they indicated that on Monday, and that’s what you’re referring to.

2878 I think it’s important to understand that that world is, at least at this point in time, a completely unregulated world, okay? There are no obligations there to carry Canadian services. There are no obligations to invest in Canadian content. Any revenue that Rogers drives from that is not subject to their contributions to the CMF, and there’s no packaging rules, there’s no wholesale code regulation. There’s not any protections in that.

2879 And so, is that going to be important? Yes, it’s going to be important, you know, but I think that, you know, we need to -- you know, I think that what’s concerning to us is what is our place in that system. And we recognize that we’re going to have to have a place in that system. That isn’t -- that’s not really in debate. The question is what does it look like, how do we get there, over what period of time?

2880 I don’t think the world is going immediately to this unregulated echo system. And if I remember, and I think it was Mr. Bruno was talking about it on Monday, they -- what Rogers thinks is great about this echo system and the way -- is that it kind of integrates what’s in the traditional system and in the non-traditional system in terms of search and other things, in terms of what you’re doing, and that’s very consumer-focused.

2881 I don’t think any of us disagree with that, but I don’t think that the traditional system is going to go away. And I can understand why they may want to move heavily, and transitioned subscribers heavily will rely on that because they have a lot more flexibility and a lot less oversight in terms of how they’re going to operate it. You know, their application spoke specifically about, you know, how this was really, really important and this deal they needed to move here to compete with the Netflixes and the Amazons and the Disneys of the world. Two comments on that.

2882 One is the Amazons, Disneys and Netflixes of the world aren’t virtual BDUs. They’re not distributors. They’re programming services. Their platform offers Netflix, Disney, Amazon. It’s all there on Rogers. They would just like to be able to bundle and sell those, you know, services as a BDU like any other BDU would want to, you know? So, I think that’s -- you know, I think that’s where they’re at.

2883 I think for us, we recognize we need space in that system, but we’re -- you know, we think the traditional environment is going to continue for some time, and we heavily are dependent on it.

2884 MR. LEVIN: Just to add to what Kevin said, we can’t solely rely on an online system to survive. The regulated system is where we live, we play, have lived for a very long time. And we need to be there.

2885 And the question really would be who will determine what gets to stay in the regulated environment and who gets to live in the new world?

2886 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Okay. Well, speaking of some of the OTT services that are offered by foreign streamers, I believe it was yesterday Telus had raised a concern that consolidation of the two BDUs would provide a larger subscriber base that would be attractive to foreign streamers. And they vocalized a concern that the foreign streamers would enter into either a legal or de facto arrangement for exclusivity with certain BDUs or with that large BDU.

2887 So in that scenario wouldn’t that make the make or break situation for independent programming services a little bit worse in that alternative BDUs might disappear or they would have fewer subscribers? Could you please comment on that?

2888 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Sure. So I think a scenario -- and I think we highlighted this in our intervention. I think a scenario that aggressively drives Canadian consumers to an OTT subscription environment is bad for all Canadian programming services. I think it is specifically bad for TLN and ECG and other independent ethnic operators because as we indicated, their subscriber bas just in terms of its makeup is very heavily reliant on the BDU ecosystem. They are not always as savvy in terms of moving to these new environments. So anything that weakens that traditional ecosystem is a problem.

2889 I think with Telus -- and it’s not really our issue but I think it is legitimate. I think what Telus is really referring to is that the way in which the rule are currently structured, Rogers would be in a position to do preferential deals with foreign streaming services, where the only BDU platform that those programming services would be available on would be Rogers.

2890 And that would potentially put other BDUs at a disadvantage in terms of their ability to offer those services and to bundle and integrate them into their other programming offerings.

2891 I think that those services would continue to be available on an à la carte direct to consumer basis through, you know, any internet provider because that is how the rules are currently structured. But I do think that, you know, an aggressive move to OTT platforms -- essentially we have been -- we as an industry, both BDUs and programmers -- for some time have been trying to put up walls around the system to try to stem the bleed, essentially to OTT.

2892 It doesn’t work very well. And we are continuing to see it as people go and they take more Netflix and Disney and more of these services. The challenge here is that now we’re not just -- we’re not only no putting up walls; we’re actually building highways, okay? And with easy off-ramps. And I think that is going to be challenging to the industry and that is why I think the industry needs specifically smaller independent players, need a period of time to adjust to that transition.

2893 MR. LEVIN: And just to add to what Kevin -- we have talked a lot about Netflix, Disneys of the world. But what we haven’t really talked about is all those in our TLNs and ECGs and actually every multi-cultural broadcasting issue is piracy coming into this country on OTT. I mean, we are actually getting hit from multiple angles, not just from our Canadian side.

2894 We are getting hit from the rest of the world by them coming in, selling content they have no rights to. It’s very expensive to go after these companies and we really don’t have the recourse nor do we have the support of our BDUs as well or the regulators at this point.

2895 MR. Di FELICE: And I might add to Slava’s comment that foreign services have been a problem for Canadian-based ethnic services since 2005. That problem exists whether or not Rogers and Shaw operate independently or as a merged entity.

2896 Foreign services make no commitments to the Canadian system. Certainly if they are pirate services there is even less of a commitment. They have the ability therefore to squeeze out Canadian voices, Canadian ethnic voices which, as we pointed out in our presentation, have a huge societal value in a country that just celebrated it’s 50th anniversary of the multiculturalism policy.

2897 So they have the tendency to be invasive and to squeeze out the diversity of voices that is especially necessary in the context of multilingual communities in Canada.

2898 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Okay. So I understand what you are proposing then or you have changed your position a little bit from when you filed your written submissions that you are in favour of the transaction with appropriate safeguards.

2899 And I just want to ask then, the appropriate safeguards might work so long as an independent programming service provider is able to enter into an agreement with the amalgamated entity or Rogers. But I guess if an independent programming service provider was not able to enter into an agreement with the larger company, then everything that you say about unfair negotiating power of BDUs would ring true?

2900 MR. Di FELICE: That’s not how we see it. Rogers has made the point that they are already carrying many many Canadian ethnic services. What we are saying is continue not carry them on terms no less favourable, no worse, than what they are carried now, how they are carried now by both Rogers and Shaw. And do that for a period of time.

2901 That is what we’re saying. So it would not require a negotiation. It would be a condition tht is set out by the CRTC.

2902 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Essentially we are creating baseline conditions for that agreement so that it would essentially create a floor under which we could expect in any relation, you know, agreement that we have. And so yeah, without safeguards what you're saying is 100 percent accurate. You either have a deal or you don’t have a deal. And if you don’t have a deal you know, there is an imbalance. There is going to be an imbalance in terms of negotiating power.

2903 MR. Di FELICE: Anyone who doesn’t currently have carriage would not be affected by this. This is not compelling Rogers to carry additional services. It’s saying let’s not go backwards from where you are now, both with respect to the carriage of services that you currently carry, and with respect to the terms upon which they are carried.

2904 It does not -- and let me just underline again something I said earlier. It does not repair any damage that has been done since 2015. And I can tell you that in our case, specifically on the Rogers system, our three main services have suffered erosion of 55 to 99 percent per service. That has critically impacted our ad revenues and our visibility.

2905 This proposal would not repair that. This would simply stop things from getting worse.

2906 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thank you for that.

2907 May I ask what your views are if any with respect to Rogers’ proposal about carrying the 40 independent channels for a proposed period of three years, and then IBG’s submission that they would agree to that if the intake or the proposed uptake would be 50 independent programming services for five to seven years.

2908 Do you have any views on that specific commitment?

2909 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Believe it or not, we do.

2910 So there are sort of three aspect of the Rogers commitment and then we can talk briefly about the IBG one.

2911 So I think that as we indicated in our opening statement, I think the commitments Rogers made to independent services are a start. I think that the -- you heard yesterday from IBG that on at least two of the three BDUs that are subject to this transaction, they would be carrying more than 40. So you know, going backwards doesn't seem to us to make a lot of sense.

2912 The second thing is that we’re talking about -- in terms of whether it’s the Rogers commitment to 40 or the IBG commitment to 50, it’s continued carriage on a bunch of BDUs -- you know, at least in the case of the terrestrial ones -- that have infinite capacity, you know, to carry.

2913 So all they’re really offering is essentially to make sure you’re on the shelf, you know, at the grocery store. You’re not -- and the concern there is that it’s carriage, but we don’t know what the terms of that carriage are. You know, if someone offers you carriage and says, “But, by the way, we’re going to cut your rate by 50 percent, or 75 percent,” I’m not sure that carriage is overly valuable.

2914 And then the last point is, that I think is important, especially for TLN and ECG, is the 40 services, or the 50, in the case of IBG -- we believe -- we don’t know the specifics of it because I think IBG’s going to file some more detail -- doesn’t apply to Canadian independent ethnic services. So it doesn’t apply to any of the channels that either TLN or ECG operate.

2915 And so, you know, we’ll defer to IBG, the IBG members who it does apply to, in terms of if they feel it is a valuable commitment. But for us, it doesn’t really guarantee anything for Canadian independent ethnic services.

2916 And I think Rogers comment on that on Monday was that Canadian independent ethnic -- you know, Canadian ethnic services have the benefit of a 1:1 rule, where for every foreign third-language services carried, a Canadian -- you know, the BDU has to carry a similar -- you know third-language service in the language of that service, if it’s available.

2917 I think it’s important to highlight that that doesn’t give you any guarantee in terms of packaging. And the other thing is is that it doesn’t give you a guarantee that the service is going to be and independent ethnic service. That’s just a 1:1 rule as it relates to ethnic services at large.

2918 So if Rogers, who, as we’ve indicated, operates OMNI, which is a major ethnic service, decided to spin off and Italian service, or Spanish service, or German service, or a Chinese service, it could swap that in as a 1:1 in that scenario.

2919 So I just -- I’m not sure that the current rules relating to linkage, or any commitment to independent services as it’s been table in this hearing, you know, is overly helpful or really satisfies our overall concerns. I don’t know that will work.

2920 MR. LEVIN: Just to add the that, the 1:1 rule is great. I think -- I was one of the ones that was -- we were asking for that during the Let’s Talk hearing.

2921 The challenge is the rule’s in place, but the BDUs are still offside. And it’s not just Rogers. They’re offside. And we’ve spoken to them numerous times on not being offside, and the results are we’re five years in and they’re still offside.

2922 MR. Di FELICE: I think Rogers pointed out that they do, and we compliment them on carrying many dozens of Canadian ethnic services. And if that’s the case, we just wonder why we cannot hold them to continue to do that and ensure that Canadian ethnic communities continue to be, in a post-merger world, served at least as adequately as they are now.

2923 Maintaining the status quo shouldn’t be a challenge given what has been presented at this hearing by Rogers themselves.

2924 MR. LEVIN: I’d like to add to Aldo’s point and reiterate a little bit of Peter’s point from yesterday.

2925 I think the writing is pretty clear. The multicultural services, the reason there’s no commitment towards them is they want they migrated into the app world. And the question is, why?

2926 Well, again, I think Peter brought up a very good question, and maybe the Commission can look into it further, but we lived in the world of bandwidth constraints, and now we’re living in a world of financial constraints. And that’s got nothing to do with us, unfortunately. It’s got to do with deals and structures that these BDUs have done with their technology provider. And ultimately, the multicultural group is the ones that are facing the brunt of the challenge.

2927 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, I think just to sum all of that up in terms of -- you know, the issue is that as it relates to any of our specific asks, we’re kind of just looking for status quo.

2928 You know, it’s interesting. We’ve heard from other intervenors who’ve said, “Rogers should do this. Rogers should do this. They should spend tens of millions of dollars. They should do is in addition to what they’re already doing.”

2929 In the case of what our asks our is we just want what they’re already doing. You know, like, that’s kind of where we stand. And the only thing we can take from the opposition to that is that they’re not going to do what they’re already doing. And that kind of makes us a little concerned. That’s all.

2930 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thanks. Thank you for that. You’ve answered a lot of my questions, then, in your comprehensive answer.

2931 But one that I wanted to ask you directly was whether or not you’re able to provide some specific examples of situations involving Rogers when the Wholesale Code or various vertically-integrated mechanisms such as undue preference -- sorry, various other regulatory mechanisms such as undue preference or dispute-resolution tools did not provide the sufficient -- did not prove to be sufficient safeguards.

2932 MR. GOLDSTEIN: So let me start. You know, I think as Aldo indicated in terms of our response earlier on on due preference, you know, it’s concerning. It’s adversarial, right? Like, you know, we’re -- you know, if we filed a complaint with the Commission, Rogers knows what it is and the Commission has highlighted it.

2933 I think we’re probably going to want to take that back. And I know IBG has been asked a similar, you know, and to respond in writing. So I think we’ll be in discussions with them in terms of the nature of what we say or don’t say.

2934 I don’t know, Aldo, if you want to say -- you’ve thought about it.

2935 MR. Di FELICE: Yes, I’m fine with the -- complying with your undertaking.


2937 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Yeah.

2938 MR. Di FELICE: I just -- I had pointed out already that in our history, at least during my history of the last 23 years, we’ve never engaged in any complaint with Rogers.

2939 At the same time, I’ve pointed out that since Let’s Talk TV, we’ve suffered some very serious erosion of our visibility of our core services.

2940 So like we’ve said, when we are so reliant on a partner, fighting with the partner is not a good idea. We don’t want to win battles and lose the war. We want to make friends, not enemies. And we think that an independent overseer, like the CRTC, could put in place conditions that would at least ensure that things don’t worsen.

2941 It would still be up to us to figure out how to repair the damage that has occurred since 2015, but -- I’ll leave it at that.

2942 THE CHAIRPERSON: Pardon me for interrupting. I just want to just clarify. So certainly, if you wish to do so, you can respond to Commissioner Anderson’s question by an undertaking, or you suggested you might want to consult with the other group. And if so, just please indicate to us that you’ll be responding to the undertaking in that manner, together, whichever you choose. But we’ll certainly be happy to accept any further response to the question by way of undertaking.

2943 And of course, in relation to any information that you believe is confidential, it can be filed with the appropriate request for confidential treatment. And I think you know the date for those is November the 29th.

2944 Each day I have to remind myself and look at the number I wrote on my notepad. Thank you.

2945 Sorry to interrupt, Commissioner Anderson.

2946 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Those were actually all of my questions. I wanted to thank you very much for your time and for your thorough responses.

2947 And I’ll give the floor back to the Chair.

2948 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Commissioner Anderson.

2949 Commissioner Lafontaine, any other question?

2950 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Yes, I have a couple of questions for this intervenor.

2951 Thank you very much, Mr. Di Felice, Mr. Goldstein, and Mr. Levin for your submission today. I’d just like to better understand your recommendation in terms of Rogers carriage of ethnic multicultural services.

2952 You’re proposing that Rogers continue to carry all of the ethnic services that are currently being distributed presumably by both Rogers and Shaw. Is that correct?

2953 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Yes, that’s correct.

2954 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: And do you have a sense of how many services that would be?

2955 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think Rogers -- although, what did they say on ---

2956 MR. Di FELICE: Rogers carries ---

2957 MR. GOLDSTEIN: --- Monday, 152?

2958 MR. Di FELICE: --- eight of our services.

2959 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Yeah.

2960 MR. Di FELICE: In terms of our -- overall, or just our services.

2961 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Our services? All right.

2962 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Well, I guess the question is, and if you don’t know the answer, perhaps you can provide it in a written submission as an undertaking, is you’re suggesting that all ethnic services, and I suspect that this isn’t just ECG’s and TLN’s ethnic services, that they all continue to be carried after the closing. And what I’m trying to understand is how many ethnic services would that consist of.

2963 MR. LEVIN: So, from what I understood from the Rogers hearing, they have 152 total ethnic services, and that’s a combination of both foreign and Canadian independent.

2964 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Yes, and I think we’re only referring obviously to the Canadian side of the equation. And so, I think they had said something like 70 or 80.

2965 MR. LEVIN: Eighty.

2966 MR. GOLDSTEIN: You know, we could try to do it. The challenge with us identifying that is it’s not always abundantly clear, you know, in terms of the extent of carriage of all channels. That’s not meant -- by the way, that’s not meant as a criticism. I just think a BDU is probably in a better position to say what it carries versus a third party.

2967 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: I take your point. Thank you very much.

2968 Now, in terms of the app, we’ve heard a lot about that this week, and you’ve made submissions about it. Rogers has stated that this app development service that they are proposing to provide to independent services, as well as the ad tech platform, that those are two benefits to the system for independent broadcasters. Yet, in your submissions today, what I’m hearing is this app component is a mechanism for Rogers to move independent ethnic services from the regulated sphere to the unregulated sphere; is that correct? It’s not linear plus app, it’s go to the app; is that correct?

2969 MR. GOLDSTEIN: So, I think, yes. I think there is -- and I think they were quite clear about this in their application. I think they are working to try to transition services from the regulated space to the unregulated space, such that it is today. The -- I think that, you know, that’s going to happen over a period of time.

2970 But, you know, for us, we’re looking -- you know, we think that the regulated, you know, traditional BDU echo system is going to be around for some time in some form. We think it remains important. We also recognize that we’re going to need to exist in that app space. I think Slava may want to talk about, you know, just that app development and what is involved in it.

2971 MR. LEVIN: So, just -- the best way to put it is we’ve already been notified that some of our services are going to be shut down from the Rogers system. It was just pure luck that we were developing an application for Comcast, and it wasn’t for Rogers, actually, for Videotron. Videotron came to us and said, “Hey, we’re not doing so well on multicultural. You guys are the experts. Help us.” So, we started development of Tuber.

2972 Now, Tuber wasn’t designed as a Comcast product. It was designed to be an iOS, an Apple -- sorry, iOS, Android, SmartTV product, but we shifted our development. It took a long time, two years to build with a lot of investment. And you know, for myself personally, it was -- having Rogers come on board wasn’t that they told us they wanted it. It was more of a “it’s here” and it can be used as a, I guess, safeguard to migrate our services that are going to be shut down at some point in time to the application. And in addition, the services that Rogers would not be interested in launching could have a home within their ecosystem on Tuber.

2973 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Okay, thank you for that. Now, if I may, what are the implications for the Canadian broadcasting system and for Canadians for ethnic services being migrated away from the traditional platform to the app environment at the present time? What are the implications of access and in terms of the financial well-being of your service to be able to service Canadians?

2974 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I’ll start, and I think one of the thing -- and then I think Slava and Aldo both want to add something on this. You know, I think one of the things we highlighted earlier in questioning from Commissioner Anderson is, you know, our audience, our subscribers, you know, aren’t -- you know, sometimes they’re older, you know, in a lot of instances. They’re not necessarily at the forefront of technology. So, they’re not a constituency that is always moving quickly as early adopters on technology and looking to go subscribe to OTT services or apps. I think they like it being delivered in the traditional, linear scheduled fashion that we do on -- in the BDU echo system.

2975 So, an immediate move today before that audience is educated, that it -- you know, you get more and more people who are taking up those services would be somewhat catastrophic because you would lose out, in that you would see a lot of subscriber drop-off. But, I don’t know, Slava, if you want to start, and then Aldo, you can add to it.

2976 MR. LEVIN: When we were developing the user interface Tuber, we tried to mimic as close as possible the traditional environment that the consumers are used to. And just a little history, you know, from an ethnic channel’s perspective, we built an application, our first application called NEXTV in 2006. This was before YouTube. So, we kind of have an understanding what the multicultural or if you’re a language consumer wanted.

2977 The younger groups are easier. They understand technology. The older generation is going to have a harder time. And if it’s not available in a traditional environment in their current EPG, but you have to get into an app to get into an EPG, it’s going to cause a challenge. It’s all about education. I’ve said that for a long time.

2978 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Is monetization of the service similar to the regulated sphere for the -- when you’ve been moved, is there a change in the monetization for the services?

2979 MR. LEVIN: So, great question here. So, yes, there is a change. The change is actually -- we’re trying to make it more affordable to the consumer. In the current environment, the winner always is the BDU when you’re talking dollars and cents. The losers are the consumers, because they’re paying too much for the product, and the broadcasters who are -- whose products that are undervalued over the course of the last decade.

2980 When we looked at the Tuber model, we said, look, you know, we’ve got to take it back to the broadcasters and the consumers. So, we created a flat-fee package, all-you-can-eat. The consumer gets every language under the sun, then they can filter out by the language group and have their own language appear in the environment. And that’s not to say that the BDU does not get a share of that revenue as well to be in an app environment. So, Aldo, I think you wanted to add something?

2981 MR. Di FELICE: So, just to be clear, our fear is that there is going to be a forced move from a regulated environment that we’re talking about here that still has over 10 million subscribers on which our channels reside into an unregulated environment through the app. We’re not against developing an app and having it appear on a platform -- a Rogers platform. We’re all for that. But it is not necessarily related to being forced at the behest of a carrier, not at the behest of the regulator to remove ourselves from the regulated system.

2982 We -- TLN Group has been independent for only two years. We’ve been loyal to the Canadian broadcast system, the regulated system. We don’t feel we should be ashamed of the fact that our TV channels have and continue to be exclusively available on Canadian licenced BDUs. In fact, and I think Slava will confirm this as well, it’s been his experience, we’ve signed affiliation agreements in the past that prevented us from making our channels or our content available on unregulated platforms. That’s changing.

2983 But our -- putting our content and our channels on unregulated platforms is not an answer -- but is not an answer to our question, which is why can’t we continue to be on the predominant regulated platform that the CRTC governs which still has over 10 million subscribers in Canada. The two aren’t linked. The transition should not be forced at the behest of a carrier, especially like a carrier that is overwhelmingly powerful.

2984 I think that’s my answer to your question.

2985 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you very much for responding to my questions today. I appreciate it.

2986 Thank you, Mr. Chair.

2987 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you again for participating in the proceeding and for your fulsome responses to all of our questions. You have been very helpful.

2988 Thank you, and I wish you a wonderful day.

2989 Madam Secretary -- oh, pardon me?

2990 MR. LEVIN: I just wanted to say one thing and I would like to say goodbye to you.

2991 I think what I'm hearing -- and I think to take effect is, the theme of this hearing is fear, and the fear of what tomorrow is going to be.

2992 So that’s all I just wanted to leave you with. We are all, as independents, have a fear of not knowing what tomorrow is going to be.

2993 THE CHAIRPERSON: Understood. Thank you ---

2994 MR. LEVIN: Thank you.

2995 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- for the additional comment, and again, thank you for your participation, and I wish you a great day.

2996 Madam Secretary?

2997 MS. ROY: Thank you very much.

2998 We will take a five-minute break to connect everybody for the next panel. Thank you.

--- Upon recessing at 11:32 a.m./

--- L'audience est suspendue à 11h32

--- Upon resuming at 11:42 a.m./

--- L'audience est reprise à 11h42

2999 MS. ROY: Mr. Chairman, we are ready.

3000 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Please go ahead, Madam Secretary.

3001 MS. ROY: Thank you.

3002 We will now hear the next participants, Canadian Broadcasting Museum Foundation, S.U.C.C.E.S.S., Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce, UBC Digital Emergency Medicine interCultural Online Health Network, and Coastal First Nations/Great Bear Initiative.

3003 We will hear each presentation, which will then be followed by questions by the Commissioners to all participants.

3004 We will begin with the presentation by Canadian Broadcasting Museum Foundation. Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have five minutes for your presentation.


3005 MS. WILKINSON: Thank you.

3006 Chairman Scott, Commissioners, Commission staff. Bonjour, and thank you for this opportunity to appear today. We very much appreciate it.

3007 I’m Kealy Wilkinson, the Executive Director of the Canadian Broadcast Museum Foundation.

3008 With me today are the Foundation’s Chair, writer, producer, director, Doug (audio skip).

3009 MS. ROY: Ms. Wilkinson, I don’t know if you hear me, but maybe turn off your video because we lost you.

3010 MR. THOMPSON: Kealey, they lost you. Turn off your video, they said.

3011 MS. PRINGLE: Maybe since our time is short, we can -- I'll continue with the introductions, if you can hear me. I'm Valerie Pringle, but she was introducing Dave Taylor, who is the Board Chair; Doug Thompson is with us; and the Chief Technology Officer, Felix Chau.

3012 And so we are here to underline the enormous significance to Canada of our audio-visual heritage. So we have got a little video, a contemporary Doodly to explain. We will run that now and then I will continue. So we can roll that.


3014 MS. PRINGLE: The challenge of geography means that communications, initially radio and then television, of course, were key to Canada’s evolution, shaped our sense of who we are, our culture, our technology, and our identity.

3015 But Canada has done nothing to preserve this record and soon it will have vanished.

3016 The CBMF appearing before you now, is committed, as you saw in the Doodly, to the collection, the preservation, and the celebration of that broadcast heritage; radio, television, digital services in French, English, Indigenous, and other languages.

3017 But you know, much has already been lost and the lifespan of the remaining program record is running out.

3018 We have identified, as you saw, a secure preservation location for these treasures. We are poised to make them nationally accessible through an online virtual facility called ‘Aireum’.

3019 So we’re ready to move. That’s where things stand now. We are ready to move and all that is lacking is money. We need seed funding and we need the necessary industry partnerships.

3020 So we humbly say to you, Commissioners, this is the time for you to make and preserve our history by encouraging Rogers’ participation in the creation of the national media depository and unique cultural platform that AIREUM will become, you can ensure an enduring and truly national, and a tangible benefit for this acquisition.

3021 You will trigger the preservation and availability of a century of this country’s audio-visual record and create a unique, very secure 21st century depository for Canada’s complex cultural heritage.

3022 So look at this. What a matchless gift for future generations.

3023 You more than anyone know how quickly change is affecting our communications infrastructure and the viability of Canada’s creative sector. So delay here is simply not an option.

3024 So I will say, I will urge you please to support this splendid national endeavour to preserve our history.

3025 Think big. And thank you so much for your time and attention to this. I hope this is not the first you have heard of it and I know it will not be the last. And I will say, we’re happy to answer your questions. And I certainly hope Kealy Wilkinson, who ahs been the driving force behind this for 20 years, is able to get back on line and join us.

3026 But we are more than happy to answer your questions. We think is so important.

3027 MS. ROY: Thank you very much.

3028 We will now hear the presentation of S.U.C.C.E.S.S.

3029 Ms. Queenie Choo, can you hear me?

3030 MS. CHOO: Yes, I can hear you. I am just trying to switch on my video.

3031 MS. ROY: Thank you very much.


3032 MS. CHOO: Good morning Commissioners and Commission staff. Thank you so much for your invitation to discuss our support for the Rogers-Shaw application. My name is Queenie Choo and I am the CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S..

3033 S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is one of the largest non-profit social service organizations in B.C. with 40 service locations across Metro Vancouver, Northern B.C. and Ontario, as well as overseas.

3034 Yes, I can hear you; can you hear me okay?

3035 MS. ROY: Yes, we can hear you perfectly. Thank you.

3036 MS. CHOO: Okay. So I will carry on?

3037 MS. ROY: Yes, please do. Yes, you may continue.

3038 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, Ms. Choo, we can hear you. Please continue.

3039 MS. CHOO: Okay.

3040 Our mission is to empower people on their Canadian journey through services and advocacy that promote belonging, wellness, and independence. S.U.C.C.E.S.S. offers a wide range of services in the area of settlement, English language training, employment, and entrepreneurship, family, youth and seniors programming, community development, affordable housing, and seniors care.

3041 S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is one of Canada’s largest settlement service providers, and aims to promote the social, economic and cultural integration of individuals who are preparing to move to Canada, recently arrived in B.C., or are long-term residents.

3042 The approved transaction will create many benefits and opportunities for our members, especially new Canadians. In particular, extending television service to more rural and remote areas will have the impact of bringing OMNI’s high-quality programming to more ethnic and third-language audiences. This effect is helpful for fostering social connections and enhancing a sense of belonging amongst our members.

3043 As the chair of the OMNI Pacific Advisory Council, Vancouver, I believe that diversity and inclusion are fundamental values of both our country and S.U.C.C.E.S.S., and that multicultural programming is necessary for helping meet the needs of our diverse communities.

3044 The approved transaction is also expected to preserve almost 5000 jobs and create 1200 net new jobs in B.C.. The creation and preservation of job opportunities is essential for helping new Canadians on their settlement and integration journey. This benefit is especially important to our membership, as S.U.C.C.E.S.S. offers services in the area of employment and aims to help job seekers build their skills for in-demand jobs and achieve meaningful employment.

3045 Rogers’ $1 billion commitment to network expansion and connectivity in the Western provinces and B.C. will also improve access to education, employment, healthcare, and other essential programs within our members’ communities.

3046 Approval of this transaction will enable Rogers to extend its Connected for Success Program to the Shaw serving areas. This program, which offers high-speed, low-cost internet to subsidized tenants, seniors, families with children, and also to individuals receiving disability and income support, is essential in ensuring that Canada’s most vulnerable are able to participate in the digital economy.

3047 The extension of Connected for Success to Western Canada will facilitate more affordable access to broadband and television. It will also ensure that much needed news and information programming, provided by OMNI on the basic service, is extended to all individuals living in B.C.. These benefits will help our members more easily connect to Canadian society and build support networks within their communities, objectives which are at the heart of our mission.

3048 It is our view that no one is better positioned to deliver on these commitments than Rogers and Shaw.

3049 Thank you for the opportunity to express our support for this application.

3050 MS. ROY: Thank you very much. We will now hear the presentation of Owen Sound Chamber of Commerce. Please introduce yourself and you may begin.


3051 MS. AUSTIN: Good morning, Commissioners and Commission staff. My name is Diane Austin and I am the CEO of the Owen Sound & District Chamber of Commerce in Ontario.

3052 I am pleased to be here today as a supporting intervenor and to express my full support for the Rogers-Shaw transaction.

3053 The Owen Sound District Chamber of Commerce supports and represents over 1500 businesses in our community with a membership of the Chamber of 400 businesses and growing. We have a collegial and constructive relationship with the City of Owen Sound as well as Chambers and Businesses in Grey County.

3054 Our Chamber has had an excellent relationship with the local Rogers TV. We have worked extensively with our station on multiple events and special endeavors.

3055 Over the many years, Rogers has filmed/taped our annual Business Excellence Awards at various venues. Their expertise and knowledge of running this event is paramount for our community. This event is crucial and is considered an important and integral part in recognizing businesses in the area. This year due to COVID it was held in studio which showcased the professionalism of our local TV partners, Mark and Darryl.

3056 Rogers TV has also assisted us in hosting multiple Advocacy events such as our All Candidates Meeting for municipal, provincial and federal elections. Also in the political format, Rogers TV assisted us with the Leaders/Mayors Forum which is held annually. We also have a lot of Q and As with our local political members as well.

3057 Workshops and seminars are also provided by the Chamber and Rogers. These are held live and then puts it on their website as well as Rogers for all to review.

3058 The Chamber in affiliation with DC Taylors, which is a local business -- we’re doing a weekly segment with Rogers to promote local businesses in Grey and Bruce counties to support the local community and the businesses during the -- due to the loss of revenue they received through COVID is highlighting these businesses to make the community aware to shop local. This goal is to bring awareness to businesses first and foremost in order to help them survive and succeed.

3059 The hosts are myself, Diane Austin, the CEO of the Chamber, and Lois Taylor, who was an owner of DC Taylor Jewellers in Owen Sound. This project is a great success as there is a waiting list for business to be on this local program. It has brought great awareness on how important our local station is for the businesses, community and myself as a Chamber.

3060 Rogers TV local and the Great County Chambers are currently in partnership with a new venture called Support Local. This project is to promote the community to stay in the area and support all local businesses, restaurants, hotels and the cultural community. The partnership entails advertising, sponsoring. We also do the first period of our local OHL Team, which are called the Owen Sound Attack. There’s a lot of viewers that join on these games, and it is -- we are providing this for the whole season from start to finish.

3061 Not only will this bring exposure to our businesses, but awareness on how Rogers TV is a local community-minded organization. I am enjoying working with Mark and Dale as their passion for their job shows in all they do while keeping that small hometown support and vision alive. Our relationship is a win-win as far as exposure, support and awareness for both our organizations, and I will continue to work with this amazing organization.

3062 I have seen firsthand the many positive contributions from Rogers TV to support our local businesses and community events in Owen Sound. For these reasons, I fully support the Rogers/Shaw transaction. Thank you very much for the time today.

3063 MS. ROY: Thank you very much. We’ll now hear the presentation of UBC Digital Emergency Medicine, interCultural Online Health Network. Please introduce yourself, and you may begin.


3064 DR. HO: Great. Thank you very much. Chairman Scott, Commissioners and Commission staff, thank you very much for allowing me to speak for a few minutes on supporting the Rogers/Shaw transaction.

3065 I am Kendall Ho. I am an emergency physician in Vancouver. I’m also a professor at UBC, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine. I have the privilege of calling in from the traditional unceded ancestral territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. I would like to support this application in speaking to two areas: multicultural population information needs and also equity of access of services digitally throughout B.C.

3066 Canada as a country, we believe in equity of access for all, but there’s nothing more evident in health where we have a publicly funded health service, and we subscribe to the World Health Organization principles of health equity for all. And in my work, both professionally and academically, I really appreciate Rogers’ contributions and support.

3067 One of the areas I work on is a network called interCultural Online Health Network. This is a non-profit organization within the Faculty of Medicine, within my Digital Emergency Medicine Unit and is supported by B.C. Ministry of Health. The concept is to provide health information, accurate, curated and useful information for our multicultural population so that they can use their own language and culture to understand the information and act on it to optimize self-management for chronic diseases.

3068 We conduct webinars, forums and also online blogs like what we’re doing here. And we really appreciate Rogers through OMNI TV as a subsidiary to support as the media sponsor for these events so that when they are held live that our multicultural population will know about these events and to be able to come and also online so that our multicultural population can be anywhere in British Columbia and be able to access the information that’s necessary to support them in health information so that they can live well and healthy.

3069 Also, since COVID, starting in May, OMNI TV Chinese channel has been really tireless in trying to interview and provide curated information to support community wellness and safety through COVID. I’m a spokesperson of the Vancouver Coastal Health on COVID in Cantonese, and every week since May, I’ve been in conversation with the anchor of the Chinese TV news in OMNI so that we can provide information, but really support our citizens to protect themselves and protect each other in the community. These types of glue is vitally important through communication for us to understand and share common values of protecting each other.

3070 I also would like to speak to the importance of infrastructure, an investment that Rogers has committed to in providing 5G. Indeed, International Telecommunication Union has declared broadband access as a basic human right. In fact, CRTC, thanks to you, you have declared in 2016 that broadband services is a basic service that needs to be fulfilled.

3071 For me to be able to deliver virtual care, which I do using computers to provide services to our patients, and provide digital health services, such as sensors, verbals to help patients to self-monitor well, we need an infrastructure not only in urban and regional areas, but throughout British Columbia in rural, remote, Indigenous communications to promote this equity of access of service of care. And again, Rogers has been investing and committing to invest in this infrastructure to help move us forward.

3072 And so, in conclusion, I would like to truly express my gratitude to Rogers through OMNI TV so that there’s information equity of access, but also to have the commitment to invest in digital infrastructure so that we can overcome the digital divide wherever we live in Canada to truly live and attest to the equity of access of care that we all aspire to. Thank you very much for this time, and I welcome questions afterwards.

3073 MS. ROY: Thank you. And now, the last intervenor for this group, Coastal First Nations, Great Bear Initiative. Please introduce yourself, and you may begin.


3074 MS. SMITH-MARTIN: Thank you, Chairman Scott, CRTC Commissioners and Commission staff. First, I also want to acknowledge that Coastal First Nations’ Great Bear Initiative offices are located on the beautiful traditional ancestral unceded territories of the Coast Salish people, Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Thank you for allowing us to be on your territory.

3075 My traditional name is Xaad Xyella. I come from the Lax Kw’alaams Clan of Haida Gwaii. My English name is Christine Smith-Martin. I am the Executive Director of Coastal First Nations, Great Bear Initiative. I am here today to provide my full support for Rogers’ acquisition of Shaw.

3076 Coastal First Nations is a coalition of nine First Nations coastal communities spanning roughly 32,000 square kilometres and approximately 20,000 members who call the Great Bear Rainforest their homes. Together, the strong coalition of coastal communities work tirelessly together to develop opportunities for their communities. Coastal First Nations role in the administrative arm of this coalition is to develop partnership and provide opportunities for our communities.

3077 Each of our partnership is vetted through a process that includes the recognition of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights and the Truth and Reconciliation calls for action. That’s very important. It was very clear in our gatherings and eventually in our meetings we began to build a relationship that turned into a partnership with Rogers.

3078 We got a great understanding that they understood the importance of UNDRIP, and they already began work within Rogers to fulfil some of these calls to -- for reconciliation calls to action 92, which directly is for corporations. They demonstrated that and wanted to work with Indigenous communities in the right way to addressing digital divide.

3079 The Highway 16 capital investment to build 12 new hires from my hometown, Prince Rupert all the way to Prince George, and the remainder Highway 16 in Haida Gwaii which will now receive five towers. This build will save lives along this stretch of notorious Highway 16 where many of our murdered and missing women have gone missing. Now, if help is needed through their cell phones, they will call, and someone will answer once this build is completed.

3080 After working together, we determined that it was a good partnership with aligned values and commitment, and Rogers Communications and Coastal First Nations signed a partnership agreement.

3081 Some of these partnership agreement highlights include:

3082 Five new cell towers and a major upgrade to existing infrastructure of a build in Haida Gwaii, improving cellular coverage to the majority of Haida Gwaii population, as well as bring in near coverage of Highway 16 from Masset to Port Clements to Queen Charlotte;

3083 We also -- the $1M Creative BC Fund to support Indigenous content to develop and promote nationhood through storytelling, traditional ways of teaching, empowering youth voices through arts, media, and podcast, internet, and to support the process of decolonization and reconciliation;

3084 Promoting and purchasing carbon credits through our Great Bear Carbon Credit Limited Partnership that funds the great work in our communities of the stewardship programs across our nation;

3085 But also, the commitment to bring CFN into the boardrooms that Rogers are in, and possibly looking at voluntary customer contributions, or other partner contributions to purchase the Great Bear Carbon Credits to continue on with our work;

3086 Also supporting community-lead connectivity solutions and digital collaboration to enhance the stewardship impact work of the Coastal Guardian Watchman Programs while exploring renewable energy alternatives for telecommunication equipment and data centres;

3087 Developing e-commerce solutions for local artists, craftspeople, and entrepreneurs that will bring amazing opportunities for our communities. We’re just in the works of finalizing some of our artisans to appear on Shopping Channel through Rogers. This has been in the works for approximately two years;

3088 Working together to deploy a $1B infrastructure fund Indigenous communities need to the Great Bear Rainforest;

3089 From our experience, Rogers has -- sees Coastal First Nations as a key partner to opening up new and progressive business opportunities to help them become global leaders in the telecommunication by adopting Indigenous principles and creating solutions.

3090 In closing, I want to share that we’ve been working hard for the past two years to build authentic relationships, ones that are based on reciprocity, respect, and mutual understandings that Indigenous communities hold lots of knowledge, hold lots of solutions for the climate crisis that we’re currently experiencing, not only here in British Columbia, but the rest of the world.

3091 Rogers continue to show up and demonstrate to Coastal First Nations, and are willing to listen, learn, and really step up to meet Indigenous’ connectivity needs in a meaningful way.

3092 This past summer, Rogers’ five executives came up to our communities and sat with our communities, sat with our elders, sat with our chiefs to hear what their concerns are and where they want to see this partnership evolve to.

3093 Working together, we can close the digital divide, and even leapfrog Coastal First Nations’ communities into not just participating but leading the digital in the economy.

3094 Thank very much for allowing us to participate today in the CRTC hearing.

3095 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation. Thank you all for your presentations.

3096 I will turn the microphone to Commissioner Desmond.

3097 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: So good morning and thank you for being here today. I appreciated hearing from each of you. And perhaps what I’ll do is direct my questions to each of you individually. And maybe what I’ll do is start with questions in order of presentation.

3098 So the first person we had the opportunity to hear from today was -- I’m just looking -- Ms. Pringle? I think you were assisting Ms. Wilkinson. So, Ms. Pringle, if I could direct my questions to you?

3099 MS. PRINGLE: Yes, absolutely.

3100 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, thank you. So I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about the tangible benefit package that Rogers has proposed. And you’re suggesting -- or asking that the Commission consider allocating a portion of those benefits towards your media archive.

3101 Just wondering if you could expand a little bit with a little more specificity as to how that benefit package -- if it was to be awarded to your organization, how that would help fund your project, with some specific details.

3102 MS. PRINGLE: Well, I could do that. I would say I think our executive director, Kealy Wilkinson, is online now. So not to punt the question, but she can probably answer it in more detail, which is, I think, what you’re asking for.

3103 Kealy, are you live in there?

3104 MS. WILKINSON: I’m here. I’m not sure that you can pick me up. Can you hear ---

3105 MS. PRINGLE: Yes.

3106 MS. WILKINSON: Oh, good.

3107 MS. PRINGLE: Please, can you answer that question ---

3108 MS. WILKINSON: Absolutely.

3109 MS. PRINGLE: --- and what specifically would we use the benefits for?

3110 MS. WILKINSON: Yeah.

3111 Commissioner Desmond, thank for the question. Our proposal, at the time when we made our original submission, was for financial support to help the organization play its full role in administering the next four or five years of development of the facility that is going to become the national media depository.

3112 That will take the form of a public-private partnership in which elements of the Government of Canada, and the industry, and ourselves will be working to create the facility underneath the -- well, 60 stories below ground, indeed, that will become the home for our analogue and, in future, all of our digital media.

3113 And in order to do that, we, of course, are going to have to employ technical people with technical expertise and advanced administrative expertise to make sure that all of these things happen in the appropriate order and that the project in fact is completed on time so that we’re then able to begin moving the elements that need to be placed there for safekeeping in the facility.

3114 So that was the intention of the request for financial support made at the time of the submission in September.

3115 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, thank you. That’s very helpful. And would you be able to quantify what, in your view, is a reasonable request at this stage for funding?

3116 MS. WILKINSON: The -- Commissioner, the request that we made was for $515,000 a year, which would allow us to employ the professional expertise that is going to be required over that next four or five-year period.

3117 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay. So just to clarify, that was intended for a four to five-year period of time?

3118 MS. WILKINSON: It was.

3119 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: That same amount annually? Okay. Thank you.

3120 And in the event the funds are not allocated to your organization, could you just speak briefly as to what the impact would be?

3121 MS. PRINGLE: Catastrophic. Oh, Kealy. It’s like -- you know, Canada is just an embarrassing laggard in this. We haven’t, as I said, preserved our broadcast heritage, and we’re losing it day by day. So I mean, for example, if you want to see, you know, what happened in the Richard Riots in Montreal, you know, a famous piece of Canadian history, that’s gone. The tapes are disintegrating.

3122 We don’t have any organized way of keeping them. We’ve been collecting them, you know, along with CBC, but nothing organized has been done, so we’re losing things day by day.

3123 I don’t know, Kealy or David, if you want to add something to that. But yeah, it’s catastrophic. We’re losing this game if we don’t act now. Kealy?

3124 MS. WILKINSON: Valerie’s perfectly right, of course, Commissioner. The fact is that a partnership is required in order to make this happen. And if Canada is not going to remain the laggard that it is, and if we’re going to in fact engage in preservation of our audiovisual heritage, which has become the principle resource for academic and, you know, for any kind of study of anything, it has surpassed text.

3125 In fact, the last 1000 years or so, the historical record has always been kept in written form, but in the 20th century, that’s changed with the potential to record actual events. So in the space of years, the audiovisual record has become the primary and the preferred information source. So it’s historical importance is recognized around the world.

3126 Collection and preservation of a country’s audiovisual record has become the common priority of nationhood, in fact. This initially took the form of analogue film and tape recordings for which temperature and humidity were determinants from safety, but in fact, in some countries, I mean, we are one of them, our geology offers protection, and underground sites were identified decades ago as the safest option for safeguarding this material.

3127 So in Switzerland, for instance, tunnels deep in the Alps were renovated for audio-visual storage and preservation. In Germany, the wartime relic of an extensive hospital complex that’s really deep underground was restored in (audio skip) to protect that country's audio-visual archive.

3128 In Britain, they're using the network of missile silos, and the United States Packard Campus of the Library of Congress occupies the former nuclear bunker that used to store the federal dollar reserves in case of war.

3129 And similar accommodations are being made elsewhere around the world.

3130 But in Canada, we, of course, have a natural advantage. We have the Canadian Shield, and it's pursing that opportunity that these resources will allow us to achieve.

3131 Dave?

3132 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Ms. Wilkinson, I'm just curious. How long have you been working on this project?

3133 MS. WILKINSON: We started in 2001 when -- in fact, as a result of the Commission's encouragement. It was the CRTC basically recognized the importance of this failure on the part of a policy in Canada, and they -- their encouragement generated CTV's initial financial support that got the Foundation launched, and then subsequently triggered parallel backing from other major broadcasters. So we have a great deal of confidence in the Commission's almost legendary power of regulatory encouragement.

3134 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay. Thank you so much, and I appreciate your passion for this project and for your time today.

3135 So my next set of questions really then is directed to Ms. Choo with S.U.C.C.E.S.S.

3136 So good morning, Ms. Choo.

3137 MS. CHOO: Good morning.

3138 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: In your intervention and with your comments this morning, you did emphasize that there would be benefits that would arise from this merger that would help the multicultural communities that you serve, and by providing more diverse content.

3139 Just to start, I'm curious if you could just advise, like, how many of your clients would be using your services through the traditional broadcast system, or would be more on the internet and using broadband?

3140 MS. CHOO: We actually serve almost 70 to 2,000 unique clients every year. And certainly, there's a huge population in a diverse community in the Lower Mainland of BC, as well as, you know, in the remote areas, that currently, because they don’t have the connections and not be able to connect to the cultural and ethnic programs, especially the news, you know, is a way to get connected with all Canadians across the country.

3141 And certainly, this will enable people to get connected, to find out what's going on, and be informed what's going on.

3142 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: So when you speak about being connected, do you mean primarily through the internet? Is that what you're ---

3143 MS. CHOO: I think most people need the internet connection as well as the broadband, especially in the remote area that they might not have even the connection.

3144 So without the connection, basically, it's impossible even get connected and be able to access culturally-appropriate program so that they get -- they would get the information they need to be able to integrate to our community.

3145 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay. So I was impressed with the broad area that you do serve. I note in your opening comments you provide service both in Vancouver, Northern BC, and Ontario.

3146 So it sounds like your clients, primarily in northern BC, would be connected more through the internet. But your clients maybe in metro Vancouver or Ontario, would they be using the traditional broadcasting system when they're accessing your services?

3147 MS. CHOO: So even though we do not serve directly to those people in the northern part of Canada does not mean that they don’t have the need.

3148 So we do have our settlement partners in the rest of our country, especially the northern part of our country where internet connections might not be as good as the metro-Vancouver, so I think that not only serving our community but a broader community that actually have the need to access the services that is culturally appropriate. Otherwise, they will be deprived of those opportunities.

3149 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: So just maybe I could ask you specifically about what you do provide now by virtue of the -- like, the traditional broadcast system. Can you just elaborate a little more on what your traditional service has been through -- maybe through your traditional services and your -- through the traditional system?

3150 MS. CHOO: So thank you for the question. And certainly, the current services by Rogers OMNI TV provide a lot of multicultural ethnic programs where there's news in different languages, for example, you know, in Mandarin and Cantonese, for different festivals, events, as well as, for example, the hockey night in Punjabi. That is well received by the Punjabi-speaking community.

3151 And also, you know, many of the programs that for the Asian community are well liked, as well as other languages, Italian, German, as well.

3152 So I think that this is certainly something that we thrive and we hope other part of our country, especially the northern part of our country, also be able to access those programming.

3153 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Speaking specifically of the programming that you're offering now, is there something that Rogers could do to increase diversity or to contribute to the broadcasting system?

3154 MS. CHOO: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that certainly the programming, currently Rogers been featuring, for example, different events and you know, understanding what are the cultural aspect of it as well as the integration of the Canadian events, how bring different ethnic groups to further understand the Canadian culture, customs, is part of the integration for new Canadians to Canada.

3155 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, thank you.

3156 And for those clients, through the course of this hearing, there's been a lot of conversation about encouraging consumers, maybe, to move to the internet to watch some of your programming.

3157 Do you think that would have an impact on maybe some of your senior customers? Would they -- how would a transition away from the traditional system impact them, and what can we do to assist and make sure that the broadcasting system continues to meet their needs?

3158 MS. CHOO: Definitely. I am sure there is a community or demographic, certainly, they are not digitally savvy, and with the pandemic, certainly, during the last 20 months, many of our clients, particularly seniors, have been trying to -- we have been trying to provide them with the digital training. And certainly, we would like to see that provision be available to people. And certainly, we are hoping that people will be connected, especially those people who are not digitally savvy.

3159 And we do have the program called "Seniors Go Digital". And we're hoping that that will help those people who might not be able to access the information in a traditional way and be able to access information and news, especially, and their cultural events through Rogers.


3161 I just have one last question, I think, for you, Ms. Choo. And that is, through the course of this hearing we have heard -- and of course in your filing you presented the position that this transaction will help your clients. But we have also heard several intervenors be concerned that this transaction might jeopardize the Canadian Broadcasting System and because there might be fewer services available.

3162 I’m just wondering if you might comment on that, if your services or others are no longer carried, maybe under the same conditions of distribution, that might have a negative impact. So for example, it could impact Canadian jobs or revenues. That’s some of the opinions we have heard ion the last couple of days.

3163 So I just wondered if you might share your view on that.

3164 MS. CHOO: Thank you for the question. I think that definitely as I also mentioned in my presentation about the low cost availability of low-cast subscriptions will also help those people who are more vulnerable, who are not economically affordable in terms of those subscriptions.

3165 So you know, definitely the program that is offered by Rogers especially the Success for the Western Canadians will be able to help accessing those programming without, you know, causing a lot of -- in terms of their -- the financial situation.

3166 And certainly the employment piece I also mentioned that certainly will help increase employment in B.C. in particular.

3167 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Thank you. Those are all of my questions. And thank you for being available to answer those today.

3168 MS. CHOO: Thank you, Commissioner.

3169 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: So I think the next presenter was Ms. Austin from Owen Sound.

3170 MS. AUSTIN: Hello.

3171 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Good morning.

3172 MS. AUSTIN: Good morning.

3173 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: So I just have a few questions, if you don’t mind, this morning.

3174 I wanted to ask you first about tangible benefits and the tangible benefit package that was proposed by Rogers. In your written intervention you did comment on the tangible benefit package and in particular you commented on the lump sum payment and how that would assist recipients, especially given the pandemic.

3175 So I’m just wondering if you could give us a little more detail as to what you see as the benefits of a lump sum payment at this particular point in time.

3176 MS. AUSTIN: I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “lump sum payment”. Are you alluding to the idea or the fact that we are paying them for certain commercials for the Attack Team?

3177 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Maybe what I can do is take you to your filed intervention and I am looking specifically at one of your paragraphs where you do comment that you believe providing lump sum payments would benefit the recipients, especially given the economic impact of the pandemic. It was on the public record.

3178 MS. AUSTIN: Yes, yes. Lump sum payments during COVID, because of all the businesses -- as I am a representative of all the businesses in our community -- I think that what I mean by that is that to help the businesses move forward as they were impacted and we did receive some of that money in funding from the government to help them with that. And that is what I was referring to.

3179 And then when we did the conversation with Rogers in the Q and A it brought that forward so that the businesses were aware. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have known about this.

3180 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, Thank you.

3181 In your presentation this morning you did identify many of the benefits that would help your community in particular. I’m just wondering if you could perhaps elaborate on why you think the transaction might be in the public interest generally, more generally for other recipients as well, for other people as well.

3182 MS. AUSTIN: This area is -- I can’t say we are remote. We are in the upper part of Eastern Ontario, Southern Ontario. Rogers is doing everything they can to bring forward information and any details but they are even just outside of Owen Sound there are some businesses and recipients that don’t have access to that which, when I think with this merger they will be able to then in turn get access to all the television programs or anything, community events that they may have that they are not getting now.

3183 It’s more awareness because of the area where we are. Our geographical area, as I was listening to Ms. Choo -- the geographical area is quite large but the populace of it is about 200,000 so it’s a lot of people that aren’t receiving this service at the time. And I believe with this amalgamation it will offer that to people now that don’t have it.

3184 Now, she was talking about seniors. Owen Sound and area are -- well, a few years ago it was mentioned that we were third highest in seniors in our catchment area across Canada. And she was saying that there are a lot of people that don’t have access to internet because of their age or even access to the community projects.

3185 They really stick to their TVs. They will listen to Rogers if they are in Owen Sound proper, and that is important. And I think if we expand that then anyone outside will also have that.

3186 And we also have -- like I said, we just received 37 centimetres of snow so that isolates a lot of people as well.

3187 Does that answer your question?

3188 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Yes, that is very helpful. Thank you.

3189 And I appreciate your comment about the reliance on the traditional broadcasting system especially for seniors.

3190 In your intervention you do speak to the strength of building on community programming. I’m looking particularly at one of your items in your filed intervention when you say that the transaction ideally would build on the strength of Shaw’s existing Spotlight Community TV programs.

3191 So I'm just wondering what in particular you are looking for by way of improvements. Like, where would you see that type of programming being developed and in what fashion?

3192 MS. AUSTIN: I think with Shaw and with the affiliation with Rogers, because we are a smaller community, it is getting more involvement. It’s allowing the community to have access to more programs and different projects that are out there that we don’t currently have now. Part of the -- we’re not a big city, and getting access to what the big cities and the bigger communities have would be very helpful.

3193 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: To your knowledge, is there much by way of local community programming? You have talked about your -- the programming you are able to offer, but is there other community programming that Rogers provides locally?

3194 MS. AUSTIN: Oh, yes. Our local Rogers TV has a lot of different segments. Some of them are the Grey County where they reach out to people that they know are hot topics. And as a matter of fact, I was supposed to have been on one this morning for our Support Local program. That was another program they have.

3195 They also do the local OHL hockey games. There is the city, City Council. They do our city council meetings, not just in Owen Sound but in Meaford and different areas around. And I think that that is a link; so should they go broader, especially with all the chambers in Grey County.

3196 There is a new project that we’re starting that we want to link in and get everybody in our area involved. They have an awful lot of programs that I am aware of that I just can’t at the top of my head right now mention. But it is well watched.

3197 When I was doing my television segment yesterday morning with Rogers, called “It’s happening Here” there was someone that was listening that was joining us who said that they couldn’t believe how many hits we’re getting, not just with the Rogers TV but it’s then going out in Facebook and Instagram.

3198 “Have you watched this show that Rogers is putting on?”

3199 In my view, I would like to see it go broader to a larger audience and I think that is important and I would like to see that grow as well.

3200 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, thank you so much. Those are all of my questions. Thank you.

3201 MS. AUSTIN: Thank you very much.

3202 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: I think the next group that we heard from was Dr. Ho?

3203 DR. HO: Yes.

3204 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay. Good morning.

3205 DR. HO: Good morning, Commissioner Desmond.

3206 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: And thank you, again, for your presentation. I was very impressed with the service that you’re providing to patients, particularly during the pandemic and how important it is to be able to provide that virtual care. I think that’s amazing that you’re offering that service.

3207 I’m curious if you could tell us a little bit more about what you think Rogers could do maybe to extend that service. Is there something that could be done to maybe even offer that service more broadly?

3208 DR. HO: Thank you, Commissioner Desmond. I think there are two key areas where I think, with the commitment of Rogers and with CRTC’s encouragement, we can certainly expand. One is about information access. I think earlier on we talked about the fact that, you know, how many people access this, et cetera. That’s important. But in rural, remote and Indigenous communities, numbers tend to go against rural, remote communities, because if we look at the big numbers, it’s usually in urban area.

3209 But in a village of 100, 150 people, if even one person get infected with COVID, that’s a significant population that’s affected. And with the disease spread, it can be very, very fast. And so, I’d like to emphasize that the reach of the network is not only about getting the numbers but is reaching each community so that the information can get to each person.

3210 At this time of transition time, I know that there is broadcasting, the traditional one that many of us do continue to rely on and needs to be protected and move forward in terms of job and content, but we’re also moving into a new economy of, you know, information that’s on your mobile phones. And so, again, that’s another area that’s very important for us to be able to access information in the different ways during this transition. And I think this support and holding Rogers’ commitment to dedicate to the 5G network can help us cross towards this transition of economy.

3211 And so, from a health point of view, I know that, for example, for a Chinese, for a South Asian, for a Korean-speaking, Tagalog-speaking person, we all know how anxious it could be about COVID. We know that, especially, you know, since March last year we’re facing new information really rapidly coming at us. Imagine if we’re in a location where we don’t speak the local language or we don’t understand the language, and yet we live there. That raise anxiety even more.

3212 And so, the fact that OMNI TV commits to -- for example, our Chinese anchor interviewing me, I’m the Chinese spokesperson for the Vancouver Coastal Health, in COVID issues, to be able to, weekly, bring information to the communities so that they’re not kept in the dark, but they also provide information in their language, in their culture to be able to support them is vitally important.

3213 And finally, on a service point of view, it’s important to note general information. But when we have an information need, we need information just for me, just in time, just in case. And so, to have a network that can provide that type of service anywhere in British Columbia to be accessible, for example, my work with the 811 Service in British Columbia and B.C. Ministry of Health, is to provide that type of access to anyone regardless of their culture, location and area, where they live.

3214 And so, I hope that these, in some ways, answer your question, Commissioner Desmond, and also with the CRTC work on the policy side to be able to support health equity for access for all.

3215 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: You’ve raised some very important points, and I thank you for that answer.

3216 I just am curious if, in your view, the system is diverse enough, the programming is diverse enough, and do you have any thoughts on what Rogers might be able to do to enhance that diversity in a broadcasting system.

3217 DR. HO: Thank you for that. I don’t purport to understand all of what OMNI does or all of what Rogers does. What I do know is that for the type of intercultural programming, they’re very supportive, not just for me. You’ve heard from, for example, S.U.C.C.E.S.S., you’ve heard from other groups that they are making support for that. And for that, I appreciate it because it’s about increasing equity.

3218 Can we all achieve 100 per cent? Probably not today, but it’s important for us to have that relationship to continue to build, to expand. And from my viewpoint, they have been supportive of our in-person forums anywhere we have -- for example, in Chinese or South Asian forums, we have anywhere from 300 to the largest, 1,550 people, showing up in person. Now, that was before COVID, but since then, we have held seminars, webinars and also online forums and, for example, our Chinese forum last year in March, we have 2,000 people joining us in Chinese to provide that.

3219 I can’t do that as a health professional. But in partnership, in relationship with a trusted organization like OMNI TV who wants to be our media sponsor, who provides that for us in kind, these are the valuable type of relationship for us to work together towards it. And so, I’d love to one day to say, yes, we have complete equity of access and Rogers supports that access, but I appreciate Rogers helping, wanting to contribute.

3220 In academic world, we have something called appreciative inquiry. It’s not that there’s a challenge, but how do we start to overcome that challenge and take that first step? And I really appreciate that relationship with Rogers and hope that will continue to move that forward, and I really appreciate CRTC’s work in trying to make sure that broadcasting internet there’s fairness and equity for everybody in Canada.

3221 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, thank you so much. Those are my questions. Thank you for being here.

3222 DR. HO: Thank you.

3223 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: And then I think our last presenter was Ms. Smith-Martin?

3224 MS. SMITH-MARTIN: That’s correct.

3225 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: So, good morning and, again, thank you for being here today. I had just a couple of questions for you. I was interested in your comments this morning and the work that’s getting done, your partnership with Rogers.

3226 You did speak quite a bit about how the build out of the infrastructure will help in terms of connecting your community. I appreciate hearing that. I also thought your comments with respect to storytelling, the arts media and how those programs are being broadcast were interesting, and I’m wondering if you could provide a little more detail about those broadcast programs and how they’re serving the needs of your community.

3227 MS. SMITH-MARTIN: Sure. So, next week, in December, we have what they call a Canned Salmon Music Festival. It’s being held here down in Vancouver. It’s 100 per cent supported by Rogers. It is bringing together young Indigenous artists and storytellers and keepers of the land, and having music, different artists from different age groups coming and sharing their great music, but also allowing us to talk about these things that are really happening in our community in terms of salmon or bears. It’s different in each community.

3228 We will be bringing those messages through. And our hope in the next month or so is to have a two-hour premiere of that festival, and also with the messages from our community. And that’s really important to us because it wasn’t decided that this is a message that you will be delivering; it was our communities that decided that these messages are important enough to get out to the greater community, and that’s where we haven’t been able to get. As you can imagine, nine of our communities are all along the coast, so getting any kind of messaging from those communities is quite difficult.

3229 So, we thought that this would be a great way to highlight some of our artists, but also really tell the stories of our communities. So, we’re really excited and looking forward to that.

3230 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: That’s very useful. Thank you. And how widely broadcast will that program be? I think that’s an amazing program. I’m just interested how many people will have the benefit of the -- any opportunity to actually see that program.

3231 MS. SMITH-MARTIN: Well, apparently, the best time to go on is just after hockey or just before hockey, so that’s when they’re planning to premiere it, and it will be -- hopefully have really great uptake on it where you have really great spots for it. Those details we’re just trying to figure out now, but they were very clear that we want to make sure that we have primetime viewing for people to hear the messages from our communities. So, we’re really appreciative of that.

3232 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Thank you. Based on your experience, and I understand that you have been working with Rogers in partnership, can you comment on how Rogers or how this transaction could enhance diversity in the broadcasting system? Do you have any suggestions of how it could be enhanced?

3233 MS. SMITH-MARTIN: Yeah, sure. You know, with this partnership that we have with Rogers, it just -- you know, even though we identified some key areas in our partnership agreement, this doesn’t sort of exclude any other components of Rogers.

3234 And just recently, I was talking with the Sports Network and trying to find opportunities for our Indigenous youth to come in and start reporting on community events. We were trying to figure out what would that wording be and would there be ambassadors that are coming to talk about what's happening in the community, bringing stories to light.

3235 So you know, that’s very exciting pieces because we haven't had that opportunity before in a big way for our community.

3236 So I think that’s a great thing about this partnership is that they are really sort of leaning on us when it comes to Indigenous content, and just for suggestions, how can we do this better? What will the stories look like coming out of the communities? You know, those are ways that we can definitely make a difference.

3237 And we have even talked about, in that meeting, how can we get our people in front of the camera? How can we get them behind the camera? How can we get them talking about our stories?

3238 We have a couple of really great reporters out there, but we need more and to tell our story in our way. So you know, this is just the beginning, but we have been meeting for quite a bit to try to figure out those opportunities and really utilize them.

3239 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: That’s -- it sounds like a very productive partnership.

3240 And I'm just curious, like, it sounds like this has been developing with time. How do you see the transaction in allowing that to be in a better situation for you? How will that help if the transaction were to be approved?

3241 MS. SMITH-MARTIN: Well, we talked about different initiatives and different options. I think they had mentioned earlier about the $1 billion fund that’s available. And what we want to do is to sort of get ahead of that and really ensure that Indigenous communities have a great say in the work that’s coming out of Rogers, and with the acquisition with Shaw.

3242 We also want to make sure that we become really great partners. Our partnership, as I mentioned earlier, is based on reciprocity, and we have always had that with Rogers. We, as Indigenous people, have a lot to offer and vice-versa.

3243 So I think this acquisition will allow us to sort of allow our communities and our Indigenous people to sort of be on the stage and be able to tell our stories the way that we want to tell our stories.

3244 And you know, I'm really looking forward to this, because you know, not very often do you meet big corporations who speak the language of UNDRIP and Truth and Reconciliation recommendation and not only speak it, but also are working actively to fulfill those. So that was really important to us at Coastal First Nations.

3245 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Thank you so much. Your responses have been very helpful. Thank you.

3246 Those are all of my questions, Mr. Chair.

3247 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

3248 Commissioner Anderson?


3250 I have got a question for you, Ms. Smith-Martin. Is it Smith-Martin or Martin-Smith? I apologize.

3251 MS. SMITH-MARTIN: Yeah, Smith-Martin.


3253 MS. SMITH-MARTIN: Smith-Martin.

3254 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: I have seen you perform at Hobiyee for a number of ---

3255 MS. SMITH-MARTIN: Oh, yeah.

3256 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: --- years, and so I'm a fan. But sorry, I shouldn't joke about that.

3257 My question -- first, I wanted to just make one comment, and that is really to remind everybody that we have really limited this hearing to broadcasting. And so while I think it's important to, as a Commission, think about telecommunication in Indigenous communities, this might not be an appropriate time, just because we haven't heard from competing telecom service providers, some of which are smaller players or some of which might be community networks or Indigenous service providers.

3258 So I'm not going to ask you any questions about telecommunication.

3259 But I did want to ask you a question about diversity and leadership and how it affects programming, because one of the intervenors I spoke with yesterday on behalf on an advocacy organization called CMAC noted that out of the 20 or 30 representatives from Rogers that were in attendance, there wasn’t very much ethnic diversity.

3260 And do you think that has an impact on the ability of a corporation to provide programming that is reflective of Canada's diversity?

3261 MS. SMITH-MARTIN: Well, we certainly, you know, want to increase that, and we have actually had discussions with Rogers as to how we can get more of our Indigenous youth, Indigenous people into Rogers.

3262 I know that I have met some Indigenous workers within Rogers themselves. They are doing amazing work. They're originally from the interior First Nations and they're -- they are quite active in the work and actually are leading the work that they are doing in Rogers.

3263 I mean, Highway 16 was a great example of actively working to identify opportunities. And that was very impressive to us, that they brought this team together and they said, "We have been doing this work. This is the type of work that we're doing."

3264 But I think, you know, in this sort of arena, it's -- we want to make sure that you are partnering with communities like ours. We're not the only community that we hope Rogers partners with. There's other communities that I think will be valuable partners as well. Those are where those sort of decision making and content making and -- you know, it's -- and those partnerships are very important, because we are the ones that are saying, "This is what we want to do. This is the message that we want to send out there. How can we do that in partnership with Rogers?"

3265 Obviously, you know, having more Indigenous people or more ethnic people in Rogers would be great, and they have been trying to find ways to do that. So we're quite confident that that will increase with the exposure, increase in partnership with Coastal First Nations.

3266 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thank you very much.

3267 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you all for participating and taking the time to participate in our proceedings. I wish you well.

3268 Madam Secretary?

3269 MS. ROY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

3270 We will just take a very short six-to-seven-minute break and we will be back at 1:00.

--- Upon recessing at 12:54 p.m./

--- L'audience est suspendue à 12h54

--- Upon resuming at 1:03 p.m./

--- L'audience est reprise à 13h03

3271 MS. ROY: Welcome back. I just want to make sure everybody hears me.

3272 We will now hear the next participants, Karen Tanaka, Daniel Taylor, Saskatchewan Premier Ball Hockey League, and Southern Alberta Council of Public Affairs.

3273 We will hear each presentation which will then be followed by questions by the Commissioners to all participants.

3274 We will begin with the presentation by Karen Tanaka. You may begin your presentation. Thank you.


3275 MS. TANAKA: Thank you.

3276 Hello, Mr. Chair, Commissioners, and Commission staff.

3277 Thank you for inviting me to speak at this important CRTC Rogers/Shaw hearing.

3278 My name is Karen Tanaka and I am the Chief Operating Officer at the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation.

3279 I'm grateful for the opportunity given to us by the CRTC, and I hope I can adequately represent and convey my support for the Rogers/Shaw application.

3280 I would like to begin by acknowledging that I have the privilege of participating today from the traditional territory of the e Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. I thank them for welcoming us to live, work, and learn within their ancestral lands.

3281 The Vancouver Chinatown Foundation is a small community-based charity dedicated to building a more resilient and inclusive community by promoting the wellbeing of those in need while preserving Chinatown's irreplaceable cultural heritage.

3282 From building the Transcontinental Railway to fighting for Canada in World Wars I and II, the early Chinese immigrants had an arduous journey to Canadian citizenship.

3283 Within a decade of winning the right to vote in 1947, Chinatown became a social destination with thriving businesses, a neighbourhood where Chinese and other minorities felt a sense of belonging and where lower mainland residents could visit to experience an exciting new culture. It remains the historical epicentre of the Chinese-Canadian story and an inspiring legacy of positive transformation.

3284 The Foundation’s revitalization projects focus on creating a lasting, positive impact such as affordable housing, seniors housing and cultural and economic revitalization. As a charity, it is only through the support and efforts of a highly engaged community of stakeholders that we can affect lasting, positive change.

3285 The Chinatown Foundation has undertaken various community projects to foster the physical, economic and cultural revitalization of Chinatown. On September 11th and 12th of this year, the Chinatown Foundation partnered with the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association to welcome the community to Light Up Chinatown, a two-day outdoor festival. The festival was designed to welcome people back to Chinatown after the devastating downturn from the pandemic and the anti-Asian racism that earned Vancouver the title of the anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America, according to Bloomberg.

3286 The Foundation transformed the streets of Chinatown by hanging lights and lanterns, building a stage for live entertainment and, of course, highlighting the best Chinese food in the city with food collaborations and a taste of Chinatown showcasing bakeries and restaurants curated by the Chinese Restaurants Award. An estimated 7,000 people visited Chinatown over the Light Up Chinatown weekend, and businesses continue to report higher foot traffic in the neighbourhood since this festival.

3287 The foundation reached out to Rogers and requested their support for this event, and Rogers demonstrated their leadership and commitment to our community with a platinum sponsorship. Again, we could not affect positive change without the support of partners like Rogers who understand the importance of an event like this for the Chinatown community.

3288 Vancouver faces an affordable housing crisis, and the foundation is developing 58 West Hastings, an innovative and impactful social housing project in Downtown Vancouver. When it’s completed in 2024, we will welcome a wide range of lower income individuals and families who will not only have a roof over their head. They will be part of a community within a community with access to an integrated public health centre and a range of services, including wellness, life skills training and local experiences.

3289 As active community members with invested interest in the well-being of our neighbours, the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation is building this project to address the critical need for affordable housing in our city. Our vision to develop a much needed ten-storey, 231-unit social housing project with a 50,000 square foot integrated health centre will provide coordinated healthcare that is easy to access, covers a broad spectrum of needs and includes specialized care for the community at large.

3290 In partnership with B.C. Housing, CMHC, City of Vancouver and Vancouver Coastal Health, this $110 million innovative housing project will provide much needed support to our neighbours in the Downtown east side, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada. Together, with many loyal volunteers and generous supporters, we have worked for 10 years to bring governments and private sector partners together to create this new model of social housing.

3291 On November 5th, the Chinatown Foundation celebrated the grand opening of a Chinatown Storytelling Centre. This centre is the first permanent space of its kind in Canada that houses and celebrates the past stories and artifacts of the early Chinese pioneers whose spirited resilience contributed to the fabric of Vancouver and Canada.

3292 Its purpose is not only to illustrate the importance of reflecting on our histories as a multicultural city and nation, but also to inspire resilience and resolve in the face of future challenges. The Storytelling Centre includes a theatre that provides much needed community space for arts and culture. The theatre will feature short films and documentaries, and host community groups’ workshops and dialogue series.

3293 We are looking forward to screening the documentary, “B.C.: An Untold History, Migration and Resilience”, and hosting a panel discussion with producers, writers and director. This documentary is a good example of the Rogers Group of Funds support for independent Canadian filmmakers. This Canadian-produced content offers an opportunity for meaningful dialogue about the complicated history of our province and our communities’ experience. The theatre is named the Rogers Theatre at the Chinatown Storytelling Centre as Rogers has, again, demonstrated their commitment to supporting our community and our efforts to revitalize historic Chinatown.

3294 As a charity, the Chinatown Foundation is unable to achieve what we do without the ongoing support of corporate leaders like Rogers. Rogers has seen the incredible need, taken action and is leaning in to support our communities like never before to help out those in need.

3295 I appreciate your time today and for providing me the opportunity to share my support for the Rogers/Shaw applications and the benefits I see for our community. Thank you very much.

3296 MS. ROY: Thank you. We’ll now hear the presentation of Daniel Taylor. You are muted, Mr. Taylor.

3297 MR. TAYLOR: There, let’s get that done. There we are.

3298 MS. ROY: Perfect.


3299 MR. TAYLOR: Yes, good afternoon. Yes, my name is Daniel Taylor, and I am the host and presenter of the television series, “When Paintings Come Alive”. Now, working with Shaw Spotlight, formerly Shaw TV, Shaw Spotlight provided training, use of studio facilities and equipment. Shaw Spotlight’s support was invaluable and gave us the confidence to create a quality production. This is an experience wholeheartedly appreciated, and we certainly encourage other future producers to do the very same. We have always felt ever so grateful for this extraordinary opportunity.

3300 Well, to give you a brief story, and of course just one of many, here in the Okanagan, we created an episode on “When Paintings Come Alive” that highlighted the life through my painting of an elderly gentleman. Well, not to end there. One day, this elderly gentleman in Vancouver was approached on the street by a lady that had just seen this episode here in the Okanagan and was quite impressed at how such a unique presentation gently followed this elderly man’s story. This lady told this man how much she enjoyed the program about his life and the wonderfully painted portrait. This man was always endeared to classic movies, so this encounter made him feel like he was a celebrity as if he was walking on Cloud 9.

3301 Not long after that, prior to his death, he emotionally told us how grateful he was to have had this film to feel recognized and to now have a place in the hearts and the minds of others in the community. What a wonderful experience that would never have been had it not aired on Shaw Spotlight and, yes, many retirement homes have also stated their appreciation of not only this episode, but all the other shows on Shaw Spotlight. Well, that’s another story in itself. Without Shaw Spotlight, the television series would be at a total standstill and even a deep void to many of the expected viewers, a show one so fondly expects to see and look forward to.

3302 I truly value my partnership with Shaw Spotlight and believe that approving the application is in the public’s interest. Rogers’ plans to maintain and build upon Shaw Spotlight’s existing programs, initiatives and as well as increase in depth continuous coverage of the community issues will further the broadcasting objectives and provide stability and certainly for the future of community television production to the benefit of my fellow access producers and the communities that is served by Shaw Spotlight. Thank you for this opportunity.

3303 MS. ROY: Thank you very much for your presentation.

3304 We’ll now hear the presentation of Saskatchewan Premier Ball Hockey League.

3305 Please introduce yourself, and you have five minutes for your presentation.


3306 MR. D’ENTREMENT: Hello. Good afternoon, or good morning, depending on where you are.

3307 My name is Justin D’Entrement, and I am the Commission and Co-founder of the Saskatchewan Premier Ball Hockey League.

3308 I built the Saskatchewan Premier Ball Hockey League with the intention of starting professional ball hockey because somehow it does not exist yet.

3309 With the help and resources of Shaw Spotlight, we filmed 16 of our games, which aired on the community channel. We were also provided the footage to put on our Premier Ball Hockey League’s YouTube channel. This exposure has been critical to increasing awareness of the sport, and has helped young athletes feel connected to and valued by their community.

3310 If it wasn’t for Shaw Spotlight’s staff and community channel, we might not have the means to get video footage of all of our games. Shaw Spotlight provided equipment, training, and assisted with editing, allowing us to produce really high quality and respectable content.

3311 I think local television is tremendous for anyone who has a big dream and big ambitions, who also might not have the means to fund themselves or can’t afford the cost of renting large video equipment.

3312 Personally, I am pushing the sport of ball hockey to become extremely popular in Saskatchewan, and in Canada, and around the world, for that matter, in the very near future. And Shaw Spotlight has been a major contributor in getting us off the ground and running.

3313 Ball hockey deserves to be a household name in sport. With the help of Shaw Spotlight, and hopefully Rogers in the future, I am going to make that happen.

3314 I support Rogers’ application because Rogers has committed to building on Shaw’s community partnerships, increasing in-depth, continuous coverage of community issues, and enhancing community programming across Western Canada.

3315 The commitments will help community sports and organizations like the Saskatchewan Premier Ball Hockey League remain connected and continue to gain the exposure they need.

3316 Thank you for your time, and I welcome any questions or comments.

3317 MS. ROY: Thank you.

3318 We’ll now hear the last presenters, Southern Alberta Council of Public Affairs.

3319 Please introduce yourself, and you have five minutes.


3320 MR. PETERSON: Good morning, everyone, from Southern Alberta, Lethbridge. It’s a crisp morning at -10.

3321 My name is Knud Peterson, and I am the former Chair of Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs.

3322 Before I get started, I’d like to acknowledge that our events take place on the lands of the Blackfoot People and the Metis Nation of Alberta, Region Three. We pay respect to their past, present, and future cultural heritage, beliefs, and relationship to the land.

3323 SACPA, which is short for Southern Alberta Council of Public Affairs, commits to assist reconciliation efforts by raising awareness of the past and present injustices that can hopefully be reconciled.

3324 Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs, SACPA for short, was founded in 1967. It is an independent forum moderated by volunteers, meeting Thursdays at noon some 40 weeks a year -- and we also have occasional special sessions -- where we debate local, provincial, national, and international issues of concern to the residents of Lethbridge and Southern Alberta.

3325 The rationale of SACPA is that the strength of political democracy is lodged in the freedom of citizens to assemble freely and discuss ideas and issues.

3326 SACPA seeks to promote a sense of community and citizenship amongst the public. It is strictly non-partisan in its political outlook and encourages the expression of divergent viewpoints. SACPA does not take sides on the issues debated at its sessions. The opinions expressed by speakers are their own and are not necessarily shared by the Board of Directors.

3327 Because of the COVID 19 pandemic, sessions have been conducted via SACPA’s YouTube channel and live streaming since April 2020.

3328 Shaw TV, Shaw Spotlight for the past few years, has been broadcasting SACPA’s weekly sessions for more than thirty years, I believe -- before my time -- involvement, anyway. And I know in the early days, they brought their big cameras along and had lots of manpower there. They covered both the presentation part and the Q and A session.

3329 But they’ve been broadcasting it on their community channel to thousands of subscribers in Lethbridge. Before the pandemic, SACPA’s average in-person attendance was approximately about 75 people, so we’ve very much appreciated the extra exposure that Shaw has provided to us over the years.

3330 SACPA is also very pleased that sessions from past years are available for view on Shaw’s YouTube channel. So they’ve had thousands of views over the years. We also have -- on our website, we have all the sessions since about 2005. The sound is all recorded there, so we’ve reached a lot of people over the years.

3331 With the understanding that Rogers, if the merger is approved by CRTC, plan to carry on the community programming currently provided by Shaw, and possibly improving it, SACPA is in full support of such merger.

3332 So that’s all I have to say for now. I’m quite willing to answer any questions there may be. Thank you.

3333 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. And thank you all for your presentations and agreeing to participate in our proceeding.

3334 I’ll turn the microphone to Commissioner Anderson.

3335 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thank you very much.

3336 And I’d like to thank all of the panelists for their presentation. It’s really interesting for us to hear about how community programming is being developed in various parts of Canada.

3337 And so I specifically had questions with respect to Shaw Spotlight programming, and I understand that all of the panelists have had experience, with the exception of Ms. Tanaka, the first presenter. And so I would just like to invite all of panelists, including Ms. Tanaka, if she’s got views on this subject, to answer the same question -- or two questions.

3338 The first question is, how do you hope -- or if the transaction does go ahead, what improvements would you like to see in the Shaw Spotlight programming with Rogers? Like, is there any way that Rogers could improve this already commendable service?

3339 MR. PETERSON: Yeah, I can take a stab at that, if you want ---


3341 MR. PETERSON: --- if you don’t want to go in order.

3342 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: We’ll go reverse order. Let’s change things up.

3343 MR. PETERSON: Okay. I can see Rogers being able to reach a larger audience than Shaw Spotlight maybe has been reaching.

3344 Right now, the way it works is that Shaw Spotlight actually just grab the recording that we have on our YouTube channel. They don’t actually record it themselves because of the way we’re doing things online now. But in the past, like I said, they’ve been there with a camera to record the -- initially, they did both the presentation part, and question and answer sessions are generally one hour in length, so there’s equal time for presentation and question period.

3345 And the way technology works nowadays, they don’t necessarily have to be in the room. We can do our own recording. And so they’re free to use both the presentation part and the question -- and I would love if they would expand the coverage to include the question and answer period we have at our sessions because that’s often where the real truth comes out.

3346 So, that would be one way that I would like to see that improvement take place.

3347 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thank you very much. Mr. D’Entremont, do you have any submissions that you would like to make with respect to improving Shaw Spotlight’s programming if the transaction does proceed?

3348 MR. D’ENTREMONT: Yes, sure. From my experience, Shaw Spotlight was tremendous in every way actually, but at the same time, if you’re looking to improve, I think -- I mean, nothing is ever perfect anywhere, so there’s always -- like, you can improve kind of all aspects of it a little, like the production value. Like, if you watch some of our games on YouTube, you can tell it’s community television as opposed to if you watch Sportsnet or something, you can tell, but obviously, that’s because of budget reasons and the effort and money put into the production.

3349 So, it’s all I can really think of is if you’re looking to improve, just maybe try to make the graphics and maybe make everything -- the production value just slightly better. But I mean, I have absolutely no complaints or anything like that out of everything that with -- Shaw Spotlight was absolutely tremendous, so...

3350 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thank you very much for your submission. I’m going to move on to Mr. Taylor and ask the same question. Is there any way, Mr. Taylor, you think that Shaw Spotlight -- Rogers could improve on Shaw Spotlight’s programming services?

3351 MR. TAYLOR: I’m forgetting. Yes, I have to agree with Justin there. You know, Shaw Spotlight has really proved themselves a great value to us. And as far as improving, yes, maybe the graphics can be improved somewhat, but in itself, we’ve been presenting our show, I’ll say, before Shaw Spotlight down in Vancouver, and we’ve been on the air for about seven years now. And to see the show expanding to the environment, to see so many people in the community watching the show, the expressions that we get and the response that we’re receiving has been phenomenal, and we’re very excited about that. In fact, to the point where we would love to see the show expanded beyond Canadian borders and that.

3352 But having said that, Shaw Spotlight, though, in itself, has been nothing short of wonderful. And unless I really search very hard, I don’t see anything to overwhelm us as far as improvement is concerned. We’re just very happy with the position that we have right now with Shaw Spotlight.

3353 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thank you. Your feedback is really important. Thank you.

3354 So, last, I’m going to ask Ms. Tanaka if she’s got any suggestions or would like to provide any submissions on potentially improving the way that Shaw Spotlights delivers programming if this transaction does go ahead.

3355 MS. TANAKA: Thank you very much. We are in the early days of the Chinatown Storytelling Centre just opening a few weeks ago here in Chinatown, and it really is focused on the stories, both past and current stories. So, I’m not in a position at this point to talk about what I think Shaw could do better with Spotlight, but I do see this as an exploratory opportunity for our organization as we look at our programming events, how we want to reach a broader audience and what we might potentially be able to do with some enhanced capabilities for live streaming. Also, the opportunity to be able to present in three languages, both English, Cantonese and Mandarin, would be very beneficial for our broader community. Thank you.

3356 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thank you very much. So, I understand from the responses that Shaw Spotlight has set a pretty high bar for Rogers in the event that the transaction does proceed.

3357 I have one question to throw out in case anybody has -- would like to answer about access programming in particular. And my question to the panelists, should anyone wish to reply, is how could access offered to community members through access programming be impacted by the transaction and by the transfer of Shaw Spotlight community television to Rogers?

3358 MR. D’ENTREMONT: I can go ahead here if that’s okay. What comes to mind for me is if this goes through, Rogers may have the means just to reach a broader audience, so just kind of to put it that way. They might have the means to reach out to just physically get more eyeballs on it from a wider audience in the -- in each community.

3359 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Great, thank you. Thank you very much. Pending no other submissions, I’d like to thank everybody for taking the time to speak with us today. Again, it’s really important to hear how well BDUs are providing community programming, and it’s nice to hear about individual initiatives and the contributions that your organizations are making to the broader community. So, I just want to applaud your endeavours and thank you once again.

3360 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Commissioner Anderson, and thank you, as Commissioner Anderson said. We very much appreciate your participation.

3361 Madam Secretary, I will turn it back to you.

3362 MS. ROY: Thank you. We will now take a lunch break and be back at 2:15. Thank you very much.

--- Upon recessing at 1:31 p.m./

--- L'audience est suspendue à 13h31

--- Upon resuming at 2:17 p.m./

--- L'audience est reprise à 14h17

3363 THE CHAIRPERSON: Alors, bon apres-midi.

3364 Madame la secrétaire?

3365 MS. ROY: Merci beaucoup, Monsieur le Président.

3366 We will now hear the of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the National Pensioners Federation.

3367 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have 20 minutes for your presentation.


3368 MR. LAWFORD: Thank you very much.

3369 Good afternoon Mr. Chair and Commissioners.

3370 My name is John Lawford and I am the Executive Director and General Counsel at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC).

3371 And with me from PIAC are Yuka Sai to my left, PIAC's staff lawyer; as well as Rene Kimmett, PIAC’s articling student, to my right.

3372 Also presenting remotely is Ms. Trish McAuliffe, President, National Pensioners Federation or NPF.

3373 Both PIAC and NPF have mandates to represent and advocate for the interests of Canadian consumers and NPF, in particular, for Canadian seniors. We advocate for affordability, consumer choice, programming variety, diversity, and privacy safeguards in broadcasting.

3374 The Application, as presented, is not in the public interest; the intangible benefits are inadequate and the tangible benefits are vastly understated. The proposal is not the best possible one in these circumstances and should be denied.

3375 The main thing that Rogers has not grasped is that, for the size and importance of this transaction, they have not offered enough to the broadcasting system. Rogers’ posture recalls Bell’s arrogant stance at the opening of the Bell-Astral saga.

3376 Likewise, CRTC should deny this transaction, unless Rogers makes considerable changes to make it one that improves the broadcasting system and consumers’ material experience of broadcasting including prices, billing, content, usability, et cetera.

3377 Yuka?

3378 MS. SAI: Thanks, John. And good afternoon, Mr. Chair and Commissioners.

3379 Rogers lists the following main consumer benefits to the transaction in its Reply. 1) “Enhance the consumer experience” via an app and a set top box called “SmartStream”, which Rogers’ customers must rent at $5 a month.

3380 2) Expansion of the “Connected For Success” and “Ignite TV” program in Shaw network coverage areas.

3381 And 3) “Migration to All-IPTV”.

3382 I will speak to the first two and Ms. McAuliffe will address the “migration” of customers to IPTV.

3383 “SmartStream” is not an incremental benefit. It is not incremental as Rogers and Shaw both are in the process of transitioning users to an IPTV system on which users can access streaming platforms through an app front-end or set top box.

3384 If it is incremental, its benefit is minor. SmartStream is just a proprietary version of any number of devices and software offered by other vendors, with in fact, fewer services and features.

3385 Rogers’ "Connected For Success" program is not incremental. Rogers offers this program in the east. As it expands into Shaw territory, it is expected, as a cost of doing business, that they would offer the same program in the west.

3386 To be incremental, the program would have to be improved. For example “Connected for Success Plus,” where the “plus” includes seniors who are not recipients of social payments but are on fixed incomes.

3387 Even if considered incremental, “Connected for Success” has serious limitations. 1) A high risk of upselling; 2) Its voluntary nature, therefore there is no guarantee it will be continued; and 3) As with all low-income programs, there will be a limited participation rate.

3388 Rogers also claims that their larger scale will be an incremental benefit to the “regulated broadcasting system”, by defending “linear television” against “foreign digital streaming services” or OTTs.

3389 This increase in scale primarily benefits Rogers and its shareholders with increased subscriber bases and revenues. Rogers’ promises for new programming are very limited. Most promises are for “continuing” of Shaw services.

3390 Rogers promises other benefits to consumers of increased accessibility, choice, content, and affordability, but these are minor improvements, with few details provided, and are tied to the operation of the IPTV platform.

3391 Over to Trish.

3392 Trish? Over to you.

3393 THE CHAIRPERSON: We see her, but I'm not sure she's hearing us.

3394 MS. ROY: Can you hear us?

3395 MS. McAULIFFE: Thank you. Thank you, Chair and Commissioners.

3396 I would like you to know that seniors subscribe to TV services more than any other age group. In our Environics telephone survey -- oh, can you hear me? No? Yes?

3397 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, we can.

3398 MS. McAULIFFE: I'm not on mute. I can hear you. My mute is off.

3399 MS. ROY: We can hear you.

3400 MS. McAULIFFE: You can hear me?

3401 MS. ROY: Can you hear us?

3402 MS. McAULIFFE: Yes.

3403 MS. ROY: Are you also watching the feed on the website?

3404 That’s what she's doing.

3405 Ms. McAuliffe, you need to close the feed on the website if you're watching also that feed.

3406 MS. McAULIFFE: Okay, sorry about that. That wasn’t clear to me.

3407 MS. ROY: Can you hear us now?

3408 MS. McAULIFFE: Yes. Sorry. I apologize.

3409 MS. ROY: Perfect. No worries.

3410 MS. McAULIFFE: Us seniors are kind of iffy on this technology and every session is so different. My apologies. Again, I'll start out.

3411 Thank you for your patience, Chairpersons and -- or Chairperson and Commissioners.

3412 I would like you to know that I'm here to talk about how seniors subscribe to TV services more than any other age group. We note this from our Environics telephone survey. The disparity is sharp; 90 percent of 60-plus-year-olds subscribe to traditional TV, versus less than 30 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds.

3413 Many seniors we represent are on fixed incomes. While some also receive social assistance that qualifies them for Rogers’ expanded Connected for Success, many do not.

3414 PIAC and NPF has highlighted Rogers’ clear intention to transition cable-only and satellite TV subscribers to IPTV subscribers. This is not a benefit to many seniors because it will cost them much more for the same or similar TV service.

3415 Our survey shows consumers', especially seniors’, concerns regarding rising TV prices. Our survey shows 71 percent of seniors 60-plus, want Rogers to offer TV separately from having to buy internet.

3416 Even if Rogers also says it “will ensure that TV-only options will exist on the Ignite TV platform”, NPF told the CRTC in the Sales Practices Report hearing that seniors are disproportionately and aggressively upsold, and the CRTC agreed.

3417 John?

3418 MR. LAWFORD: Thank you, Trish.

3419 Moving now to tangible benefits, Rogers’ proposed tangible benefits package is inadequate and should be revised by the Commission to include the value of Shaw’s “surrendered” terrestrial view-on-demand and pay-per-view undertakings in the transaction value.

3420 According to PIAC-NPF’s revised valuation, the appropriate tangible benefits payment should be at least $23,387,653. Please see our chart below.

3421 Unlike past transactions, which may have overlooked the value of surrendered licences, this present Shaw/Rogers transaction is massive in scale and fundamentally changes the competitive landscape. This difference in scale demands a more rigorous treatment of this sort of licenced “surrender” by a to-be-acquired licensee. The wilful nullification of these otherwise valuable licence is done to avoid their competitive effect and to reduce the amount of tangible benefits which should be paid.

3422 These licences may be redundant, post-transaction to Rogers, but not to the broadcasting system. They do have value. Shaw could have sought to sell them to another party if Rogers were not interested. Their value to the system, however, is lost. Therefore, the Commission should, in this case, as opposed to the smaller transaction in Bell MTS, count these returned licences and add their value to tangible benefits.

3423 Rogers also seeks to pit our request to apply a portion of these expanded tangible benefits to the representation of the public interest in broadcasting funded by the Broadcasting Participation Fund and the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund against the discretionary recipients that Rogers themselves have chosen. Our calculation and proposal not only accurately reflects the value of the transaction, but also provides a larger benefit to the CMF, the independent funds and Rogers’ own selected discretionary beneficiaries or any others.

3424 If our tangible benefits math is accepted, our request is this. Firstly, PIAC-NPF submit that 10 per cent of the total tangible benefits package, being revised to $23,387,653, include the value of Shaw’s pay-per-view and video-on-demand services being surrendered, be directed to the BPF and BAF, each receiving about $1.17 million. Second, furthermore, it would be important -- it would be appropriate, excuse me, for the Commission to exercise its discretion to top up this allocation to $1.5 million each given the BPF’s and BAF’s crying needs and potential shutdowns without this infusion and given the relative paucity of opportunities to add funds through infrequent mergers. This $3 million divided by $23.387 million is 12.83 per cent. This means 87.17 per cent is left for on-screen mandatory and discretionary initiatives, and this is within the 85 to 90 per cent on-screen threshold.

3425 In conclusion, based on the weakness of the application’s proposed benefits, the potential costs to consumers, we urge the Commission to deny this application. If the application is approved, we seek a condition of approval to protect consumers’ BDU affordability under subsection 3(1)(t)(ii) of the Broadcasting Act with a three-year price freeze on former Shaw customers’ TV packages during their forced march to IPTV, as threatened by Rogers.

3426 We would ask the Commission to properly value the transaction for the purposes of the tangible benefits calculation and direct a portion to the BPF and BAF. Thanks very much for the opportunity to appear today and we await your questions. Thank you.

3427 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you very much for your submission and throughout the proceeding and your participation here today. I’ll turn the microphone to Commissioner Desmond.

3428 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Good afternoon.

3429 MR. LAWFORD: Good afternoon.

3430 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: So, my first question will relate to the value of the transaction. You’ve proposed that the value of the transaction include the value of the two Shaw terrestrial video-on-demand services as you’ve indicated in your opening statement, and those are the licences which Rogers -- for which will be surrendered at the time of the transaction if it’s approved. So, I’m wondering if you could provide us with more details as why the value of those two services should be included in the value of the transaction.

3431 MR. LAWFORD: Sure. The two licences are active at the moment. Shaw has quite a number of customers on both. The -- I believe the video-on-demand service is the more profitable of the two, and it is presently getting -- the most recent year for the Commission reports is over $32 million in revenue with considerable customers, and then the pay-per-view slightly less, but still considerable in the millions of dollars for the most recent reporting. These are going concerns. They are valuable.

3432 If you were to try to take them away from Rogers -- from Shaw, excuse me, tomorrow, you can be betting they would come and ask you for compensation. So, if Rogers asks to have these taken out of the transaction, some other value must have been provided in the deal. There is also the value to Rogers to having that competitor not go -- those two licences go to another competitor, and that’s what the point I was trying to make in our remarks.

3433 So, we do think they have value, and we think the value should be reflected because they are going concerns. They’re not more abundant. They are not being turned in because no one is most watching most stations, for example.

3434 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: And I believe in your initial filing you provided your opinion that the licences for these services should be surrendered at a later date, and I just wondered if you could add some clarity to that.

3435 MR. LAWFORD: Do you ---

3436 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: And maybe I might have misunderstood that, but in your view, what is the appropriate time for the surrender of the licences?

3437 MR. LAWFORD: I don’t think it matters. I believe that the application in the supplementary brief or somewhere it says we will turn it in basically a nanosecond before the transaction closes, which is cute corporate speak for we will take the last dollar coming into Shaw’s bottom line, and then poof, they go away.

3438 I don’t think it really matters when these are surrendered, except, again, for accounting purposes. If they’re going to be shut down, it goes to Shaw’s bottom line, and then the transfer happens. So, for corporate accounting purposes, I presume there’s some magic to that. Unless I’m not answering your question, or you were trying -- the gist of it is towards a different...

3439 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: No, that’s fine.

3440 MR. LAWFORD: Okay.

3441 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Thank you. I do want to follow-up on something in your opening statement that you referred to a couple of minutes ago, and that is the reference to how this transaction might be different than other transactions, and this came up in our conversation earlier this week. I wondered if you might add some clarity around how you distinguish maybe previous transactions with this one and why it would be different.

3442 MR. LAWFORD: Sure. The three that Rogers raised as being -- I think they may have used the word “precedent”. They shouldn’t because the Commission doesn’t have precedence, but they are referring to the Aurora transaction when they bought Aurora, which is a very small system, the mountain cable system which spurred some interesting litigation with Shaw some years ago, and that was $400 million, and that’s in our supplementary brief, paragraph 5, I think, of the mountain cable, that number. And then Bell was $1.2 million, $1.4 million for the video-on-demand service of MTS.

3443 The scope of this transaction -- Bell’s overall for MTS was, I think, $5.2 billion, it might have been $5.6 billion, and this one is $26 billion. The number of subscribers, I believe, although I think it was mostly confidential, for Manitoba was around 100,000. We’re in the millions, over a million for these services with Shaw. So, the context is different, and we’re asking you in your discretion to take that context into consideration.

3444 The only other thing I would say about that -- actually, I’ll just stop there for the moment. We hope to -- well, I’ll add later if I think we need to. Thanks.

3445 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: So, just perhaps to understand your response more clearly, the primary difference you see is the number of subscribers ---

3446 MR. LAWFORD: I recall now what I wanted to add. There’s a part of Rogers’ reply saying that we argued, meaning PIAC and NPF in the MTS case for the inclusion of the licence value in that transaction, and the Commission said no, that is incorrect. What we argued for was an expansion of the tangible benefits policy to include BDU assets, because we thought that was where the justice of that case lay. We didn’t even argue for the value to be included. So, to the extent that they’re saying the Commission had the benefit of somebody arguing for the value of that licence to be transferred to be put in tangible benefits, we did not do that.

3447 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, thank you for that clarification. And just in the same vein, I should note that I think I was the one who used the word “precedence”, so I appreciate the opportunity to correct the record on that as well. So, thank you.

3448 MS. SAI: If I could pipe in very briefly on that? If we’re going to think about this, the -- how this transaction or application is differentiated against all others that came before, in the context of tangible benefits, especially.

3449 The Tangible Benefits Policy, it does give, under Paragraph 10, the commission to exercise its discretion to part from this policy, where called for, to meet the public interest, and based on the record before it at the time.

3450 And so we think that this particular case is one that merits an exercise of that discretion, considering that this transaction, overall, is the sixth largest in Canadian history.

3451 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay. Thank you so much. I would like to talk for a couple of minutes about tangible benefits. And I appreciate that you’ve made a specific request with respect to your organization. So maybe I’ll set that aside for just a minute.

3452 And I wanted to ask you about some of the proposed allocations that Rogers has made, and what priority areas you would identify, again, setting aside your organization for a moment?

3453 MR. LAWFORD: Well, we had a long discussion about this last night. That may not be of interest to you, but it’s a hard question.

3454 The Applicant’s proposal is that Applicant’s proposal. They’ve identified what they think benefits the broadcasting system. If the number is $5.7M, we believe that the allocation that Rogers has chosen is appropriate.

3455 I would love to say, “Please carve out a chunk and give it to BPF.” I’m not going to say that because the CMF, and the independent funds, and the people who have been promised this money are going to be very displeased if they don’t get it.

3456 There is an unfortunate, how shall I say, structure in the Tangible Benefits and Transfer of Ownership Policy of the Commission that, in effect, lets the Applicant pre-bribe the people to promise them money, and then have them come and give their point of view in the Commission’s hearing about why it’s a good deal because they’re going to get money. And that’s unfortunate.

3457 It’s very hard to undo those promises. And we don’t want to be here arguing against money for film festivals or any other on-screen benefits that might have a very direct impact on the broadcasting system.

3458 But we do want to say that the Broadcasting Participation Fund and Accessibility Funds are part if the broadcasting system. They’re listed in the Tangible Benefits Policy as proper recipients.

3459 And there is no incentive ever, ever for an applicant to list BPF or BAF in their application because these two groups show up and argue against them, like we’re doing right now, at hearings. And so the difficulty for the Commission is, how do you get money into the BPF during a transaction, because the Applicant will never propose BFP be put in there?

3460 So it’s a very big conundrum for us. And with the valuing of the transaction higher, we’d like to hope that if we take a measured amount out of the higher amount, and provide, in effect, more money for those other on-screen benefits, that everyone can walk away happy.

3461 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: No, that’s -- I appreciate your comments. So if we could assume for a moment that we are working with a higher value and a greater pool of tangible benefits, I believe in your filing you recommend that 10 percent of that would be allocated to BPF and the BAF, and that each would receive approximately $1.17M.

3462 And then, in light of the transaction, is -- if I understand you submission properly, you recommend that the Commission exercises discretion and top up those allocations to $1.5M. Is that -- do I have that correct?

3463 MR. LAWFORD: Yes, you do.

3464 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay. So just a couple of questions on that. Given the fact that the overall value of the transaction, as it relates to television, is smaller than, you know, obviously, the overall transaction itself, what would be the reason for deviating from its traditional approach?

3465 MR. LAWFORD: I’m not quite sure where to start the answer. The long answer is we continue to believe that it’s a mistake for the Commission to have removed the BDU value out of the tangible benefits calculation.

3466 Deals like this, where there’s really no broadcasting assets, per se, transferred but have a huge effect on consumers and other participants in the broadcasting system, unless there’s someone there to fight that, then there’s no -- there’s very few tangible benefits to go around and a crying need within the broadcasting system for on-screen.

3467 So groups like ours are -- it’s hard for us to come and say that our value is quantifiable. I’d like to think that if we can come and put certain controls or conditions on the transaction that save consumers, say, millions of dollars, then the money that’s spent, which is actually quite small in comparison through the BPF, is money well spent. So I would start there.

3468 In the context of this particular transaction, again, the way it’s been structured, calls into question whether there was some gaming going on between Rogers and Shaw, and, in particular, the way they have the country neatly divided into two so that nothing -- they have no systems overlapping, and they have no properties overlapping. They have similar broadcasting properties.

3469 The only overlap are these two terrestrial stations, and poof, one has to go away -- very suspicious.

3470 So, you know, I’m not sure that exactly answers your question, but there are a number of structural things that make it difficult to look at a transaction of this size and think, “$5M on $26B? Are you serious?”

3471 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, thank you. And I’ll ask the next question, but recognizing we’ve touched on it a little bit. But I would like you to comment a little further, if you could, as to why a bigger benefit package -- or why an elevated tangible benefit package, as it relates to television, is it possible that that, then, is being used as a proxy to offset what is really maybe a consolidation and a distribution market, and not in the TV programming market?

3472 MR. LAWFORD: That’s not the intention of the asking for the increase in the tangible benefits package. It’s really the two licences having actual value.

3473 So to the extent that my previous answer suggested there was some kind of money to pay, just on the scale of the transaction, I get where you’re coming from.

3474 If your question’s relating to something else, I apologize if I misunderstood it. Perhaps you could reword it for me?

3475 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Sure, no problem. And I wasn’t trying to suggest that your previous comment had any additional meaning. I was just really curious as to whether or not, if the tangible benefit package was elevated, and it -- really, does it result in us focusing on recognizing, okay, there’s a consolidation in the distribution market; there’s not necessarily a consolidation in the programming market; and are we then, as a result, using that as a proxy to offset?

3476 MR. LAWFORD: If you’re asking, do I -- would I be happy to walk away from this hearing with a larger tangible benefits package and have the transaction close? No, I’d rather walk away with zero and have the transaction be stopped, because I believe the BDU problems with this transaction are the real problems and that the value we’re putting on for the two broadcasting licences should be put in, and that’s the value to the TV system that should be represented because that’s the Commission’s policy.

3477 But the BDU aspect is a different question. And to the extent that if -- yeah, if money was put --a large amount, even, maybe $100M into the tangible benefits, that still doesn’t solve the BDU problem.

3478 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, fair enough. Thank you very much. In your view, is there any other way that we could support public interest participation other than through the use of the BPF or the BAF?

3479 MR. LAWFORD: Again, we’ve had discussions about this. You do know from C-10 that there was a section put into the Bill which would have provided a broadcasting cost award regime. And we support that because it has proven its value in the -- on the telecom side for many years, and it doesn’t run out of money, and we think it’s fair. So that would be the ideal.

3480 I don’t know if it’ll be in the next version of the Bill. Nobody knows. I’m loathe to discuss what we might like to have if we can’t have what we have, in other words, Broadcasting Participation Fund, or the cost award regime in public, here, right now.

3481 I believe the Commission’s offered a meeting on this and that is where we would like to discuss that.

3482 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, that’s fair.

3483 If in fact the value of the transaction is revised and we see more funds available by way of tangible benefits, I’m just wondering if you could explain to us or maybe add some clarity as to why those monies are best served by allocating them to the BPF and BAF, rather than some of the other initiatives that -- and some of the asks that we have been presented with here.

3484 MR. LAWFORD: Yeah. I realize you have received a lot of asks. But just remember what we’re proposing here; 90 percent of it -- 9-0 of this much larger amount -- and I think it’s $16 or $17 million more amount -- we said should go to the CMF, the independent production funds and the applicants that Rogers has chosen should they choose to give away more money, or anybody else Rogers wants to give the money.

3485 So a huge large envelope more of money will go to the people that have already been selected and are definitely on screen And our piece is actually quite small. And BPF burns through 800 grand a year paying for our submissions to you guys. That sounds like a big number but three’s quite a number of groups and the proceedings -- including, for example, CBC last year -- we wouldn’t have been able to do without BPF.

3486 The BPF has said they will b e paying, as Kathy Edwards noted, 75 cents on the dollar from October 1st. So we’re not getting paid full price for being here today. And that’s going to finish up, I believe, in June of next year.

3487 So the amount we are suggesting would keep the Broadcasting Participation Fund going for the amount of time that clarity would come out of C-10 or whatever the Commission decides to do for cost awards. That is why we picked that number. And yes, it impinges on giving 100 percent of it to the on-screen but this is special situations and there have been many proceedings that I have been in, and other people from PIAC have been in where we have begged for half of a one percent of the tangible benefits for BPF and BAF and gotten zero.

3488 So SIRIUS was the last time we got money. And before that it was Astral. So the rain barrel doesn't get filled up very often for those two funds and so we thought there might be some chance to do it here, yeah.

3489 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Just to clarify, do you take any position or issue with the -- and I think you did say this earlier on but I just want to make sure that you don’t have any issue with the recipients as proposed by Rogers.

3490 MR. LAWFORD: Absolutely not.


3492 In your opening comments this afternoon at paragraph 21 I just wanted to clarify one of the statements in that paragraph. You say that the calculation and proposal not only reflects the value but also provides a larger benefit.

3493 And could you just explain what you mean by “a larger benefit” to CMF and Rogers own discretionary beneficiaries? Is it just that the number is larger or do you mean that there is a qualitative ---

3494 MR. LAWFORD: No, it’s a quantity.


3496 MR. LAWFORD: It’s just pure quantity, the percentage is still 10 percent of TV transfer.

3497 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: So this was strictly a quantitative benefit?

3498 MR. LAWFORD: Yeah.

3499 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, thank you.

3500 And I think you answered this, but one of the questions I wanted to ask if you had any other funding supports that access -- that you have access to that can facilitate your participation. But again, maybe you wish to leave that to a staff meeting if that’s your ---

3501 MR. LAWFORD: I think it is appropriate to say that all of the stakeholders of the Broadcasting Participation Fund are very limited means and we have beaten the bushes for other sources of funding. There are very few funding sources that will fund advocacy. Most of the large foundations in Canada will only fund support for the community directly. And so that is not an option.

3502 The government has never provided direct funding to us since Kim Campbell, in those days. And the Quebec government is the only one that funds from the provincial level. So yes, we have beat the bushes and we have, as an organization at PIAC, in the last few years come very close to having to shut down. So we haven't been able to find those other funds and we would likely be very much supporting C-10’s new -- a new idea or something done by the Commission rather than trying to find a source that probably doesn't exist.

3503 And oh, I will just add, the reason why we have some structural problems as well -- and I think Trish’s group too -- is that we don’t take corporate funding. So we can’t go to YouTube or whoever and ask for money.

3504 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, thank you.

3505 I have just a couple of questions as it relates to local and community television.

3506 In your intervention you noted that there is no new spending or other commitments made by Rogers as it relates to the Shaw community channels. So I'm wondering in your view if you could comment on which commitments Rogers have made in this regard and that you would consider appropriate and most beneficial for community members currently served by Shaw Spotlight.

3507 MR. LAWFORD: So I’m not quite sure which part of the submission you were talking about. Is it in our invention? Or is it in our ---

3508 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Yes, in the filed intervention that you would have made.

3509 MR. LAWFORD: Sorry, what paragraph? I apologize.

3510 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Just give me a second and I can try and find the paragraph.

3511 MR. LAWFORD: Yeah, it’s probably around 120 or something.

3512 Sorry for the flipping noises; I’m trying to find it too.

3513 The initial proposal by Rogers did not include additional monies for community television, is what you're saying.

3514 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Right. And my screen is going a little wacky here.

3515 MR. LAWFORD: That’s okay. I think that that’s the case. And then we watched with some interest the video that promised new money for news or really it’s probably the 13 million which presently goes to CORUS Global which is going to go to this new service. But that’s the only new new spending I think we identified.

3516 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: I think those are the dollars that we heard about from Rogers earlier this week.

3517 So really in your view, do you have a perspective on which community members would benefit from increased dollars related to Shaw Spotlight?

3518 MR. LAWFORD: I believe that we covered that in our comments by saying that our understanding of the way it was described in the application, they said they would split it 50/50 between children’s and documentary, I think. And I think the concern coming out of the people who access those funds right now is that it might be reduced. Or am I getting it mixed up with the Shaw Rocket Fund? I apologize. Sorry.

3519 My understanding of the initial application was that there wasn’t more money going in to community, that they would be continuing Shaw’s work and Shaw Spotlight, and maybe putting a focus on more Indigenous, but that there wasn’t necessarily more money. If there was, I apologize to Rogers for not having read it properly.

3520 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: No, I think you are correct because the question that I had references the fact that there is no new spending or commitments. So I think that we are talking about sort of apples and oranges here. But to the extent we are looking at the Shaw community channels and as I understand it, there’s not new money to be implemented or added to that initiative. We’re just curious if you have a thought as to what commitments should have been made, and if so, where those monies would go.

3521 MR. LAWFORD: Right.

3522 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: So I hope that clarifies it.

3523 MR. LAWFORD: Yeah.

3524 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: If I confused you, I'm sorry.

3525 MR. LAWFORD: No, you didn’t. I have it now.

3526 Not incremental. All of Rogers’ promises to you are not incremental. That’s what we are saying here today. None of them are. And if they are going to continue Rogers services, even if they put a focus on a different area in community television, that’s not incremental. They would have to launch a new station or a new news local -- you know, support for local journalists or a new variety hour for BIPOC or something.

3527 And I don’t see any of that. And so we did hear CMAC and CACTUS yesterday and kind of felt their pain because they are expressing years and years and years of underfunding and some perhaps reporting shenanigans at both Shaw and Rogers. And so I didn’t see a structural -- which I think they called for -- review of how it is going with the community stations at either organization. And I think that might be an appropriate thing -- what you could order, I don’t know in terms of the condition. But it might be something to consider.

3528 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, thank you.

3529 MS. SAI: I will maybe just chime in a little bit. I think our general impression throughout Rogers filings is that their commitments towards local news and community programming were generally only very vague with references to a promise to continue local programming community services, to build on and enhance, perhaps, but no real concrete commitment with regards to which communities, which diversity groups that they want to support.

3530 So even if we do accept that they will commit to contributing to local news or community programming, we -- it would be very difficult to really assess post-transaction where they have actually done that.

3531 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Just to some extent, some of the activity is discretionary and at the choice of the BDU. So to the extent there is the exercise of discretion, I'm just curious why the Commission would then require new commitments for activities that are undertaken. So I don't know if you have a thought on that.

3532 MR. LAWFORD: Again, we're not primarily here to discuss the community media. I think that the two groups that you saw might have a better justification for why it's important to the community and how it impacts their membership and the people who watch community television.

3533 So we don’t have a roadmap for you, I guess is what I'm saying, and we would pretty much defer to their thoughts on that.

3534 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay. Thank you.

3535 Can we talk for a few minutes about some of the competitive safeguards that have been discussed in the last few days?

3536 And maybe just to paraphrase Rogers' view, as I understand it, their thinking is that we already have a framework of regulatory safeguards such as the Wholesale Code, reporting requirements, the One-to-One Rule. There's dispute resolution, final offer arbitration, and all of these things are working and protecting parties.

3537 But at the same time, we have heard from intervenors who have suggested that the application, and in particular, enforcement -- I think we heard that message quite strongly yesterday, that enforcement of the rules maybe is not working as hoped.

3538 And this is going to be particularly an issue as the broadcasting system transitions to an online reality.

3539 So in that context, given kind of what we have heard in the last couple of days, could you add some additional comments on why you think more safeguards are necessary?

3540 MR. LAWFORD: I don’t believe we waded into that question in our intervention or our comments, largely because we are not independent producers.

3541 We have heard anecdotal stories from several of them in meetings with us over the years about their frustration with the Commission's adjudication or mediation processes. I have never sat in on one, so I don't know.

3542 I was disturbed to hear that certain services were being not offered on certain platforms. I think Telus said that, although it was in the context not over the top, rather than negotiating with Rogers. They did make the case that it might be difficult for the smaller groups.

3543 I heard IBG say that was their concern and they needed additional rules, and even this morning, TLN to some extent.

3544 Again, we're not expert in that. Consumers get this second hand. There were, of course, fights over turning off hockey and that sort of thing with TVA. That’s where consumers get involved.

3545 So this is all behind the curtain. I can only speculate from my frustrations with certain consumer rules maybe not being top priority for enforcement as well, but perhaps that’s again, something the Commission's under-resourced on the enforcement side. It should be thought about.

3546 But like, we haven't done enough of a deep dive into this to add anything more to what the independents have said. We would just say that consumers want to have the cheapest, best services they can with variety and not a monoculture of large stations chosen by one BDU.

3547 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay. And I appreciate that it's not something that you have offered extensive comments on or -- and you're really not sort of maybe in the weeds, but do you have examples of any situations where you have seen maybe that those safeguards are not working, and are you going to share an example?

3548 MR. LAWFORD: Everything I have is hearsay, so I don't think that's appropriate.

3549 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay. That’s fair, thank you.

3550 I'll ask you this question, but again, you may not be in a situation where you want to comment on it, recognizing that really, your perspective is coming from a consumer interest view.

3551 But I wondered if you had any thoughts on some of the issues raised by intervenors with respect to the transition to online distribution and non-exclusivity, whether or not there's preferential distribution?

3552 Again, it may not be something that you choose to comment on, but I wanted to give you the opportunity.

3553 MR. LAWFORD: Well, we watched with some fascination the discussion of where the industry is going in terms of online, and how Rogers in particular has a strategy to try to have kind of a middle ground between online and the linear system.

3554 And embedded in that is an assumption a) that Rogers is the Canadian Broadcasting System and they are defending something into getting bigger, and we don’t agree with either of those premises.

3555 But we were also disturbed to hear that, you know, of Telus' difficulties in getting Disney Plus. Like, that is the kind of thing where you shouldn't have to change BDUs because your kids want to watch a particular feed.

3556 And if that exclusivity deal is manifesting prior to the transaction, we would be concerned it might be repeated. I don't know if it's a one-off.

3557 But that’s the kind of thing that matters to consumers, so you have to go fishing to find your service or decide who in the household is more important, the ones that want to watch HBO or the ones that want to watch Disney Plus. Doesn’t lead to a happy dinner table conversation.

3558 So I guess I'm not much help on that, unless you want to add anything, Yuka?

3559 MS. SAI: Yeah, maybe we can speak more to the perspective of why less competition is what will result with this merger.

3560 We know from Rogers' submissions that their intention is to transition Shaw legacy TV and hybrid customers to their IPTV platform, and our main concern is that those Shaw customers, once their contract is over and once the transition period is over, that they will no longer be able to renew those contracts on their legacy TV systems, or be essentially forced to subscribe to more expensive IPTV and internet packages.

3561 ` So from the consumer perspective, that is our main concern in terms of what prices they will be paying in the future and what packages will be available to them.

3562 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, thank you.

3563 Maybe just before we finish, I would like to take you to -- again, to your filed evidence, and I'm looking in particular at your conclusion.

3564 ` And I wanted to just perhaps understand before we close off the exact nature of what you're asking so that it's on the record.

3565 So I think your conclusion in your filed submission can be found at paragraphs 79 through to 83. I think 83 is a recognition of the opportunity to participate.

3566 So I think at first, you're -- at the outset, perhaps you're asking that the transaction not be approved, but then at paragraph 80, you note that if it is approved, it shifts right to conditions regarding protecting consumers from increased costs.

3567 Did you have anything further that you wanted to add with respect to that paragraph?

3568 MR. LAWFORD: To protections?


3570 MR. LAWFORD: Well, we did have a discussion of this with Trish, in fact. The concern we have is with upselling. And the trouble with seniors -- and Trish, I'm going to ask you to comment on this in a second, but -- that we perceive is that even if Rogers makes representations before you that they will not force migrate customers to IPTV, that seniors will not understand what's happening when they're being asked to change to IPTV, and will not know there's an option to have TV only, if there is such an option.

3571 Our other concern, I believe, Rogers' marketing person -- I'm sorry, I forgot his name -- pretty much said that those people who take TV only on IP, if I can put it that way, are going to get the CFS package. They're going to get 20 channels, and they're going to be able to add maybe 20 more channels on top, and then in increments, if they want to add things, it will probably be a la carte and probably more expensive than IPTV. So, the conversation we’re concerned about is something like this. Person calls up because something’s wrong, the CSR goes into the pitch for IPTV, the senior, if it’s a senior, says, “Well, I’ve had TV service with you for 20 years. It’s always been the same. What’s going on?” They say, you know, “I don’t need internet,” and the customer service rep keeps going down the road of trying to sell them IPTV. And the hook, the hook is going to be when that person is used to have 130 channels is told they have to get 20, and that that package they want is not going to be available unless they take IPTV. They’re over a barrel. They’re now not paying $95 a month; they’re paying $135 a month. That’s our main concern.

3572 And Trish, I think you might have some experiences from your members maybe to add to this?

3573 MS. McAULIFFE: Yes, if I may. We had been presenting -- presented at the hearings on aggressive sale practices and, as I noted in my review to you, that you had agreed on that. We had several submissions to us in that regard. Seniors feel somewhat duped in terms of what’s happening in this internet world and this technical world, and they often, you know, lost in the conversation, and they feel not just confused, they feel ignorant, completely ignorant.

3574 And so, they often just agree because the conversation continues and, at the end of the day, they’ve been sold something that they’re not able to pay for. So, food comes off the table, prescriptions are not filled, and they feel that they’re -- they are definitely tied to this contract. So, then there’s a complaint process, and we know how that goes.

3575 So, our members, you know, feel that if they are sold something, they need to have paper copies. They need to have something in front of them to be clear and what their signing or agreeing to. They often share this with their family members. And we know that paper copies, whether it be their bills or any contractual things, those requests by the telecoms are not being met. So, they just continue on with a process that’s very foreign to them, and that they have to seek justice in other ways by going to advocacy organizations like ours to help them.

3576 Some of our newsletters have repeatedly made this clear in some of the submissions from our members, and as well as online and/or emails to us. So, we need some sort of a stipulation that says that they will be presented with a formal copy of what they’re being asked of in hard -- you know, in paper copy, in mail and/or at least a cooling off period for which they may receive these increased prices and, perhaps three months down the road, now they understand what they’ve signed up for, they know they can’t afford it, and that they should be able to discontinue that service. So, that would be most beneficial.

3577 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: So, I just really want to clearly understand the two conditions that you’re talking about. And I think you’re specifically -- we’ve talked about a couple of -- more than a couple of things, I guess, but primarily looking for paper copies of contracts, a cooling off period, not upselling maybe to seniors, and they’re probably all related, I guess, but does that capture what your intent is with respect to your ask in paragraph 80? Have I understood that clearly?

3578 MR. LAWFORD: I think maybe yes, right, Trish?

3579 MS. McAULIFFE: Yes.

3580 MR. LAWFORD: We might want to just add that -- we’re really talking about here is a process safeguard because the Commission has indicated in the sales practices report that seniors are disproportionately targeted and suffer more sustained pressure than any other group. So, yes, we’re asking for this to be a cooling off period, and Ms. McAuliffe is saying that seniors rely on paper. We’ve been having these fights about paper bills, and I understand you still have something before you to give us the answer, so we eagerly await that. It may be that this ask, then, is not inconsistent with what you decide, and those two would greatly protect seniors.

3581 I also, if I may expand it slightly, might as well ask while I’m here, this might also be an important safeguard for other customers of Shaw, again, who we believe, again, are being forced marched into IPTV. And there will be satellite people who, when Rogers builds out to their community, will be asked to go onto IPTV because they will, I suspect, I can’t speak for them, no longer serve you as satellite if that’s the case.

3582 And then if you are in -- finishing your contract, because they said you can finish your contract for Direct TV, which is as I understand their old cable system, but once you’re done that, you’re also going to be highly pressured to take IPTV. There will be people that maybe are not 60-plus who would also benefit from a cooling off period. So, if I could suggest on the spot widening it to that. We did have discussions about that because there’s quite a number of subscribers out west who I think will see their service change pretty radically.

3583 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, fair enough. And I think we’ve already talked about paragraph 81 with respect to the licences that are being surrendered, I guess.

3584 MR. LAWFORD: Correct.

3585 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: And then 82, we’ve talked about the tangible benefit package. So, I think we’ve, at this stage, reviewed all of the requests that you’ve made unless there’s something different.

3586 MR. LAWFORD: But just to be super clear, we are asking for the price freeze for three years on -- and it was more complicatedly stated in the intervention, because I thought I was too smart, and then my staff told me it should just be all Shaw customers freeze their price for three years. I get that now. So, that’s what we’re asking. That’s the main one. That’s the one that Rogers reacted to saying it was completely out of your scope of jurisdiction. I don’t know if they said that, but they certainly said it was inappropriate in this hearing to do that. I say 3(1)(t)(ii), you can do it if you want. You did it for $25 television, and it would be an important safeguard here. And to be honest, if they offered a price freeze on wireless, why aren’t they offering it on TV?

3587 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, thank you for adding that because I was wanting to make sure we captured everything ---

3588 MR. LAWFORD: Yes.

3589 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: --- in terms of what your recommendations are before the Commission. So, I think now we’ve captured all of your recommendations unless I’ve missed something.

3590 MR. LAWFORD: Yes, I think that’s right.

3591 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Okay, perfect. Thank you so much.

3592 MR. LAWFORD: Thank you.

3593 COMMISSIONER DESMOND: Those are all of my questions.

3594 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Commissioner Anderson?

3595 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: One very quick question if you will. You just said that there may be other people who would not benefit from the transition to IPTV. I’d like to give you an opportunity to surmise on what groups might not appreciate that transition as you are, I understand, a national organization that represents consumers across the country. So, it would be helpful to substantiate the record somewhat to hear your thoughts on this.

3596 MR. LAWFORD: I think we could say that anyone -- I don’t know what Rogers’ migration plan is for satellite, but if they’re going to let satellite slowly wither away by attrition where they build out -- so, let’s say build in Yellowknife. I don’t know if they’re going to, but let’s say they do. Let’s say they’re going to build in Northern Quebec. Let’s say they’re going to build around Whitehorse. I don’t know. And then they say in those areas you have to take satellite, I would hope that there would be an ability to have a soft landing of some kind because the -- I don’t have the income data for the territories, but I suspect it’s lower, and that just goes with rural and remote, and then Indigenous as well.

3597 So, if there were either a price freeze again for those areas or a product -- you know, you could have -- connected for success plus, where the plus is anything. It could be Indigenous people. It could be Indigenous people generally or on reserve. I don’t know how you do it. Or, it could be other groups that have lower incomes in the north or other challenges because TV is -- that’s the way you get it up there. And they will be coming and bringing internet, we understand that, but this hearing is about television. So, I don’t know if that answers your question, but that’s what we were getting that.

3598 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thanks for your response.

3599 MR. LAWFORD: Thank you.

3600 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Lawford and to you and your colleagues. As always, helpful. You mentioned earlier that you were appearing at a discount. I can’t resist but saying, but we will not discount the quality and -- of your efforts nor the importance of your observations and submissions. So, thank you very much for your appearance.

3601 MR. LAWFORD: Thanks very much for your full attention.

3602 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary?

3603 MS. ROY: Thank you. We will now take a very short break, because we will switch and let Cogeco come into the room. Thank you very much.

--- Upon recessing at 3:16 p.m./

--- L'audience est suspendue à 15h16

--- Upon resuming at 3:20 p.m./

--- L'audience est reprise à 15h20

3604 MS. ROY: Welcome back. We will now hear the presentation of Cogeco Communications Inc.

3605 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have 20 minutes for you presentation.


3606 MR. BEAUDRY: Monsieur le président et mesdames les commissaires, membres du personnel du Conseil, il nous fait plaisir d’apparaître devant vous aujourd’hui afin de formuler nos commentaires et d’exprimer certaines inquiétudes concernant l’acquisition proposée de Shaw Communications par Rogers.

3607 Je suis Paul Beaudry, vice-président, Affaires réglementaires chez Cogeco Communications. Les autres comparants pour Cogeco Communications sont, à ma droite, Frédéric Perron, président de Cogeco Connexion, la filiale canadienne de câblodistribution de Cogeco Communications; à sa droite, John Hargrave, vice-président, produits chez Cogeco Connexion; et à ma gauche, Kseniya Veretelnik, directrice, affaires réglementaires, radiodiffusion.

3608 Avant d’aller plus loin, j’aimerais céder la parole à Frédéric, qui fera un bref exposé des activités de Cogeco Connexion et des craintes principales que nous avons concernant l’acquisition potentielle de Shaw par Rogers.

3609 MR. PERRON: Merci, Paul.

3610 Good afternoon. Cogeco Connexion is the Canadian cable subsidiary of Cogeco Communications. We provide residential and business customers with Internet, video, and telephony services using hybrid fibre and coaxial cable technology to more than 900,000 customers in Quebec and Ontario.

3611 Cogeco is an independent distributor of television programming. Aside from a community channels, we do not control or operate any programming services, and do not produce any television programs distributed by other BDUs. Thus, unlike Bell, Quebecor, Rogers, and Shaw, we are not vertically integrated.

3612 As an independent distributor, Cogeco fears that further consolidation in an already highly concentrated broadcasting market will exacerbate the behavioural biases linked to market power. Indeed, we fear that a post-merger Rogers will have the incentive and ability to abuse its market power in the supply of anchor content, more specifically, its sports assets.

3613 We also worry that remaining linkages between Rogers and Corus, due to the presence of the Shaw family members on both companies’ boards, and their control of the latter company through their family trust, gives rise to the possibility of preferential arrangements between the two parties. We therefore believe that scrutiny and constant monitoring of the relationship between the two parties is highly warranted.

3614 Finally, we are worried that a Bell-Shaw duopoly in the provision of video relay distribution services could negatively impact independent BDUs, including Cogeco, who rely on these services for video distribution.

3615 In summary, I’d like to say that we have significant concerns about what this merger could do to smaller regional players such as ourselves, especially from a content distribution perspective. Our position is therefore that this merger should only go through if, and only if, safeguards and remedies are in place.

3616 And to elaborate further on those safeguards and remedies, I’m going to pass the microphone over -- back to Paul.

3617 Paul.

3618 MR. BEAUDRY: Merci, Frédéric.

3619 While most of the public attention surrounding the proposed transaction has focused on its impact on the mobile wireless services sector, the Commission’s role in reviewing this transaction, and its impact on the broadcasting sector, is equally crucial.

3620 Indeed, contrary to Rogers’ claim that it will be “merely stepping into the shoes of Shaw” in acquiring Shaw’s BDU licences, the reality is that the proposed transaction would enhance Rogers’ market power as a vertically integrated broadcaster, and raise significant competition concerns throughout Canada’s broadcasting ecosystem.

3621 Ces inquiétudes liées à la concurrence touchent plusieurs parties prenantes au sein du système de radiodiffusion canadien, incluant les créateurs et producteurs de contenu, les services de programmation indépendants, et les entreprises de distribution de radiodiffusion. Cogeco, en tant qu’entreprise de distribution de radiodiffusion indépendante, est naturellement préoccupé par les répercussions de la transaction sur le marché de la distribution, tels qu’en font foi les commentaires que nous avons soumis au Conseil en réponse à son avis de consultation.

3622 Il est important que le Conseil aille au-delà des limites de la politique sur la Diversité des voix dans son analyse de l’impact concurrentiel de la transaction proposée. La politique sur la Diversité des voix se préoccupe principalement d’intégration horizontale et fut élaborée avant que l’industrie de la radiodiffusion canadienne soit dominée par quelques compagnies verticalement intégrées contrôlant la vaste majorité des services de programmation et des entreprises de distribution de radiodiffusion. La transaction proposée donne lieu à des préoccupations plus larges.

3623 Il est primordial que dans son évaluation au regard de l’intérêt public, le Conseil prenne en compte la puissance commerciale issue de la propriété mixte par Rogers d’entreprises de distribution de radiodiffusion, de services de programmation, et de réseaux à large bande.

3624 If the proposed transaction is allowed to proceed, Rogers would see its BDU subscriber base more than double, from 1.5 million to 3.6 million. This would result in Rogers controlling 35.5 percent of all Canadian television subscribers, and 47 percent of English Canada subscribers. As a result, Rogers would be in an unparalleled bargaining position vis-à-vis independent distributors such as Cogeco post-merger, and this, for the following reasons:

3625 Securing distribution agreements for its programming services would be much less of a necessity or a priority for Rogers from a financial perspective. As a result, Rogers could exert significant pressure on independent distributors to accept unreasonable rates or packaging requirements. Any resistance by independent distributors would be at the risk of losing distribution of valuable programming services.

3626 In addition, Rogers would have the ability, as the largest BDU in Canada, to secure significant volume discounts from Rogers Media that would never be available to independent BDUs for the distribution of programming content. These massive discounts would, in turn, allow Rogers to offer subscribers pricing that independent distributors could never match due to their inability to secure them. The proposed transaction would exacerbate the phenomenon whereby terms and conditions of content distribution are essentially set by Canada’s dominant vertically-integrated firms, which, as the Commission knows, represent 80 percent of Canada’s subscriber base. These entities, because they own content, can often secure mutually advantageous outcomes because they each own valuable programming that they can use as leverage with one another during negotiations. Independent BDUs such as Cogeco, by contrast, do not own programming that they can offer and are essentially “price-takers”. This, in turn, puts us at a tremendous competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis vertically-integrated firms, and hinder consumer welfare because, at the end of it all, consumers have to pay the bill.

3627 Cogeco submits that, should the transaction be approved by the Commission, it must be subject to stringent requirements to prevent the abuse of market power by Rogers post-merger.

3628 En français cette fois-ci, Cogeco est d’avis que, si la transaction proposée obtient l’aval du Conseil, elle doit être assujettie à des exigences strictes visant à prévenir l’abus de position dominante par Rogers après la fusion.

3629 First, it’s essential for the Commission to uphold the integrity of its regulatory framework respecting vertical integration, including the Wholesale Code, and ensure that it is in no way altered, diluted, or circumvented by Rogers as a result of this transaction.

3630 Specifically, we recommend that all the provisions of the Wholesale Code continue to be made applicable to Rogers as a condition of licence. We also urge the Commission to extend the Wholesale Code’s protections to all Rogers content, including content specifically or exclusively created for distribution on digital platforms.

3631 We also submit that all Rogers content should be subject to a “no head-start” rule, obligating Rogers to offer all of its programming content on commercially reasonable terms to BDUs as soon as it is available.

3632 We also seize this opportunity to alert the Commission about the necessity to reinforce its dispute resolution mechanism. Not only is the dispute resolution process lengthy and costly, it does not equally share the risk between vertically-integrated firms and independent distributors. This is because, among other reasons, independent distributors must assume the risk of retroactive rates and suffer financial losses due to their inability to recoup costs from subscribers in the event they are higher than anticipated.

3633 Furthermore, independent distributors are penalized if they cannot launch a service before the vertically integrated competitors do, due to their inability to conclude an agreement.

3634 Cogeco submits that, in an ever more consolidated broadcasting market, changes to the dispute resolution mechanism are in order. Notably, we suggest imposing time limitations on staff-assisted mediations similar to the timeframes set out in the final offer arbitration mechanism and establishing that retroactivity stops from accruing on expired rates from the moment the Commission is seized of a dispute. While we support the implementation of these changes for the industry as a whole, we believe they should be applied specifically onto Rogers as an outcome of this proceeding, should the Commission approve the proposed transaction.

3635 Regarding the status of Corus services, despite Corus’ claim that neither party would have “any inclination or incentive to prefer each other in regard to carriage negotiations”, Cogeco is worried that a degree of influence between Corus and Rogers may persist by way of the Shaw Family Living Trust’s control of Corus, on one hand, and its Rogers board presence and significant share ownership on the other. This state of affairs could provide incentives for anti-competitive behaviour aimed at favouring Rogers’ video distribution activities at the expense of other distributors.

3636 In light of these concerns, the Commission should mandate the filing of all agreements between Rogers and Corus – not only affiliation agreements, but any other side agreements, including marketing agreements – and to promptly step in to stop any preferential behaviours that would have the effect of unduly harming or disadvantaging other programmers or distributors.

3637 Finally, Cogeco wishes to express concerns specific to Shaw’s satellite relay distribution services. Cogeco, like many other independent BDUs in Canada, relies on Shaw’s satellite relay distribution services in both Quebec and Ontario. Indeed, across Canada, many independent BDUs rely on Shaw’s satellite services, sometimes exclusively, to deliver video signals to their subscribers. The transfer of all of Shaw’s satellite undertakings to an already dominant market player concerns Cogeco. Indeed, post-merger, Rogers may have the incentive and ability to foreclose access to SRDU services or substantially raise the price or alter the terms and conditions of service.

3638 In order to prevent potential market abuse, Cogeco submits that additional regulatory safeguards must be imposed on Rogers if the Commission approves the proposed transaction. Namely, the Commission should mandate that Rogers’ SRDU operations, as well as related agreements and negotiations, be subject to the Wholesale Code as well as the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations.

3639 In 2012, when Rogers appeared at the Commission’s public hearing to oppose the Bell-Astral transaction, Rogers stated the following: “The issue is market power...When a vertically-integrated company has too much content leverage, the temptation to behave badly is just too great.”

3640 Cogeco fully agrees with this statement and submits that it remains relevant in the context of the proposed transaction. Market power has consequences, and in a consolidated and vertically integrated broadcasting market such as Canada’s, robust regulatory tools continue to be necessary to address vertically integrated firms’ incentive and ability to abuse their dominant position.

3641 Pour toutes ces raisons, nous soumettons que si le Conseil juge opportun d’approuver la transaction proposée, il est primordial que des garanties réglementaires additionnelles soient imposées afin de prévenir tout abus de position dominante de la part de Rogers.

3642 De plus, quelle que soit la décision du Conseil en ce qui a trait à Rogers/Shaw, nous invitons le Conseil à veiller à ce que son cadre réglementaire sur l’intégration verticale, incluant le Code sur la vente de gros, soit vigoureusement mis en oeuvre afin de prévenir les agissements anticoncurrentiels de joueurs verticalement intégrés dans le système de radiodiffusion canadien.

3643 Il nous fera maintenant plaisir de répondre à vos questions. We will now be pleased to answer questions.

3644 THE CHAIRPERSON: Merci, Monsieur Beaudry et merci aussi à votre collègue. I will turn the microphone to Madame Lafontaine.

3645 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Merci, Monsieur le président et merci Monsieur et Madame pour votre présentation aujourd’hui et pour votre intervention écrite. J’ai quelques questions pour vous. Mes questions vont porter sur les solutions que vous proposez, le règlement de différends, les services EDRS et la relation entre Rogers et Corus. Et j’ai bien compris par les membres du personnel du CRTC qu’on procédait en anglais avec les questions, mais si vous voulez répondre en français, vous êtes bien sûr les bienvenus et moi, j’ai préparé mon lexique en vue de votre présentation, alors je vais faire de mon mieux aussi…

3646 M. BEAUDRY : J’allais vous dire, Commissaire Lafontaine, que malgré le fait qu’on soit beaucoup de francophones à cette table, il y a un certain stress de notre part également quand vient le temps de connaître les termes de l’art. Donc, aucun problème d’avoir les questions en anglais.

3647 COMMISSAIRE LAFONTAINE : Donc, on va peut-être vous passer mon lexique aussi, est-ce que c’est ça?

3648 M. BEAUDRY : Ça fait l’affaire, merci!

3649 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: OK, merci! Alors, let’s begin. As I mentioned, I have a number of questions for you today. And my first line of questions relates to the -- some of the mechanisms that you’ve proposed, the one in which relates to the non-exclusivity and non-head start rule.

3650 So, Cogeco and a number of intervenors have expressed concern about Rogers’ incentive and ability to act in an anti-competitive manner should this application be approved and you, of course, have raised this issue in your oral presentation this afternoon. In this regard, some intervenors, including yourselves, have raised issues with respect to the ability of all of Rogers’ content -- raised issue about availability, excuse me, of all of Rogers’ content across all of the platforms, including online.

3651 Yourselves, Cogeco and Telus have submitted that the Commission should impose a non-exclusivity rule and prohibit Rogers from entering into any agreement for exclusive or preferential distribution of many online programming services through its own distribution platforms. In addition, you have recommended this no head start rule.

3652 Could you please elaborate on why these safeguards would be necessary and beneficial to the Canadian broadcasting system as a whole should the application be approved? Why these rules now? Why relate it to online when this isn’t a hearing related to the DMEO?

3653 MR. BEAUDRY: This is a good question, Commissioner Lafontaine, and let me attempt an answer. The reality is that under the proposed transaction, the sheer size of Rogers would be a threat, a potential threat to many other players within the Canadian broadcasting echo system. They would be by far the largest BDU in Canada, and they control content that the Commission in the past, as well as the Competition Bureau has deemed to be must-have content and know that we were talking about the sports assets.

3654 The Competition Bureau, I think, has said that vertically integrated entities have a natural ability to act -- incentive and ability to act in anti-competitive way vis-à-vis certain competitors, but that ability and incentive is maximized when they own must-have content, which we submit is the case in this specific case.

3655 And we also fear -- so, with this in mind, we fear that a situation whereby the biggest BDU in Canada -- or that which owns must-carry, must-have content is able to short circuit the regulated BDU system by offering must-have content via OTT means and penalizing other players within the market by not allowing them to integrate that content within their respective platforms would be a tremendous disadvantage.

3656 It was interesting yesterday because Telus appeared before the Commission, and Telus was expressing fears regarding the potential for marketed views on the part of Rogers post-merger. Telus, if I’m correct, looking at their latest financial report, has about 1.2 million BDU subscribers. We’re about close to have of that. So, it goes without saying that a smaller distributor such as Cogeco in a world that is drifting to OTT fears of a situation where an entity with market power can exploit that market power by shifting must-have content to OTT means.

3657 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you very much for that. And in reference to the Telus presentation yesterday, they did also submit concerns about the lack of access to OTT content, that it wasn’t just Rogers’ OTT content. There was the example of the Disney. They were in the process of negotiating a deal with Disney that fell through when the acquisition was announced. Does Cogeco have any examples of whether it’s third party or Rogers content that has been withheld from your company that you can share or that you might want to submit in a written submission?

3658 MR. BEAUDRY: I would say, first of all, that we took note of the example that was provided by Telus yesterday, and indeed, there does appear to be a gap in the Digital Media Exemption Order whereby the exclusivity of content provided to subscribers of the BDU service is indeed allowed.

3659 And you're right to point out, Commissioner Lafontaine, that this is not a hearing to discuss the DMEO, but we're in a weird cart-before-the-horse situation where we know the Commission wants to look at the DMEO, I may venture, in the coming months or years, and this might be in conjunction with the potential introduction of additional broadcasting legislation now that the government has returned at the House of Commons.

3660 But I would say that for us, this is a cause of concern, and we don’t have, I don't think, any specific examples relating to Cogeco we can share with the Commission at this stage, but I think that it's interesting to look at international precedents to confirm that the concerns aired by Telus yesterday really go beyond the realm of the theoretical.

3661 And I think Frédéric could maybe add to this. Frédéric has experience on the international scene and has experienced this more than I have.

3662 MR. PERRON: Sure. Commissioner, I have had the opportunity to work in the telecommunication space in five different countries, and what I have seen in recent years that regardless of the country is that these OTT players such as Disney, Netflix, and the others, of course, are becoming much more powerful because that’s what customers want.

3663 But regardless of the country, what they will increasingly do is they will look for a dominant television player in their respective country as a way to accelerate their penetration.

3664 So you were asking for examples. So for example, Disney Plus with Deutsche Telekom in Germany, or Netflix in the earlier days T-Mobile in the United States. What those OTTs have to do is, they have to show their shareholders very rapid, a very rapid penetration curve in the respective market. And partnering with a possibly pro forma dominant Rogers/Shaw would be their fastest way to do that.

3665 And who would suffer first? The small players such as ourselves would suffer if they were to get either a head start or God forbid, full exclusivity of their content.

3666 So the smaller player such as ourselves would suffer, but also, of course, the customer would suffer greatly.

3667 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you for that.

3668 And so when you refer to all of Rogers' content, are you referring to the -- its -- the sports, the premium sports programming, but are you also referring to these potentially third-party deals, like, as you say, Disney, et cetera? Is it that to which you are referring in terms of no exclusivity?

3669 MR. BEAUDRY: Well, obviously, the focus of our submission was on Rogers' content because ultimately, we don’t want them to again, bypass the regulated system with regulatory obligations associated with it to submit and share content with BDU subscribers on an exclusive basis.

3670 But the reality is that I think the point made by Telus yesterday is that even if you don’t have a formally-exclusive agreement, you can have agreements that are de facto exclusive, and you would want the Commission to make this impossible and significantly monitor developments in that regard.

3671 Again, there may be remedies that can be applied to this specific deal. It is a larger problem that we think the Commission should look at in a more holistic fashion down the road, but again, you're not in this situation of your own choosing. You have to react because there's a proposed merger before you.


3673 Another issue that -- just shifting gears a bit -- one of the -- another issue that was discussed yesterday, which you may have heard, was this notion of -- that I believe Telus had put forward -- an industry-wide rate card for programming, so this is that Rogers provide such an industry-wide rate card.

3674 Do you have any views on that? Do you think that that would be a mechanism that could be helpful to impede some of the -- or to reduce the effects of the market power that Rogers would have?

3675 MR. BEAUDRY: I understand the rationale that led Telus to make this recommendation. I think Cogeco doesn’t support any kind of widespread retail regulation of prices.

3676 That said, we do have issues with the way affiliation agreements, in particular with vertically-integrated players, are concluded and negotiated these days.

3677 And I think -- I feel like it's a little bit like it's groundhog for you guys, because these concerns are being rehashed day after day.

3678 But let me make my own pitch on it.

3679 As a small distributer, we often face requirements from VI entities that are completely unreasonable, whether it be on the volume-based rate card fund or penetration-based rate cards that make it very difficult for us to be competitive, for one, and two, to be fully compliant with the spirit of the CRTC's framework on Let's Talk TV.

3680 I mean, the CRTC decided -- the Commission decided that consumers need to get more choice, but we face obstacles in negotiating agreements with VI entities because they try -- they use every trick in the bag to prevent us from using as much packaging flexibility as we want for our consumers and being innovative in the way we package products.

3681 So this is a bit of a circumvented way to answer your question that was focused on Telus' retail rate regulation, which we're not supportive of, but what's interesting is that if this was an obligation and parties were to submit these types of public rate cards, it would kind of be telling because you would see that often, when we're talking about volume-based rebates, we are too small to benefit from any significant rebates compared to our larger VI competitors, who can give themselves the rebates and one another, because they each own valuable content that they can use as bargaining chips. But we're at the bottom of that totem pole.

3682 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Just to clarify, I believe that what Telus had put forward was an industry-wide rate card for wholesale rates. Is your view still the same? Are in supported for retail rates, but ---

3683 MR. BEAUDRY: Yeah. I apologize. I mistakenly said retail rates, but I certainly was referring to wholesale rates.

3684 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Okay. Great. Thank you for that clarification.

3685 So let's turn now to dispute resolution. You raised this as a concern in your oral remarks today and in your written submission, and we have also heard others raise the timeliness of the Commission's dispute resolution processes.

3686 But isn't part of the delay, as it were, caused by the fact that part of the process is to encourage the parties to try to resolve the matter between themselves?

3687 So do you have any views on, you know, where do we go from here? We're on the one hand, right, there's to try to resolve, but also to giving the parties some room to come to a landing together.

3688 MR. BEAUDRY: Yeah. Well, one clarification to start off with, we at Cogeco are supporters of the dispute resolution mechanism. We think that the safeguards and the Wholesale Code and the broadcasting distribution regulations are key in allowing us to be a viable distributor of video products.

3689 And we are also ardent defenders of the system. As you probably know, six months ago, we appeared before the Federal Court of Appeal to defend against an attempt by Quebecor and Bell to make the standstill rule be found to be inapplicable or invalid.

3690 So we have appeared before the courts to defend the frameworks that you have set forth, and we are supportive of them.

3691 But they are not without their shortcomings, and I think maybe I can pass the microphone to Kseniya who can maybe just discuss in greater detail the challenges that Cogeco has experienced in dealing with industrial resolution mechanism.

3692 Ultimately, it's a question of imbalance. We still think there is a fundamental imbalance between the relationship between small independent distributors like us and large vertically-integrated entities.

3693 But I'll let Kseniya elaborate a little further on this.

3694 MS. VERETELNIK: Sure. So as Paul alluded, one of the insufficiencies we see with the Wholesale Code is the timing. What we have seen in the past few years when we are negotiating with content providers, and more specifically, vertically-integrated players is the slowing down of the negotiations.

3695 Now, these situations are particularly detrimental to Cogeco, as Cogeco is then forced to accept hefty rate increases or inadequate terms and conditions rapidly because of the retroactivity principle of the rates. So it's either accept fast or keep the negotiations going for a long time, but then still pay the price, which is why we have suggested as one of the proposed remedies is the elimination of the retroactivity as well as the timing of the staff-assisted mediation.

3696 Now, it's not to say that parties aren't negotiating in good faith, but a more -- a tighter framework to conduct these negotiations would certainly help us. Unfortunately, oftentimes, Cogeco is just forced to accept -- and, as Paul mentioned in the statement, we’re “price-takers”, so we’re often forced to accept what is present to us because we just don’t have the resources to fight every battle that we are faced with.

3697 MR. PERRON: If I can just add a quick commercial perspective on the retroactivity. A small player like us really suffers from it in the process, because if the process drags on, we build a snowball effect of retro payment that we’ll have to pay eventually which, to a small player like us can end up being significant.

3698 So as we see that snowball grow in front of our eyes, there’s a point where we feel like we’re in the corner and we just have to accept. Whereas a larger player like Rogers, or an even bigger player like Rogers/Shaw, for them, it’s peanuts, so they can drag it on and get the possible deal for themselves. And that’s why we think that needs to change.

3699 MR. BEAUDRY: And just one last point, these wholesale rates, generally, they always go up. They don’t go down. So that’s why it puts a bit of additional context and our issues with sometimes the timing and the delays associated with this process, is that we know they’ll go up, but it’s difficult to get certainty on how much. And for a small distributor like us, it affects us tremendously.

3700 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Well, thank you for your comments about the impact the retroactivity or the retroactive -- or the application of going back on the rates -- back in time, because that was my -- my next question is, how would you propose that the Commission address this?

3701 Or what type of regulation or requirement should the Commission put in place when typically that -- the retroactive payment is based on the terms of the agreement between the parties, where you say, “Okay, we’ve finally come to a landing here. We’ll pay you whatever, you know, 15 cents, and we’ll pay it starting from Jan. 1.” We don’t control the Jan. 1 date, so how would you propose that the Commission get involved on that?

3702 MR. BEAUDRY: Well, there’s no perfect solution, but we think that the Commission could mandate that the rates of the agreements that expired remain in force during the dispute which would, in turn, incentivize the parties to come to a conclusion -- or a satisfactory conclusion faster.

3703 Needless to say, the other parties might say, “Hey, this is unfair to us.” But I think that when we are facing large, consolidated players such as Rogers in a market, as we’ve established, there’s an imbalance. So it makes sense that the regulatory framework, with respect to dispute resolution mechanisms, favours smaller players like us.

3704 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Great, thank you.

3705 I would now like to turn to ---

3706 MS. MAHEUX: Je m’excuse, Madame Lafontaine. J’aurais une question légale. Si je comprends bien, vous nous demanderiez de mettre en place une règle un peu du statu quo pendant une période de dispute. Mais une période de négociation d’une entente contractuelle n’est pas nécessairement une période de dispute. Les ententes contractuelles sont régies par la loi de la province dans laquelle les ententes sont conclues.

3707 Si vous devez forcer l’exécution de l’un de vos contrats, vous n’allez pas vous adresser au CRTC, mais bien aux tribunaux de droit commun de la province. Donc, la période pendant laquelle vous êtes en négociations et le terme de rétroactivité est un terme contractuel que vous convenez entre co-contractants.

3708 S’il n’y a pas de dispute, de quelle façon est-ce que le CRTC peut intervenir, selon vous?

3709 M. BEAUDRY : À notre avis, la mesure corrective que l’on propose pourrait justement s’appliquer dans le cadre de disputes, dans le cadre d’un différend, pourrait s’appliquer très étroitement dans le cadre d’une dispute ou d’un différend qui est officiellement reporté ou à la Commission. Et encore une fois, évidemment, dans le cadre de la fusion Shaw-Rogers, on ne parle pas de changements à l’appareil règlementaire au complet; on parle de changements qui pourraient être imposés à Rogers par condition de licence. À notre avis, la loi permettrait d’apporter et d’imposer une telle condition dans le cadre de différends qui opposeraient Rogers à des distributeurs dans le cadre d’un différend sous les auspices du Conseil.

3710 Me MAHEUX : Donc, ma question est la suivante : compte tenu que votre proposition s’applique dans le cas d’un différend et qu’on a déjà la règle du statu quo qui s’applique dans le cas d’un différend, quelle est la différence entre votre proposition et la situation actuelle qui est déjà règlementée? Parce que ce que je comprenais de votre rétroactivité, c’est que ça s’appliquait dès que le contrat venait à échéance dans le cadre des négociations. Cependant, pour qu’il y ait un différend, il faut qu’il y ait quelque chose qui ait engendré le différend – pas simplement des négociations commerciales. Vous comprenez la différence?

3711 M. BEAUDRY : Oui, tout à fait. Mais justement, ma proposition, c’était que lorsqu’il y a une situation qui engendre un différend, à ce moment-là, il y aurait une règle à l’effet qu’en raison de ce différend-là, à partir de la date d’expiration du contrat, les termes et conditions de ce contrat-là demeurent jusqu’à temps qu’il y ait une conclusion au différend, que ce soit par le biais d’un service de médiation du Conseil ou que ce soit à la suite d’un arbitrage d’offre finale.

3712 Me MAHEUX : Alors, je vais essayer de préciser ma question : quelle est la différence entre votre proposition et la règle du statu quo telle qu’elle s’applique présentement qui maintient les termes et conditions de l’entente?

3713 M. BEAUDRY : C’est-à-dire que la règle du statu quo s’applique présentement, mais lorsqu’une entente est paraphée, généralement, il y a une rétroactivité pour les tarifs qui ont fait l’objet de l’entente. Et nous, ce qu’on propose, c’est que pendant la période de différends – vous avez raison, il y a un statu quo qui s’applique, les termes demeurent.

3714 Mais on veut qu’il y ait une obligation de la part des parties, que les termes de l’ancienne entente continuent à s’appliquer et qu’il n’y ait pas une possibilité d’avoir une rétroactivité d’application des nouveaux taux qui sont négociés en raison du fait que souvent, les différends peuvent durer beaucoup de temps et qu’encore une fois, ça crée une incertitude de notre part. Et s’il y a moyen de faire en sorte que les parties ont des incitatifs plus grands d’en arriver à une entente en négociant rapidement et en éliminant la possibilité d’obtenir par rétroaction les nouveaux frais qui ont été négociés, à notre avis, ça faciliterait l’obtention et la négociation d’entente de façon beaucoup plus rapide.

3715 Me MAHEUX : Je vous remercie.

3716 M. BEAUDRY : Merci.

3717 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Merci, Maître Maheux.

3718 All right, so we’re turning to SRDU, and I just have a few questions of clarification. I understand your concerns and the concerns that you have submitted on the public record. But I would like to clarify or understand why you are only -- or why Cogeco is only referring to SRDU and not TRDUs as a number of intervenors have referenced both types of relay distribution undertaking.

3719 MR. BEAUDRY: Commissioner Lafontaine, we’ve focused on our intervention on SRDUs because, in our own experience, it is much more crucial for the Commission to act on the SRDU front than it is on the TRDU front.

3720 Not that we necessarily disagree with what other intervenors have said on TRDUs, but from our perspective at Cogeco -- just to give you a bit more context, Cogeco, we like to refer to ourselves as a regional player. We’re not present in the biggest cities in Ontario and Quebec. We’re not in Montreal. We’re not in Toronto.

3721 Au Québec, on est présents de Valleyfield à l’ouest jusqu’à Percé puis à Sept-Iles au nord-est.

3722 En Ontario, we’re present in the east in Cornwall. It goes to southwest, Windsor or Sarnia. We go up to North Bay in Northern Ontario.

3723 So as a lot of regional providers, we depend on the -- on procuring satellite relay distribution services from Shaw to deliver video services to our end customers. So we’ve focused on SRDUs because we think there is significant market power that Shaw -- that Rogers would have post-merger that, because of its sheer size in the market, and dominance in the BDU market, might incentivize it to either degrade the quality of the service, reduce the scope of the services, or ask us for unreasonable terms and conditions.

3724 So essentially, from our perspective, the satellite question is much more important than the terrestrial question. But we also recognize that for other intervenors that may not be the case, or they may be of equal importance.

3725 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: And is it also your view that the -- or, actually, I shouldn’t -- can you confirm whether the SRDU obligations should also apply to the discretionary signals, as we’ve heard from a number of intervenors?

3726 And so currently, the -- the CO -- the conditions of licensing ---

3727 MR. BEAUDRY: Absolutely. And that’s why the protections that are currently embedded in Shaw’s licence in our view are insufficient and warrant a bit of a regulatory boost in that regard.

3728 Our recommendations in this regard are not very much different than what you heard yesterday from Telus and the CCSA. We do believe that it is important for these relationships to be subject to the Wholesale Code, to the BDU regs especially section 9 on undue preference, 12 to 15 on standstill dispute resolution.

3729 And I will also add one thing. The CCSA yesterday -- I think it was Jay Thompson who mentioned that in light of some of the comments that we heard from Rogers on Monday, they seem to be taking a very nonchalant approach to the satellite business where they said, “This is not really our business; we’re not overly…” They didn’t seem to be overly committed to it.

3730 So CCSA yesterday mentioned that there should be a condition of licence imposing upon Rogers the obligation to continue distributing all of the signals that they currently distribute, and that any reduction in the number of signals they distribute should be subject to a public proceeding. And we wholeheartedly agree with that recommendation as well.

3731 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you for confirming that.

3732 And since you are referring to the CCSA presentation, or the exchange yesterday, you would likely have also heard the question about the cost for transitioning from one SRDU service to another. And now it is my understanding from your presentation today that Cogeco relies quite extensively on the Shaw SRDU service.

3733 And so would it be very onerous for your company to transition from Shaw SRDU or the Rogers SRDU, should the application be approved to the Bell SRDU?

3734 MR. BEAUDRY: I will say that the current situation where we rely almost exclusively on Shaw’s satellite relay services is a situation we want to maintain. And we are wary that Rogers post-merger may have incentives, again as I mentioned, to degrade the service, to reduce the scope, the quantity, or to impose unreasonable terms and conditions that would force us to ultimately flip a heavier bill onto our subscribers.

3735 So in terms of transitioning, the duopoly would remain. It would be Rogers-Bell instead of Shaw-Bell. But we think that Rogers, because of its position in the market post-merger warrants additional regulatory safeguards to prevent them from disadvantaging independent BDUs who rely on these services.

3736 In terms of transitioning, it is true that there is a competitive alternative. There are costs associated with going from one provider to another. I think the CCSA alluded to equipment swaps and changes, and this is certainly the case that we would experience at Cogeco.

3737 And I am fully cognizant that you asked for an undertaking yesterday from CCSA and I don’t have an answer for you right now. I probably prefer providing under confidentiality, but we would be happy to take an undertaking to submit additional information on the costing of what switching from one provider to another would mean financially, and also from a competitive and quality perspective as well.



3740 MR. PERRON: If I can just add, the biggest cost is obviously the opportunity cost. So we have a small team and when we -- if we had to work on such a project, our team would be distracted on managing such a transition, and during that time not working on either competing in the market or improving the quality of our service to customers.

3741 Now, that being said, the transition is only one element but there is also the element around market power, and as Paul said, the fact that Rogers doesn't express great concern over that service.

3742 And the last comment would be a reminder that this service is obviously most relevant for our very rural remote customers in the outskirts of the Saguenay region or in Northern Ontario. So these are customers with very few options that could possibly suffer from the transition.

3743 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: And did these areas include areas where Indigenous communities reside as well?

3744 MR. PERRON: Not to my knowledge, but we’re certainly talking about pretty remote communities for sure.

3745 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Okay, thank you.

3746 Just two last questions.

3747 You may have also heard my question to Telus about IPTV platforms and I believe tht Cogeco has an IPTV platform; is that correct?

3748 And my understanding from the submission of Rogers on Monday is that they were suggesting that their IPTV platform was -- sounded to be superior or perhaps a better platform than others in the system. SO I’m wondering if you could just speak briefly on that point.

3749 MR. BEAUDRY: Yeah, certainly on the technical attributes of the solution, I'm not the right person to answer this question so I will cede the microphone to Frédéric.

3750 MR. PERRON: I will start answering and John might want to add.

3751 But at the end of the day we take great concern in Rogers saying everybody will benefit from our wonderful television service which is better than everyone else, because that argument seems to forget the fact, at least in our own base, that 20 percent of customers typically elderly -- and I know that was discussed before -- really do not want such service and are greatly concerned what a large segment of customers want.,

3752 And as I said, 20 percent for us is to turn on the television and press the up and down arrow. And anything more than that is greatly stressful for them So we think that is the most important thing to consider in that argument.

3753 John, I don’t know if you want to add?

3754 MR. HARGRAVE: I would add that there is really no major advantage between -- from a technical perspective, between an IPTV platform and another IPTV platform. Like, our platform is just the same quality or the same output that theirs has. And it really comes down to the simplicity of it and how it functions for different demographics.

3755 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you very much.

3756 And my final question relates to the relationship between Rogers and CORUS should the application be approved. And I have understood your submission on that point. But you have recommended that Rogers -- or that the Commission require that Rogers file all agreements that they enter into with CORUS whether they be affiliation agreements or anything else.

3757 So I'm wondering if you could just again speak briefly on that point and what might that involve> And wouldn’t that be a burden for Rogers?

3758 MR. BEAUDRY: Happy to opine on this matter.

3759 The reality is that there are some real fears and justified fears of self-dealing between the two entities post-merger. More specifically, the fears go one way, particularly the fear that CORUS could use its ownership of programing undertakings to confer upon Rogers an undue preference with respect to their distribution activities which are far more profitable. And needless to say, this is because of the interlocking board memberships of the Shaw family whereby on the one hand they control CORUS and on the other hand they own a significant stake of Rogers.

3760 So what we have asked, I submit, is actually eminently reasonable. In addition to affiliation agreements which parties already have to file with the Commission, we think that the Commission has to show a heightened level of scrutiny when looking into the relationship between these two companies.

3761 And again, just to stress as to why this is reasonable, I will just draw one thing to the attention of the Commission.

3762 There is legislation in the United States called the Clayton Act which is an anti-trust piece of legislation that prohibits interlocking board directorships when the companies are competing with one another or are potential competitors.

3763 We have heard this piece of legislation being brought back to the forefront recently. There was a bit in the -- it was in the closet for many years. It’s not the most prominent piece of legislation in the U.S. but it is on the books. And the Clayton Act was kind of resuscitated when looking at this issue of interlocking board directorships when looking at the tech sector in the U.S. and companies have all been becoming competitors all of a sudden.

3764 So in the U.S. this would per se illegal in certain instances for these types of directorships to occur. I’m not going to opine on the legality here in Canada. But suffice to say, I think this justifies heightened scrutiny on the part of the Commission. And I am certain that the Competition Bureau, as part of its own review of the transaction, is probably looking at this matter as well because it does cause real concerns regarding the ability of one player to benefit the other.

3765 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Je vous remercie beaucoup d’avoir répondu à mes questions aujourd’hui. Thank you very much.

3766 Thank you, Mr. Chair.

3767 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you for your presentations.

3768 I don’t believe my colleagues have other questions. I have a quick one for you, Mr. Beaudry.

3769 THE CHAIRPERSON: I’m not sure the U.S. anti-trust legislation and interest necessarily carries to Canada. But I know you have an interest in competition law.

3770 I would just like to go back to the SRDU discussion for a moment, because I’m still trying to get my head around the difference today with Shaw’s position in that market as you would describe them, a dominant provider, a necessary provider, and none of those concerns seem to exist. And I’m still trying to find a nexus between that and Rogers owning it, in their words, stepping into Shaw’s shoes when they are not in that business. So, I’m trying to understand why the concerns are amplified as a result of the transaction specifically in relation to SRDU.

3771 MR. BEAUDRY: Well, we believe, Mr. Chair, that there are real possibilities that Rogers might use its dominance or the leveraging of some of the power it has in the market to either diminish the services it currently offers market players, nothing would prevent them from doing that, or on the other hand, raise rates significantly because, currently, there’s really nothing that prevents them from doing so. So, again ---

3772 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, but what prevents Shaw from doing so?

3773 MR. BEAUDRY: No, you’re right. Nothing prevents Shaw from doing so, but we’re arguing that Rogers, because of the size it has in the market, as a very powerful, the largest BDU in Canada, may decide that, hey, we don’t want to provide these types of services anymore. We were -- as I said prior to Commissioner Lafontaine, we were a little worried on Monday when one of Shaw -- one of Rogers’ representatives said, “We’re not really in the satellite business.”

3774 So, we have real concerns -- forget about the anti-competitive aspect for one moment. Just consider if Roger decides we really don’t want to be in that business anymore, we would be in a very bad position, or if they decided to really just slowly, slowly decide to reduce the number of signals they would distribute, for whatever reason, or to hike our rates significantly, we would not be in a comfortable competitive position. And again, sometimes the communities that are served, thanks to those services, are the most vulnerable.

3775 And I understand that the Commission is worried about this issue as well considering that you’ve asked Rogers for an undertaking in that regard, but what we’ve said is that in addition to any undertaking Rogers may take in the short term, which would be welcome by Cogeco, we think there needs to be systemic changes from the regulatory perspective that ensures that, in the long term, there is no incentive or ability that they may have as Canada’s dominant provider to either reduce the scope or quality of service ---


3777 MR. BEAUDRY: --- or on the other hand, raise prices.

3778 THE CHAIRPERSON: And maybe just one last point. Do you consider that there are significant barriers to entry that would stop a new competitor from Bell expanding its service or a new competitor providing a similar service?

3779 MR. BEAUDRY: Well, Cogeco, our size doesn’t really warrant that we enter that business, and we’re certainly not in a position where we’d want to delve into that area. But also, one thing, there is a scarcity of satellite space, and there is a possibility that -- for us, it’s more of a question of a seamless transition.

3780 If there were a situation whereby Rogers decided to exit that business and Cogeco was forced to migrate to another provider, again, this is a duopoly. It’s been recognized not being a fully competitive market, and we believe that, as a result and as a result of the time and transition, we believe there needs to be safeguards that ensure that in this uncompetitive market or not perfectly competitive market, we have the ability to continue delivering service to these remote and rural communities even if there is a change in orientation.

3781 And I think, again, that I think the CCSA made a good point yesterday. There can certainly be a public proceeding in the future to discuss any attempts by Rogers to change the nature of the services to reduce the scope of the services or to contemplate any other transactions in the sector. But for us, the priority is key. We need to be able to continue offering services to our customers who depend on these video relay services via satellite.

3782 MR. PERRON: I might simply add quickly, Mr. Chairman, that this business would become such a small percentage of Rogers overall that they would not have the same incentive to manage focus on that business and give a good quality service the same way Shaw did. And the second argument would be to the extent that we do compete with Rogers today on the broadband side in some areas of Ontario, it would be in their best interest to hike up the rates to damage us so that we don’t have as much profit to invest elsewhere, which was less of an incentive for Shaw.

3783 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Anderson, you had a question?

3784 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Yes, thank you, and thank you for your presentation. My question is also with respect to satellite relay distribution undertakings. And you, in your submissions, today, have expressed support of Mr. Thompson’s submission on behalf of CCSA where he suggested that each time an SRDU wanted to cease transmitting a signal it should go to a public process or a public hearing; is that right?

3785 MR. BEAUDRY: Well, I don’t want to put words into Mr. Thompson’s mouth. I think it was referring specifically to Rogers. But certainly in the context of this transaction and within the powers of the Commission, we would support the state of affairs. And again, we would support it because there is a duopoly in place, and there’s limited choice in the market.

3786 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Yes, of course. I understand. And I also understand that you propose -- or one of the alternatives -- one of the regulatory alternatives or safeguards that you’ve proposed to ensure that the services aren’t reduced would be to have the provisions of the Wholesale Code apply to SRDU relationships with other BDUs. Are there any other regulatory mechanisms that you can think of that would also provide you with a little bit of comfort, whether it is maybe a condition of licence for, say, Rogers to maybe have some sort of reverse onus obligation or threshold to meet when wanting to reduce the service?

3787 MR. BEAUDRY: Thanks, Commissioner Anderson. We would certainly welcome such conditions of licence. We’ve looked at it from a regulatory perspective and tried to establish a process whereby, in the case of a dispute, we would be able to be guided by the Wholesale Code provisions and negotiating a satisfactory outcome, but that doesn’t prevent the existence of other safeguards that would even fortify the situation post-merger.

3788 And we’ve also noted that the Commission, as I was mentioning before, has asked for an undertaking with respect to, I believe, a commitment in the short term to continue operating the service. That would be welcome as well. But all this to say that what we’re proposing does not mean to be exclusive. And if it can be bona fide with additional measures, Cogeco would certainly support it.

3789 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: All right, thank you.

3790 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you very much for your submissions and your participation in the proceeding.

3791 MR. BEAUDRY: Merci beaucoup. Thank you.

3792 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary?

3793 MS. ROY: Merci. We will take a break, a 15-minute break, and we will be back at 4:35. Thank you.

--- Upon recessing at 4:17 p.m./

--- L'audience est suspendue à 16h17

--- Upon resuming at 4:34 p.m./

--- L'audience est reprise à 16h34

3794 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please go ahead. Allons-y, madame la secrétaire.

3795 MS. ROY: Merci beaucoup. We’ll now hear the presentation of John Roman. Please, you may begin, and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.


3796 MR. ROMAN: Merci. Thank you. Bonjour Chairman, Commissioners, CRTC staff. Thank you for having me appear before you today.

3797 Normally, I’d be inclined to argue against broadcasters’ mergers as reduction in the number of competitors doesn’t usually help consumers or Canadian

3798 journalism. This time, however, given the regional market shares of Rogers and Shaw, that competition argument isn’t a major concern. From a broadcasting perspective, it’s hard then to argue against the merger as long as it is in the public interest. With proper regulatory oversight, the impact on consumers could be minimal.

3799 It is understandable that competitors like Bell and Telus will be less than pleased with this deal, since this represents a change in their respective market positions. They are defending their own interests, not the public interest.

3800 Bell is arguing that competition must be a fundamental concern, but the Competition Bureau has decided not to be a party to this part of process, so it can be clearly reasoned that on the Broadcasting side this view is marginal. Bell’s other contentions based on the Bell-Astral deal in 2013 aren’t really a parallel as Bell was already in the markets where it was competing with Astral.

3801 I suggest, therefore, that Bell’s initial arguments should be given very little or no weight.

3802 My previous submission focused on the public benefits, because that’s really where the analysis should focus. Obviously, I’m of the view they should be greatly increased.

3803 While divestitures may be one option, I don’t believe it would really be the most productive consideration for this hearing. It might be more useful to instead require Rogers, as a condition of approval of this transaction, to increase expenditures on the existing or newly acquired licences.

3804 In the Bell-Astral deal, Bell proposed allocating roughly $175 million, and the Commission increased that assessment to $247 million. If the numbers were to be corrected as I or as FRPC or PIAC suggest, we can extrapolate more appropriate numbers for expenditure. Indeed, for the private benefits of this multibillion dollar deal to the Rogers and Shaw families and shareholders, there are strong policy justifications for sharing a fair amount of these benefits with the public.

3805 Substantially increasing the amount set aside to serve the public interest is essential for the benefit of Canadian society. Approximately six million dollars over three years will fund a few smaller projects that are seen by some and then vanish. But if the deal’s value were assessed to be higher, it might be more palatable to the public, especially if it offered stable funding for some form of multi-generational public benefit.

3806 While the Commission could just have the parties agree to pay more, there is also a substantial policy rationale for such an increase -- home internet. Commissioners, there is a grey area that I raised in my first submission that needs to be addressed, that of home internet. It functions as a telecommunications service when emails are being sent, or when having virtual meetings such as this one.

3807 On the other hand, when my wife watches Crave, live streaming morning shows, or when I watch the news live at 10 p.m. live, or if a child watches a streamed version of Gary’s Magic Fort, or… in a few months, as millions of Canadians watch the Winter Olympics, the internet is a de facto broadcasting distribution service yet different. It is the modern updated version of cable that is distinct in the broadcasting system.

3808 We have talked about cord-cutters and cord-nevers in other hearings. Why?

3809 People aren’t fed up with TV offerings; it is because the internet is replacing cable. The internet is a term not defined in either the Broadcasting or Telecommunications Acts. It is a service that straddles both Acts and should be treated as such. In fact, given section 3(2) of the Broadcasting Act, home internet must be viewed as part of the single broadcasting system. So while its value is no doubt being considered in another hearing, it reasonably has to be factored into the broadcasting hearing as well.

3810 To that end, I propose treating the revenues made by Shaw on broadband for the purposes of Broadcasting to be one year’s worth of value, being about $1 billion. The Commission may want to pick two years or more, but I have been conservative in the assessment.

3811 From a Broadcasting standpoint, a value of roughly $1 billion would mean substantially more money for public benefit. Ten percent of the $1 billion -- that part of the transaction would be an additional $100 million for production, with a tangible benefit at a minimum set at an additional $10 million.

3812 I am not suggesting the Commission be heavy-handed, but there is also no need to give the public short shrift.

3813 In my initial submission, I proposed a near quadrupling of the tangible benefits from $5.7 to $20 million. And if we’re honest, in the grand scheme of things an extra $14.3 million is hardly even a rounding error to Rogers’ bottom line for even one fiscal quarter. Even that number might be seen as too modest by some, but it is still a significant increase compared to the Rogers’ initial offer.

3814 I had proposed long term investments -- journalism scholarships, supports for hearing participation, and the remainder going to supports for Broadcasting Charities. My proposals remain consistent, and I hope the Commission and Rogers-Shaw will support the incremental impact of the expanded benefit concept despite its relatively minor increase in cost.

3815 We do have a problem in Canada. but it is not one that the Commission can resolve.

3816 Some companies of national importance are publicly owned in name only, because almost all voting shares are controlled by one family. When family owners of these companies want to sell their control, where can they turn in such a restricted market? From a practical standpoint, Shaw had to sell to Rogers or vice versa. To do otherwise would not have been a prudent decision for their family or external shareholders.

3817 If Shaw were to sell to a pension plan, public investors would wonder why the organization was being sold to an investor with little or no understanding or experience in the industry. Selling to a competitor makes sense! It allows Shaw’s investors to know that their investments are being handled by a company that has a history of success in this same field. To argue against this would be to argue that Shaw’s controlling shareholders should ignore their fiduciary duties and sell to less knowledgeable, less experienced investors… and that’s objectively absurd.

3818 This was the best and most logical of options and, for that reason, it should be approved.

3819 Thank you, I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

3820 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Roman. Thank you for your intervention and your appearance here today, and your stimulating suggestions.

3821 Much of what you have just shared with us really goes to the issue of public benefits. And it is certainly an issue with which we are preoccupied.

3822 But you may be aware that we do have an established policy framework, the Tangible Benefits Policy.. And if we apply it, then internet revenues or other net revenues or in fact the transfer of BDU licences are not included in that policy.

3823 So I guess my basic question is, how can we deviate from an existing policy framework, if you will, when we’re perhaps -- the train has at least on its way out of the station if not left the station?

3824 MR. ROMAN: Thank you for your question, Chairman.

3825 I do appreciate the policy issue there. From the tangible benefits element which is think was the first part of your question, it talks about minimums if I recall correctly. It doesn't talk about maximums.

3826 THE CHAIRPERSON: In terms of the amount, that’s correct.

3827 MR. ROMAN: So in that regard you have flexibility as to what you want to contribute. If you deem that 5.7 million is insufficient you can name a number that brings it up. And that’s obviously at your discretion.

3828 With regard to the policy of internet revenues and BDUs, I think it’s potentially fair to say -- I’m splitting hairs, but it’s whether or not the Commission agrees with that ion a negative or positive light. So I’m of the mindset that if we are talking about internet revenues, which I have assessed at between $1 and $2 billion additional, we’re talking about the sale, and the effective value of that.

3829 We’re not talking about the actual revenues. We’re talking about what the effective benefits will be long term. So I would contend that that is in fact a separation in that regard.

3830 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the policy does, as you say -- you may have a different view but the policy does apply to broadcasting assets and we’re talking about what would help the Canadian Broadcasting System.

3831 But before we leave that point, what value do you think would be commensurate with the broadcasting properties at issue in this proceeding?

3832 MR. ROMAN: I might have to ask you to repeat that question because I ---

3833 THE CHAIRPERSON: What value -- what would you say is an appropriate amount, given that we are addressing broadcasting assets as defined in our current policy framework? Let me rephrase it.

3834 MR. ROMAN: It wasn’t the reframing that was the issue. It was that essentially because internet -- not internet. Well, home internet isn’t defined and internet isn’t defined in the Broadcasting Act or the Telecommunications Act. I think it is exempt in this regard. While it might be a de facto broadcasting distribution service, it isn’t.

3835 Currently it isn’t as far as USMCA defined it differently, I believe. There -- so it operates in a weird, in-between space, so to say, if my understanding is correct. Again, that might be the splitting hairs, but it affords you opportunity there if you choose to use it.

3836 As for the amount that I think is reasonable, I proposed, in my initial submission, $20M additional. That number is separate and distinct from the FRPC and the PIAC numbers, because it’s from a different source. So if you want to contribute $40M as opposed to $20M, you’d be welcome to do so. I don’t think anyone would object to that, aside from those on the other side of this hearing. But my proposal was for an additional $20M, initially.

3837 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, I note in your submission that you are quite particular that Rogers maintain Shaw’s commitment to the Shaw Rocket Fund. And I just wonder if you’d like to comment on that. And if I can sort of jump to the next question, how you envision that Rogers could maintain that commitment.

3838 MR. ROMAN: I think that my initial submission was fair in that regard. I don’t think that anything particularly needs to be added in that front. If I want, I can contribute that on my final submission.

3839 THE CHAIRPERSON: If you’d like to, that would be fine. I just noted that you were quite particular about saying they should maintain it.

3840 MR. ROMAN: Yes.

3841 THE CHAIRPERSON: I assume, then -- perhaps I misunderstood the submission -- you expected that Rogers would continue to contribute to the other fund, and you wanted to be certain that it would also continue its support of the Shaw Fund.

3842 MR. ROMAN: That’s correct.

3843 THE CHAIRPERSON: I better understand.

3844 Any thoughts about what the Commission should do if they do not maintain such a commitment to the Shaw Fund?

3845 MR. ROMAN: I’m of the mindset that that gives a lot of autonomy in this regard to Rogers in this position, or Rogers/Shaw. I don’t think it would be beneficial long term for Rogers’ or Shaw’s PR departments for them to end it. But that being the case, you could certainly try to encourage it as a condition, if you want, for whatever length of time you thought appropriate.

3846 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you. Thank you very much for taking the time to appear before us. I’m just looking to assure myself that my Commission colleagues had no further questions.

3847 MR. ROMAN: And thank you.

3848 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I thank you for your participation, as always.

3849 MR. ROMAN: Thank you, sir.

3850 THE CHAIRPERSON: And Madam Secretary, I’ll turn it back to you.

3851 MS. ROY: Thank you very much.

3852 We will now hear the presentation of Quebec English Language Production Council.

3853 Please introduce yourself, and you have 10 minutes for your presentation. I think you are muted. Perfect.


3854 MR. COX: Thank you.

3855 Thank you for inviting us to speak to you today. I am Kirwan Cox, Executive Director of the Quebec English-language Production Council which represents the official language minority film and television production industry in Quebec.

3856 The English OLMC is an underrepresented linguistic minority that includes other underrepresented groups such as women, LGBTQ+, Blacks, Indigenous, people of colour, and so on. Support for OLMC production means support for a diversity of voices by all minorities in Quebec.

3857 As we told you in our intervention, English OLMC production has been declining for 20 years. We have fallen from 27 percent of total English-Canadian production in 1997-‘98 to an historic low of six percent, or $119M, in 2019-‘20. OLMC production in Quebec is in crisis. If we do not reverse this trajectory, we can foresee the disappearance our official language minority programming and our stories.

3858 As you know, the CRTC has a legal responsibility under the Official Languages Act and the Broadcasting Act to support the vitality of the official language minorities, both the English OLMC inside Quebec, as well as the French CLOSM in the rest of Canada.

3859 Yet, as we have pointed out on numerous occasions, the policies pursued by the CRTC have failed to fulfill its legal responsibility to support the vitality of the English OLMC.

3860 We request that the CRTC respond to the ongoing crisis in Quebec OLMC production and provide the support we need to not only survive but thrive.

3861 We believe the data which we append to this speech demonstrates the depth of our production crisis and the inability of the Commission’s bonus regime to deal with it.

3862 Table 2 shows the decline of OLMC production year in and year out. Evidence of the Commission’s failure to adequately support OLMC production can be seen in these depressing statistics.

3863 Table 20 shows the CMF’s Broadcaster Performance Envelope which supports 59 percent of total OLMC production. This is not the whole story but provides data to compare OLMC broadcaster commissions before and after the CRTC’s 25 percent bonus regime which began in 2017-2018. The bonus has not significantly improved our production.

3864 Tables A and D show the impact of the 25 percent and 50 percent bonus regime on OLMC, CLOSM, and Indigenous production. These tables provide evidence that the bonus system established by CRTC 2017-143 and 148 has failed, especially for Indigenous and French CLOSM production.

3865 The impact of the bonus on OLMC production is more mixed, but must be seen against the backdrop of our overall production crisis.

3866 Table A shows Corus spent zero on OLMC production despite the bonus. This was less than they spent before the bonus. BCE’s OLMC spending went up, but that was the old Bell.

3867 I should add that I have been in touch with Bell about their spending and the 25 percent bonus, and I was told by them that they did not find the bonus to be a critical factor and that they never considered it when they made a decision about what to produce or not produce. And of course, that is the old Bell. We’re not sure what will happen to the new smaller Bell.

3868 Tables A and B show Rogers did increase OLMC production and spent 19 percent of its non-sports budget on OLMC production. However, if we include all its Cancon spending, the result is less than one percent.

3869 If we look at Rogers’ CMF Performance Envelope expenditures, they spent zero on OLMC production in nine of the last 11 years, and only one of those four years followed the arrival of the 25 percent bonus. In total, Rogers reports spending an average of only $2.2M per year, which raises questions about the size of Rogers’ non-sports production budget.

3870 The new and larger Rogers that may come out of this hearing must have a new and larger non-sports independent production budget and the incentive to put more of that money into OLMC production.

3871 In Table C, the Shaw Rocket Fund has demonstrated support for both OLMC and CLOSM production at about 11 percent of its total spending, the new and larger Rogers that make -- sorry -- however, the most recent year fell to four percent, so it is difficult to say the bonus was responsible for this slight average increase.

3872 We believe quotas, such as the CRTC’s famously effective 30 percent Canadian music quota that Pierre Juneau instituted over fifty years ago, have demonstrated their value, and there are many official language minority precedents such as the three percent OLMC quota when Rogers purchased Montreal station, the CBC’s six percent quota, or BCE’s 10 percent tangible benefits quota when it purchased Astral.

3873 What to do now?

3874 One, we request that a new larger Rogers vastly increase its non-sports independent production budget to an appropriate level, and that a 10 percent quota be established for official language minority production;

3875 Two, we request that the Shaw Rocket Fund separate its data by language of production, and institute a 10 percent quota for official language minority production;

3876 Three, if the CRTC continues to believe, as it apparently does, that quotas are an inappropriate mechanism to support OLMC programming, then the Commission would have to admit its current bonus regime is a failure. That seems to leave only one option. The bonus would have to be radically increased to have a material impact on English and French minority production, and Indigenous production. Instead of 25 percent, we recommend an OLMC bonus of 100 percent up to 10 percent of English-language CPE, a CLOSM bonus of 100 percent up to 10 percent of French-language CPE, and a 150 percent Indigenous bonus up to another 10 percent of CPE for both English and French broadcasters.

3877 Thank you very much. Happy to answer questions.

3878 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation. I will turn the microphone to Commissioner Anderson.

3879 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thank you, and thank you very much for your submissions. They were really interesting to read through, as was the information that you attached into the appendices. So thank you for taking the time to both write the submissions and appear in front of us today.

3880 I wanted to ask you about the 10 percent OLMC quota that you have suggested apply as a result of this transaction. And I was wondering if you could explain why this would benefit the Canadian Broadcasting System as a whole?

3881 MR. COX: Well, since I believe that there is value in making English-language production, CanCon in Quebec, anything that helps us to survive and do that, we think, is a value to the broadcasting system as a whole.

3882 If there were no English-language production in Quebec and no French-language production outside of Quebec, we think it would be a very much poorer broadcasting system, and so we don’t want to see that future.

3883 In terms of our situation, we have ample evidence that we are, in fact, going in that direction.


3885 Can you please explain why it would be appropriate for the Commission to consider such significant new spending requirements on Rogers' services that are not a part of this transaction?

3886 MR. COX: What services are not a part of this transaction? Well, first of all, I guess, the -- we just recently had an official language minority advisory committee meeting with the Commission, as we do every year, and we were told that the best way to get the Commission to hear us is, in fact, to make a public appearance and to say what we have to say at the public appearance.

3887 And I point out that I am the only official language minority or Indigenous representative at this hearing. And so therefore, we thought that the appropriate thing to do was to present this information to you that dealt with Rogers and to put it on the public record.

3888 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Of course, yes. And your contribution is both noted and appreciated.

3889 I don’t have any further questions, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much.

3890 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Is that the right button? It's almost like the mute button.

3891 Thank you very much for your presentation and your participation in the proceeding as a whole.

3892 Madam Secretary, I will turn it ---

3893 MR. COX: Thank you.

3894 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- back to you.

3895 MS. ROY: Thank you very much. We will just connect the next participant. Give me two minutes.

3896 (brief pause)

3897 MS. ROY: Mr. Cuff, can you hear me. You're muted.

3898 MR. CUFF: Hopefully that’s better.

3899 MS. ROY: Yes, perfect. We will start shortly.

3900 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, please go ahead.

3901 MS. ROY: Thank you.

3902 We will now hear the presentation of DHX Television Limited, WildBrain Television. Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you may begin.


3903 MR. CUFF: Thank you very much.

3904 Mr. Chair, Commissioners, staff, my name is Brian Cuff. I am Vice President of TV Distribution and Strategic Partnerships at WildBrain Television.

3905 With me today and in person before you is Peter Miller, counsel.

3906 As you may know, WildBrain, is a renowned Canadian Children’s television producer and distributor, with highly successful Canadian properties ranging from Caillou and the Degrassi franchise, to international brands such as Peanuts and Teletubbies.

3907 WildBrain Television is the division responsible for operating our suite of kids and family television channels, namely Family Channel, Family Jr, CHRGD and Télémagino.

3908 We are delighted to have the opportunity to speak to you today, as we believe we are uniquely qualified to comment on the potential benefits and possible negative consequences of this transaction. We operate in both English and French-language markets, and have had first-hand experience with anti-competitive conduct of larger BDUs.

3909 In our presentation today, we will elaborate on some key aspects of our Intervention.

3910 To start, we want to make it clear that we are not here to cast aspersions on our BDU partners and friends. We recognize that they merely act as rational businesspeople, seeking to maximize profit within a regulated environment.

3911 We are not taking the easy position that our partners are acting with ill intent, but what we are saying that there is a material imbalance of power which is not adequately addressed in the current system, and it is a situation that will only get worse if action is not taken now, as a condition of approval of this transaction.

3912 Rogers has argued that any issues of anti-competitive conduct are industry-wide, and should be dealt with on that basis, and not at this proceeding, and that the transaction does not raise new issues.

3913 We believe that the Commission’s decisions in past transactions and the record of this proceeding strongly suggests otherwise. We have three main reasons.

3914 First, as you have pointed out at the opening of the proceeding, the burden is on the Applicant to show that approval of the application is in the public interest, consistent with the overall objectives of the Broadcasting Act.

3915 In allowing the privilege of consolidation, in multiple transactions over the past two decades, the Commission has made a case-by-case assessment of whether benefits, both tangible and intangible, outweigh the negatives.

3916 In a number of those instances, the Commission has determined that the purported benefits advanced by the Applicant did not pass that public interest test and required additional tangible benefits and/or safeguards.

3917 Second, Cogeco’s intervention in this proceeding speaks eloquently to the downstream effects on independent BDUs of the preferences VI BDUs confer on their affiliated services. Even during the period of having some differences of opinion with Cogeco, we have always had sympathy for that predicament. They are getting squeezed on one end, that being by the big Vis, leaving them little choice to squeeze where they can, which ultimately is with the independents.

3918 Third, as we and other independent players have pointed out, Rogers’ size as a BDU after this transaction is highly relevant and will be unprecedented at nearly 50 percent of the English-language market. Our recent dispute with Cogeco, a BDU that is one quarter the size of Rogers today, arose despite Cogeco‘s relatively lesser ability to exert market power.

3919 Imagine the power that will held and exerted by the proposed Rogers/Shaw, an entity that would be multiples times the size of Cogeco.

3920 As an aside, we are pleased to report that despite a lengthy dispute process, we have, in fact, reached an agreement in principle regarding the continued distribution of our services by Cogeco, and we are currently papering that agreement.

3921 Rogers made one thing abundantly clear in its appearance, and that’s that basic economics dictate that their newfound scale would allow them to extract lower prices from suppliers. The obvious result, should Rogers be able to wield such market power unfettered with the programmers being forced to accept lower than market rates and have those prices being applied not just to the current Rogers base, but across almost 50 percent of English Canada. That alone would severely strain any programmer’s business model, but when you consider that such a move could also impact the assessment of fair market value in other negotiations, there could be corresponding downward pressure on programmer’s revenues across the Canadian BDU market. And that would be driven not by the quality of the service, but by the newfound economic power of a combined Rogers/Shaw.

3922 The blunt economics lesson in Rogers’ opening statement that their scale would certainly lead to lower input costs validates our fear that cost savings would be extracted and extracted from Independents, and hence the need for new safeguards.

3923 The concerns of independent programmers are not merely abstract “what-ifs” in this situation. Our concerns are all too firmly rooted in reality.

3924 The importance of diverse, independent programming in the Canadian broadcasting system is well-established. Quite frankly, it shouldn’t be ever up for debate.

3925 The paragraphs 117 and 118 of Let’s Talk TV serve to underscore the importance of independent services. I won’t read that verbatim here but leave it for reference.

3926 While we agree that post-transaction, for the combined Rogers-Shaw entity wouldbe in a better position to contribute to a robust broadcasting industry in Canada, unless the Commission safeguards against the potential negative effects of the increased market power, there is absolutely no guarantee that that will be the result.

3927 As the Commission determined in Let’s Talk TV, the 1:1 ratio requirement is one such safeguard protecting diversity of voices and programming.

3928 Deeming Corus independent as part of this transaction, would overnight render the 1:1 ratio effectively meaningless, in direct conflict with the policy objective of diversity of programming.

3929 As you well know, Corus is the company it is today because of the investments and decisions made by Shaw and/or the Shaw family. Corus’ portfolio of 32 discretionary services is the largest in Canada and is a result in part of that VI history and its considerable advantages. Whatever legal, fiduciary, and/or separate corporate entity arguments Corus or Rogers may choose to make, the historic family connections between Shaw and Rogers, the significant share-holdings and Board seats Shaw will have, and the partnership in CYNCH all amount to significant advantages for Corus, and influence and intertwined interests between Corus and Rogers.

3930 To ignore that is to ignore reality. And while Rogers’ newly promised effective 4.5:1 ratio of independents, excluding Corus, to affiliated services will help, it would not prevent Rogers or other VI BDUs for dropping independent services, or threatening to do so in the context of negotiations.

3931 In our intervention, we expressed concerns about Rogers’ apparent lack of long-term commitments to the Shaw Rocket Fund. We were pleased to hear your exchange with Rogers on Monday, where they made a commitment to maintaining funding. We support the direction of your questioning in suggesting that funding should be increased and extended beyond Rogers’ proposed lump sum.

3932 In addition to the importance of the Rocket Fund, we must also underscore that any risk to WildBrain Television’s revenue and long-term viability that we have outlined here also represents material risk to children’s television programming production in Canada. Unlike Corus, our only major Canadian competitor in the children’s and family space, WildBrain is required to spend 13 percent of its revenue on programs of national interest, a target which it regularly exceeds, and all of which is focused on children and family oriented content.

3933 In addition to that direct financial input, our investments typically trigger other sources of funding, effectively multiplying the impact of that investment many times over. Any revenue impact would therefore result in a reduction of funds available for investment in Canadian children and family programming.

3934 In conclusion, we believe that this transaction could well benefit the Canadian broadcasting system, including independent services such as the family services, but that can only be assured through material tangible benefits and safeguards. We are supportive of approval if such benefits are assured.

3935 I thank you for your time and welcome any questions you may have.

3936 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you very much for your presentation and your participation with us here today.

3937 I will turn the microphone to Commissioner Naidoo.

3938 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: Hello. And thank you so much for the presentation. I read your intervention as well. I appreciate you both being here today.

3939 WildBrain states that Rogers has not made any commitments to maintaining the Shaw Rocket Fund or funding for children’s programming generally from its independent production funds once tangible benefits funding has been expended.

3940 Can you please explain why and how Rogers should maintain SRF funding after the seven years of payments are expended in accordance with the tangible benefits policy?

3941 MR. CUFF: Well, it is our distinct preference to see funding continue. Whether or not that is done in the context of the tangible benefits policy is an important source of funding for Canadian’s kids programming and I think as we have outlined, those funds are not necessarily readily available.

3942 We have outlined that we are an important source in triggering such funding and that Rocket is also an important source of supporting Canadian children’s content.

3943 Peter, I don’t know if you want to make an argument in the context of the tangible benefits requirement, but regardless of source, we think it should continue.

3944 MR. MILLER: I think since WildBrain submitted its intervention, Rogers said some things on the record that suggests that it is their intention to continue funding and I think we’re just suggesting that after you have had a chance to look at their undertaking that you consider manifesting that intention in something a little bit more specific.

3945 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: Maybe you can paint a bit of a picture for us. Can you tell us what would happen if Rogers did not maintain SRF funding once the benefits are expended?

3946 MR. CUFF: Well, the picture is simple. A very important source of funding for children’s programming in Canada would disappear. As we have mentioned, we do have a close competitor in the kids and family space in CORUS. Unfortunately, they have a group PNI requirement and there is no requirement that that be spent on children’s programming. The practical reality is absent something like that, the funding will likely go to high return, internationally-distributable adult drama.

3947 We in turn would continue ion our funding efforts but we would not be in a position to help trigger anything from the Shaw Rocket Fund, and that necessarily would leave a hole in the production budgets of many Canadian kids’ productions.

3948 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: All right. So we talked a little bit about what would happen without that funding. Can you paint a picture then of the opposite, of exactly what supporting the SRF -- you know, how it would improve the creation of children’s programming in Canada?

3949 MR. CUFF: I mean, it’s quite frankly quite the opposite. I mean, if we are in a position to continue to fund programs that have adequately-funded budgets that maintain the quality associated with that, Shaw is an important building block in that process.

3950 So a complete budget obviously is necessary for any producer to get such programming off the ground, and Shaw often as an early entrant is an important part of building that financing in that budget.

3951 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: And what about the role…


3953 start of 34: …in the industry? Can you tell me what the role -- sorry, plays -- what role does it play in the industry overall?

3954 MR. MILLER: Well, beyond their position as an important funder of children’s content and production, I can’t give you significant into that as it’s not my day-to-day role.

3955 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: That’s fine. Thank you.

3956 MR. CUFF: Can I add, Commissioner, I think part of what WildBrain and other independents are saying is that the Commission doesn’t have to accept the premise that everything has to decline.

3957 You know, it is a tougher time in the broadcasting world in Canada than it was a year ago, and it’s going to be a tougher time next year. But your mandate, and your opportunity with this transaction is, as I’ve probably said only about 10 times, so you’re probably fed up with it, but you’ve heard it enough, the significant and unequivocal benefits.

3958 And so when we look at the opportunity to do that vis-à-vis both the value of the transaction -- it’s also been mentioned, the break-fee at $1.2B if this transaction is not approved that Rogers would have to pay. We’re not talking about ridiculous numbers to Rogers, but we are talking about material numbers to production to independent services.

3959 And so if we can just stop accepting the premise that we’re all going to hell in a handbasket, if this decision could be one of those moments where we say, “No, we’re not giving up on the Canadian Broadcasting System. We think it has a future, and we’re going to do somehint to demonstrate our belief in it,” the value of that is enormous.

3960 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: All right, so given the SRF’s mandate is to support the creation of quality Canadian children’s programming, can you please explain, then, how SRF funding compares to funding providing by the CMF tax credits and licence fees?

3961 MR. CUFF: Well, these are all integral parts of building a production in Canada. You know, at the end of the day, a dollar is a dollar. It’s hard to imagine that one dollar in a production budget contributes more to on-screen quality than another. But it is simply that ability to add that additional building block of funding to create a budget that’s acceptable to other investors and to be able to fully fund a production.

3962 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: Thank you. You touched on this a little bit in your presentation, but I just want to give you an opportunity to maybe flesh it out a little bit and focus a little more in on it.

3963 So as pointed out by Rogers, the condition already has a framework of regulatory safeguards in place such as the Wholesale Code. In such a context, can you please elaborate on why you believe additional safeguards are necessary?

3964 MR. CUFF: Well, I think as you’ve heard from many people over the course of this proceeding, the Wholesale Code, perhaps, is quite attractive on paper. There are a number of measures in there that, you know, if enforced properly, could in fact lead to a positive outcome.

3965 Unfortunately, our experience is quite the opposite when it comes to enforcement mechanisms. We have gone down dispute resolution paths a number of times. We have gone armed with stacks of data and what we think are unsaleable points of view on things like fair market value and our performance relative to competitors, often only to be met on the other side of a mediation table with a BDU whose simple position is, “We don’t see it that way and we wish to pay X.”

3966 Now, in the context of the mediation, that becomes a simple horse-trading exercise and we, as an independent, are forced to make difficult decisions around the value of dragging out a partner through a process like that, and the value of making a deal that perhaps is one we may need to hold our nose at somewhat.

3967 But there seems to be very -- it’s not a terribly supportive environment in terms of establishing a clear argument under the terms and that direct result. There doesn’t seem to be a great relationship there, as yet, through no fault of the mediators. That’s not exactly their role in the process. But the reality is, when you get an independent up against a BDU with significant market power, there’s trade-offs that have to be made that, you know, frankly, are not necessarily always palatable.

3968 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: I’m pretty sure you had a chance to hear the commitments that Rogers made to independent programmers on Monday. And just to refresh your memory, I’ll just run through them specifically: a carriage of 40 independent programmers for three years; support for the development of apps; and facilitating the use of advertising technology platforms.

3969 So are these commitments sufficient to address the concerns you’ve raised in your written intervention regarding distribution of your services and the related apps on Ignite? And could you also please clarify whether your concerns relate to Ignite TV or Ignite SmartStream?

3970 MR. CUFF: Yeah, I’ll apologize, you did cut out for one moment there, but just to clarify, you were asking ---

3971 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: I can repeat the question. Would you like me to repeat it?

3972 MR. CUFF: That would be great, thank you.

3973 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: Sure. Are these commitments that Rogers made on Monday to independent programmers, are they sufficient to address the concerns that you raise in your written intervention regarding the distribution of your services and the related apps on Ignite? And also, could you please also clarify whether your concerns relate to Ignite TV or Ignite SmartStream?

3974 MR. CUFF: Okay, so just to clarify, when you speak of distribution of our services on Ignite, you’re speaking specifically to application-based services and not to the traditional broadcasting system. Is that correct?

3975 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: That’s correct.

3976 MR. CUFF: Okay. We appreciate the commitments that Rogers has put out there. And frankly, when it comes to distribution, be it on Ignite, on an app-basis, or on SmartStream, we’re looking for two key things.

3977 We’re looking to ensure access, because this is a platform that is of growing importance in the Rogers universe, and Rogers will, in turn, have 50 percent of the English-language BDU market. And I believe it was Telus that underscored the point that not only is it 50 percent, but in terms of homes passed, they’re upwards of 80 percent, so there is sort of opportunity for material gain there as well. So access is important.

3978 The second piece is really around things such as promotion, discoverability, availability. We see no reason why Canadian applications can’t be promoted and displayed side by side with their US competitive counterparts. And we expect as much in the outcome of this.

3979 And to answer the initial part of your question, these concerns apply to both, to the extent that SmartStream is going after cord-cutters and cord-nevers, people that are outside the traditional broadcasting system, we should have access to those subscribers that have left. To the extent that it’s an integral part of the set-top-box-based Ignite system, we have similar expectations.

3980 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: Peter, I saw you taking some notes. Did you want to jump in there, too, or, -- okay.

3981 Thank you for that. Do you have any further concerns or questions about the proposals that Rogers made to independent programmers on Monday?

3982 MR. CUFF: Well, perhaps the biggest proposal that they set out was the commitment to carry 40 independent services.

3983 We recognize that as a step in the right direction, but it does not, of course, allay our fears entirely.

3984 A couple of things to note, you know, two of the three systems in question in this transaction already carry more than 40 independent services. So to that extent, it’s not a dramatic commitment on their part.

3985 And the second is that commitment doesn’t allay our fears and our experiences around the threats to drop services in the context of negotiations in the broader BDU environment.

3986 They’re still perfectly able to cycle in or out of that 40 independents. They’re still perfectly able to leverage the threat of dropping the service in the context of negotiation and we feel strongly about the fact that we didn’t ask for this. The reality is, this is a situation that’s being thrust upon us, and it's a macro-economic situation that’s being thrust upon us. It's not one of our making, and it's happening in the midst of a transition to a digital world.

3987 And all we're asking in this context, in reality, is a period of economic stability such that we are able to navigate our way through that particular environment.

3988 It's no secret that things like COVID accelerate digital adoption. Some will say 5, some will say 10, whatever number of years you pick. Then if you roll together Rogers and Shaw and spread that platform over that single customer base, we have another means of accelerating that adoption.

3989 These are shocks that again, not of our doing. We're willing to address them. We're willing to put our best foot forward. We're just seeking a period of economic stability in the face of something that’s not of our creation.

3990 MR. MILLER: If I can add to that, as you know, WildBrain proposed four sets of safeguards in its intervention, and I'm not going to try and take you through all of those, but to bring it to a brief summary, Rogers' proposals addressed in part three of those four, and only in part.

3991 They did not at all address WildBrain's second proposal, which was about negotiations and the terms of distribution.

3992 And we note the IBG proposal, you would be surprised to know that I'm aware of it, and WildBrain had similar language in terms of the best of -- I don’t have to go through it; you know what I'm talking about -- in its proposal, so we would be aligned with IBG on that.

3993 We also actually note ECG and TLN's position, they advocated to you in terms of the two-part commitment to ethnic services, and you know, quite frankly, if the Commission was prepared to go that way for ethnic services, then the situation that WildBrain is in vis-à-vis Corus is analogous to the situation that ethnic services are in relative to OMNI, right? So there's a bit of a parallel there.

3994 So if you were to contemplate that for ethnic services, we think it would be logical for a similar provision to certainly apply to WildBrain, if not all independent services.

3995 And I'm not repeating the provision because you heard it from them, but it was the two-part test.

3996 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: Are there any other additional safeguards that you think are necessary?

3997 MR. MILLER: Again, without taking too much of your time, because some of these things are better in writing, I will say that on the app side, it's interesting, and you asked an earlier question on that.

3998 The reality is, Rogers' commitment there is really not a commitment. It's a promise, it's a -- it's not something tangible.

3999 And we do think we have to move towards more tangible commitments on the app side.

4000 We were thinking about. We were talking about it today, actually, and we're not going to say this is our position, but one of the things we were wondering about is whether ultimately, we need to draw analogies between some basic rules you have in the BDU-regulated system and the app system. And two of the basic rules, as you know, are the one-to-one rules between foreign and Canadian services and between independent and -- what we call true independent and affiliated services. And we can't see, off the top of our heads, why we wouldn't move to a similar system in the app world.

4001 And in our intervention, we talked about the particular threats to WildBrain, because by our count, there are tens of children's family apps on the Comcast platform in the U.S., and if they start migrating here, and if WildBrain isn't there, you can imagine the competitive impact that that would have.

4002 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: The Wholesale Code sets out commercially reasonable practices for packaging and distribution and then the safeguards specific to independent services.

4003 So given these available protections, can you please comment on IBG's statement that BDUs assemble big TV packages as they see fit with demonstrable preference for their own or other VI services, and without regulatory oversight?

4004 MR. CUFF: Well, I can't take IBG's position wholeheartedly on that one. You know, we do have some issues around the concepts of best available packaging. They are, perhaps, not as severe as some of the IBG members, but there have been significant challenges on that front, you know, not the least of which is prior to the 25 (audio skip) package, whatever you would like to call it.

4005 There were a number of services that, with kids focused, kids and teen focus that enjoyed broad legacy carriage, and still do, to a certain extent, and in conversations, were typically compared to our Disney branding counterparts rather than the YTVs and Treehouses of the world when it comes to best available packaging and one might be entitled to.

4006 I recognize again, you know, particularly Brad Danks' testimony regarding some of the significant challenges that he has faced when it comes to best available package, and ultimately, the Commission proceeding that he went through on that time, and you know, the sort of less than perfect outcome, from his perspective.

4007 We have not, to date, been through a best available packaging proceeding that’s analogous to that.

4008 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: My last question is, can you provide some specific examples for us today of situations where you have had the experience where you have availed yourself of the safeguards set out in the Wholesale Code?

4009 MR. CUFF: Well, you know, as I alluded to earlier, I mean, we have, in fact, gone to mediation a number of times, and the Wholesale Code is typically the underpinning of that.

4010 As I said, on its face, much of what's set out in the Wholesale Code seems positive, and when it was initially released, I was pleasantly surprised at some of the content there.

4011 The challenge becomes either you know, a BDU sort of twisting the interpretation, perhaps, on some of these requirements, or just outright ignoring them.

4012 I mean, I have already said to you today, I have had the experience of going in armed with what we think to be unassailable arguments on these fronts and you know, only to have them ignored, and things become a simple horse-trading session.

4013 So again, on its face, many positive things there.

4014 In terms of the practical application is where we have the challenges.

4015 MR. MILLER: Can I add to that, Commissioner, because I would like to turn your question around a little bit.

4016 I think the question you have to ask yourselves is why do independent programmers not avail themselves to the process, because you have heard of a lot of independent programmers say they don’t think it works, they don’t think it will help them. They're concerned about retribution.

4017 So I think you have to ask yourself that question.

4018 And in asking yourself that question, you have to ask yourself what is the problem with the process that leads to that?

4019 I think the challenge that WildBrain and other independents faced in coming to this is we knew that this was not the proceeding to suggest you change the whole process. This is a proceeding about Rogers, the implications of the Rogers transaction, what we can do to make sure it doesn’t make matters worse.

4020 But when you ask yourself what's wrong with the process, and when the plain meaning of the Wholesale Code doesn’t get applied -- and Mr. Danks referred to the best available package decision -- if you want to look it up, what you need to look up is Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2012-672. That’s the decision where the Commission ruled in OUTTv's favour, say yes, the packaging of OUTTv, by Telus, in a lesser so-called Lifestyle packaging, did constitute an undue preference.

4021 So he got the victory there, but then what happened? Somewhere along the line -- and this, I haven't seen the entire file, but I looked at the letter decision that actually concludes it, and that letter decision, I have got an awful link and I'm not going to try and read it to, but I would give it to the Hearing Secretary if you're interested.

4022 What happened is Telus came up with a marketing plan that said, “Well, I’m not going to move OUTtv, but I’ll market and promote them.” And the Commission originally said, “No. No, that’s not good enough. Send Telus back.” Then Telus came back with another marketing plan. And what the Commission accepted was that in marketing OUTtv in the lesser package, it would constitute a reasonable measure of best-available package.

4023 Now, why would the Commission do that? I mean, how a package that is significantly smaller, in terms of penetration, than another package, be deemed the best available package? It doesn’t make sense. Well, I think it’s in part because the way this happened was on an undue preference dispute, right? So the test you’re dealing with as a Commission, as you’re analyzing this, is an undue preference test. And as you know, an undue preference test is not asking you to decide whether it’s exactly the same; it’s asking you to decide whether the difference is so big that it’s undue.

4024 So there you’ve got words in the Wholesale Code that end up getting implemented in such a way that the plain meaning of the words gets lost.

4025 And then when you look at it elsewhere; mediation. What is mediation about? I don’t know if you’ve personally gone through any mediation. I did. It wasn’t about -- well, I've done mediation with the Commission and I’ve done mediation in other circumstances.

4026 Mediation, as your team will tell you, is, “Let’s make a deal.” It’s not about what the rules are. It’s not about what the policies are. It’s how do you get these people to make a deal? That’s not about the Wholesale Code, really. It’s just how do you get a deal, right? Are you people prepared to do a deal?

4027 And then what’s your final way of implementing the Wholesale Code? Final offer; arbitration. Well, again, that’s not perfect either, is it, because you’ve got -- you’re going to the Commission with your proposal, someone else is going with others, and you’ve got to guess, “Okay, do I dare stick to my guns? You know, I really think, you know, although the policy says this but if I say this, I could lose everything.”

4028 So that’s the trouble. But when we have a condition of licence that says, “You pay $10”; there's no dispute, right? There’s no undue preference; there's no mediation; there's no arbitration because the rule is clear.

4029 And so that’s one of the reasons independents are saying, “Can you make clear rules here on this so there's no question; there’s no question of Rogers threatening to drop a service; there's no question of services being dropped or being worse off?”

4030 that’s ultimately, we would argue, something you have to start to thinking about is, what is the right system going forward? Have you got it right? Or actually can we now move to more clear rules and less reliance on these other things that end up meaning the plain words that we have in the Code, great principles, don’t actually happen.

4031 MR. CUFF: One thing I’d like to add before we move off this topic is it’s become abundantly clear to me during this process that the Wholesale Code’s not necessarily working for BDUs either. You know, I’ve heard Telus complain about, you know, perfect 100 percent make whole rate cards. I’ve heard Cogeco speak to the idea that, you know, when it comes to VIs, it’s not a question of if the rates go up; it’s a question of how much.

4032 If VIs are extracting things of that nature, and the Code’s not working for the BDUs, in turn, the BDUs’ costs and margins go up and they have to turn around and find somewhere to extract that additional pound of flesh. Well, unfortunately, the last stop in that chain are independents. We don’t have anybody to turn around and take our additional pound of flesh from at the end of the day, nor do we think that’s the right approach. But, ultimately, we would like to see the Code work for our BDU partners in their negotiations with VI programming entities, because it puts an undue strain on them and, ultimately, us when it comes to BDU margins.

4033 So the materials that IBG has filed with respect to vertically integrated programming services and their continued rise in revenues, it makes perfect sense in the light of this testimony. And the fact that independent revenues are going down, the reasoning is clear in that context.

4034 COMMISSIONER NAIDOO: All right. Well, I really appreciate you sharing, both of you, your candid thoughts with us here today. Thank you very much. That’s all I’ve got.

4035 Mr. Chairman?

4036 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, I think there are a couple of other questions.

4037 Commissioner LaFontaine, and then Commissioner Anderson.

4038 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

4039 And thank you very much for your presentation today. I have just a couple of questions, one in the area of the Shaw Rocket Fund, and then I just want to have a quick exchange, a quick clarification about the Rogers proposal on the voice services.

4040 So in terms of the Shaw Rocket Fund, one of the things that Rogers has put forward is this notion that they will pool the allowable amounts that they can contribute to a CIPS, so the Rogers amount and what was previously the Shaw amount, put it together and then divide by two; one half will go to the Shaw Rocket Fund and then the other half will go to the Rogers group of funds. And when I asked them on Monday what kind of impact that would have on the Shaw Rocket Fund, I believe they said that that would work out to about $1 million, in terms of what will get moved from the Shaw Rocket Fund to the Rogers group of funds.

4041 And so I was wondering if you could comment briefly about that kind of impact, that part of their proposal and its impact on the fund, and whether that’s nominal or something for us to be concerned about.

4042 MR. CUFF: Well, I’ll start by saying, you know, I’ve exposed my lack of familiarity with the day-to-day operations of the fund in the previous round of questioning, and I apologize for that, and if there’s anything you wish to hear by way of undertaking, we would certainly compile that and offer.

4043 That being said, $1 million can’t be seen to be nominal, in the context of kids and family production. You know, you may roll up the entire industry and take $1 million and say, “Well, that doesn’t matter much,” but when you consider that the funds are doled out in a manner such that it supports key financing of productions, it’s material to every production that it participates in. So to the extent that there's a $1 million missing, that’s $1 million that doesn’t go to productions that would have otherwise been there.

4044 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Right. And there’s likely a multiplier effect.

4045 Sorry; I’ll let Mr. miller...

4046 MR. MILLER: Thanks, Commissioner LaFontaine.

4047 We were looking at this this morning. I think -- I actually looked at the transcript. So I think the comment was 1.2 million would be the result of a 50/50 split. Our position and our invention was that the Shaw Rocket Fund should continue at current levels for at least five years; we thought that was reasonable.

4048 This is where, I have to say, we got a little confused. Because if the current level is 1.2 million, which I think I was learning from that, ---

4049 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Not the current level; it’s how much would move from that which goes to the Shaw Rocket Fund now, that will go to the Rogers groups when they contribute the CIPF monies.

4050 MR. MILLER: So what we’re missing is what the actual funding is annually right now. We do know that the benefits was just over 900,000, or just under a million. So there seems to be a big gap between what would be five years of funding versus the under 1 million in the benefits, which is why, as I said earlier, we’re interested in seeing what Rogers says in its undertaking about its intentions for how long they’re going to keep funding it.

4051 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: And I think it would be very interesting for the Commission to hear from WildBrain about that -- Rogers’ response to that undertaking, perhaps in your final reply.

4052 MR. MILLER: Absolutely.

4053 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: And then just one other question. Mr. Miller, you indicated that one of the issues here; I believe it’s with respect to Rogers’ proposal, in terms of the carriage of the 40 services, I believe you had said that Rogers has not addressed negotiations, terms of distribution.

4054 When you made that statement, were you referring to the carriage of the 40? Is that an issue that relates to the 40? Like, they’re saying, “We’re going to carry 40,” but are there issues around that?

4055 MR. MILLER: When you look at the proposals that WildBrain put on the table, we divided the handling of independents, the one to one, which Rogers addressed with the 40, as our first recommendation, and then our second recommendation was about the terms of carriage.

4056 And that first recommendation, I think WildBrain acknowledges is a good one. We know IBG’s -- it’s fair to say WildBrain notes IBG’s suggestion that it goes to 50, and I don’t think you’ve reflected fully on that; you’re going to reflect on that.

4057 But in respect to the second part, guaranteeing access, guaranteeing that on similar terms and conditions that independents such as WildBrain will continue to be carried.

4058 Rogers’ proposal does not address that. And so both what we had in our intervention, what IBG talked about, and what Ethnic Channels Group talked about in respect of Ethnic Channels, these are all different models to address that, and I think, again, we’re looking forward to hearing a bit more about that, and comment more fully in final written comments.

4059 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: So if we just refer to a number and don’t refer to terms and conditions, what I’m wondering is; does that then just put the independents back in a situation where you’re just negotiating with Rogers the way you’re negotiating with them now?

4060 MR. MILLER: Correct. And let me -- if I may, Brian -- just give some of the issues here.

4061 As IBG was pointing out, if the number is 40, there’s six or seven services that they can theoretically drop. Whether they do decide to drop channels or not, they have the threat to drop, so we’re back to the cycle of the negotiations start with, “We’re going to drop your channel.”

4062 So the first thing that I think everyone’s unanimous about is however you do it, stop that cycle; stop the ability to say, “We’re going to drop your channel,” which was the problem that WildBrain faced with Cogeco and which, with due respect, the Commission decided not to address, right? The decision to send that dispute back to the parties, which WildBrain and Cogeco were fortunately able to settle; you have not resolved that issue as to whether that tactic is permissible. And obviously in this proceeding you can’t resolve that issue for everyone, but you can resolve it for Rogers as a significant and tangible benefit out of this transaction.

4063 COMMISSIONER LAFONTAINE: Thank you very much for responding to my questions.

4064 Thank you, Mr. Chair.

4065 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

4066 Commissioner Anderson?

4067 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Yeah, it was really on the same vein as Commissioner LaFontaine. I was wondering what your thoughts were with IBG’s proposed alternative, which was the maintenance or the carriage of 50 independent discretionary services as opposed to 40. And initially they had proposed carriage for seven years, and then kind of provided us with a range from five to seven years. And so I don’t know if you’re prepared to comment on that proposal, or if that’s something that you could provide after you’ve had more time to reflect on it.

4068 MR. MILLER: Can I just clarify ---


4070 MR. CUFF: We can provide it, after a little more time to reflect.


4072 MR. CUFF: I mean, two things that I will say is, easy math; 50’s better than 40. That’s certainly, you know, progress. And when it comes to five years, I think you’ll note that we actually, as WildBrain, proposed a five-year period in our intervention, so I certainly wouldn’t take issue with that.

4073 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Sorry. And so maybe I should have been more specific because I was considering your suggestion under number -- recommendation 1(c), and that was really speaking to the threat of dropping a service or Rogers -- or a large BDU’s threat, using a threat of dropping a service to gain bargaining power.

4074 And so would that be sufficiently addressed by 50? Like, if the proposal to carry discretionary services was bumped up to 50, would that remove the threat that you’re referring to under your recommendation 1(c)?

4075 MR. CUFF: Ultimately, I don’t believe it does. I mean, it may at a snapshot in time, a moment in time, a certain number of independents, but the reality is we don’t know what the number of independents is going to be over the course of this period. You know, I was surprised by the launch of a competing kids’ channel not that long ago as an independent when I thought that that part of the market was well occupied.

4076 So we really don’t have any visibility into what the number of independents might be going forward, and every new independent launched would increase the possibility that that cycle of, you know, potentially threatening to drop could repeat itself.


4078 MR. MILLER: Commissioner Anderson, if I could just add?


4080 MR. MILLER: I think it’s fair to say WildBrain’s understanding of the IBG proposal is it’s the two-part proposal. It is both the “no less favourably in aggregate,” and the 50 services. It’s the “no less favourable in aggregate” that gives some certainty you won’t be dropped, because how could you be no less favourable in aggregate if you’re dropped?

4081 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Yes, okay. And so that would address the concerns that are addressed by your recommendations under 1(a) and the ---

4082 MR. CUFF: Correct.

4083 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: --- continuation of carriages that are currently -- or, sorry; the continuation of carrying independent discretionary services that are currently carried by either, and that Rogers honour the best of either Rogers’ or Shaw’s affiliation agreements.

4084 So I’m right in understanding that the “most favoured nation” clause, as proposed by IBG, would address both 1(a) and (b)?

4085 MR. MILLER: With one very important nuance.


4087 MR. MILLER: WildBrain’s suggestion was that there be an ongoing requirement; i.e. indefinite requirement to cease using the threat of dropping an independent service as leverage. IBG’s “no less favourable in aggregate” is for a limited period of time.

4088 So we think you have to end the practice. WildBrain had a very difficult, challenging time with Cogeco on this. And, as we indicated, compared to the new Shaw Rogers, Cogeco’s almost -- as little as a tenth of what Shaw and Rogers will be. So that’s why WildBrain asked for a permanent solution there.

4089 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Although -- okay. Because the “most favoured nation” clause that IBG has proposed would only last for five years.

4090 MR. MILLER: Correct.

4091 COMMISSIONER ANDERSON: Thank you for clarifying that. It’s been a long day.

4092 Those are all of my questions. Thank you.

4093 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.

4094 Thank you once again for both of you appearing today and your fulsome participation in the proceeding. Very much appreciated as always.

4095 And with that, I will turn it to the Hearing Secretary.

4096 Madame la secrétaire.

4097 MME ROY: Merci, Monsieur le président.

4098 This concludes today and we will reconvene tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.

4099 Thank you. Have a nice day. Evening. Yes.

--- Upon adjourning at 5:52 p.m.

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