ARCHIVÉ - Transcription de l'audience
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Offrir un contenu dans les deux langues officielles
Prière de noter que la Loi sur les langues officielles exige que toutes publications gouvernementales soient disponibles dans les deux langues officielles.
Afin de rencontrer certaines des exigences de cette loi, les procès-verbaux du Conseil seront dorénavant bilingues en ce qui a trait à la page couverture, la liste des membres et du personnel du CRTC participant à l'audience et la table des matières.
Toutefois, la publication susmentionnée est un compte rendu textuel des délibérations et, en tant que tel, est transcrite dans l'une ou l'autre des deux langues officielles, compte tenu de la langue utilisée par le participant à l'audience.
TRANSCRIPTION DES AUDIENCES DEVANT
LE CONSEIL DE LA RADIODIFFUSION
ET DES TÉLÉCOMMUNICATIONS CANADIENNES
Renouvellements de licences de stations privées
de télévision traditionnelle
Centre de conférences
140, Promenade du Portage
le 4 mai 2009
Afin de rencontrer les exigences de la Loi sur les langues
officielles, les procès-verbaux pour le Conseil seront
bilingues en ce qui a trait à la page couverture, la liste des
membres et du personnel du CRTC participant à l'audience
publique ainsi que la table des matières.
Toutefois, la publication susmentionnée est un compte rendu
textuel des délibérations et, en tant que tel, est enregistrée
et transcrite dans l'une ou l'autre des deux langues
officielles, compte tenu de la langue utilisée par le
participant à l'audience publique.
Conseil de la radiodiffusion et des
Renouvellements de licences de stations privées
de télévision traditionnelle
Konrad von Finckenstein Président
Michel Arpin Conseiller
Len Katz Conseiller
Peter Menzies Conseiller
Rita Cugini Conseillère
Candice Molnar Conseillère
Louise Poirier Conseillère
Lynda Roy Secretaire
Stephen Millington Conseillers juridiques
Nanao Kachi Gérant de l'audience
Centre de conférences
140, Promenade du Portage
le 4 mai 2009
- iv -
TABLE DES MATIÈRES
PAGE / PARA
TVA Group Inc. and Sun TV Company 1081 / 6143
Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation 1166 / 6558
Toronto Somali Television & Radio 1173 / 6592
Goldspin Productions Inc. 1176 / 6609
Rompost TV 1182 / 6634
Fairchild Television Ltd. 1192 / 6723
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers 1216 / 6862
Union of Canada
Centre for Community Study 1281 / 7241
--- L'audience débute le lundi 4 avril 2009 à 0901
6139 LE PRÉSIDENT: Bon, commençons.
6140 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci, monsieur le président. Bonjour à tous.
6141 Nous entendrons pour débuter la présentation par Groupe TVA Inc. et Sun-TV Company concernant leur demande de renouvellement indiquée dans l'Avis de consultation CRTC2009-113.
6142 Monsieur Pierre Dion comparaît pour Groupe TVA et Sun-TV Company. Il nous présentera ses collègues. Monsieur Dion, vous disposez de 20 minutes pour faire votre présentation.
6143 M. DION: Merci beaucoup. Bonjour, monsieur le président, messieurs les vice-présidents, madame et messieurs membres et personnel du Conseil.
6144 Je m'appelle Pierre Dion et je suis président et chef de la direction de Groupe TVA. Je suis accompagné à ma droite de France Lauzière, vice-présidente Programmation; Serge Fortin, vice-président Information et Affaires publiques. À ma gauche, Denis Rozon, vice-président et chef de la direction financière and Jim Nellis, vice president general Manager Sun-TV.
6145 Starting from your right, at the second table: Don Gaudet, director General Programming Sun-TV; Édouard Trépanier, vice-président Affaires réglementaires Québécor Média; Martin Picard, directeur général de l'Administration et de la programmation; Richard Renaud, vice-président Stations régionales et directeur général de TVA Québec.
6146 Avant de commencer, j'aimerais juste vous remercier tous d'avoir eu la flexibilité de nous recevoir aujourd'hui. C'était supposé d'être vendredi, on avait une assemblée annuelle des actionnaires, donc merci de cette flexibilité.
6147 Monsieur le président, la dernière fois que nous étions devant vous pour renouveler les licences du réseau de la station mère de TVA, c'était en 2001. Québécor Média vous demandait l'autorisation d'acquérir TVA. L'objectif premier était donc d'obtenir l'autorisation de procéder à la transaction. La télévision généraliste était alors en santé.
6148 Le dernier renouvellement de licence où nous avons réellement eu l'occasion de nous concentrer sur l'exploitation de notre réseau de télévision a eu lieu devant vous en 1992. À ce moment-là, internet n'était pas connu et les services spécialisés de langue française occupaient une part de marché de six pour cent. Elle est aujourd'hui de 41 pour cent.
6149 Compte tenu du temps qui s'est écoulé et du paysage audiovisuel qui s'est transformé, de grands ajustements s'imposent. Cela exige de votre part une perspective large sur vos propres accomplissements comme régulateurs et sur ce que vous souhaitez que la télévision privée conventionnelle devienne.
6150 Comme toutes les télévisions généralistes des pays industrialisés et malgré notre succès dans notre marché, TVA a besoin d'opérer un virage majeur. La direction vers laquelle nous dérivons tous est périlleuse.
6151 Chacun à sa façon, TQS, Global et même CTV, témoignent de ce danger. TVA a tout fait pour apporter les correctifs nécessaires à l'intérieur du cadre réglementaire, mais nous avons maintenant besoin d'actions concrètes de votre part.
6152 Lors de notre comparution de la semaine dernière, nous discutions des enjeux actuels de politique d'intérêt public. Vous nous avez dit que nous étions sévères envers le Conseil. Vous comprendrez qu'après trois ans d'indices alarmants et de discours incompris, nous sommes animés par un sentiment d'urgence. Dans le cadre de ce renouvellement de nos licences, nous allons exprimer notre point de vue en parlant de nos opérations.
6153 Il devient de plus en plus difficile de financer nos émissions. Grâce à la décision du Ministre du Patrimoine de créer le nouveau Fonds des médias du Canada, nous avons espoir de pouvoir récupérer un certain nombre de téléspectateurs qui ont migré vers d'autres plate-formes.
6154 Si nous réussissons, nous allons pouvoir mieux financer les émissions canadiennes. À cet égard, nous demandons au Conseil de ne pas créer d'obstacles au nom d'un certain équilibre entre les divers groupes d'intérêt. Votre premier objectif, c'est la diffusion d'émissions canadiennes. Cela nous convient très bien.
6155 La semaine dernière, nous avons expliqué nos intentions et l'importance que nous accordons à la production indépendante. Les relations que nous entretenons avec eux sont excellentes. Les quotas d'émissions et de dépenses en émissions provenant de la production indépendante sont, par contre, inutiles.
6156 Nous sommes une entreprise privée qui a fait la démonstration que nous croyons au contenu original de divertissement et d'information. TVA est contrôlée par un actionnaire qui partage notre mission culturelle.
6157 Nous travaillons actuellement avec une vingtaine de producteurs indépendants qui sont de véritables partenaires. Nos discussions sont basées sur des principes d'affaires, mais sont aussi imprégnées de la passion de faire des oeuvres audiovisuelles marquantes et de haute qualité.
6158 Nous nous engageons à continuer de faire appel de façon notable aux producteurs indépendants. Il n'y a aucune raison de croire que nous allons réduire nos collaborations avec eux. La créativité et les quotas ne font pas bon ménage. Nous n'allons pas laisser passer les meilleures idées aux mains de la concurrence.
6159 D'ailleurs, si nous arrivons à mieux financer les émissions canadiennes, nous serons en mesure d'en faire davantage.
6160 Débarrassez-nous du carcan de huit heures d'émissions prioritaires, c'est-à-dire la programmation de soirée pour laquelle vous choisissez les catégories. Cette façon de faire nous oblige à la comptabilisation des heures et des minutes au lieu de nous permettre de se concentre sur... à la créativité, excusez-moi, et la qualité.
6161 Nous savons bien que les dramatiques et les variétés de grande qualité ont plus d'importance que d'autres genres d'émission parce qu'elles permettent de toucher les gens dans ce qu'ils sont, individuellement et collectivement.
6162 Ne vous inquiétez pas pour le reflet de l'identité québécoise. TVA est le diffuseur qui offre le plus de contenu canadien original au pays. Vous l'avez dit, nous faisons davantage d'émissions prioritaires que ce qui est requis. Alors, pourquoi s'embêter mutuellement avec des règles inutiles?
6163 En outre, si le marché change et si nous devons présenter un genre d'émission qui n'existe pas aujourd'hui, nous devons pouvoir le faire sans devoir sortir les chronomètres.
6164 Concernant les émissions locales, nous proposons ce qui nous semble le plus approprié dans les circonstances : trois heures et dix minutes par semaine pour toutes nos stations, sauf pour la région de la Capitale du Québec où nous nous engageons à 18 heures.
6165 Cette proposition répond aux besoins et intérêts du public que nous desservons. Les Québécois veulent des nouvelles de leur région. Ensuite, ils veulent un certain rayonnement de leur région sur le Québec.
6166 Par ailleurs, à cause de la fragmentation de l'écoute et de la multiplication des plates-formes, nous devons maximiser l'utilisation de nos ressources pour répondre aux nouvelles attentes des citoyens. Nous ne croyons pas qu'un quota de quantité de temps applicable à un média soit une réglementation adéquate.
6167 Nous aimerions porter à votre attention que depuis notre dernière comparution en 2001, notre offre d'information sur le réseau TVA a augmenté de sept heures et demie par semaine. Cette augmentation a permis un rayonnement plus large à l'information provenant de toutes les régions du Québec.
6168 Quant au contenu canadien en général, nous proposons non seulement l'abandon du concept d'heures prioritaires, mais aussi que vous débutiez un exercice qui permettra de revoir la pertinence des quotas en heure, tel le 50 et le 60 pour cent. En échange, TVA s'engage, comme vous le verrez dans quelques instants, à un niveau des dépenses en émissions canadiennes. Le quota de contenu canadien devient alors une règle redondante.
6169 Enfin, si vous considérez que vous devez conserver des outils réglementaires afin de vous assurer que nous livrons la marchandise, vous avez déjà identifié la bonne façon de le faire. Dans ce cadre, TVA s'engage à maintenir un pourcentage annuel de dépenses en émissions canadiennes de 70 pour cent plutôt que 50 pour cent des coûts de programmation.
6170 En ce qui a trait aux signaux éloignés, nous demandons une précision au Conseil. TVA devrait pouvoir négocier un tarif raisonnable avec tous les distributeurs hors Québec. Cet éclaircissement s'avère nécessaire.
6171 Concernant le tarif d'abonnement, nous avons commenté l'analyse du personnel du Conseil que vous avez ajoutée au dossier public. Nous avons déposé ce matin nos engagements de réponses suite à notre comparution de lundi dernier. Vous n'avez pas besoin d'instaurer un tarif national comme il est suggéré dans ce document.
6172 Modifiez simplement le Règlement sur la distribution afin de permettre aux diffuseurs et aux distributeurs de retirer le signal dans le cadre d'une libre négociation, ce que les Américains appellent le «consentement par retransmission». C'est simple et ça pourrait régler le problème structurel de la télévision généraliste et celui de la télévision locale pour de nombreuses années.
6173 En résumé, nous vous demandons de baser votre action réglementaire sur un pourcentage de dépenses de programmation en émissions canadiennes; supprimer l'exigence des émissions prioritaires et débuter un processus de modification sur les taux de 50 et 60 pour cent; enlever toute obligation réglementaire à l'égard des producteurs indépendants; ne pas intervenir dans nos relations contractuelles avec les producteurs indépendants; accepter nos engagements d'heures en émissions locales; préciser votre initiative sur les signaux éloignés, permettant ainsi d'attribuer une valeur à ces signaux; et, permettre aux parties de négocier librement un tarif d'abonnement.
6174 Voilà sept recommandations concrètes et pratiques qui vont permettre à la télévision privée conventionnelle de langue française de faire face aux importants défis qui l'attendant. C'est le public qui va en bénéficier parce que nous allons ainsi continuer de diffuser des émissions de qualités et rassembleuses à la hauteur de leurs attentes.
6175 Quant à la durée du terme de licence de TVA, donnez-nous un minimum de trois ans, conditionnel à l'accueil favorable de nos recommandations. Autrement, vous n'aurez pas de résultats significatifs pour mesurer le fruit de vos décisions ni des nôtres, d'ailleurs.
6176 En outre, laissez passer la tempête de la transition numérique. Il y aura une incertitude de moins à discuter au prochain rendez-vous. Si vous ne changez pas nos conditions d'exploitation, même un an serait trop long. Si tel est votre choix, vous avez l'assurance de nous revoir avec le même discours, mais dans un contexte financier encore plus dramatique pour la télévision conventionnelle.
6178 MR. NELLIS: The situation is radically different for Sun-TV. We operate in an English language market as a small stand-alone station in Toronto, the most competitive television environment in the country.
6179 Despite our differences, the structural challenges we face as an industry are similar and have been exacerbated by the current economic crisis. This is clearly true for all conventional television broadcasters.
6180 As a stand-alone English station in the competitive Toronto-/Hamilton market, we face additional daunting challenges:
6181 We have access to Toronto/Hamilton for local revenues as well as very limited Toronto-only national revenues. Soon we hope to add London and Ottawa as a base for national revenues. In addition, each of our key English language private competitors has two or more signals in each of these markets.
6182 Each one of our key competitors in Toronto buys national rights for two over-the-air networks or station groups as they have stations in most of Canada's major markets. We are forced to buy national rights for much of our foreign programs, but do not have multiple outlets in multiple markets for the amortization of costs.
6183 As far as funding of Canadian programming is concerned, we have a very small envelope at the Canadian Television Fund, placing drama and high budget priority programming beyond our means. Due to the fact that we operate in Toronto, we don't have access to either the CAB Small Market Fund nor to the proposed LPIF.
6184 In the past few years, we have come a long way and have done as much as possible to put the station on an even financial footing - through cost saving measures,, acquisition of some attractive foreign programming and development of effective local Canadian programming.
6185 We are hopeful for a positive answer on our request for the down conversion of our signal to analog cable in Ottawa and London from our existing local digital transmitters. The process of down conversion of American signals by Canadian BDU's began on February 17th of this year and is expected to be complete by June 12th.
6186 It is our hope that a process afforded to American conventional network border stations carried by Canadian BDU's will also be extended to Canadian stations as part of the digital transition. This process will help give us access to a larger population and audience base from which to generate sales revenues as well as simulcast opportunities.
6187 Even with the actions we have undertaken and with the potential for some growth, we cannot continue to meet some of the obligations that Craig Broadcasting originally took on for Toronto 1 when it was planned to be part of a much larger multimarket station group.
6188 We have been in compliance with our conditions of licence for the past four years since TVA/Sun Media took over the station, but we cannot wait another year for the changes we have proposed to be approved. We need that relief now as the station continues to operate in the red.
6189 The following are the amendments we are requesting:
6190 We will maintain the existing condition of licence for ten hours of local programming per week, but are requesting that we measure this throughout the broadcast day as is the norm for our industry, rather than only in the evening hours. This will give us the programming flexibility to place programs where they can maximize audience.
6191 With decreases in news programming by other broadcasters, we ask for the ability to include news in our local programming. This will add diversity of voice.
6192 As a stand-alone station, we do not fit the definition of a large station group which the priority programming requirement was attached to. So, we request that you eliminate the priority programming requirements.
6193 We intend to continue to acquire independently produced programs, but need the flexibility to fulfil our Canadian content requirements with programs that can maximize audience while not creating a strain on expenses. Therefore, we are asking that you drop the spending requirements on independent productions for the same reason.
6194 As we pointed out in our application, we believe strongly in the multicultural nature of Toronto and we will continue to reflect this reality in our programs. We are convinced it is not necessary to maintain the current quotas on the amount of ethnic programming tied to acquisitions and the current affairs program "Canoe Live".
6195 We believe that a better contribution is one that addresses all Torontonians and reflects the incredible diversity of our city. We do not need a quota to do this, it's our job. We are a local conventional television station seeking to connect with and reflect our local audience. Our content must represent the multicultural nature of Toronto. Our viewers must see themselves reflected in the mirror of our programming.
6196 We believe in the importance and relevance of local over-the-air television, but it is only with these changes that we will be able to continue to steer Sun-TV on a course towards profitability.
6197 In order for Sun-TV to navigate through stormy seas for the next few years, we need the flexibility that we have asked for.
6199 M. DION: Monsieur le président, si vous concluez à des demi-mesures, vous récolterez des demi-résultats. La prochaine fois, la télévision généraliste pourrait ne plus être en mesure de rencontrer son mandat à l'endroit des Canadiens.
6200 Alors, nous vous demandons de porter une grande attention à chacun des changements pratiques que TVA et Sun-TV réclament. Nous sommes maintenant à votre disposition pour répondre à vos questions.
6202 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci. Sur la page 4, au paragraphe 7.4, vous proposez un engagement de trois heures et dix minutes par semaine pour toutes nos stations, sauf pour la région de la Capitale de Québec où nous nous engageons à 18 heures.
6203 Quels sont vos engagements à ce jour?
6204 M. DION: Vingt et une heures à Québec et trois heures et dix dans les autres stations. Donc, c'est le statu quo qu'on demande dans les autres stations et Québec, on demande de passer de 21 à 18 heures.
6205 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et qu'est-ce que vous faites à Montréal?
6206 M. DION: Montréal, c'est la programmation réseau automatiquement. Donc, on n'a pas de programmation spécifique pour Montréal, sauf lorsqu'on a un détachement dans les régions. À titre d'exemple, lorsqu'on...
6207 LE PRÉSIDENT: Non. Je n'ai pas peur que vous n'ayez pas les nouvelles à Montréal. C'est seulement pour comparaison j'aimerais savoir combien d'heures vous faites à Montréal.
6208 M. DION: Donc, c'est comme je dis, Montréal, c'est la diffusion du réseau comme tel, donc dans le fond, ce qu'on dit, c'est que toute notre programmation comme telle, toutes les heures, c'est la diffusion qu'on voit à Montréal présentement.
6209 LE PRÉSIDENT: Okay, et...
6210 M. DION: Sauf lorsqu'on fait le détachement local dans les autres régions.
6211 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et vous dites: «Débarrassez-nous du carcan de huit heures d'émissions prioritaires». Maintenant, quelle assurance allez-vous nous donner que les programmes canadiens vont être montrés dans les heures prioritaires?
6212 On a cette condition-là parce qu'on ne veut pas que vous remplissiez vos obligations, mais que la programmation canadienne soit faite à une heure minoritaire d'écoute.
6213 M. DION: Mais la garantie...
6214 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et c'est pour cette raison qu'on a la règle. Si nous l'abolissions comme vous suggérez, vous pouvez mettre toutes vos programmations canadiennes à minuit si vous voulez.
6215 M. DION: Mais dans le marché du Québec, on ne pourrait pas faire ça parce que 29 des 30 émissions les plus populaires au Québec, c'est des émissions québécoises.
6216 Si on veut garder notre 28 à 30 pour cent de parts de marché qu'on a à l'heure actuelle qui est essentielle pour nous dans notre modèle économique, on doit mettre notre meilleure programmation le soir en prime time et la meilleure programmation le soir, c'est la programmation québécois.
6217 LE PRÉSIDENT: Donc, dans ce cas-là, pourquoi la règle des émissions prioritaires vous cause des problèmes? Je ne comprends pas.
6218 M. DION: Parce qu'on dit que c'est inutile; on le fait de toute façon et c'est dans notre plan d'affaires de le faire. C'est dans notre raison d'être de le faire. Donc, pourquoi... pourquoi avoir à faire des rapports et devoir faire du minutage d'émission si, de toute façon, ça fait partie du core de notre business qui n'est pas nécessairement le cas dans le Canada anglais.
6219 Pour nous, c'est notre raison d'être, ça fait qu'on se dit, on pourrait... vu que c'est notre raison d'être, on pourrait mutuellement s'éviter tous ces rapports-là et ces mesures-là qui ne sont pas nécessaires au Québec, on va le faire de toute façon.
6220 LE PRÉSIDENT: Bon. Franchement, j'ai des problèmes d'accepter ça. Si c'est une règle et qu'elle ne vous cause pas de problème, vous le faites de toute façon, vous avez beaucoup besoin du monde que vous proposez, alors pourquoi gaspiller votre temps avec une règle qui ne vous cause pas de problème?
6221 M. DION: Mais pourquoi gaspiller du temps à faire des rapports?
6222 LE PRÉSIDENT: Pour nous, c'est l'assurance qu'on va avoir ça, même que vos meilleures intentions, avec cette règle, c'est assuré qu'on va avoir de la programmation canadienne dans les heures prioritaires.
6223 M. DION: Nous, on va être capable de vous prouver, monsieur le président, après trois ans qu'on a été des bons citoyens et qu'on a fait autant d'émissions prioritaires. On peut vous prouver ça facilement, sans être obligé de faire des rapports de façon récurrente, c'est ce qu'on vous demande.
6224 Testez-nous et vous allez voir qu'après trois ans on va vous revenir en vous prouvant qu'on a continué de mettre le contenu québécois en priorité dans le prime time parce que ça fait partie de notre modèle d'affaires et on pourrait se trouver une façon très simple.
6225 Après trois ans, on peut vous faire un rapport, je n'ai aucun problème à vous faire un rapport dans trois ans pour vous démontrer que, effectivement, on a tenu... on a tenu l'autoroute, là, on a tenu la route c'est-à-dire par rapport à notre engagement aux émissions prioritaires.
6226 Mais on peut facilement s'éviter de faire ces rapports-là de façon continue. On va vous le prouver après trois ans, lorsqu'on va se revoir ou peu importe le temps, là, que la licence durera.
6227 Je pense que c'est un engagement de bonne foi de dire non seulement on est prêt à ce qu'un pourcentage de nos dépenses en programmation canadienne, un haut pourcentage, 70 pour cent, on vous donne cet engagement-là et on vous donne un engagement qu'après trois ans on va venir vous prouver qu'on a fait nos engagements québécois.
6228 THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Nellis, in your submission, you're asking for permission to downgrade the digital signal to analog in Ottawa and London. Explain that to me. I don't quite understand what's going on here.
6229 You don't -- you are not a local station either Ottawa or London. Why would the cable company pick you up in the first place?
6230 MR. NELLIS: Mr. Chair, in the past, the experience we believe has been that if rebroads are set up in outer markets such as our competitors have and Toronto competitors have in Ottawa and London on an analog basis, then they are given simulcast privileges in those markets.
6231 At the present time we're in that -- we're in a sort of a demiss between analog and digital and so, when we were given permission by the Commission to have digital transmitters and analog transmitters in Ottawa and London, we chose to go the digital route because the analog transmitters would be turned off in September 2011.
6232 We also did that with a sense that those were local transmitters and historically I think that's the way it would have been looked upon and, therefore, that as a local transmitter at this time and certainly subsequent to 2011, we would be given basic cable carriage as a local station.
6233 As I alluded to the American stations beginning on February 17th and I believe concluding on June the 12th, are already being down converted. Some have chosen to go digital quickly and others will be moving over the next few months.
6234 It just seems reasonable to us that if American stations were being given down conversion privileges in local markets because they do add value certainly to the basic analog here, that the same privilege would be extended to Canadian stations.
6235 It's just sort of an axe in the berth that we happen to be facing this issue at the current time.
6236 THE CHAIRMAN: O.k. Michel, do you have some questions.
6237 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Thank you. Monsieur Dion, mes questions et notre discussion va porter sur Réseau TVA et ses stations. Mon collègue, monsieur Menzies va plus tard s'adresser aux questions concernant Sun-TV.
6238 Alors, un point de clarification sur la discussion que vous avez eue avec le président. Quand vous parlez de rapport que vous êtes obligé de «tabuler» et tout, est-ce que vous parlez des registres d'émissions?
6239 M. PICARD: Il y a, effectivement, les registres qui sont à produire, mais aussi au niveau de la programmation, c'est toujours la question de catégorisation des émissions qui devient complexe.
6240 Donc, est-ce que cette émission-là est de telle catégorie? Est-ce que c'est un magazine? Il y a des sous-classes de régionales qui ont été crées et tout ces éléments-là, lorsqu'on vient pour programmer, ce n'est peut-être pas dans l'intérêt qu'on dépense énormément de temps à gérer ces éléments-là.
6241 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Mais vous devez le faire pour le registre d'émissions de toute façon parce que le registre d'émissions requiert un numéro et dans le numéro, ça décrit quel type d'émission que c'est.
6242 M. PICARD: Oui, mais quand...
6243 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Donc, vous allez continuer à le faire.
6244 M. PICARD: C'est évident qu'on va continuer à le faire, mais quand on vient à minuter, à regarder, est-ce qu'on est à 49, à 51 pour cent... On amène aussi d'autres types d'émissions qui ne sont pas nécessairement répertoriées et qui sont du contenu canadien et qui ne comptent pas dans nos heures prioritaires et on considère que ces émissions-là font de très bonnes cotes d'écoute et devraient être qualifiées comme... elles sont comptées comme contenu canadien et ne le sont pas comme prioritaires.
6245 Donc, c'est ces différents éléments-là, lorsqu'on vient pour programmer, ça ajoute une complexité et je n'embarquerai pas dans la gestion des registres, mais ces éléments pourraient être plus simples.
6246 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Écoutez, on va y revenir dans le cadre du plan d'interrogatoire que j'ai préparé.
6247 Mais en premier lieu, monsieur Dion, quand même, je voudrais quand même souligner votre bonne performance, même exceptionnelle, au dernier sondage BBM. J'ai vu dans les journaux de fin de semaine que vous avez tenu votre assemblée annuelle vendredi, donc je comprends pourquoi vous étiez déchiré entre le CRTC et vos actionnaires, je présume, donc.
6248 Mais je tiens quand même à souligner, effectivement, que lors de cette assemblée annuelle-là, vous avez vous-même mis en évidence que pour la période du 12 janvier au 19 avril, 25 des 30 premières émissions étaient des émissions inscrites au Réseau TVA.
6249 En fait, ces bons résultats confirmaient ce qu'on savait déjà depuis un bon bout de temps parce que, hebdomadairement, vous détenez toujours la pôle depuis... et ça, depuis plusieurs mois, voire même plusieurs années.
6250 Votre part de marché de 29 pour cent quand même souligne certainement la reconnaissance des téléspectateurs de leur appréciation. Alors, je pense que vous... je suis sûr que mes collègues partagent mon opinion que vous méritez des sincères félicitations pour ces beaux succès.
6251 Avant d'aborder la question du... de mes premières questions, je voudrais revenir sur une discussions qu'on a eue lundi dernier et puis j'ai reçu votre réponse à certaines... aux engagements au cours de la nuit et j'ai eu le temps d'en prendre connaissance et puis...
6252 Or, on a de la concordance en ce qui traite de l'émission... des émissions prioritaires où il aurait pu... où vous aviez qualifié qu'il y avait trop d'applaudissements puis pas... puis il manquait une minute de musique, mais curieusement, ce n'est pas la même série; c'est Star Académie.
6253 Pour nous, c'est l'édition 2003; pour vous c'est l'édition 2004, mais la résultante est quand même la même. C'est qu'à la fin d'un exercice, d'un échange de correspondance entre Productions J et donc, qui ne concerne pas TVA, en l'occurrence. TVA est intéressée aux résultats, mais ce n'est pas... c'est Productions J. qui faisait la correspondance.
6254 Le tout a été qualifié par l'attribution d'une catégorie numéro 9, émission de variétés plutôt qu'une émission de musique et de danse. Mais dans les deux cas, ça... la conclusion, c'était que c'était quand même classé comme une émission prioritaire.
6255 M. DION: Juste un commentaire là-dessus, monsieur le vice-président.
6256 Vous devez quand même admettre que quand on parle de travail inutile, il n'y a pas là un plus bel exemple?
6257 Star Académie est la production canadienne, je pense, de tous les temps, qui est le meilleur reflet de ce qu'une télé généraliste peut faire en contenu canadien. Elle a eu non seulement une portée pour les artistes qui y ont participé, mais pour toute la communauté, l'industrie culturelle et les téléspectateurs.
6258 Donc, de devoir perdre d'échange de courriels et de temps pour finalement avoir un oui, c'est exactement ce que Martin décrivait tout à l'heure.
6259 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Je ne m'accorde pas avec vous parce que le Conseil régule l'ensemble de l'industrie canadienne. Et je comprends que, effectivement, les succès de Star Académie nous rejoignent, mais le Conseil est obligé quand même de voir à son rôle de supervision. C'est un rôle qui est pan-canadien. Il doit tenir compte de ce qui se passe de Victoria à St. John's et sans faire pour autant...
6260 Donc, il ne peut pas traiter TVA de manière différente des autres.
6261 Il ne peut pas traiter TVA, puis l'analogie, vous allez l'haïr, différemment que Télémag.
6262 M. TRÉPANIER: Mais c'est là, monsieur le vice-président, si tu permets, Pierre, qu'on a une différence fondamentale en terme philosophique. Mais le grand succès du Conseil...
6263 CONSEILLER ARPIN: On n'est pas ici pour faire un débat, mais je pense que la différence fondamentale, elle va rester jusqu'à la fin des temps.
6264 M. TRÉPANIER: Bien, dans la Loi il y a une permission au Conseil de considérer la radiodiffusion de langue française...
6265 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Oui.
6266 M. TRÉPANIER: ... différente parce que ses conditions d'exploitation sont différentes. Si vous nous considérez comme CTV, il est bien évident que vous devez garder les règles.
6267 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Non. Je vous considère... je vous ai comparé pour que vous me détestiez, avec Télémag qui est aussi une entreprise hertzienne de langue française.
6268 Je ne vous ai pas comparé avec CTV ni avec Global ni même avec Sun. Je vous ai comparé... le Conseil s'assure que Télémag fait ce qu'il a à faire de la même manière qu'il s'assure ce que TVA fait ce qu'il a à faire puis il ne peut pas gérer les deux de façon dif...
6269 Donc, je pense qu'on a une différenciation philosophique, c'est sûr là, mais on va en rester là parce qu'on pourrait passer la journée.
6270 M. DION: Mais puise-je juste rajouter un cinq secondes? Si les autres joueurs au Québec son prêts à faire les mêmes engagements que TVA, je ne vois pas... moi, je n'ai aucun problème à ce que les autres aient aussi les mêmes... les mêmes conditions, à ce moment-là.
6271 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Malheureusement, pour l'instant, ils ne sont pas au tour de table, donc peut-être qu'un jour... peut-être que ça serait utile qu'il y ait effectivement une audience sur la télévision de langue française, ça... où tous les diffuseurs de langue française seraient sur le tour de table. Ça, je vais m'accorder là-dessus avec vous aisément.
6272 Tout bon renouvellement de licence et monsieur Trépanier qui a été membre du personnel du Conseil va pouvoir corroborer ça, commence toujours par une évaluation de la conformité par rapport à la réglementation, conformité par rapport aux conditions de licence et aux engagements qui ont été pris.
6273 Et comme vous l'avez dit vous-même, ça fait belle lurette que Réseau TVA et ses composantes n'ont pas eu l'occasion de discuter avec le Conseil de différents enjeux, donc...
6274 Et pour les fins de mon questionnaire, nous allons utiliser votre Annexe 1 qui a été préparée par vos propres soins et qui... sur laquelle vous traitez de conformité puis aussi vous traitez de modifications que vous cherchez par rapport à certaines conditions de licence, engagement entre attente de quelque sorte.
6275 Alors, le premier cas que je vais soulever -- je ne les soulèverai pas tous parce que vous en aviez pas loin d'une centaine, là, mais c'est celui du sous-titrage pour malentendants et où vous vous dites en conformité actuellement, mais quand même vous dites que... avoir de la difficulté à atteindre ces... les niveaux requis par l'actuelle réglementation et les actuelles politiques, notamment, la politique de 2007-54 qui, elle, exige que vous soyez à un niveau de 100 pour cent de sous-titrage.
6276 Alors, pourquoi avez-vous besoin de flexibilité et quelles sont les difficultés puis pourquoi le CRTC devrait-il consentir à votre demande? Vous êtes vous-même le principal promoteur de la reconnaissance vocale.
6277 Vous avez investi énormément dans ce secteur-là -- significativement dans ce secteur-là par les bons soins du CRIM -- alors, qu'est-ce qui fait que pour vous un objectif de 100 pour cent qui est demandé à tous les diffuseurs canadiens, soit difficile à rencontrer?
6278 M. DION: Je vais demander à France Lauzière de répondre à la question.
6279 Mme LAUZIÈRE: Monsieur le vice-président, en fait, effectivement, TVA, dans le cadre de son sous-titrage, a décidé de faire appel à la technologie de la reconnaissance vocale et ça, depuis plusieurs années, au moins quatre ans.
6280 Évidemment, cette technologie-là a ses forces et ses faiblesses, les forces étant qu'il fait appel à un locuteur qui est une ressource, qui a l'expertise d'utiliser et de retransmettre ce qui a été dit au niveau du signal et le logiciel reconnaît la voix et le transmet.
6281 Évidemment, tout ce qui est pré-enregistré facilite parce que ce logiciel-là, au niveau de ses forces, c'est qu'il est très habile au niveau d'un dictionnaire spécialisé : les nouvelles, la politique, la météo, le sport, les faits divers.
6282 Où il a des faiblesses, c'est sur les échanges plus populaires donc évidemment, et la forme directe ou à très courte échéance d'une diffusion où le logiciel, effectivement, ne reconnaît pas nécessairement, et on travaille activement là-dessus.
6283 Actuellement, nous, évidemment, on ne peut pas vous confirmer qu'on a 100 pour cent de sous-titrage qui est fait sur l'ensemble de notre programmation. Cependant, en 2007-2008, on a eu un taux de 73 pour cent de la programmation qui peut être sous-titré et dans l'année en cours actuellement, on est à 82 pour cent.
6284 Les équipes travaillent fortement en ce sens pour préciser les techniques du logiciel et essayer au mieux possible, là, pour atteindre le 90 pour cent et, ultimement, le 100 pour cent.
6285 Donc, il y a une progression, mais évidemment, nous, on a choisi la reconnaissance vocale. Il y a d'autres technologies comme la sténotypie qui est plus coûteuse, donc on s'est consacré à la reconnaissance vocale avec les forces et les faiblesses que ça engendre.
6286 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Dans les stations régionales -- prenons Québec et Trois-Rivières à titre d'exemple -- est-ce que les émissions y sont également sous-titrées? Utilisez-vous la reconnaissance vocale pour le faire?
6287 Mme LAUZIÈRE: C'est sur l'ensemble du réseau.
6288 M. DION: La reconnaissance que France parle, c'est Réseau et pour les émissions locales, donc, en l'occurrence, les nouvelles dans les régions, Richard confirme que c'est...
6289 M. RENAUD: Oui, toute la portion nouvelle, on a des employés dans chacune des stations régionales qui font la transcription, là, au niveau des nouvelles, toute la section des nouvelles en tant que telles.
6290 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Non par la reconnaissance vocale; par de la retranscription?
6291 M. RENAUD: Là, il faudrait que je vérifie. Non, pas par la reconnaissance vocale; par la retranscription, c'est vrai.
6292 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Parce que vous n'avez pas de perroquet à Trois-Rivières, je présume, pour faire trois heures et dix de programmation par semaine. Est-ce que c'est une présomption là?
6293 Je sais que c'est la méthode du perroquet. C'est comme ça que, en tout cas, que le CRIM appelle ça. Donc...
6294 Maintenant, on a parlé aussi dans les décisions antérieures, particulièrement pour la station de Montréal, le Conseil avait... a eu une attente de vidéo-description. Et vous dites dans votre... avec votre demande, que vous en avez... que, contrairement aux attentes que le Conseil vous avait indiquées, que dans les faits vous n'en avez pas de vidéo-description.
6295 Mais encore là, quelles sont les difficultés qui vous ont empêché de faire de la vidéo-description à ce jour parce que je vois que dans votre renouvellement vous avez un engagement puis vous avez mis des budgets pour réaliser de la vidéo-description. Alors, je parle du passé, là, mais qu'est-ce qui fait que ce n'était pas possible hier, mais ça serait possible demain?
6296 M. DION: Denis?
6297 M. ROZON: Alors, on a rencontré plusieurs embûches technologiques au courant de la dernière... au courant des dernières années, entre autres, tout le fait de la conversion de nos émetteurs analogiques au numérique.
6298 Et présentement toutes les équipes travaillent pour pouvoir aller en conséquence. Le plus grand... le plus grand problème présentement, c'est que la technologie actuelle demande un temps pour les productions de sept à dix jours ouvrables pour livrer une émission d'une heure et quand c'est un film, ça prend jusqu'à 15 jours.
6299 Donc, ça vient beaucoup limiter le bassin d'émissions qu'on est en mesure... ou d'heures par semaine qu'on est en mesure de donner en vidéo-description.
6300 Donc, nous, on a vraiment révisé, à la demande de renouvellement, de s'assurer de pouvoir mettre en mesure la technologie en place et de rencontrer un nombre d'heures acceptables dès le prochain terme. De là notre engagement de quatre heures.
6301 On a malheureusement, par le passé, là, eu de la misère à tout... et, là, je ne suis pas ingénieur, on aurait pu demander à notre ingénieur de venir, là, il nous a fait un beau discours, mais effectivement on a rencontré beaucoup d'embûches que, là, maintenant on est prêt à relever dès le prochain terme, à partir de septembre, mais pour un nombre de quatre heures par semaine.
6302 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Et à partir uniquement de la diffusion numérique ou de la diffusion en analogique également?
6303 M. ROZON: On va être en analogique en septembre, monsieur le président.
6304 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Donc, vous allez...
6305 M. ROZON: Oui.
6306 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Ce qui n'était pas faisable récemment, les ingénieurs ont trouvé... peut-être que sont venus des équipements sur le marché aussi qui font en sorte que...
6307 M. ROZON: Je pense qu'on a eu beaucoup de défis à surmonter au cours des dernières années et on a tous eu une saga également au niveau de nos installations sur le Mont-Royal. On a eu toute une saga pour préparer notre plan de... notre plan de conversion numérique.
6308 À un moment donné, les ressources... et je pense que, présentement, on n'a pas le choix puis c'est ce qu'on a compris qu'on n'avait pas le choix pour le prochain terme, donc on est en mesure de les installer pour une période de quatre heures.
6309 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Maintenant, je sais quand RCN Média a comparu vendredi dernier, et on a discuté avec eux de la diffusion de vidéo-description des émissions Réseau, ils nous ont...
6310 Je pose la question parce que ça s'appliquerait également à vos stations locales, ils nous ont fait part de grandes difficultés techniques et qui va même d'impossibilité pour des petites entreprises de rencontrer les objectifs de diffusion de vidéo-description et à la fois à cause du transport de signal et en plus, des coûts prohibitifs des équipements nécessaires tant dans les régies centrales que vos équipements de transcription.
6311 Est-ce que... avez-vous regardé la question de la vidéo-description pour Trois-Rivières, par exemple?
6312 M. DION: Non, on n'est pas en mesure de répondre à cette question-là. J'hésitais si on devait amener Richard Baril, notre ingénieur, ce matin, on aurait peut-être dû.
6313 Je proposerais qu'on vous revienne avec ce détail-là, technique.
6314 CONSEILLER ARPIN: D'accord. Mais ça serait apprécié parce que ça va avoir de l'incidence aussi pour vos affiliés qui nous disent ne pas voir comment ils pourraient implanter de la vidéo-description même s'il y en avait à la tête de Réseau.
6315 Un autre enjeu de non-conformité que vous confirmez vous-même là, ça tourne autour du cinéma canadien. Le Conseil avait eu une attente de diffusion en version originale de langue française ou doublée de cinéma canadien et vous dites dans votre mémoire que, un, il y en a très peu et que le peu que vous pouvez accéder, c'est ceux que vous pouvez obtenir via votre filiale TVA Films.
6316 Or, pourquoi êtes-vous limité uniquement à utiliser des... C'est quoi la problématique du cinéma canadien pour un réseau comme TVA, d'une part, puis pourquoi est-ce que vous ne pouvez pas faire d'acquisition d'autres distributeurs que de TVA Films?
6317 M. DION: Martin.
6318 M. PICARD: Je sais que dans le début de notre licence, on avait plus l'occasion de le faire. On avait accès, comme vous le saviez, au crédit d'impôt provincial pour notre filiale de production dans laquelle 50 pour cent des sommes reçues pouvaient être réinvesties dans le cinéma québécois.
6319 Donc, maintenant, comme vous le savez, ce droit-là nous a été retiré et c'est évident que c'est d'autant plus difficile pour TVA d'acquérir des droits de licence maintenant sur des projets en raison de la difficulté de financement.
6320 CONSEILLER ARPIN: D'accord. Mais il se produit quand même du cinéma québécois bon an mal an et, évidemment, qui est distribué soit par Via Film, soit par Métropole ou Équinoxe et aussi TVA Films. Or, vous écrivez dans votre rapport que vous n'accédez qu'au long métrage à raison de un ou deux par année que de TVA Films.
6321 M. PICARD: On a acquéri aussi d'autres films. On pourrait vous amener, plus tard après l'audience, des exemples de films qu'on a achetés de d'autres distributeurs.
6322 Mais c'est évident que dans les contraintes de coûts actuels, de réussir à financer... le cinéma, pour nous, c'est en période de pointe, mais c'est des créneaux limités les week-ends, et investir massivement dans ce créneau-là, avec des coûts de licence très élevés, c'est impossible pour nous d'acquérir un volume très important.
6323 Donc, le cinéma américain, évidemment, est notre principale source, et on se concentre, pour les émissions canadiennes en heures de grande écoute, dans nos dramatiques, dans nos grandes variétés, et évidemment, on ne peut pas investir massivement dans chacun des genres, et c'est pour ça que, au niveau du cinéma, c'est plus limité. Des programmes comme le crédit d'impôt nous aidaient justement à financer notre cinéma, ce qu'on ne peut plus faire en date d'aujourd'hui.
6324 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Ce que je comprends de ce que vous nous dites, c'est que même quand vous voulez diffuser un film canadien, on vous demande une licence, alors que si vous voulez diffuser un film américain, on vous fait une transaction de location.
6325 M. DION : C'est-à-dire que, bon, naturellement, on est condamné toujours à notre fameux 30 pour cent de part de marché, donc, on veut les meilleurs films possibles.
6326 Je peux vous assurer qu'on ne fait pas de différence si le film vient de TVA Films ou de Alliance ou de Séville ou de Entertainment One ou de Équinoxe. On ne fait aucune différence. Sylvie Tremblay, aux acquisitions chez nous, elle essaie de mettre la main sur les meilleurs films possibles canadiens et américains.
6327 Par contre, oui, ce que Martin explique au niveau du crédit d'impôt, il arrive souvent que pour les films les plus populaires, on nous demande non seulement une licence, mais un investissement dans le film également, et le seul à pouvoir le faire présentement, c'est Radio-Canada, la SRC, qui a cette capacité-là.
6328 Et si, effectivement, on avait le crédit d'impôt provincial pour nos productions chez TVA Productions, on promettait de remettre 50 pour cent de ce crédit d'impôt là dans l'industrie québécoise du film, ce qui nous aurait permis à la fois de payer une licence, mais également de faire l'investissement.
6329 Donc, concrètement, ça va souvent arriver qu'ils nous demandent de payer une licence de 150 000 dollars, mais de faire un investissement additionnel de 200 000 dollars, et on n'a pas ce 200 000 dollars là à l'heure actuelle.
6330 Si on avait cette capacité-là, vous pouvez être certain, Monsieur le Vice-Président, qu'on pourrait acheter les meilleurs films ou en tout cas être plus en compétition avec Radio-Canada pour l'achat de ces films-là.
6331 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Maintenant, vous avez parlé du crédit d'impôt provincial. Je l'avais plus loin comme question parce que j'ai vu, quand même, qu'à la mi-février, on a publié dans les journaux une lettre de monsieur Péladeau à madame Forget et à madame St-Pierre concernant les crédits d'impôt.
6332 Cette question-là, elle est... dans toute la structure des émissions prioritaires, puis de la production indépendante, c'est une composante qui avantage les producteurs indépendants par rapport aux sociétés de production comme Productions TVA.
6333 Or, est-ce que vous anticipez des changements à la loi ou est-ce que c'est encore un combat qui se poursuit? Enfin, vous les avez eus pendant cinq ans. J'ai déjà fait partie de la négociation des cinq premières années, donc, je connais bien l'enjeu des crédits d'impôt et son importance. Mais où est-ce que vous en êtes de ce côté-là? Est-ce qu'il y a des opportunités?
6334 M. DION : Bien, je n'ai, malheureusement, pas de bonnes nouvelles. Vous savez, ça fait cinq ans que je suis là. Je ne compte plus le nombre de lettres et de présentations qu'on a dû faire aux différents ministres au cours de ces cinq dernières années là, et, malheureusement, je ne comprends pas qu'on ne saisisse pas que non seulement, nous aussi, on pourrait créer de l'emploi... vous le savez, je vous l'ai dit lundi passé.
6335 Nous aussi, on engage des concepteurs, des auteurs, des créateurs, lorsqu'on fait affaire avec TVA Productions, et en plus, on est prêt à reprendre 50 pour cent de cet argent-là pour le remettre dans une industrie qui a beaucoup de misère depuis les deux dernières années, c'est-à-dire l'industrie québécoise du film, où tout le monde se plaint qu'il n'y a pas assez de financement.
6336 Et voilà un diffuseur, un groupe média qui dit, je vais remettre 50 pour cent, et il y a quelque chose que je ne comprends pas, effectivement, dans ce refus-là. Je pense que vous partagez mon opinion à cet effet-là.
6337 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Bien, je l'ai déjà partagée dans une vie antérieure, en tout cas, et je suis demeuré la même personne.
6338 Finalement, le dernier état de non-conformité que vous soulevez, c'est la contribution de la station de Québec aux émissions de réseau, et où vous dites, oui, cette contribution-là, il y avait des attentes spécifiques de la part du Conseil à des émissions... pas uniquement à des productions qui émaneraient de Québec qui seraient présentées au réseau, mais aussi à des contributions plus spécifiques. Nommément, à l'époque, on parlait de J1, des segments de J1 qui auraient pu être produits par la station de Québec pour les fins du réseau.
6339 Vous dites dans l'Annexe 1 que c'est un engagement que vous n'avez pu tenir dans le passé, et je présume que ça serait un engagement que vous ne pourriez pas tenir dans le futur?
6340 M. DION : On n'est pas certain là de... vous dites qu'on ne peut plus tenir ou... peut-être juste nous relire le passage.
6341 CONSEILLER ARPIN : C'est ce que vous dites dans l'Annexe 1 là.
6342 M. DION : Bien peut-être, Monsieur le Vice-Président, je pourrais peut-être répondre parce qu'on a tous un consensus ici. On n'a pas de problème à continuer ce rôle-la que, entre autres, Québec, TVA Québec a contribué non seulement, comme on sait, à de la production locale pour diffusion locale, mais aussi Québec a joué un très beau rôle à faire de la production locale pour de la diffusion réseau.
6343 On a à penser, entre autres, à « Salut, Bonjour! Week-end », qui est produit à Québec. On a aussi l'émission de Paradis sur l'heure du midi.
6344 Et juste pour vous donner un exemple d'un changement qu'on a fait, qui, je pense, a satisfait tout le monde parce que ça l'a donné une portée encore plus grande à la ville de Québec, on a remplacé l'émission « La vie à Québec », qui avait 17 000 de cote d'écoute, par un 30 minutes supplémentaires de « Salut, Bonjour! Week-end », qui lui, naturellement, a un rayonnement de 400 000, 500 000 de cote d'écoute, au lieu de 17 000, et qui positionne Québec les fins de semaine de façon incroyable.
6345 Tout le monde... tous les téléspectateurs de TVA savent que « Salut, Bonjour! Week-end » est à Québec, avec des animateurs différents, et caetera, et caetera.
6346 Donc, on a une volonté d'entreprise lorsque naturellement la situation est là, lorsqu'on... il y a toute sorte de raisons, hein, les studios, le personnel, le type d'émission, est-ce que ça fait plus de sens de le faire à Montréal ou à Québec, et caetera. Mais on n'a pas philosophiquement de problème ou stratégiquement de problème à continuer dans cette direction-là quand le modèle d'affaires fait du sens.
6347 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Maintenant, si je prends, effectivement, votre engagement pour l'avenir de 18 heures d'émissions locales produites à Québec, quel type de contenus avez-vous envisagé, du moins à court terme là, parce que je comprends que ça peut changer dans le temps, mais quel type d'émissions qui émaneraient de Québec?
6348 Je comprends que ces 18 heures là, il y aurait, évidemment, les périodes de décrochage pour l'information locale. Mais si je me fie à ce que vous faites dans vos autres stations, on parle, encore là, de trois heures et quelques minutes par semaine, puis je présume que ce décrochage-là se fait à 18 h 00, je suppose? C'est 18 h 00, 18 h 30?
6349 M. FORTIN : Il se fait à 18 h 10.
6350 CONSEILLER ARPIN : À 18 h 10 pour 20 minutes à tous les soirs. Ça, c'est sept jours par semaine?
6351 M. FORTIN : Non, c'est du lundi au vendredi.
6352 CONSEILLER ARPIN : C'est du lundi au vendredi.
6353 M. FORTIN : La fin de semaine, la participation de la station de Québec se fait par le biais de « Salut, Bonjour » «, qui est réseau, et par le biais de reporters, équipe de reporters qui travaillent dans la région de Québec pour le bulletin réseau de 18 h 00 le samedi et le dimanche.
6354 Alors, le décrochage en soi est du lundi au vendredi à la période du midi, de midi 10 à midi 29 à peu près là -- il me manque peut-être une précision -- et à l'heure du souper de 18 h 10 à 18 h 30.
6355 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Donc, ça fait 40 minutes par jour, cinq jours par semaine?
6356 M. FORTIN : Oui. Plus les détachements locaux tous les matins du lundi au vendredi dans « Salut, Bonjour! »
6357 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Dans « Salut, Bonjour! »
6358 M. FORTIN : Oui, c'est ça.
6359 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Et puis de Québec plus spécifiquement, les 15 heures qui restent de Québec, c'est constitué de quoi?
6360 MME LAUZIÈRE : Bien, Pierre faisait référence à « Salut, Bonjour! Week-end », qui quand même occupe... c'est trois heures et demi de diffusion le samedi et le dimanche, donc, un fort pourcentage.
6361 « TVA en direct.com », on a Michel Jasmin. C'est une émission où on invite des artistes de la communauté artistique en entrevue.
6362 Évidemment, au-delà de la programmation qui se produit à Québec localement pour diffusion sur le réseau, il y a, évidemment, la volonté, parce que c'est au coeur de notre stratégie, qui est de donner une place de choix à toute la communauté dans toutes les régions du Québec via les émissions existantes produites à Montréal et qui sont vues, évidemment, sur le réseau.
6363 Je pense, par exemple, à « Salut, Bonjour! » semaine, où il y a eu des efforts déployés où on a fait une plateforme web interactive, où quotidiennement, les gens partout à travers le Québec peuvent échanger avec les équipes ou partager un petit peu, puisque c'est un magazine de service, partager ce qu'ils vivent dans chacune des régions pour qu'on puisse vraiment échanger entre les communautés.
6364 Puis à ça, je pourrais vous ajouter aussi les efforts sur une production qui est dirigée par la tête du réseau, « Star Académie » ou « La classe de 5e » ou « Occupation Double », où il y a des efforts de déplacement, où les gens, pour recruter les candidats, les participants ou pour faire des topos, ratissent le Québec dans son ensemble pour avoir des représentants, pour avoir une répercussion sur l'ensemble des citoyens du Québec.
6365 M. DION : Donc, si on résume, dans le fond, quels sont les engagements concrets et aussi stratégiques de TVA pour une ville comme Québec, TVA Québec?
6366 Si on le répète, on dit :
6367 - il y a de la production locale pour diffusion locale présentement;
6368 - il y a de la production locale pour de la diffusion réseau;
6369 - il y a de la production qui se fait aussi sur nos chaînes spécialisées, exemple, LCN, où un journaliste, comme j'avais mentionné la semaine passée, va faire des topos spécifiquement pour LCN;
6370 - il y a de la production de plus en plus qui va se faire pour les autres plateformes de diffusion, étant les nouveaux médias, le web, la mobilité, et caetera;
6371 - et en plus, il y a ce que France a décrit, c'est qu'il y a un rayonnement dans nos émissions sur les régions comme telles, donc, toutes nos émissions qui sont vues à l'ensemble du réseau.
6372 Et naturellement, je finirais en disant que c'est sûr qu'une station comme TVA, qui, on a le chiffre précis, qui a 88 pour cent de ses dépenses en émissions canadiennes, ne peut pas faire autrement qu'avoir un rayonnement pour l'ensemble des régions du Québec quand on a 88 pour cent.
6373 Donc, c'est un peu ce que les gens de TVA Québec vivent présentement à l'intérieur du Réseau TVA.
6374 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Maintenant, Québec a toujours été un centre majeur de production, historiquement du moins, et je sais que dans votre mémoire narratif, vous touchez à cette problématique-là en disant que ce sont des données historiques et que l'économie de la télévision généraliste fait en sorte que ces données historiques là n'ont plus leur raison d'être, et c'est un des motifs pourquoi vous demandiez une réduction de 21 à 12. Maintenant, vous nous dites que pour une licence d'une durée de trois ans, vous consentiriez à ce qu'elle soit de 18 heures semaine.
6375 Mais qu'est-ce qui fait que Québec n'est plus la... il y a quand même des producteurs indépendants à Québec qui, quand même, ne... des centres de production. Vous avez des studios, des facilités techniques. Il y a une colonie artistique qui est importante à la ville de Québec. Il y a le Théâtre du Trident. Il y a toute sorte d'activités très locales.
6376 Mais qu'est-ce qui fait que, aujourd'hui, vous demandez qu'on commence à ne plus regarder Québec dans sa vision historique, mais dans une vision même que vous qualifiez moderne?
6377 M. DION : Bien, je pourrais définir le plus moderne, puis ça va aussi être en lien avec ce que j'ai parlé la semaine passée.
6378 C'est qu'on veut, et ça, je veux bien le répéter... on ne veut pas réduire notre engagement dans la ville de Québec, au contraire, mais d'une façon différente, parce que vous le dites bien, dans les temps modernes.
6379 C'est-à-dire qu'on va probablement songer à faire de la production à Québec. En plus de la production locale, diffusion locale, production locale pour diffusion réseau sur le Réseau TVA qu'on vient de parler, on songe également à faire, sans nécessairement s'engager pour l'instant, mais on songe peut-être à regarder de la production pour nos chaînes spécialisées à Québec.
6380 Et naturellement, dans ce cas-ci, on fait plus que songer, on est en train aussi de faire de la production pour les autres plateformes de diffusion, notamment au niveau des nouvelles.
6381 Donc, pour nous, c'est d'avoir plus de flexibilité pour être capable de déployer nos ressources, pas seulement sur une chaîne linéaire, mais faisant face à la réalité du multiplateforme maintenant, on doit maximiser nos ressources sur l'ensemble des plateformes comme telles.
6382 Donc, c'est sûr que si vous prenez seulement une chaîne, oui, on demande un allègement de 21 à 18, mais c'est tout simplement pour avoir plus de flexibilité pour mieux utiliser ces ressources-là sur les autres engagements que nous, stratégiquement, on se donne pour répondre aux besoins du consommateur, aux nouvelles habitudes sur l'ensemble des plateformes, parce qu'il ne faut pas minimiser ce que Serge Fortin a à faire au niveau au niveau d'un déploiement de services d'information sur l'ensemble des plateformes.
6383 On veut être numéro un en télé conventionnelle, sur la chaîne spécialisée LCN, sur le web, sur la mobilité, aux 30 secondes. On dit à notre reporter lorsqu'il va aller couvrir un topo à une heure et demi, il faut que cette information-là soit sur le web 30 secondes après parce qu'il y a quelqu'un d'autre qui va le faire.
6384 Donc, vous voyez qu'au niveau des ressources, ça va être très engageant pour nous, donc, un stratégie multiplateformes.
6385 CONSEILLER ARPIN : J'ai fini le volet des conformités et tout, mais je veux attaquer le volet des retraits, et je ne toucherai pas à tout parce qu'on pourrait passer la journée. Vous en avez listé un nombre impressionnant de choses que vous voudriez que le Conseil abandonne comme objectif... comme activités réglementaires.
6386 Vous avez eu déjà un début d'amorce de discussion avec le président en réponse à une de ses questions, celle qui concernait les émissions prioritaires.
6387 Moi, ce que je veux savoir de vous, c'est quelles sont les caractéristiques du marché francophone qui font en sorte que Réseau TVA voudrait être libéré de tout engagement par rapport à des émissions prioritaires, compte tenu qu'il y a des engagements également de même nature qui sont demandés aux autres diffuseurs francophones et qui, eux, n'ont... en tout cas, parce qu'ils ne sont pas ici présents, ou même dans le passé, n'ont jamais demandé au Conseil d'être libéré de ces engagements-là?
6388 M. DION : Bien, possiblement parce qu'ils n'ont pas le même volume que nous non plus, et possiblement... je le sais pas, je ne veux pas parler pour eux.
6389 Mais comme j'ai dit tout à l'heure, moi, je pense que, un, on devrait regarder le marché du Québec de façon séparée parce que l'environnement est complètement différent du Canada anglais, et je pense que tout joueur qui serait prêt à s'engager sur un pourcentage des dépenses, comme on le fait, avec un historique comme TVA a, devrait pouvoir ne pas produire inutilement ces rapports-là et faire plutôt rapport au CRTC après une certaine période donnée, comme j'ai suggéré tout à l'heure, dans ce cas-ci la période de trois ans, et à ce moment-là, vous atteindriez les mêmes objectifs.
6390 Par rapport à la question de monsieur le président, vous auriez les mêmes objectifs, c'est-à-dire de s'assurer de notre engagement, et pour nous, bien, ça nous permet de se concentrer sur ce qu'on fait de mieux, c'est-à-dire la création et la production et la diffusion du contenu québécois.
6391 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Quel serait l'impact pour vous, compte tenu que les émissions prioritaires se qualifient au financement public du Fonds canadien de télévision et, jusqu'à avis contraire, devraient probablement maintenir la même place avec le Fonds des médias canadiens?
6392 Quel serait l'impact pour Groupe TVA de ne plus être assujetti à des engagements minimaux d'émissions prioritaires et que vous en auriez profité pour aller dans d'autres genres de programmes? Vous seriez, en d'autres mots, prêts à laisser tomber tout le financement qui vient par le biais des fonds?
6393 M. DION : Non, mais là, à ce moment-là, c'est évident qu'il va falloir regarder aussi comment le nouveau Fonds des médias va fonctionner. Donc, je pense que les critères ne sont pas établis. Mais nous, encore là, on va proposer que le Fonds des médias du Canada soit beaucoup plus flexible quant à la définition du contenu canadien, quant au co-financement de ces émissions-là et quant à l'exploitation du contenu canadien sur l'ensemble des plateformes.
6394 Donc, on espère bien que ce qui étaient les problèmes du Fonds canadien de la télévision avant, bien qu'on ne fasse pas seulement changer le nom d'un fonds et qu'on ait encore les mêmes contraintes qu'on avait avant. On espère que ce nouveau fonds-là va justement enlever toutes ces contraintes-là et enlever toutes les barrières qui existaient et laisser beaucoup plus la place à la création et au libre marché pour répondre aux besoins du consommateur.
6395 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Cependant, vous reconnaîtrez avec moi que la déclaration que le ministre a faite et l'affiche technique qui accompagnait sa déclaration ne laisse rien entendre de changement à cet égard?
6396 M. DION : Vous nous connaissez, on va continuer à dire le même discours aussi longtemps qu'on espère qu'il y aura des changements, mais ça serait très dommage qu'on reste dans un carcan au niveau du financement, comme ça été le cas dans les dernières années.
6397 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Or, si les règles n'étaient pas changées, ça aurait quelle incidence sur votre stratégie?
6398 M. DION : Bien, c'est-à-dire que... dans quel sens?
6399 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Bien, effectivement, les règles sont maintenues de financement d'émissions prioritaires, telles qu'elles sont définies présentement. Est-ce que...
6400 M. DION : Bien, à ce moment-là, on va devoir s'y conformer, c'est certain. Vous savez, on a toujours été un joueur qui quand même respectait les règles dans les dernières années. Même si on n'en est pas toujours d'accord, on va s'y conformer, mais on trouverait ça dommage dans un marché québécois, entre autres, de devoir se restreindre à la créativité.
6401 Oui, Martin.
6402 M. PICARD: Si je peux rajouter.
6403 Si on regarde notre moyenne d'heures prioritaires qu'on a, elle peut varier entre 8 et pratiquement 11.5 heures. Donc, on s'adapte, on fait des changements. Donc, notre programmation n'est pas statique, et on a fait, effectivement, dans les dernières années, des choix d'aller vers des émissions qui ne sont pas nécessairement prioritaires, mais où on a un potentiel d'exploitation de financement, de potentiel de génération de revenus de commandites, d'exploitation sur les plateformes, qui est important.
6404 Donc, souvent, le coût pour TVA est le même, que ça soit une émission financée par le Fonds canadien ou qu'elle ne le soit pas, mais par contre, les capacités ou le financement qu'on peut aller chercher de certains genres est beaucoup plus élevé. C'est pour ça qu'on a varié et qu'on n'a pas resté de façon statique et programmé toujours à un niveau de 11 ou 12 heures.
6405 On a varié, et ce qu'on aimerait, dans le fond, c'est avoir une flexibilité dans les genres pour faire les émissions qui sont canadiennes, qui touchent les Canadiens, mais qui ne sont pas nécessairement prioritaires au sens de la loi actuellement.
6406 C'est évident que les dramatiques et les variétés, ça demeure quelque chose qui est prioritaire pour TVA. On va continuer à en faire, et ce n'est pas parce que la règle est là actuellement que c'est la seule raison pour laquelle TVA produit ces émissions-là.
6407 On parle juste tantôt de la... au niveau de la production indépendante, la règle est 75 pour cent des émissions prioritaires produites. On en produit 94 pour cent avec la production indépendante. Donc, ce n'est pas la règle qui fait qu'on se limite à un 75 minimal, mais bien le fait que les producteurs indépendants ont de bonnes idées, et donc, on programme dans l'intérêt de notre public et non pas en fonction de la règle qui édictée.
6408 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Maintenant, vous préconisez qu'en lieu et place des heures prioritaires, on revienne à la réglementation qui avait été modifiée en 1999 et qui soit faite à partir d'un calcul sur les dépenses en émissions canadiennes. Or, dans votre mémoire et encore ce matin, vous avez parlé de 70 pour cent des dollars investis à la programmation.
6409 Mais dans le cas de la télévision spécialisée et payante, le Conseil a une autre formule qui est basée, elle, sur un pourcentage des revenus de l'année précédente. Quel serait le pourcentage que Réseau TVA serait prêt à accepter des revenus de l'année précédente?
6410 M. DION : On ne s'est pas penché sur la question des revenus. Nous, on préfère, surtout dans le contexte actuel, un pourcentage des dépenses en contenu canadien.
6411 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Maintenant, l'APFTQ, elle, vous a demandé... puis j'aimerais bien que vous réfléchissiez, puis peut-être nous donner une réponse. Elle, elle préconise que 12 pour cent des revenus de l'année précédente devrait être alloué à la production indépendante.
6412 Or, je ne sais pas si vous avez un commentaire, si vous avez regardez ça, parce que c'était quand même dans son intervention à l'APFTQ, ce 12 pour cent là.
6413 M. DION : On n'a pas... vous connaissez notre position face à la production indépendante. Je pense qu'on l'a bien exprimée ce matin. On a un engagement, je dirais, stratégique envers la production indépendante. On ne laissera jamais passer une bonne émission à la compétition. Donc, nous, on pense qu'il ne devrait pas avoir d'obligation comme telle. Donc, on ne s'est pas penché sur ce 12 pour cent non plus.
6414 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Maintenant, quand vous parlez des producteurs indépendants dans votre mémoire -- et vous en avez parlé, d'ailleurs, lundi abondamment -- vous avez deux modèles de fonctionnement.
6415 Dans vos modèles de fonctionnement, quand on touche... Le modèle un, si je le comprends bien, finalement, c'est un sous-traitant qui travaille, finalement, avec une de vos compagnies affiliées?
6416 M. DION : Le modèle...?
6417 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Productions TVA.
6418 M. DION : Oui.
6419 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Le modèle un...
6420 M. DION : O.K.
6421 CONSEILLER ARPIN : ...que vous décrivez là. Si je le comprends bien, c'est que le producteur devient... Est-ce que le producteur devient essentiellement un sous-traitant avec une entente à durée déterminée, et qui, effectivement, cède l'ensemble de ses droits? Puis ça, je veux dire, effectivement, ma préoccupation, on en a discuté un peu, c'est les crédits d'impôt du Québec. Vous n'y avez pas accès dans ce cas-là?
6422 M. DION : Non, on n'y a pas accès présentement.
6423 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Maintenant, dans le scénario numéro deux, quand vous parlez d'investissement de la part du producteur, est-ce que vous considérez que les crédits d'impôt qu'obtient le producteur font partie de son investissement ou si, quand vous parlez d'investissement, c'est des dollars supplémentaires que met le producteur lui-même ou est-ce que c'est son temps qu'il ne charge pas?
6424 M. PICARD : Oui. Donc, dans le fond, quand on parle d'investissement, dans le fond, on parle d'un différé d'honoraires. On ne parle pas nécessairement des crédits d'impôt.
6425 Crédits d'impôt, on a toujours considéré que ça servait à financer la production. D'ailleurs, le Fonds canadien nous demande d'inclure que 90 pour cent, à quoi on s'est toujours objecté en disant que les crédits d'impôt servaient à financer la production.
6426 Donc, on demande au producteur de prendre un risque avec nous sur la production et qu'on puisse avoir ensuite un partage des recettes d'exploitation sur d'autres plateformes ou sur une vente du format, par exemple, ou, bon, ce type d'élément-là.
6427 Donc, dans un cas comme ça, TVA, nous, nous amenons, bon, la notoriété au projet, bon, toute la mise en marché, qui fait en sorte qu'il y a des projets qui peuvent se vendre à l'extérieur. Donc, c'est l'apport de TVA, et on demande au producteur d'investir une partie de ses honoraires.
6428 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Maintenant, ma dernière ronde de questions va toucher votre réseau national. Vous en traitez vous-mêmes et vous demandez que le Conseil revoit, d'ailleurs, certaines de ses règles, notamment... parce que, actuellement, vous avez comme condition de diffuser au moins six événements spéciaux par année reflétant la réalité francophone hors Québec, condition que vous avez remplie par « Destination Nor'Ouest » dans les deux dernières années, je présume; d'inclure dans la programmation de TVA une émission hebdomadaire d'une durée de 30 minutes, ce que vous faites avec « Via TVA »; et de réinvestir 43 pour cent de l'excédent des revenus, ce qui égale à zéro dans ce que vous avez dit dans un de vos documents.
6429 Alors, vous demandez d'être libéré de chacune de ces conditions, et, en contrepartie, vous dites que vous allez mettre en place l'établissement d'un journaliste spécialisé dans les enjeux des francophones, qui agirait à la fois comme correspondant pour Réseau TVA, LCN et vos autres plateformes.
6430 En premier lieu, croyez-vous que les francophones hors Québec se reconnaissent dans la programmation de TVA actuellement?
6431 M. DION : Bien, je pourrais dire que je pense qu'en grande partie, oui. Même si on n'est plus au Québec, notre coeur demeure au Québec. Donc, avec le 88 pour cent de dépenses, j'ose imaginer que quelque part dans notre programmation, ils s'y retrouvent.
6432 Nous, ce qu'on dit, c'est que, premièrement, il faut savoir qu'on perd 800 000 dollars par année avec cette programmation... avec cette diffusion hors Québec là. Le fait que TVA est au niveau national, ça nous fait perdre, au net-net, 800 000 dollars par année.
6433 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Qui est un coût ou une perte d'opportunité ou quoi?
6434 M. DION : Qui est un coût... qui est une perte nette, donc, revenus. On a certains revenus qu'on génère, moins les dépenses, donc, les frais de transmission et autres. On a une perte nette de 800 000 dollars par année.
6435 Et on sait que BBM ne mesure pas notre portée et notre fréquence à l'extérieur du Québec. Donc, on n'a aucun avantage en revenus publicitaires de diffuser au national, sauf qu'on se dit que, comme antenne, on a, effectivement... on a peut-être moralement raison d'offrir ce service-là à l'ensemble des francophones qui ne sont pas au Québec.
6436 On s'est penché sur la question comment on pourrait mieux les servir au quotidien, ces francophones-là. Donc, sachant qu'on a déjà une perte nette de 800 000 et sachant que c'est la fin des avantages tangibles, on s'est dit, bien, à ce moment-là, on pourrait offrir, créer ce poste-là de journaliste dans l'Ouest -- et Serge peut vous en faire un peu la description -- qui fait qu'au quasi-quotidien, et c'est là l'avantage de notre proposition quand vous parlez de reflet, au quasi-quotidien, on pourrait, effectivement, être d'actualité pour ce qui se passe hors Québec pour les francophones au Québec et hors Québec qui écoutent nos différents bulletins de nouvelles.
6437 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Parce qu'une des raisons pour lesquelles je pose la question, c'est que, essentiellement, on a tenu, au mois de janvier dernier, une audience sur les services de radiodiffusion aux minorités de langues officielles, et la majorité des groupes de francophones hors Québec qui ont comparu devant nous nous ont dit que c'est TFO qui est la référence et non TVA pour les francophones hors Québec, et ils ont, d'ailleurs, plaider que TFO devrait être confirmée comme un service national hors Québec, statut qu'ils n'ont pas. Évidemment, TFO est aussi d'accord à obtenir ce statut national là.
6438 Or, la question fondamentale que je me pose, c'est : Est-ce que le Conseil devrait vous maintenir votre statut national en vertu de l'article 9(1)(h) de la Loi sur la radiodiffusion?
6439 M. DION : Bien, nous, on pense, avec notre proposition... avec le journaliste de l'Ouest, je pense qu'on peut donner une bonne représentativité de ce qui se passe à travers le Canada.
6440 Et encore là, on a tous des mandats différents. On est une entreprise privée. On n'essaie pas de jouer le rôle qu'un TFO peut jouer, et je ne pense pas que TFO est capable de jouer le rôle de TVA.
6441 Encore là, excusez-moi de donner des cotes d'écoute, mais lorsqu'il y a 2.8 millions de téléspectateurs qui écoutent « Star Académie », je pense que TVA doit avoir une portée et une fréquence qui ne peut même pas être proche d'être égalée par n'importe quel autre diffuseur au Québec ou ailleurs pour ce contenu francophone là, et on pourrait faire une liste longue d'émissions.
6442 Donc, je pense que l'entrée dans les foyers hors Québec est très, très, très importante pour l'ensemble de nos émissions comme telles. Mais en plus, on est prêt à faire cet investissement-là pour avoir une meilleure représentativité de ce qui se passe, exemple, dans ce cas-là, dans l'Ouest canadien.
6444 M. FORTIN : Monsieur Arpin, je pense que par le biais de l'information, puis si on regarde seulement nos rendez-vous en information à TVA, ce sont les vues les plus regardées. Alors, il est évident qu'en ayant des reporters à l'extérieur du Québec pour témoigner de cette réalité-là, que ce soit dans l'Ouest, en Ontario, il est clair que ce qui se passe ailleurs, les gens qui sont à l'extérieur du Québec vont être gagnants dans cette proposition-là.
6445 Je pense que c'est en témoignant au quotidien de ce qui se passe ailleurs sur TVA et sur nos chaînes spécialisées, et j'ajoute les autres plateformes, le web et tout, que cette représentation devient la plus efficace, et je pense que c'est une proposition qui est intéressante, qui doit être regardée, puis qui est gagnante aussi pour nous, parce que, évidemment, les Québécois aussi ont intérêt à savoir ce qui se passe d'ouest en est de leur pays.
6446 M. DION : Pendant qu'il y a des stations régionales qui se ferment, nous, on perd 800 000, on n'a aucun revenu BBM, mais on est prêt, en plus, à amener une journaliste dans l'Ouest canadien pour justement donner une plus belle représentation. Je pense que c'est un engagement qui est quand même notable.
6447 Peut-être juste revenir sur la question tout à l'heure des pourcentages de revenus. Vous devez comprendre que la raison qu'on ne s'est pas penché là-dessus, c'est parce que...
6448 LE PRÉSIDENT : On va traiter de tout ça en caméra.
6449 M. DION : O.K.
6450 LE PRÉSIDENT : Attendez à...
6451 M. DION : C'est beau.
6452 CONSEILLER ARPIN : O.K. C'était l'ensemble de mes questions, Monsieur le Président.
6453 THE CHAIRPERSON: Peter...?
6454 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Sure, thank you.
6455 I just have two quick questions for Mr. Dion on that.
6456 One is you have a single reporter for all regions west of Ontario; is that correct?
6457 MR. FORTIN: At this moment we don't. That is what we are proposing.
6458 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, I understand.
6459 And on the cost of -- you talked about the burden of the priority programming reporting. Do you have a cost on that? What I am trying to get at is I understand that from your position it is irritating but is there an actual financial cost to it?
6460 M. RENAUD : Non, on n'a pas ces éléments-là, ces chiffres-là. Ce n'est pas quelque chose qu'on comptabilise là, le coût administratif relié à ça. Mais, de par mon expérience à TVA depuis six ans, je sais qu'il y a beaucoup de personnes qui travaillent sur ces éléments-là, et on ne pense pas que c'est une valeur ajoutée qu'on veut, à faire ce travail-là.
6461 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Well if you do have a number on it, it would be helpful to me. Anyway, thank you.
6462 Mr. Nelles, I am trying to go through this quickly. Where we left off when we last spoke I was asking you about LPIF and just to have some input from your company on how you think it should be constructed and you were going to get back to us on that.
6463 MR. NELLES: I am pleased to do so, Commissioner, and good morning. It is a complicated issue, especially, as I indicated last week, for a stand-alone station.
6464 The LPIF is something that, as we noted, we currently don't qualify for and we don't qualify for funds from the Canadian Television Fund either. I have discussed this at some length with our General Manager of Programming, Don Gaudet, and I think Don might like to chime in on it.
6465 MR. GAUDET: Thank you. At this point we haven't done the complete calculation. We know what our portion is for our stand-on local programming in Toronto but we don't have the aggregate for the city in order to figure what the calculation would be for us.
6466 Unfortunately, by the discussions from the other broadcasters last week, it doesn't appear to us that the Local Programming Improvement Fund is something that would be available to a major market station. Certainly, we would welcome it if we could be part of that.
6467 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. And we didn't have any input from you on the terms of trade issue. I just wanted to know what we were to make of that.
6468 MR. NELLES: Our position on terms of trade is the TVA position that we should be able to negotiate with independent producers as well.
6469 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thank you.
6470 Could you explain the news opportunity you see ahead? In your application you talked about having the flexibility to provide news programming. Can you just explain that? What do you have in mind? I understand you mentioned in the presentation that other news programming, in your view, is in decline. So where do you see SUN TV playing a role in that?
6471 MR. NELLES: I will make one comment and then go on to our specific ideas.
6472 News programming may be in decline, as others have commented over the last number of weeks. Year ago I used to sell as a salesperson in the largest English-language newscast in the country, in BCTV's news. It was wonderful. It was 600,000 people every evening and they all tuned in.
6473 I am not sure all those news-interested parties have disappeared. I think that they have simply moved off into other time periods and I think, as others have commented before, the opportunity to look at other time periods to broadcast news to be relevant to our various communities is not an effort so much as to high-tail it from 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.
6474 It is really an effort to try and make a connection with people but may very well be based on their own life patterns, looking for news on demand. I have never done the exercise but it may very well be that those 20 ratings are just popping up as 1s and 2s and maybe for some of the larger stations as 3s or 4s but they are still all there. In fact, there may even be more interest in news these days.
6475 With respect to SUN TV, as we discussed last week, we didn't have a program category that allowed us to cover news. We did have public affairs and do have public affairs. And as, I think, some have commented at this hearing, a dialogue on public affairs can wander into news.
6476 The ability to have actualities to do news programming may very well complement the public affairs component of what we do, so that on "Canoe Live," which is a bit of a beta program that we have in terms of a daily news program today or public affairs program, the ability to access news perhaps from some of our sister companies and so on would simply give us an opportunity to torque up existing broadcasts to give a little bit more in the way of content and actualities to those broadcasts.
6477 So it is really just an effort to enhance a broadcast.
6478 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: You are not talking about adding a news program, you are talking about adding news to your current programming, in essence?
6479 MR. NELLES: That is correct. I mean we will be guided by the responsiveness of our audiences and by the wisdom of the Commission in giving us this request but we would like that flexibility to be able to adapt.
6480 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, I understand that.
6481 You also have a request regarding ethnic programming?
6482 MR. NELLES: Yes.
6483 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Explain that. I mean you said that obviously in Toronto somebody who is not serving all audiences is underserving but why the request? This was part of the original reason for the station, right?
6484 MR. NELLES: Yes, really our request in terms of ethnic programming, to go back, was, I believe, about 20 percent of the public affairs broadcast per day and also with respect to local producers, and Don can give you more specifics on that.
6485 We would like the flexibility -- and I know that term has come up a great deal in the last number of days -- but we would like the flexibility because there may be certain days of the week where "Canoe Live" or son of "Canoe Live," daughter of "Canoe Live," would like to specialize on an issue for the entire broadcast that confronted some aspect of ethnicity in Toronto.
6486 Right now it is 20 percent of each newscast on -- I believe it is a daily test -- a weekly test. To arrive at the end of the year and be able to be questioned on what our monthly test was or our annual test was is something that we would have no difficulty committing to but we do feel that is limiting in the current regiment because it just makes the broadcast too tight.
6487 It is flexibility but we certainly would not shrink from, as I said in my opening remarks, from the ability to simply reflect the city within which we all live.
6488 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: How much looking for flexibility to -- all of this is within the context of what is articulated to us as a struggling conventional sector. So if you get this additional flexibility on news, additional flexibility on ethnic broadcasting, how much difference do you estimate that makes to you financially?
6489 MR. NELLES: It is a difficult question. The largest dollars have tended to go for many of our foreign acquired programming but by connecting in an evermore pervasive way to the community we are able to encourage local advertisers to come in and participate.
6490 Certainly in my time at Sun TV there was a time when we couldn't get any local advertisers to advertise on our station because they just -- much as they might have liked the station they just weren't sure we would be there another month.
6491 We are long past that and they have come back. They will come back in greater numbers, and as we develop our relationships with those advertisers and supporters then I think it will tend to feed on itself.
6492 I don't want to suggest for any second that it's going to be rivalling perhaps some of the higher profile programs but it will be a more strengthened broadcast with the community. And our position in Toronto through increasing relevancy will allow people to say or ask people to say, "Did you see that on Sun TV tonight? You may want to" --
6493 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. If you do have the opportunity with any of these things to actually give us, you know, even something ballpark-ish it's helpful, because essentially what you are asking for is increased flexibility in order to be a more effective broadcaster.
6494 MR. NELLIS: Yes.
6495 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And the best way, at least from my perspective, to measure whether you are a better -- a more effective broadcaster or not is to see how it impacts -- especially one that is not profitable, is to see how that would improve the profitability of the company, if you get my drift.
6496 The next point I want to touch on is coverage of Hamilton. In the original licence, again, Hamilton and enhanced coverage to Hamilton was pitched and was among the reasons for granting the licence for this franchise in the first place. I would just like to see -- I haven't seen anything mentioned about it and I want to know if you have been doing that and if you still see it as part of the raison d'être for this licence.
6497 MR. NELLIS: It very much is so, Commissioner. Over the course of our term I think we spent -- and Don can put a little more fine point on it -- but we have spent over $400,000 with independent producers.
6498 Hamilton is an important component of the Toronto Hamilton market. We have a transmitter in Stoney Creek. We don't have a station in Hamilton there. So in that sense we are much like some of the other Toronto stations. With that said, we have to recognize the various components of our community and Hamilton is a key component of that.
6499 Don, do you want to highlight a little bit more?
6500 MR. GAUDET: Yes. Just to clarify, as Jim said, we aren't a Hamilton station obviously. We made a commitment when we took over the station to reflect Hamilton in our programming and to spend some of our funds -- benefit funds in Hamilton, which we have done. I have laid out -- in our supplementary brief we have laid out a lot of the accomplishments that we have made there and also in our response to deficiency. I can certainly read through some of it, if you would like, at this point.
6501 But just one example is on our Grill Room, which is our sports talk show. If we are talking about CFL issues it's just as likely that we would have the General Manager of the Tiecats on as the General Manager of the Argos.
6502 That type of stuff is integrated through all the programming that we do. We cover events in that area and, as Jim said, we spent over $400,000 of our independent production fund with producers producing programming in Hamilton.
6503 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. And my next point is on a compliance issue. In your brief you indicated your belief that you were completely compliant with all conditions of licence.
6504 There is a difference of opinion on that regarding -- there isn't an issue regarding local programming. But regarding Canadian content measurements the differences are small, but I need an explanation on that in terms of -- I believe you are aware of, I think, through various ears being with basically -- let's look at this.
6505 Canadian programming, this is going back '04-'05, 59.26 percent instead of 60; 48.06 instead of 50 in the evening, and closed captioning 89.57 instead of 90 during the broadcast day; zero on news. And there is some others that I believe you have the data on as well that you have been written to about.
6506 I just want to know where the difference of opinion is and what you have done about that regarding the Canadian content requirements in the evening and overall.
6507 MR. NELLIS: Commissioner, I will ask Don to comment on that, please.
6508 MR. GAUDET: Yes, I have the information in front of me. And we have been going back and forth with Commission staff on this particular issue. Specifically with regards to the '04-'05 season, we didn't take control of the station until December of 2004. Prior to that, unfortunately the station was out of compliance. So we have no way to go back and fix an issue that we weren't part of.
6509 That said, since then we have been compliant. And our records, which I can provide you with, do show that. There seems to be a discrepancy in the logging that the Commission sources and our logs that we submit, or the program that they use.
6510 For instance, each year it shows that we weren't in compliance with 100 percent of closed captioning on news. However, as of June of 2005 we haven't had news on the station. So there is nothing in the Category 1 even on the station but yet it's showing up in the report. So we are trying to get this fixed.
6511 And we also have some issues with "C" numbers that we hadn't received and we have gone back to the producers to get those. So we have been correcting the errors and resubmitting our logs. And we haven't had a report since February and we have resubmitted all our logs.
6512 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. So when do you hope to have this cleared up?
6513 MR. GAUDET: As I say, it's ongoing. We have sent all of our logs back to the Commission and we are waiting to hear -- get another report back.
6514 And the question on the percentage of closed captioning I'm not quite sure what --
6515 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes.
6516 MR. GAUDET: -- the issue is there.
6517 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: No, I understand that. These are matters that just in renewal of licence just --
6518 MR. GAUDET: Of course.
6519 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- are best tidied up so that everyone can go forward. These are not -- I understand that the percentages we are talking about are very thin, but this is what regulators do.
6520 MR. GAUDET: No, we do take the commitment very seriously and we monitor it on a monthly, quarterly, annual basis. So as I say, we can show you the reports that we have internally where we track all of this and why we are going back and forth on it.
6521 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. One of the other original parts of the pitch for this licence was aboriginal programming. And I know you have been doing, I believe, a program called Sharing Circle and that sort of stuff. I am not sure where that's at in your future and what your commitments and thoughts are in that area.
6522 MR. NELLIS: I will just comment very briefly and then share sentiments with Don.
6523 Sharing Circle was a Craig broadcasting program that they had in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary and perhaps Brandon -- I'm not sure -- and that they agreed to distribute on Toronto One when they were licensed. It wasn't a Toronto One production. I will defer to Don but I think the obligation part of Toronto One was to continue with the carriage of that program. I believe the program went over to CHUM at the time of the acquisition of the Craig stations.
6524 Don, do you want to add any further comment on that?
6525 MR. GAUDET: Yes, that particular program, Sharing Circle, did move over to the CHUM stations and was actually shown on Barrie, A-Channel and Barrie up until last year. I don't know if it's still in production. I haven't seen it on their schedule.
6526 What we have done in order to reach the aboriginal community is taken more of a production approach. We have run several series that we helped finance through our funds as well as other productions and straight acquisitions of music specials; comedy, all featuring aboriginals but in an urban setting.
6527 We have worked closely with APTN over the past four years on sharing windows of licences for programming. And, of course, part of the original expectation was to have an aboriginal reporter. But we don't do news so that isn't the case.
6528 We will continue to follow this route, I think, is the way we go, going forward; is to produce programming that is of interest to the aboriginal community but not a weekly news magazine program.
6529 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. That's a commitment -- okay, I'm not quite sure where that goes but let me just actually put that in the context of the broader question.
6530 This licence was issued originally not to you but to Toronto One based on serving a number of -- by the CRTC based on its understanding that it was going to serve a number of underserved audiences that weren't served by other conventional OTA broadcasters. And that's where we have just been in terms of ethnic programming in terms of not directly competing in news but doing more local reflection in terms of that, in terms of the aboriginal community; all of those things which gave it a distinctive niche that had been perceived and, I guess, accepted by the CRTC that was there to be served.
6531 It turns out that was maybe wrong because that project didn't -- not to licence it and it wasn't wrong to try, and I don't think it was wrong to licence it, but it turns out that the markets and the niches that were presented weren't viable enough to build the audiences required to make this a viable, commercial operation.
6532 I need your response to this because what's in front of us is essentially a reshaping of the station from one that was serving underserved audiences and niches within the overall Toronto market into one that is a relatively generic, additional conventional OTA broadcaster in the Toronto market.
6533 And I'm not sure if somebody came forward -- I mean we would have to consider that, I suppose, if somebody made that application today. But I mean does Toronto really need another generic conventional station and, if so, wouldn't that be better dealt with as a new application for that sort of station rather than flipping this original project into one because the opportunities that were perceived weren't there?
6534 MR. NELLIS: Commissioner, it is a very good question. I would say -- I was on another team back in December of 2001, I believe, and I think what we may be witnessing is just an adjustment to a new reality. There is no effort on our part to shirk from responsibility. We took it upon -- have taken it upon ourselves shortly after I got there -- to ensure that we had an advisory board that was in place that was very much representative of a broad section of Toronto. Those men and women continue to advise us.
6535 I think as we move ahead into -- as I say, should in the Commission's wisdom we be granted some ability to do news, I think you will see their input and their expertise to be even more helpful to us as we drill down into the growing community of Greater Toronto. I was in multicultural television back in the nineties. It's very different today than it was then. Some groups are growing, some groups are shrinking. All of them come together in the totality of Toronto.
6536 I would say, just in terms of magnitude of the market of our station and where we stand and, yes, we have used the word struggling and so on, but we have made a great deal of progress of the conventional stations, or what we call the local are what we believe to be our peer competitors. We are probably about number eight in the market, in the Toronto-Hamilton market. So somebody out there in the PBM verified audience believes that we are making progress; that we are connecting to our communities.
6537 If I was to compare that, something that's not often done -- if I was to compare that to all the digital services, the 74 digital services in Toronto that come into the Toronto/Hamilton market and distributed by various BDUs, we have 91 percent of the combined weekly reach of every one of those services.
6538 There was some discussion last week of value. I think it had more to do with carriage fees and so on, but what's the value?
6539 Well, for the most part each one of those services has a nominal value. We are free over-the-air television. We sell spots for money and hopefully connect audiences with relevant time periods and relevant programs and their own individual needs, tastes and preferences.
6540 We are obviously making progress in the Toronto-Hamilton market. We see it in terms of applications from people who want to come and work for us. A few years ago you couldn't -- it was very difficult to get anybody. They got me but it was certainly challenging.
6541 That's not an issue any longer. We posted for a couple of positions recently and had in the space of a week over 100 applications of people that wanted to work, dare I say all ethnicities.
6542 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, but --
6543 MR. NELLIS: So our relevancy in the community is growing. I think that if there was -- and not to cut you off, but if there was a sense on the Commission's part that maybe it had been -- that the application wasn't relevant, that the station wasn't relevant in the Toronto market, certainly from where I sit we are making --
6544 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I understand that you want to. But, I mean, just as a final point if this was an entirely free market system you would be struggling and it wouldn't be our business and you would go by. But usually when we licence in areas that are already fully served in an area like a generic OTA provider, people have to carve out a niche for themselves. And there seem to be some redeeming social value to that usually when that's done.
6545 And I don't see in the movement of these requests -- I don't see where the redeeming social value is of the project. I see it as a commercial enterprise and a relatively entrepreneurial one, and that's fine.
6546 But to go back to my original question, why wouldn't this just be an application, a new application for a new generic OTA in the Toronto area?
6547 MR. GAUDET: If I may make a point, we are probably the only local broadcaster left in Toronto. You know, Citytv is now producing programming across the country; obviously CTV, Global. We just as of last week announced that we will be doing a half-hour Argos show every week throughout the season, which will be a roundtable discussion about, you know, the football team.
6548 So we are doing stuff in the community. I think the original licence that the Craigs got was basically for a multi-station broadcaster, to form a multi-station group, and they had the synergies of having stations in Manitoba and Alberta at the time. Sharing Circle which we just spoke about was actually produced in Winnipeg, has been produced for 20 years in Winnipeg. They migrated it to Alberta when they moved in there and they migrated it to Toronto. But it's always been a Winnipeg-based production, not a local program in each market.
6549 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thank you.
6550 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I think we will take a 10-minute break now and then we will move into in camera.
6551 Thank you.
--- Suspension à 1048 pour reprendre à huis clos à 1100
--- Reprise à 1337
6552 LA SECRÉTAIRE : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît. Order, please.
6553 LE PRÉSIDENT : Madame, commençons.
6554 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci, Monsieur le Président.
6555 We will now proceed with the interveners' presentations as listed in the agenda.
6556 For the record, please note that the intervener Conseil de la Culture de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue will not be appearing today and may be rescheduled to later this week.
6557 I would now invite Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation to make its presentation. Appearing for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation is Ms Linda Eagen. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation.
6558 MS EAGEN: Good afternoon.
6559 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon.
6560 MS EAGEN: Thank you very much for providing me with this unique opportunity. You have I think in front of you a document that I will refer to here and there. But I just thought I would capture the key points for you, and then if you had any questions and require clarification, I would be happy to do that at the allotted 10-minute timeslot.
6561 The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, like a number of organizations in our communities, are critical to our well-being as individuals because they are addressing gaps, gaps that are not being addressed by government or private care providers.
6562 In the case of cancer, and I can speak to that because it is such a passionate and close-to-home cause for me, the incidence of cancer right now is such that one person in three will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime and that incidence is on the rise.
6563 And so you have the gaps listed in the document that we are trying to address as an organization as this need grows in our community. We are trying to address wait times, close-to-home care, access to new therapies and improve quality of life.
6564 Now, I know that you can imagine that I could speak for a very very long time about those needs. I just wanted to put them on the table so that you realize how critical a partnership with our A Ottawa and CTV are for the realization of these objectives.
6565 Through their leadership and through the work that they do, we are able to raise awareness for those needs, to help change behaviours so that people can prevent cancer, and we are also able to raise the resources that are going to be funding those four critical pillars.
6566 I want to point to a few examples specifically locally. Both CTV and A have been very active in the fight for cancer survivorship. A, for the last 12 years, has been helping us with our most significant fundraising and recognition initiative, which is our telethon, and that has raised over $50 million over the years. And you can imagine what impact that has had on those four needs that we have identified.
6567 The A team continues to be an active participant in another very significant event, and hopefully you have head of it, it is the Weekend to End Breast Cancer. And through that event we have raised $7 million in the last three years. And coming upon the fourth year, we are very fortunate to have the visibility and the attention of people in our community, thanks to what the A, the Pink Army Team, is doing from a leadership perspective and also a communications perspective.
6568 The funds that we raise through these initiatives are often more significant than the actual number that I have quoted to you this afternoon, because another part of what we are able to do is partner with granting agencies across Canada.
6569 For instance, we have through one of our telethons raised $40,000 some 10 years ago for research being conducted by Dr. John Bell who is a world leader in cancer-killing viruses. And we have been able to attract several million dollars to this community thanks to the telethon and thanks to the awareness that it has raised.
6570 Another thing that is important for us as a community is to realize the shift in attitude that is required with respect to cancer. Cancer is no longer a death sentence and we need to really turn our attention to survivorship. And CTV, through the wonderful leadership of Mr. Max Keeping, has helped us a foundation do that in our community.
6571 Every year we close down the main street in Ottawa and host an event that is orchestrated through CTV, drawing attention to survivorship, it is called "Dancing in the Streets." Twelve thousand or so people participate every year and so, again, can't tell you how important it is to have that team on board. There is no way we could get that message out there so strongly and help people start to feel empowered with respect to cancer and take action in terms of preventing it.
6572 I could point to a few more examples, if that is useful. Hopefully, most of you will gather the importance that we place on our partnership with CTV and A Ottawa. I speak on behalf of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, very dedicated in making a difference to the fight for cancer survivorship.
6573 But I know that there are colleagues right across this community that work for a number of other organizations who simply would say the same thing I say right now, we could not survive as organizations without the help of these two media partners.
6574 Thank you.
6575 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6576 I have to ask you this question, and please don't think I am unsympathetic. Like Mr. Keeping, I am a prostate cancer survivor, so I appreciate the problems and the severity of it. But why does it have to be over-the-air? Why if Ottawa, for instance, has a community channel, why couldn't you generate the same support through the local Rogers community channel?
6577 MS EAGEN: Well, definitely it takes a number of vehicles to reach out to the community. With A and CTV, the leadership that they show in our community. It is not only in what they are doing in terms of allowing us to reach out by providing a communications vehicle, it is the people on the team that participate.
6578 We have people from CTV and A both that are on our board that are involved in our campaigns, that are lending their expertise to try and mobilize others. So it is about the stations, yes, but it is about the people that are there and the big difference they are making for us.
6579 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
6581 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I just want to thank you for appearing here today, and I am sure CTV and the A Channel equally are appreciative of you coming here as well.
6582 As I mentioned last week when Mr. Fecan and the entire CTV and A Channel teams were here, we have gotten hundreds and hundreds of support for CTV and the A Channel, which is simply a recognition of the work they have done in the community. And not just in the Ottawa community, but across the country and staying close to all Canadians from various walks of life and supporting those people that just can't make it on their own.
6583 So thank you very much for coming here today.
6584 MS EAGEN: It is a pleasure, thank you.
6585 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think your presentation speaks for itself. I don't have anymore question for you. Thank you for coming.
6586 MS EAGEN: Okay, merci beaucoup.
6587 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, Madam Roy, who is the --
6588 THE SECRETARY: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair.
6589 I would now ask Toronto Somali Television & Radio, Goldspin Productions and Rompost TV to come forward to the presentation table.
6590 Thank you.
6591 We will start with Toronto Somali Television & Radio. Please introduce yourself for the record, and you have 10 minutes to make your presentation.
6592 MR. DAHIR: Merci.
6593 Good afternoon, Mr. Chair, and members of the Canadian Radio and Television Commission. Thank you very much for inviting me today for this important presentation.
6594 My name is Mohammed Dahir, I am the Producer of Muuqaalka Soomaalida, a Somali-language TV program airing on OMNI TV in Ontario and Alberta, as well as a Somalia radio show on CHIN Radio.
6595 I have been producing community programs in Toronto since 1993 and I am proud to say that my program was the first such TV production outside of Somalia. Even the BBC only produces radio shows, not television, in the Somali language.
6596 Recently, I produced an award-winning documentary called Leopards in the Snow that focused on the diverse Somali diaspora living in Canada. For this production I interviewed members of the community in many different parts of Canada.
6597 Since the last 15 years the Somali community in Canada has grown rapidly to become the third largest Somali community outside of Somalia. It is important to note that many have come to Canada in the last 15 years as refugees fleeing the political and economic hardships in Somalia.
6598 With such high numbers in Canada comes the need for news and information in their own language of comfort. Keeping in mind the negative stereotypes associated with Somalia these days, the community craves positive news about their own culture and language. Parents and children look for positive role models that can provide inspiration to the growing Somali generations in this country.
6599 Since the launch of Muuqaalka Soomaalida TV on OMNI 2 in 2002 we have been successful in informing Somalia-Canadians about the importance of Somali culture and history. Through the launch of OMNI in Alberta our program continues to import news and information that in many ways provides an important sense of unity across the community.
6600 From Edmonton I got a call from a Somali woman named Fatima who feels concerned about her son lacking good role models and falling in bad habits. She is worried that in Edmonton the dropout rate in school among Somali youth is huge. Sensing the urgency in her voice, we produced youth segments that provided useful information and support for at risk youth in the community.
6601 Muuqaalka Soomaalida continues to engage the Somali community and law enforcement agencies in Canada in bridging the gap of mistrust that in many ways hinders the growth of the community.
6602 Since 2006 the Muuqaalka Soomaalida TV program has also been airing simultaneously on the internet, thereby providing a global audience for the Somali-Canadian production.
6603 As a producer, I regularly receive emails and phone calls from members of the Somali communities in several parts of Canada and across the globe who appreciate our program and thank only for proving such a platform.
6604 The Somali community in Canada continues to develop skills that will help them gain access to the culture industries in Canada. OMNI TV provides an important and viable access via television as we perform our daily work within the community in building a successful TV program.
6605 Therefore, members of the Commission, Somali TV and Radio fully supports the licence renewal for OMNI Television. The Somali community across Canada believes in OMNI TV as being a genuine supporter for the community as they continue to put forth great effort and commitment in ensuring the success of all multilingual and multicultural programs.
6606 Members of the Commission, I thank you very much for giving me this opportunity.
6607 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, sir, for your presentation.
6608 We will now proceed with Goldspin Productions. Please introduce yourself for the record, and you have 10 minutes.
6609 MS SHU: Mr. Chairman and Members of the Commission, good afternoon.
6610 My name is Irene Shu and my information this afternoon is an extension of my written submission to the Commission last month in support of Rogers OMNI Television.
6611 I speak from the perspective of an independent producer for the third-language programs. In my capacity of work I am closely associated with most of the leading organizations in the Chinese community across the country. And I can speak with confidence that the viewers of OMNI Television's multilingual services, are very appreciative of their programs, of their coverage of events and happenings locally, regionally and nationally.
6612 And for the many new immigrants from China, especially those whose command of the English or the French language is not quite there, at the level for them to comprehend a program in English or in French, OMNI offers them a lifeline to information about Canada and about the world. OMNI also gives them the opportunity to be connected to the community they live in.
6613 Now, many of these immigrants have asked for more programs and many of them expressed the need to have a choice of accessing programs that will educate them, that will inform them, that will entertain them in a language that they are comfortable with.
6614 And they also ask why do they have to pay to specialty TV? Because, as new immigrants, their income is meagre and they can barely cover the basic necessities of everyday life. To subscribe to a specialty channel is a luxury they can ill afford.
6615 Therefore, I besiege the Commission to consider removing the programming cap on OMNI Television's Chinese-language programs, because OMNI offers the only free over-the-air broadcast that gives them Cantonese and Mandarin programs.
6616 Now, on a different front, also speaking as an independent producer, I want to emphasize the importance and the necessity of a multilingual service, especially like Rogers OMNI Television in their capacity to recognize and to provide opportunities to the otherwise unknown talents who hardly stand a chance of productivity or of recognition in the mainstream marketplace.
6617 I will tell you my personal experience. In November of 2004 I submitted a proposal to OMNI Television to do a first-ever Canada-China television co-production of a drama series. It was to be produced in Mandarin with English subtitles so that it would cater to the market both in China and in Canada.
6618 The objective of such a proposal is to promote and enhance cultural exchange. It was an unusual initiative, it was an attempt to chart a new course in television history. And if I had taken that to the mainstream networks or even to some government agencies my proposal would have been rejected outright. But the executive committee at OMNI Television they saw some merit in this proposal. Not only did they provide funding, they also provided all kinds of support that a producer can ask for.
6619 Now, in March of 2006 the co-production was into 14 months, the pre-preparation was all done and then Telefilm came along and said, no, the Canada-China film co-production agreement which was signed in 1987 did not include television co-production, which meant that a television co-production with China was out of the question because Téléfilm said they had no jurisdiction to issue a co-pro permit in the absence of a signed international agreement.
6620 So I had to re-navigate the international co-pro into a domestic Canadian production at that point, but we were also incorporated with the joint effort from a Chinese film studio, and OMNI could have pulled out there but they didn't.
6621 The long and short of it is after three years of work a Canadian production of a 20-episode drama series called "Once Upon a Time in Toronto" was completed and OMNI 2 will air the first two episodes on October 17.
6622 What is significant is this series is also being planned to air at about the same time in China by Eastern Satellite Network to a viewership of about 250 to 300 million people, and I think that is an unprecedented, ground-breaking achievement. Just imagine, a Canadian television product is being brought into the living rooms of about 300 million people in China.
6623 This series is a prime example of international cultural exchange. It showcases Toronto as a city of many races and countless cultures. It reinforces the richness and the vitality of Canadian diversity which is the cornerstone of Canadian citizenship. At the same time, this series also exults traditional Chinese value of family bonds and filial devotions.
6624 The theme of it is love, love in its many manifestations. And despite the absence of nudity, sex, violence and course language, all of which are the common ingredient of our contemporary productions, our series is clean and, yet, it offers a moving story that depicts human strength and frailty and has a universal appeal to all the viewers regardless of where they live and what languages they speak.
6625 Now, with the funding of this series not only has OMNI fulfilled its requirement of effectively reflecting Canadian cultural and linguistic diversity as mandated by CRTC's ethnic broadcasting policy for third-language programming, it has also invested into innovative programming that is an unprecedented first in the history of Canadian television.
6626 And I would also add, in today's world no country is an island, especially in the field of media and communications. OMNI Television has taken the step forward into international cross-cultural interchange and they have made inroads in to China's television market. I think it is commendable that the leadership at OMNI Television have brought their vision and their energy to encompass a much wider horizon, which is very much needed for the future of the Canadian television industry.
6627 Thank you.
6628 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you very much for your presentations. Do we have a third one?
6629 THE SECRETARY: We have a third presenter, Mr. Chair, and he will be appearing via video conference, so we would need two minutes to set it up please.
6630 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Let's take a two-minute break.
--- Suspension à 1401
--- Reprise à 1403
6631 MS SUVAGAU: Hi, good afternoon.
6632 Yes, my name is Adelina Suvagau.
6633 THE CHAIRPERSON: Welcome. Go ahead. You've got 10 minutes.
6634 MS SUVAGAU: Thank you.
6635 So, my name is Adelina Suvagau and I'm an independent television producer of the Romanian television show called Rompost TV.
6636 I also act as a co-chair for the communication department of Documentary Organization of Canada, B.C. chapter.
6637 For the past five years I was producing the first local Romanian television production in Vancouver, first for Channel M, Mytv Television, and for the past year for OMNI B.C.
6638 Romanian population in Vancouver lower mainland estimates around 20,000 people and only B.C. has a multicultural TV station maintains the cultural diversity, serves local communities and supports Canadian programming featuring Vancouver multicultural society on a local level.
6639 The growth of the multi-lingual audience in Vancouver is severely influenced by OMNI B.C., OMNI Television generally talking, with its own programming in 22 different languages.
6640 Without a multicultural TV station in Vancouver such as OMNI B.C., Romanians and other...
6641 THE CHAIRPERSON: You're back on.
6642 MS SUVAGAU: Yes.
6643 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Please, continue.
6644 MS SUVAGAU: Okay, thank you.
6645 So, I was saying, without a multicultural TV station such as OMNI B.C., Romanians and other ethnic groups in Vancouver and across Canada will not have a local voice and will not be able to promote to their children and younger generation their own traditions and culture.
6646 As a great appreciation for the Romanian show I was producing, the Romanian Community Centre in British Columbia awarded me with the Cultural Promoter Award which I was very proud to get.
6647 Without a multicultural station such as OMNI Television which has TV stations across Canada in Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, the different ethnic groups across Canada will not be able to be reunited through a multicultural TV programming.
6648 And with the help of OMNI Television, I'm in direct contact with Mr. Raol Dudnik, who is the Romanian independent producer in Ontario. So, he's producing as me a Romanian local television show and we both, of course, decided to collaborate for television programming and TV correspondences and give the news from Toronto to Vancouver to our communities.
6649 I'm also, as I mentioned earlier, a documentary producer and I feel fortunate, but in such a competition for documentary productions in Canada, I am able to produce a documentary for OMNI Television in English and Chinese languages.
6650 My documentary tells the story of a multicultural group who are visually impaired.
6651 And I think this is a great support OMNI Television offers to independent producers like me who don't speak English language as a first language in their passion and desire to produce documentaries and share stories in different languages in their new country, Canada.
6652 As an independent producer for OMNI B.C., I'm here to support OMNI Television licence renewal in Vancouver.
6653 OMNI Television licence renewal is very important for the future presentation of the Romanian community in Vancouver, and as well of different multicultural groups through television programming.
6654 I strongly believe that OMNI Television, through its national approach and with multicultural TV stations across Canada, has the ability to maximize the potential of a multicultural TV station by supporting local independent producers like me to produce in their native language and to give a voice to their community and also by connecting various ethnic groups across Canada.
6655 I would say OMNI Television is an example of the promotion of multiculturalism and immigrant integration in Canada with extensive local news coverage, local producers from the communities, cross-cultural programming, magazine programs with community access, coverage of local events in many different languages, broadcasting of cultural events such as Chinese New Year and Indian Community parades.
6656 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentations.
6657 Mr. Dahir, you say you produce in Somali language. Am I wrong, I understood there were more than one language spoken in Somalia.
6658 I thought, for instance, the people up in Puntland speak a different language than they do down in Mogadishu and so on?
6659 MR. DAHIR: Mr. Chairman, Somalia has only one language, the only country in Africa have only one language.
6660 So, whether they are from Puntland --
6661 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
6662 MR. DAHIR: -- or from Mogadishu, they speak one language and it's Somali, parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, all of that.
6663 Djubouti is French Somaliland and Mogadishu and Puntland -- parts of Puntland is British Somaliland and parts of it is Italian Somaliland and the north also is British Somaliland.
6664 So, one language, which is Somali.
6665 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you can reach them all and there are no -- they can understand each other, they're not strong local variation or something like that?
6666 MR. DAHIR: Yes, one language,
6667 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6668 Madam Chu, you mentioned that -- you ask us to lift the restriction on OMNI TV regarding Chinese languages. What restrictions are you exactly talking about?
6669 MS CHU: Well, I suppose in Ontario it does not really matter that much because 18 percent of Chinese program is all they can get there because there are 42 languages being broadcast.
6670 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
6671 MS CHU: But in B.C. and in Alberta where the restriction, I don't know it's about 18 percent or 20 hours, I think there could have some leeway to have them -- you know, get them a bit longer hours of Chinese programs.
6672 THE CHAIRPERSON: There is enough demand for more Chinese programming, you're telling me?
6673 MS CHU: Pardon me?
6674 THE CHAIRPERSON: There is more demand for Chinese programming?
6675 MS CHU: Yes, yes. Especially for the Mandarin programs because the recent immigrant from China are all Mandarin speaking. They are almost catching up to the Cantonese speaking --
6676 THE CHAIRPERSON: M'hmm.
6677 MS CHU: -- population.
6678 THE CHAIRPERSON: And, Mrs. Suvagau, you said --
6679 MS SUVAGAU: Yes.
6680 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- you're producing also in Chinese. Are you producing Chinese programming for OMNI?
6681 MS SUVAGAU: Yes, that's correct. Actually it will be subtitles in Chinese language and the production will be in English language.
6682 THE CHAIRPERSON: And it's shown on OMNI there? Will it be shown on --
6683 MS SUVAGAU: It's OMNI Television. It's not from -- necessarily from Vancouver, but it's OMNI Television from Ontario.
6684 THE CHAIRPERSON: I see. Okay.
6686 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes.
6687 Thank you for coming and I'm sure OMNI will thank you for your support as well.
6688 I have one question and it applies -- I'd like each of you to give a response, if you could.
6689 It's very clear from what you've said that these programs support communities that might otherwise be under served.
6690 Do the programs have a role in this, so how do they play it in helping minority communities and others I guess have a shared understanding of Canadians' shared culture and shared history?
6691 MS SUVAGAU: Is this addressed to me?
6692 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Go ahead. You first, yes.
6693 MS SUVAGAU: Oh, hi.
6694 So, I would refer to the Romanian television show I'm producing and we talk here about new immigrants of Romanian origin moving to Vancouver or to Canada and they will learn about the legal system and how to apply for jobs through the segments I'm producing such as "Know How" or "Legal Aspects of the Canadian Law" or "Economics Of".
6695 I have news, I run Romanian news, which actually are explaining in Romanian language what's happening in Vancouver and across Canada.
6696 So, this helps the new immigrants to integrate much faster because the majority of them don't speak English language. Maybe they know from school, but they are not so comfortable to understand all the terms in a new country they moved, so through our Romanian television show they feel more comfortable to adapt to the new system and legal and to the society generally talking.
6697 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thank you.
6698 Mrs. Shu.
6699 MS CHU: Well, in many things, for instance, for elections, if it is not given to them in Chinese they won't understand how to go about the procedures and they wouldn't know -- understand the importance of voting.
6700 You know, Chinese as in the past, they always refrain from participating in the Canadian society, but if they can learn about the way of life in Canada in their own language they understand better then.
6701 Makes integration into Canadian society just that little bit more easy.
6702 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
6703 Mr. Dahir?
6704 MR. DAHIR: For example, we have what you call half and halfish Somali, so we have segments of youth, we have segments of sports and all of them are integrated.
6705 You could look in the www.tsrnews.com and that I can show you, youth and everybody is linking together.
6706 So, we reach out the Canadians who don't speak Somali. People they feel everything is a Canadian production with the Somali community.
6707 So, the program, 90 percent of it is from Canada, either from Toronto or Ottawa, Hamilton or Alberta and 10 percent from Somalia or Somalis living diaspora, United States, Britain, those countries.
6708 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thank you very much.
6709 MR. DAHIR: Thank you.
6710 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Dahir, while I have you here, tell me every -- we always read about Somalia being the nation without government and in considerable chaos.
6711 Is there Somali television for instance right now; is there a television station operating in Somalia?
6712 MR. DAHIR: There is one operating from Middle East and Muuqaalka Soomaalida, the one we operate, I think is the one in North America, so there is no such TV now operating in Somali.
6713 And Somalis are all over society, Mr. Chairman. Everybody watch and listen very well television. That's why the programs, all the people they tune in, whatever we bring, I mean they are interested.
6714 So, to answer your question, there's no that much television back in Somalia.
6715 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6716 Thank you very much for appearing and giving your support for OMNI.
6717 Those were our questions. Thank you.
6718 Madam Roy, qu'est-ce qu'on fait maintenant?
6719 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
6720 I would now invite Fairchild Television Ltd. to come forward to the presentation table, please.
6721 THE SECRETARY: All right. Appearing for Fairchild Television Inc. is Mr. Joseph Chan.
6722 Please introduce your colleagues for the presentation of 15 minutes.
6723 MR. CHAN: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairs, Commissioners and CRTC Staff.
6724 I am Joseph Chan, President of Fairchild Television Limited. Appearing with me to my right is Connie Sephton, Assistant General Manager for Fairchild, and to my left Andrée Wylie, Fairchild's regulatory counsel.
6725 We thank the Commission for the opportunity to address Fairchild's concerns with respect to Rogers Broadcasting's application for the renewal of its OMNI stations.
6726 We are somewhat hopeful that although the concern we bring to your attention is extremely significant for us in the midst of this hearing, it will seem of little significance for either Rogers or the Commission and that accepting our recommendation will indeed be easy.
6727 Fairchild Television Limited is the licensee of, among other services, Fairchild Television and Talentvision, analog national specialty services in the Cantonese and primarily Mandarin language respectively.
6728 Our written intervention was filed in Rogers' application for the renewal of its over-the-air ethnic television stations, CJMT TV-Toronto, CHNM TV-Vancouver, ClCO TV-Calgary and CJEO TV-Edmonton, and their respective transmitters. They are known as the OMNI stations.
6729 Let us point out at the outset that, as indicated in our written intervention, Fairchild supports the renewal of Rogers' OMNI stations. It also acknowledges the important contribution of Rogers in providing ethnic over-the-air services in Canada.
6730 Fairchild is concerned, however, with some of the amendments proposed by Rogers to the conditions of licence which currently limit the number of hours of programming in Cantonese and Mandarin that the OMNI stations can broadcast.
6731 First, some regulatory context.
6732 Over the years the Commission has licensed ethnic over-the-air television stations in some of Canada's major markets. While such stations served to increase the broadcast programming available to ethnic audiences, the Commission has been concerned that they not have the effect of reducing the ability of existing analog ethnic specialty services to continue providing ethnic broadcasting in accordance with their conditions of licence, Fairchild since 1982 and Talentvision since 1984.
6733 The balance aimed at was accomplished by the Commission in its licensing of ethnic over-the-air stations. In the case of Fairchild's services, by limiting the number of hours of programming in Cantonese and Mandarin that the over-the-air ethnic television stations could broadcast.
6734 The limitations accepted by Rogers on the OMNI stations are currently as follows:
6735 In Toronto, a maximum of 19 percent of the total monthly hours broadcast in Cantonese and 19 percent of the total monthly hours broadcast in Mandarin.
6736 In Calgary and Edmonton, a maximum of 18 percent of the programming broadcast in Cantonese and 18 percent in Mandarin.
6737 In Vancouver, a maximum of 20 hours per week, during the period 6:00 a.m. to midnight, in Chinese languages, approximately 15.8 percent of OMNI's B.C. total programming a week.
6738 In its applications, Rogers requested the complete removal of these conditions of licence. In its reply to Fairchild's intervention, Rogers maintained its original proposal but indicated that should the Commission consider it appropriate to impose some programming limitations it was willing to accept for each of its stations a condition of licence limiting the amount of third-language programming it can offer in any language to 18 percent.
6739 At the hearing, it accepted this cap grudgingly.
6740 Fairchild has noted Rogers' alternative proposal in its reply and at the hearing and is prepared to withdraw its opposition to the Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton applications should the Commission accept this new proposal for the OMNI stations in these markets.
6741 The relaxation from a monthly to a yearly calculation in Toronto provides Rogers with more flexibility without undue harm to Fairchild. It would also allow Rogers to harmonize the relevant programming requirements in three of its four OMNI stations.
6742 In our respectful view, and for the following reasons, Vancouver is an entirely different situation for Fairchild. Fairchild, therefore, stands by its initial opposition with regard to OMNI B.C. We oppose any change in the condition of licence which limits the number of hours of programming in Cantonese or Mandarin on the station to 20 hours per week during the period 6:00 a.m. to midnight.
6743 We will address first the substantive reasons why Rogers' proposal for OMNI B.C. should be denied. Second, we will address the procedural reason for denying Rogers' proposal.
6744 First, here is a brief summary for your consideration of the reasons put forward by Rogers to justify its proposal for the amendment of OMNI B.C.'s condition of licence for the next six years.
6745 - The recent economic downturn,
6746 - The amendment requested will result in very little change to Rogers' overall level of obligation,
6747 - The elimination of programming restrictions for large groups will have little impact on ethnic specialty services.
6748 - It is desirable for Rogers to integrate the operation of the OMNI stations,
6749 - It is desirable for Rogers to streamline and harmonize the regulatory commitments of the OMNI stations in a single set of conditions of licence,
6750 - The need to stem the migration of viewers to competing ethnic services recently made available to Canadians.
6752 MS SEPHTON: The recent economic environment is felt by all broadcasters including Fairchild and, as emphasized by Rogers at this hearing, is not likely to last for six years. Moreover, there is every indication that large broadcast groups affiliated with the largest Canadian BDUs with sustained revenue streams such as Rogers are in a better position to weather the economic downturn than independent broadcasters such as Fairchild.
6753 Contrary to Mr. Viner's assertion on Friday, the adjustment proposed for OMNI B.C. will indeed result in a major change in Rogers' level of obligation. It will not be minor.
6754 Changing from a maximum of 20 hours of programming weekly from 6:00 a.m. to midnight in Cantonese or Mandarin to 18 percent in any language, Rogers would be able to broadcast 22.7 hours of programming weekly in Cantonese and 22.7 hours of programming weekly in Mandarin, more than 45 hours in Chinese languages weekly, rather than the existing 20. With a calculation done on a yearly rather than a weekly basis, the number of hours of such programming broadcast in peak viewing time could greatly exceed that amount in any given week.
6755 Why would Rogers apply for this scheduling amendment if it did not intend to take advantage of its revenue-generating potential and to make every effort to monetize it? Indeed, in its application Rogers requested, and I quote:
"Maximum programming flexibility to respond to the demands and tastes of our audiences." (As read)
6756 MS SEPHTON: Mr. Viner asserted at the hearing that the change would help OMNI sell advertising.
6757 When asked by Vice-Chair Katz whether the amendment requested was to compete with the specialty service, Mr. Viner responded a resounding yes.
6758 Vancouver is Fairchild's major market. Vancouver's population is approximately 2.1- million compared to Toronto's 5.5-million. However, Vancouver's population of Chinese heritage as a percentage of Vancouver's total population is approximately 18 percent to Toronto's 9 percent.
6759 Not surprisingly, Vancouver contributes 78 percent of Fairchild's subscription revenues and over 40 percent of its advertising revenues. The level of subscription revenues from Vancouver is due in part to the fact that Fairchild's services remain distributed as premium pay services in Vancouver, while a large part of Ontario subscribers receive these services on extended basic.
6760 Fairchild relies almost exclusively on Chinese language programming for its revenues. Moreover, Fairchild does not sell its entire advertising inventory in Chinese language programming yet. Any increase in the number of hours of Chinese language programming available in the market will result in more inventory available and will drive down its value to our detriment.
6761 Any increase in the broadcasting of Cantonese or Mandarin programming over-the-air will, thus, have a significant and unavoidable impact on Fairchild's advertising revenues, and eventually an impact on its subscriber levels.
6762 It will have a devastating impact on Talentvision, a more vulnerable service.
6763 Rogers justifies its application for the amendment we oppose in large part in the name of simplifying its OMNI operations. In Fairchild's view, Rogers has already been afforded opportunities for streamlining, operation integration, harmonization, synergies and efficiencies.
6764 Rogers is already enjoying the benefits and synergies that come from the ownership of multiple stations. Both in approving Rogers' applications for OMNI Alberta and in approving the transfer to Rogers of Channel M, the predecessor of OMNI B.C., the Commission considered that its decision would put Rogers in a stronger position to achieve synergies for its OMNI stations and build on them to compete with over-the-air broadcasters.
6765 Moreover, the subsequent transfer of the City stations to Rogers allows it to benefit from the synergies available with regard to its English-language programming, an important revenue source for its OMNI stations.
6766 We note that in 2005 in response to the argument of Channel M, then under independent ownership, that it should have the same restrictions as Rogers' OMNI 2 in Toronto with regard to Chinese programming, the Commission pointed out the fundamental differences in the Toronto and Vancouver markets and the fact that it had imposed conditions of licence on each station that reflect the particular circumstances of each market. It denied Channel M's application for harmonization then.
6767 Rogers also emphasizes that it has to meet the challenge posed by the availability of a plethora of ethnic specialty services now available to Canadians. So must Fairchild. We note that Rogers Cable was the sponsor of 15 such foreign services in the Chinese language, 13 of which are now distributed by its cable systems and compete with Fairchild.
6768 There is an equally persuasive procedural reason for denying Roger's proposal for OMNI BC. In March 2008, a mere one year ago, the Commission approved an application by Rogers to acquire Channel M and for a new licence to continue its operation. The resulting OMNI BC licence was made subject, as was Channel M's before, to the condition of licence to no more than 20 hours per week during the six a.m. to midnight period broadcast in Chinese languages.
6769 Rogers now argues that while this commitment was made in a 2008 acquisition and licensing hearing, the economic environment in which it was made has changed and that consequently the commitment can be revisited less than a year later.
6770 The Commission has a long regulatory history of requiring licensees to respect their conditions of licence at least for a term of licence. In 2005, nearly three years after Channel M was licensed, it applied to amend the very condition of licence Rogers is now seeking to amend. The Commission stated, and I quote:
"To allow a licensee to reduce significant commitments during the first licence term would; absent special circumstances, bring into question the integrity of the licensing process." (As read)
6771 MS WYLIE: When Rogers applied for the amendment we opposed it had operated OMNI BC for less than one year, an even shorter period than Channel M in 2005 when its application was denied. And in our respectful view, Rogers has failed to bring to light any special circumstances or any convincing evidence of any need that would justify relieving it of its recent commitments.
6772 MR. CHAN: In conclusion, we respectfully submit that the Commission imposed obligations on OMNI BC one year ago in continued recognition of the particular importance to Fairchild Vancouver as a key market.
6773 Therefore, for the reasons outlined, Rogers' proposal to amend the restrictions related to Chinese language programming imposed on OMNI BC should be denied. If approved, the amendment would have a serious negative impact on Fairchild to the detriment of its continued ability to meet its regulatory obligations.
6774 The amendment is not necessary for the specifics success of Rogers OMNI BC station or the general success of its multiple broadcasting licenses. An amendment at this time would bring into question the integrity of the Commission's licensing process.
6775 We thank you for your attention. We will answer any questions you may have and respectfully expect that meeting our concerns will indeed be one of the easiest decisions you have to make in this hearing.
6776 Thank you.
6777 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6778 Just a clarification, when Channel M applied for its licence it was in 2002, was it not?
6779 MR. CHAN: 2002, that's correct.
6780 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah, and we are now in 2009.
6781 MR. CHAN: That's right.
6782 THE CHAIRPERSON: Seven years later.
6783 MR. CHAN: Sort of -- the end of the first licence term if they are still there.
6784 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
6785 MR. CHAN: Yeah.
6786 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, how can you say on your last page:
"An amendment at this time would bring into question the integrity of the Commission's licensing process." (As read)
6787 THE CHAIRPERSON: We are at the end of the seven years originally granted to Channel M.
6788 MR. CHAN: Yes.
6789 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you can always change the terms for a second -- for the second licence. I don't know why that --
6790 MR. CHAN: Yes, theoretically, yes; correct, Mr. Chairman. Channel M applied for the amendment in 2005 and was denied and then -- and last year, just last year when OMNI TV took over Channel M and it's over a public process in which they committed to abide by the conditions of licence and now technically they are still in the first licence term with OMNI TV.
6791 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but I mean, presumably they committed to Channel M's commitment for the balance of the licence term which will expire later on this year, right?
6792 MR. CHAN: Yeah, technically.
6793 MS WYLIE: I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, that that's a rather artificial one year to bring it along with the other stations. The commitment was made at a hearing when they purchased and a one year licence to end that licence term is not --
6794 THE CHAIRPERSON: Why is it artificial? You made a commitment to take it over on the terms, as I recall. I didn't see that they made any commitment for the second -- or for the renewal.
6795 MS WYLIE: Had they -- yes, but a one-year term is very unusual circumstance and if they had wanted changes they could have asked for them then. The one-year term is a relatively artificial --
6796 THE CHAIRPERSON: Isn't it the other way around, Ms Wylie, if they had asked for a change of terms then that would have been unusual because it would -- the first year licence is not up. Now that the first year licence is up they are free to ask for changes.
6797 MS WYLIE: Mr. Chairman, that was the first year licence of Channel M, not the first year licence of Rogers.
6798 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well --
6799 MS WYLIE: And it was six years.
6800 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, let's agree to disagree.
6801 Len, you have some questions?
6802 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6803 Good afternoon.
6804 MR. CHAN: Good afternoon.
6805 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Just so we can start from the same baseline, in your opening remarks on paragraph four you say:
"Fairchild Television Limited is the licensee among other services of Fairchild Television and Talentvision." (As read)
6806 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Are any of these other services regulated by the CRTC or is Fairchild and Talentvison the only two?
6807 MR. CHAN: Oh, if it is under -- if we are talking about the licensee Fairchild Television Limited, other than Fairchild Television and Talentvision recently we applied for two Cat 2 services under Fairchild Television Limited.
6808 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
6809 MR. CHAN: Yeah.
6810 COMMISSIONER KATZ: What are your current regulatory obligations for the two stations that are currently in operation?
6811 MR. CHAN: Okay. In terms of hours of Cancon, at the moment our requirement for both services -- one is -- if I remember correctly -- one is 30 percent in terms of broadcasting hours; for Fairchild Television is 30 percent and for Talentvision I believe it's 33 hours -- sorry -- 33 percent of the broadcasting day which is 24 hours. But for Fairchild it's for six a.m. till midnight.
6812 As for Canadian expenditure requirements, both of them are 29 percent of gross revenue on Canadian content expenditure.
6813 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. You say that if the Commission approves the proposed changes by Rogers you would be materially impacted and, in particular, I guess you say that Talentvision is a vulnerable service, as I see the way you have quoted here.
6814 Can you quantify what the impact would be both from a financial perspective on Fairchild Television as well as on Talentvision?
6815 MR. CHAN: Okay. I will try to do that.
6816 First of all, you know, you mentioned about Talentvision. Talentvision at the moment I think we -- since last year we have been in operation for almost 16 years. It was only since last year we started to kind of breakeven.
6817 So Talentvision, since our target audience are mainly Mandarin-speaking audiences and have been -- we have been trying very hard in the past to make it successful -- if the OMNI proposal is approved, first of all they are asking to change from 20 hours a week to 18 percent for languages. Technically, we are talking about 20 hours, a total of 20 hours Cantonese and Mandarin, to a total of 45 hours -- over 45 hours of Chinese programming, which translates into 36 percent of the total programming.
6818 So first of all if they are allowed to increase an amount of Chinese programming; first of all, the advertising inventory to go after Chinese advertisers will be greatly increased and this will drastically affect the, you know, reduced value of the advertising. It tends to drive down the advertising rate. It will adversely affect us.
6819 And, secondly, in terms of subscription, if OMNI is able to increase from 20 hours to over 45 hours, which will create a very -- incentive -- a good incentive for our existing subscribers to unsubscribe Fairchild and move to a free service especially under this kind of economic situation.
6820 So by losing both advertising and maybe subscription revenue will greatly affect -- will greatly affect our bottom line and then will subsequently affect our ability to meet our regulatory obligations.
6821 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. So now I'm going to ask you, and you'll probably have to file this in confidence -- but I think it would be beneficial if we saw a forecast going out two years or three years of what your business looks like today under the current regime and how it would be impacted financially if in fact Rogers was given the flexibility that it seeks as well and how that will impact your business under the current regulatory obligations and if you had to reduce those regulatory obligations in light of the fact that Rogers was given certain flexibility.
6822 MR. CHAN: Certainly, we can do that. Yes, certainly, we can do that.
6823 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
6824 Two other questions, and they come about from your submission of March the 30th to the Commission. Hopefully, you have got that document there.
6825 And I was interested in paragraph 26 on page six. And I will read it into the record because my colleagues -- they may not have it. It's the second paragraph that interests me, and I will quote it. It says:
"It is to be noted that Rogers' OMNI services have guaranteed priority carriage in the markets where they compete with Fairchild's services and are available to all subscribers at no additional cost while Fairchild must still negotiate a wholesale fee and the placement of its services on distribution systems, including Rogers." (As read)
6826 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Now, you have been in this business for some 25 years or more, since 1982. How has the negotiation worked and where are you right now with the current lay of the land, so to speak?
6827 MR. CHAN: Okay. Connie is responsible for negotiating -- acts as a liason with all the BDUs. Perhaps she could answer this question.
6828 MS SEPHTON: Can we file that in confidence as well?
6829 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Sure, if you would prefer to file it in confidence --
6830 MS SEPHTON: Yeah, I'm just kidding.
6831 COMMISSIONER KATZ: If there is anything that's compromising I would not want you to put it on the record publicly. So I will leave it to you to decide how you want to do this.
6832 MS SEPHTON: Because Fairchild Television and Talentvision are both discretionary services and we do go through a process of negotiations, I would say that most of the time it's time consuming and it's difficult -- to use those words.
6833 And I would suggest if it's agreeable with Joe that we would file something afterwards about that question.
6834 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Yeah, well, what interests me is the notion here of a negotiated wholesale fee and it would be very beneficial for me in particular to understand what degree of leverage, I guess, you have relative to the other side in negotiating the fee and how that final rate is actually arrived at.
6835 MS SEPHTON: We don't have very much in terms of bargaining power, to put it that way. Usually when it comes to negotiation, BDUs in general will use what is the most convenient to their marketing strategies to suggest to us, you know, what rate and how we are going to change the rates.
6836 So far, because the consumers are used to paying a certain amount, even though Rogers and Shaw Cable Systems came to us and suggested lowering the prices that hasn't been a forceful occasion yet. But they are certainly -- in terms of our part we don't have very much in terms of bargaining power.
6837 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But do they work with you in trying to establish a rate for the consumer to pay in terms of what is the elasticity and if you lower your price they can deliver more customers to you, versus if you raise your price you will lose customers and working out economics or is that all within your sphere of responsibility and control?
6838 If you want to answer that question in confidence as well I will let you.
6839 MR. CHAN: Normally, because according to our affiliation agreement with the BDUs -- are normally they will have a say on the retail rate. And sometimes although it is negotiable but sometimes it is difficult to negotiate. They always say it is competition, "Due to competition we have to reduce the retail rate". And our terms with them are normally on sort of a percentage basis. The wholesale rate is on a percentage.
6840 So if they reduce -- sometimes they unilaterally reduce the retail rate. That will affect the wholesale rate.
6841 COMMISSIONER KATZ: My last question on that is actually the follow-up paragraph, the next paragraph 27.
6842 You indicate that, I guess, OMNI or Rogers is actually offering a similar service or a service as well and you indicate that their service is at a much lower rate.
6843 And I'm just wondering to what extent they are competing with you and at the same time working with you to establish a rate in the marketplace as well and if you feel that there is a conflict there, if I can call it that.
6844 MR. CHAN: Now, because on the record you know that Rogers has been sponsoring over a dozen foreign services over the last 12 months or so and they carry most of them -- they sponsor 15 and carry 12 of them. Most of them are priced much lower than ours, ranging from a few dollars to $10-$15.
6845 And we find that, you know, by doing so -- because we feel that by carrying all these services at this pricing level will first of all fragmentize our audiences and adversely affect our current situation.
6846 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Those are all my questions, Mr. Chairman.
6847 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
6848 Madam Dionne, do you want to review the engagements, please?
6849 MS DIONNE: Yes. I have two undertakings for Fairchild.
6850 First, file Fairchild's forecast of the next three years of what its business could look like if Rogers' obligations were reduced compared to what it looks like now with the current obligations in force;
6851 File information on where you are with your negotiations on wholesale fees with distributors.
6852 And I would ask that you file this information by May 11th or sooner.
6853 MR. CHAN: May 11th, okay.
6854 MS DIONNE: Thank you.
6855 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you. Those are all our questions.
6856 MR. CHAN: Thank you.
6857 THE CHAIRPERSON: We will take a 10-minute break.
--- Suspension à 1447
--- Reprise à 1502
6858 LE PRÉSIDENT: Madame la Secrétaire, commençons.
6859 THE SECRETARY: Merci, Monsieur le Président.
6860 I would now invite Communications, Energy and Paperworks Union of Canada to make its presentation.
6861 Appearing for them is Peter Murdoch. Please introduce your colleagues and you will then have 15 minutes to make your presentation.
6862 MR. MURDOCH: Thank you Madam Secretary.
6863 For the record I am Peter Murdoch, CEP's Vice-President of Media. And with me today on my right is Mark Cameron who heads CEP's CanWest local unions as also news editor BCTV. With him are Jim Holmes who runs a video truck, works at A Channel, CTV Barrie and Diane Warren, researcher, amongst other jobs who works at A Channel in Windsor. And to my left is Monica Auer, our legal counsel in this matter.
6864 As you know we represent literally thousands of employees in the broadcast industry at CanWest, CTV, Rogers and in independent film and television production.
6865 Commissioners we recognize that these extraordinary times raise difficult economic challenges for everyone. But we also believe that things will get better and in the not too distant future.
6866 In this hearing we want to address broadcasters' models of local over-the-air TV stations, local funding proposals, broadcasters' non-compliance and procedural issues.
6867 We think that the two key questions in this hearing are first, what is it that we are licensing and second how should these undertakings be funded?
6868 Historically you license stations based on transmission contours, community service and local program production. Your licensing forums ask broadcasters to identify their program sources and their staffing levels. Your local advertising policy tied local advertising revenues to local program production.
6869 Two different models have been described in this hearing. But the fact is that many CTV and CanWest stations no longer operate originating stations. Their stations have become news bureaus.
6870 Since the Broadcasting Act only deals with TV stations, this raises serious questions for Parliament.
6871 Let's take the example of Halifax. CanWest removed the Halifax master control room. It now sends -- Halifax station that is, now sends local news segments to Edmonton which add these into a newscast that it produces and sends to Calgary which adds in the Halifax weather from Red Deer. Calgary then sends the finished program to Halifax which airs it.
6872 If a Halifax explosion happened today, the station would have to rely on Edmonton to get the news to air. A newscast is being produced for Halifax. It's just not being produced in Halifax by Haligonians although their advertising dollars help pay for it.
6873 Halifax is not a local station under your existing standards. It is a news bureau. There are numerous examples such as this across both CTV and CanWest.
6874 Because the focus of this hearing is how much original local news is appropriate, let's put the question of what a station is to one side.
6875 You haven't used the program log data you collect from stations every month to show how much original news has been and would be aired under broadcasters' proposals. Canadians need this evidence to understand the arguments being made.
6876 Our written intervention used your licensing decisions to summarize private stations past and propose local program levels. But these decisions rarely identify weekly hours of original local news.
6877 Vaguely-worded CRTC decisions work too well for broadcasters letting them duck their obligations by counting repeats of their local evening newscast as news.
6878 If Canadians are to receive original local news from originating local TV stations, each decision must say so using precise numbers and explicit conditions of license.
6879 Commitments and expectations sound good but are unenforceable. That's why Parliament made it an offence to breach the conditions of license.
6880 We estimate that CTV's 92 and 14-hour original local news idea would add about an hour of original news in English language locations with fewer than 300,000 people but would reduce original news by some 5 hours elsewhere.
6881 We don't support local news reductions. They don't serve the public interest.
6882 We don't believe they will be temporary and it is our fear that you will not reintroduce higher news requirements in the future. The temporary will become the status quo.
6883 We support one year renewals for broadcasters because current economic conditions make it hard to make long-term plans. But you should not approve the current amendment applications because your policy and practice has been to deny amendments when broadcasters breach the rules.
6884 CTV, CanWest and Rogers have told you that our interventions about their applications are wrong but then confirmed in almost the same breath that each has filed inaccurate program logs in breach of Section 10(3) of the TV regulations.
6885 Let's start with Rogers. Did the four people who told you that CEP was vague, misunderstood the journalistic independence code and did not address Rogers' non-compliance specifically actually read paragraphs 143 to 149 of our written submission? That's where we set out Rogers' breach of its commitments through program cancellations, staff cuts and cuts to original local news. Vague we were not.
6886 Rogers claims that in Vancouver running up to 15 mini newscasts and Breakfast TV gives Vancouver more original local news. But these 60 second or less news segments are simply repeated over and over.
6887 This four hour program has fewer than 15 minutes of original local news. Maybe this is because Rogers' newsroom is now down to one field reporter, making it impossible for additional new news items to be covered.
6888 Lunch TV is a rebroadcast of material created for BT, not original new news.
6889 CityNews as its own Facebook page puts it, is a current events show with a comedic edge, hosted by four comedians. According to Rogers' own log it ran 12 episodes of the show in February 2009 of which seven were repeats. This alternative current events show isn't original local news either.
6890 Finally it is because we understand the concept of diversity and the independence code that we don't see why Rogers is using this to defend its Vancouver stations regular use of CTV footage as recently as two months ago.
6891 On to CanWest. CanWest told you it is fully compliant. But as Vice-Chair Arpin pointed out, CanWest has breached the requirements by submitting inaccurate logs and by carrying too little Canadian content on CGN TV.
6892 CanWest has also told you that its digital news project does more with less. The truth is that CanWest is using the savings from this project to placate creditors, not to strengthen news gathering.
6893 Just as an example, between 2007 and 2009, CanWest cut its full-time reporters in Halifax from five to three. That's a forty percent decrease in two years. It's cut its reporters in Ottawa and St. John by a third, in Victoria by a quarter and in Lethbridge by a fifth.
6894 We are submitting these figures to you as CEP Exhibit 1 attached to our remarks today.
6895 Parliament wants broadcasters to embrace new technologies and Canadians should benefit from these changes.
6896 How do they benefit when local newsroom and news gathering capacity has been gutted? Their news is produced elsewhere and their local TV station transformed into a news bureau.
6897 At what point does the Commission step in before the broadcasters run their operations entirely from Toronto, a possibility which would fail miserably the industrial employment objectives of the broadcasting act.
6898 Now to CTV. We support Ivan Fecan's description of a local TV station but disagree with CTV's actions. It has placed its Vancouver station's live local morning show with a program from its local radio station reducing diversity.
6899 The CRTC has denied this approach before concluding that, "a simulcast of a morning radio program could not be considered to be an original local television program produced by the station."
6900 CTV also says it can't share specifically service revenues with its TV stations because that would be unfair to its specialty service co-owners. But since it is sharing programs between its stations and specialty services why can't CTV figure out how to share revenues? Is this a serious argument about standalone licensing or a bad case of having your cake and eating it too?
6901 We share Canadians' strong concerns about the loss of local news and want to work with you and Parliament to find solutions but neither CEP nor Canadians can challenge broadcasters' claims that their local stations lose money. Only you and the broadcasters know the case we must meet.
6902 We do know that both CanWest and CTV have reclassified ad sales made by local stations into sales made at the national level. This means that individual stations are not being credited with the sales they make and only look like they're losing money.
6903 CanWest managers have told our members that the stations are making money. Your own data show that local programs cost less than local advertising brings in.
6904 If some stations aren't making enough money the fault may not lie with the stations but with odd business decisions. At its Windsor A Channel station where ratings increased 43 percent in the last book, CTV employs one and a half salespeople to serve half a million people.
6905 Understaffing is costing CTV easy sales.
6906 CTV's Barrie station serves only half as many people but employs five salespeople full-time.
6907 The confusing discrepancies between what is happening and what broadcasters are claiming is why station-by-station data should have been available. Justice works best in the light of day. We are in the dark about allocation of local versus national costs, local versus national revenues. These are designations which can disguise the real picture.
6908 But we do agree that local stations need a new revenue stream now to support local quality news programming. Would the LPIF be the right mechanism? It wouldn't be the best and not just because broadcasters would now run it. BDU's want to run it. In either case it would lack public representation or because the money collected could be used to advertise on radio.
6909 The worst problem is that incrementality has been dropped. If so it's simply Orwellian to say that a local programming improvement fund will improve local programming when the fund doesn't even increase local program spending.
6910 CEP continues to support instead the fee for carriage proposal. But neither model offers public accountability. A multi-million dollar fund must not become a private slush fund. We need rules and transparency to ensure the money is used as first proposed to strengthen local programming.
6911 And it's critical that all stakeholders participate in the funding system's directions. With thousands of members who work at these stations, CEP would be pleased to join the LPIF board.
6912 Using Mr. Fecan's metaphor, CEP has skin in the game, the thousands of our members, their families and their neighbours in communities across Canada.
6913 Unlike Mr. Fecan, though, we are absolutely certain that you have skin in this game too, because your job is to balance millions of Canadians' need for news and information against broadcasters' natural desire for returns on their investment.
6914 We would like to propose one more route to supporting local TV stations, namely CAPEX.
6915 The CRTC regulated basic cable rates for roughly 25 years. After 1974 basic cable increases helped BDUs pay for expansion and improvements. In 1986 the CRTC specifically created the section 18(6) CAPEX mechanism, which allowed BDUs to raise subscribers' basic rates to pay for capital projects.
6916 So that subscribers didn't pay for such projects forever, the CRTC introduced a sunset provision. This would remove the increases five years later. But instead, the CRTC suspended the sunset clause for BDUs. They put half the CAPEX money into a Canadian programming fund. In 1992 the CRTC estimated that half the CAPEX would generate $300 million, leaving the other $300 million for BDUs.
6917 So BDUs are criticizing TV broadcasters for wanting to keep their stations profitable, while subscribers are still paying hundreds of millions of dollars for capital projects that BDUs finished long ago.
6918 Take the CAPEX back. Put it into new, original local TV news, particularly in Canada's smallest communities. No pass through would be needed. Subscriber rates would not go up.
6919 Our final point, Commissioners, involves procedures. The most important of these is your decision to prevent public scrutiny of evidence that is key to its issues.
6920 Since this hearing has focussed on the allegedly precarious situation of TV stations, their real financial situation is obviously highly relevant. CEP filed several access-to-information requests for station-by-station data, beginning just over two years ago. You denied most of our requests, including station-by-station yearly financials.
6921 Since intervenors can't cross-examine the applicants, broadcasters have an insurmountable advantage. An unfair process has changed the debate from a quasi-judicial proceeding into a he said/she said argument.
6922 Out of the blue, you invited existing intervenors to come up with complaints about compliance two days before the hearing began. This is unreasonable and unfair, as we wrote to you on April 24th.
6923 And having heard the Chairman tell the Heritage Committee he would renew licences for one year, we were understandably startled to hear CRTC suddenly ask for two-year applications. We support CTV's decision to say no.
6924 Nevertheless, Commissioners, we want to emphasize again that our position is to work towards a solution that will strengthen local news.
6925 Since no evidence has shown that local news has caused broadcasters' alleged problems we ask you to maintain existing conditions of licence for news and local programming. Where these are not now in place we ask that you apply new conditions of licence setting out broadcasters' specific hours of exhibition and expenditures on original local news, and non news programs.
6926 We ask that your decisions clearly describe the hours of original local news now being broadcast by local stations. If you approve a new revenue stream to improve local programming, we ask you to ensure that broadcasters reinstate the news programming they have cut.
6927 I have one more brief comment before closing. It is clear that government will have to revisit the Broadcasting Act to amend it for our times. The question of what is a television station must be answered. But I firmly believe that the problems in our broadcasting sector today will not be solved by adolescent bargaining ads in the Globe and Mail. These very serious challenges that we face can and should be addressed here or in Parliament.
6928 Thank you. We look forward to your questions.
6929 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Murdoch. As always, you make interesting submissions but I don't appreciate your sort of misstating things.
6930 Paragraph 62 you say:
"...having heard the Chairman tell the Heritage Committee he would renew licences for one year, we were understandably startled to hear CRTC suddenly ask for two-year applications."
6931 THE CHAIRPERSON: We have checked the record. You will see that I asked -- which I also indicated, by the way, publicly beforehand in the PN, public notice, whether one year would be enough or whether given the economic circumstances; the uncertainty, the lack of data, et cetera, a longer period should be contemplated.
6932 That's slightly different than asking for a two-year period. I asked the opinion of intervenors on the suitability of one versus two, you know. So let's get back to the facts as they are before us.
6933 Another thing, you speak throughout your piece of original local news. I believe our conditions of licence do not talk about original local news. They talk about local news.
6934 MS AUER: We would be willing to re-file with you if we are incorrect but we did find some conditions of licence -- very few -- that did refer to original hours. But if we are incorrect --
6935 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm interested -- I think generally you were speaking about the news. I appreciate you would prefer original local news but I don't believe that is a condition of licence, for instance, that is imposed on Canwest or on CTV. I gladly stand to be corrected.
6936 MS AUER: I think the position is that in our original written submission we had looked at all broadcasters. We didn't limit it to Canwest, CTV or Rogers. Our point was that if you don't specify original local news in conditions of licence in the few places as you have done it in the past then you will not get original news. You will get repeat news.
6937 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, clearly you are right.
6938 Okay. Now, paragraph six you are making -- you are talking about Halifax as an example but essentially you are saying local news is not locally produced.
6939 You presumably listened to the proceedings that we had. CTV was here and they described -- they got quite -- I don't have their submission here but they said local news is gathered, edited and produced locally. Then it's put on basically a giant website and every station including the national news can pull it down when they need it and how they need it. That is quite different from the process that you describe here in paragraph six of your submission today.
6940 Now, I am not -- I'm sure CTV will file something, taking issue with what you said and I would like to know on what basis you make this characterization here. Obviously, I don't know which one is true. I get two very different characterizations of how news is produced.
6941 MR. MURDOCH: Right. The example we gave was Canwest, by the way, so not CTV although CTV does have similar -- although I don't think they refer to them as broadcast centres. But the same thing happens to some degree with Windsor. Windsor goes from Windsor to London to Toronto.
6942 But maybe I can ask Mark to just --
6943 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. But I mean, Canwest have these -- what do they call them?
6944 MR. MURDOCH: Broadcast centres.
6945 THE CHAIRPERSON: Broadcast centres I asked them about that and they explained how it worked. And I said then at the conclusion of the questioning, so that basically like CTV, notionally speaking at least -- like a large website where everybody posts and everybody can take from, and they said yes.
6946 So as I say, this doesn't reflect at all what I understood it to be. So where do you get the example from and explain to me how it works, because --
6947 MR. MURDOCH: Well, I will ask Mark to help us out here a bit.
6948 MR. CAMERON: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
6949 The information that we have given you has come directly from the members who do the work. Although the name says broadcast centre and it sounds like something special, the reality is that it's another person in the newsroom at a computer work station. Those people are in Vancouver and in Edmonton at this point in time, as the system is rolled out.
6950 To stick with your example of Halifax, we know from our members on the ground that they have control over their local stories and that is it.
6951 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Let us just assume there is a major fire in Halifax, so the local people presumably film it and make a news story out of it. As I understood, they write the story, they edit it; they film it and they shoot it up to the broadcast centre. Is that correct?
6952 MR. CAMERON: That is correct. What we are talking about is the national and international packages that go in to makeup a news program. When you look at a news show in total from Halifax you will see that there is two or three local stories. But that does not an hour fill.
6953 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
6954 MR. CAMERON: And that the rest of the programming in that hour does not come from Halifax. It comes from Edmonton or Red Deer.
6955 THE CHAIRPERSON: When you say the Halifax weather is edited from Red Deer, you are saying Red Deer goes on the Environment Canada website, pulls down the weather and shoots it to Halifax?
6956 MR. CAMERON: Just to be correct, what happens is that the weather from Red Deer goes to Edmonton, the entire show is packaged, it's sent to Calgary; Calgary sends the signal to Halifax.
6957 And also, to be clear, depending on when that fire happens in Halifax will depend on when you see it. If it happens after everyone has gone home you won't see it till the next day because when the show goes to air in Halifax there are two people in the station. There is an engineer and there is an anchor in front of a green wall.
6958 MR. MURDOCH: Let me just add one thing to help out here a bit. My understanding also is that given these stories that are done in Halifax, once they go to Edmonton there is no suggestion about where they are going to be in the line up. If somebody in Edmonton says, "Well, no, the swine flu story is more important than the fire in Halifax or blah, blah, blah" that kind of decision making is being made in Edmonton, is my understanding.
6959 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm just trying to understand what you feel here. Halifax has an obligation to provide local news. There is a local fire there that's being produced. You obviously would like them to employ more persons. As a union that's understandable. But I'm trying to understand how they are falling down on their obligation to deliver local news for Halifax.
6960 MR. MURDOCH: Go ahead. Go ahead, Mark.
6961 MR. CAMERON: I think the thrust of our submission is that they have turned Halifax into a news bureau that is no different from a news bureau that we have in Beijing where you have got cameramen and a reporter self assigning for the most part. They do their story and that's it. There is no other involvement in shaping the stories for that particular market. Those decisions are made on the Prairies.
6962 THE CHAIRPERSON: So to look at it differently, you say providing local news is more than gathering local news stories, filming them, editing and showing them. You have to do what?
6963 MR. CAMERON: I would say, Mr. Chair, that local news is more than just three stories that are locally done, that you have to look at the totality of the show. The local news theoretically takes up an hour and you have people who make the decisions about what stories are important nationally as well as internationally that apply to that market.
6964 THE CHAIRPERSON: That is a different issue. You are saying there is not enough in their local news in the one hour, but you also made another issue saying that the news bureau are not a local news station.
6965 I'm trying to figure out what you feel is the difference between one and the other. As I said, filming, editing and writing the story in Halifax in your view is not enough. You also have to do what?
6966 MR. MURDOCH: You also have to -- you have to produce it. You have to control it.
6967 It seems to us that if you have a Halifax station -- the idea that I can go and gather some news in Halifax and send it off to Edmonton and somebody will put the news together in Edmonton and send it down to Halifax, I mean for that matter we could send it to Houston.
6968 But that's completely different than having a show in Halifax that an anchor can break into if lo and behold something happens in Halifax, or that I have made some decisions saying that this story in Halifax may be more important than that story nationally or that story internationally. That is, I get a chance to say -- I get a chance to put Halifax first. That's what I do. I get a chance to put Halifax first because that's where my station is. I produce it. I direct it. I control it.
6969 This way I gather the news. There is no question about that. They are gathering some stories. Would we like to see them gather more stories? Yes, of course. But they gather stories and they send them off somewhere else. After that it's out of their control.
6970 THE CHAIRPERSON: Don't they come back? Isn't there an anchor in Halifax who reads them and knits them together and presents it as one show?
6971 MR. CAMERON: Yes. There is an anchor in Halifax. That anchor is blind. That anchor sits in a chair in front of a green wall. The set is digitally put in behind them from the broadcast centre in Edmonton. The lights come on. The camera turns on and the teleprompter starts to roll.
6972 They are virtually blind because they cannot see anything other than the feed coming back from Calgary.
6973 THE CHAIRPERSON: I appreciate it, but what I'm trying to figure out what you think is wrong with this because, I mean, we are telling people how to run their business. Let them run it in their most cost-effective way.
6974 We want an output. We want result. We want Halifax local news being reflected on Halifax television. And if it's a story about a fire shot in Halifax and you have a Halifax announcer announcing it, I'm trying to figure out what you feel is missing.
6975 MR. CAMERON: I think two points to your question.
6976 The first thing that is missing is control. When that show goes to air Halifax has no control over it.
6977 And the second thing is, as you have said yourself, you don't judge quality. We have heard a lot about how the conventional model is broken. The audiences have judged these shows. They are number three in most market. And these stations, according to the companies, are losing money.
6978 MR. MURDOCH: I am going to ask Diane just to help you out a bit, because the same thing happens, of course, with the A channels as well. And we will just ask Diane to tell you a little bit about the lack of control, and this is one in engineering, it has nothing to do with news gathering, but it will give you an indication.
6979 MS WARREN: My name is Diane Warren, I am with 'A' News in Windsor.
6980 Windsor has been around for 16 years. We started actually with Baton Broadcasting back in the day, it was a very exciting time. At any rate, within the last year we have seen our engineer disappear, he got a job at a CTV affiliate, and the position was never filled.
6981 We are now left with being told over the phone by engineering staff in another location how to fix patches and cables, and we have no training in that. My background, anyway, is not engineering.
6982 So what has happened in the past and a couple of times over the winter was we could not originate our local news because of technical difficulties. It could not originate from our Windsor station, it had to come from London. Because of the fact that there is no longer that type of expertise in our station, in our bureau, we had to go elsewhere and we lost our local.
6983 THE CHAIRPERSON: Interesting that you mention Windsor because, as you know, it was a subject of discussion here. And Mr. Fecan told me that 42 people I believe it was in Windsor of which 20 are involved in the local programming, and that is the number you need in order to meet the local requirement for Windsor on average.
6984 Now, are you telling me that part of that story is not true?
6985 MS WARREN: Sir, I can only tell you what I know.
6986 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, have you got 42 people in Windsor?
6987 MS WARREN: We have 17 people that work out of the Windsor office in Windsor. One person in Chatham. There are some staff that work out of our London office that work for Windsor.
6988 THE CHAIRPERSON: And are being paid out of Windsor I presume?
6989 MS WARREN: I don't know, sir.
6990 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6991 MR. MURDOCH: Now, one further quick comment.
6992 MR. CAMERON: I just want to add, to make clear, about the matter of local control. In Halifax, if there was a breaking news story, they don't have the infrastructure or the staff to put the show to air. There is no writers left, there is no producers left after they go home at 5:00, so if your breaking news happens at 6:00.
6993 There is no switcher, so they can't select a source, so they can't go back and forth between different sources. That is some of the things that we would like to see addressed, because we think a real television station has the ability to control their signal.
6994 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, I am not an expert on television. That begs the question what arrangements they have for overtime and for part-time help, et cetera. But I hear your point, you feel that it is insufficient.
6995 Let's switch gears a bit, LPIF. We have heard now for two weeks consistent testimony I think from every single private broadcaster that local programming does not pay for itself, that actually needs a subsidy.
6996 You don't seem to like LPIF and you specifically don't like the formula, where in your written statement you suggested it results in rewarding the rich stations.
6997 Tell me, first of all, why you don't like LPIF. And secondly, if you don't like our formula for entitlement, what kind of formula do you propose?
6998 MR. MURDOCH: Let me deal with the last one first. As we say, you know, we would prefer fee for carriage. You know, at this point we want to do whatever we can and hope that you can do whatever we can to improve and sustain local news in Canada, so that is a given, Commissioner.
6999 THE CHAIRPERSON: That is one of the rare points we agree upon, we both feel something needs to be done.
7000 MR. MURDOCH: Well, you know what, that is the most important point to agree upon.
7001 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good, good.
7002 MR. MURDOCH: So now with the LPIF, well now we are in a position where it isn't an improvement fund anymore, as we point out, it is a sustainable fund. You know, we are going to try and sustain the levels.
7003 And it might be that there is an environment now where if we can do that, you know, we have done something. But right now, it would be at a sustaining level, not at an improvement level which is something we would initially very much like to see.
7004 MS AUER: I think the point about rewarding -- I am sorry, that shouldn't be the correct word, "giving" the largest share of LPIF money to the broadcasters who have spent the most, doesn't seem to us to be helping then the smaller stations that may need it more.
7005 So you could either go with an inverse funding model where you give the most money to the stations that have traditionally spent less or you could go with an equality model, where you simply give the same amount to each station in the market and let them make a decision as to what they want to do with it.
7006 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. First point, you are absolutely right, it is now a sustaining model that is obviously driven by the economic circumstance. We started off with the incremental fund and, given the desperate state, we changed gears in midstream.
7007 Now, we put this formula out in order to seek comments or alternatives. We specifically said, if you think there are better formulas that are more reflective of the needs, please put them forward, so I would urge you to do that.
7008 And the answer you just gave me, you could do this or that, is not helpful. I would like to you to say what you, given from your point of view, what you think would be the most appropriate formula, you know, so we have concrete ones that we can compare.
7009 Now, local programming. You said in your written submission that we are using "confusing definitions," those are your words. It is a tough one to define. How would you define it? Do you have sort of a definition you prefer?
7010 MR. MURDOCH: I think we have said in our submission there, we certainly have a definition for local news programming, which is the main thrust of our concerns at this point.
7011 And our concern is, and we have said it here today orally, that it can be anything from, as it stands right now, it can be anything from sort of pet horoscopes to comedians talking about the news apparently sort of passes for news programming.
7012 We think that original news and news events -- I mean, I don't think we need, maybe we do, a real definition of the news. We watch the news, we have some idea that the news is current events, you know. But it is not comedy, it is not pet horoscopes, it is not your favourite recipe, it is not breakfast television, you know, it is news.
7013 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Well, let me push you a bit on that, because it is not that easy. You say original news. Let's assume, for argument's sake, I agree with you and it should be only news. What is original? How long does something stay original? How many times can you repeat it because it will be no longer original?
7014 MS AUER: We would be willing to be corrected, but we had the impression that once a program is repeated the first time it is a repeat. If you take a 16-minute newscast and then rerun it the next day, it is not original, it is the repeat of the original broadcast. There is one original broadcast.
7015 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. There is a huge fire in Halifax, you show it in the morning news. I missed it, so I am not going to see it in the afternoon because it is no longer original, it won't be shown again?
7016 I mean, repeat is not only being done for the purpose of avoiding statutory obligation, it is also for informing people because they didn't hear it the first time. So I don't know why you want to restrict it to original only. I mean, repeat is a perfect legitimate way of informing people.
7017 MR. MURDOCH: I would agree with you, absolutely, Commissioner. And the thing I guess, in some ways, is that you know some disastrous event or even some triumphant event, gold medal or something, people might want to see it again.
7018 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
7019 MR. MURDOCH: Chances are that that story will have been moved, as I say, forward, chased. So now instead of just the gold-medal win or the fire, you have reaction from the fire department, you have reaction from the family, you have reaction from the community. It will be moved. You will still see the gold-medal win or the fire disaster, but they will move the story along.
7020 I mean, that is what makes news, just showing and repeating there was a big fire or, you know, George won the gold medal today, doesn't move the story along, in fact it is just simply a repeat.
7021 But even at that, Commissioner, I will grant you this, there may be events, but they would be rare events when you would want to say, wait a minute, this is really important. But that is not what is happening
7022 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the only reason I am saying that, it is very difficult to define that when you say what is original, you say it should be original news. So it begs the question what is original, et cetera. You accuse us of using confusing or vague definitions. I urge you to, if you have a better one that you suggest we should use, put it forward. But it is not that easy to draft, that is all. And just my point on the original just now was just to exemplify it. You have to draw lines somewhere if you try to do this.
7023 MS AUER: Mr. Chairman, if you would like, we would be happy to file that as an undertaking, what we view it as.
7024 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please do.
7025 Okay, Mr. Murdoch, in paragraph 93 in your submission you say:
"Why hasn't deregulation worked? Why then are Canada's private broadcasters killing off programming that makes money for them?" (As read)
7026 I don't understand, what programming is making money for them? As I say, we have heard evidence and evidence over the last two weeks basically suggesting that, unfortunately, you make money off American programming. Making money off Canadian programming, it is very difficult because of the small market that we have.
7027 The costs are just as expensive to make Canadian programming as U.S. programming and so, therefore, the business model that most broadcasters use is you make the money on the American programming and you use it to finance the Canadian programming, which they all like, they are all very passionate about, they want to have Canadian programming that reflects Canada, but making money off them is very difficult. And that includes local programming, it includes news, it definitely includes drama, et cetera.
7028 You are suggesting that they can make money off it. I don't quite understand where that conclusion comes from.
7029 MR. MURDOCH: I will let Monica say something and then I will add.
7030 MS AUER: Mr. Chairman, I guess out point is they are two-fold. In that particular paragraph you started out by saying why hasn't deregulation worked? Our point in that little section was to say we have had 25 years of deregulation that was designed to strengthen broadcasters' bottom line.
7031 It is peculiar to us that here we are at the end of 25 years of deregulation and now we are in a real fix. Now, we could attribute part of that to domestic economic conditions, but maybe the fact is that there is a different issue that has to do with how businesses are run.
7032 Which brings me to perhaps CEP's second point, is that we would be delighted to look at the books of the individual station and give you our views as to whether or not the local news is really losing money.
7033 On your total aggregated annual Canadian programming financial summaries we can see that it looks to us, from your figures, as if local advertising sales exceed certainly local news expenditures as well as local program in total expenditures.
7034 So we have some difficulty understanding what is happening because, of course, we can't see the individual station financials.
7035 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, that is a different issue, but I will answer that in a second.
7036 But, first of all here, you say "are killing off programming that makes money." So the underlying assumption there is that local programming actually makes money, is that right?
7037 MS AUER: Well, we have no way to say that it does not make money, because we can't see the individual books. But certainly, I think it might have been the experience of the individual members, that they are hearing different things from their station managers.
7038 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, as you well know, that information is confidential and stations, for competitive reasons, don't like to exchange that and make it public.
7039 We have had the last week, and even this morning, hearings in camera where we look at the confidential filings on a station by station breakdown to assure ourselves of what they are telling us. These are their audited financial statements.
7040 Unfortunately, it bears out the question that they are not making money, either on local programming. And, you know, I have no interest in lying to you or misrepresenting things. Those are the facts as presented to me. We cannot make it public for confidential reasons. But on the other hand, we insisted that they be filed, we insisted there be an in camera hearing and we did a cross-examination them on those statements in order to verify to our own satisfaction that these are actually truly reflected things as they are.
7041 MR. MURDOCH: Just in quick response, part of the difficulty we have I guess in not knowing that is that we rely on some statements that have been made by managers at the local stations so, you know, we can't bring those folks here. But those statements have said quite clearly that the local programming is paying for itself in a number of stations.
7042 So I understand what you are saying and I trust your integrity here. But what I am telling you is there are other things out there being said and we all know too well that there are ways of -- and, sir, maybe you are an expert at this stuff, I certainly am not. But I do know that we are all too well aware, a way shuffling, you know, losses and profits and revenue and, you know, I mean it becomes a shell game.
7043 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I mean, I appreciate you are hearing a different story from your members. I just wanted to tell you what we have done to sort of assure ourselves that the story unfortunately is what it is.
7044 Now, you were talking in your presentation, there is a subscriber fee for local services. And here this morning you use the expression fee for carriage. Is that the same thing? Well interesting, because I read through --
7045 MS AUER: Could you tell us perhaps what paragraph you are looking at in our written submission?
7046 THE CHAIRPERSON: Page 42, paragraph 127 and onwards, you are talking about a subscriber fee for carriage.
7047 MS AUER: Yes, that is fee for carriage.
7048 THE CHAIRPERSON: So how would your fee for carriage work? Because you are sort of suggesting subscribers here have some sort of control or say in the fee that is being set, which is not what the fee for carriage idea that is being floated by broadcasters is.
7049 MS AUER: If we left the impression in our written submission that we believe somehow subscribers are going to control this, that isn't what we are saying. We support fee for carriage. We believe broadcasters need some sort of additional support, certainly at this time, even if we don't know the case we might have to meet with respect to broadcasters' financial data on a station by station basis.
7050 THE CHAIRPERSON: So basically, you are endorsing the idea of Canwest and CTV, that they be paid for their signal on a per-signal basis, whatever the rate is?
7051 MR. MURDOCH: Right. We would add just two strong caveats to that: one, being that certainly those revenues go to local news; and two, that there is -- and I think this is just critical, critical whether it is the LPIF or whether it is fee for carriage -- there has to be some accountability. We are very very nervous about just a quantum going to the broadcasters without any accountability that is transparent.
7052 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, let's take this step by step.
7053 On page 43 of your submission you say:
"Recipients of local programming subscriber fee: local stations that originate original news and non-news content." (As read)
7054 So the fee for carriage in your scenario would not go to the network, but go to the local station and now would have to stay there and be spent there locally presumably. And you want it to be incremental, if I understand that, so that however that station is financed right now, that that money cannot be...
7055 And certainly you want, if I understand, some provision --
7056 MS AUER: I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, just to make sure, we were nodding all along there, but yes, we agree with what you are saying.
7057 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, I don't understand that intervention.
7058 MR. MURDOCH: She was just confirming that we were agreeing with all of your points there.
7059 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. But then, now you say accountability, which presumably you wanted to make sure that that money is spent on local news and local programming and is not sucked out by the networks through management fees or other devices, and also that there is a measureable improvement on local -- of an agreement.
7060 This requires a fairly high degree of intervention from us. So how would you actually operationalize? What would see us doing; prescribe outcomes, have audits, how do you actually make that -- let's assume for argument's sake I buy into your idea. And so here is a local station in Windsor and they are now getting $20 million extra or whatever the amount is for local news and local programming. $20 million is way too much, let's say $2 million.
7061 THE CHAIRPERSON: What then? How do we make sure the accountability that you are talking about, what do you have in mind there?
7062 MR. MURDOCH: Well, I will begin here. I think there are two things; there is logs and auditing, there is, you know, various ways we can do that. And I have to say that I think it is important that we do that, because you raised earlier here the question of what is news and what is repeat and what is not repeat. So there is a lot of greyness in some of this.
7063 And when we are asking the cable subscribers and the cable companies to put some money forward to support local programming, we do want to make sure. And whether that requires auditing or whether it requires some sort of monitoring, yes, I think that the Commission will have to put some energy into that.
7064 If it is important enough to ask cable companies to kick in, then I think it is important enough to ensure that it is monitored properly.
7065 MS AUER: And, of course, the Commission already has its annual return reporting system in which broadcasters are required under regulation to submit certain levels of information each year.
7066 I don't think that the CEP is suggesting that this be a weekly event, a monthly event, but perhaps a couple of lines added to your annual report indicating how much precisely was spent on how many hours of original local news and/or including original local programming. That would be something that would be relatively I think simple to operationalize if I understand your meaning correctly.
7067 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Now, at the end of your submission you suggest we do a one-year renewal where basically a lot of things are worked out on the basis of existing terms and conditions.
7068 If you look at Canwest, especially where you are talking about, local content and local news, their requirements are all over the place, as you know, because they are historically offered by broadcasters and accepted, and they go from 34 hours to nine or something, if memory serves me correctly.
7069 Now, they come across with the suggestion that we reduce it to five and 10, five hours of news casting in centres under a million and 10 in centres over a million. Doesn't that make a logical -- whether you agree with the numbers is a different story, but doesn't harmonization make sense?
7070 We have a network here that is ailing, that is fighting for survival, has these completely divergent requirements which have historical excellence, trying even for this one year to impose a logical number across the board, doesn't that make common sense?
7071 MR. MURDOCH: Right. Well, it is difficult to agree with harmonization at such a base level. So in some ways the number does count with the concept. And part of the problem we are going to have if we start to harmonize is that there is an expectation now on the part of some communities that have seen and supported some significant hours of local programming. What is going to happen all of a sudden when those disappear?
7072 But I think, conceptionally, you know, we don't have too much of a problem with that. On this reminder, that this is temporary, this is a one-year -- we are going to be doing the larger licences in 2010.
7073 I just want to make clear to you, Commissioner, that I understand why it is, I think I understand why it is, you might want to extend that one year. It might be that a year from now we really don't know what the new economic reality is and so I understand the rationale for it. I was just surprised to sort of see it pop up.
7074 MS AUER: I guess, the other thing, Mr. Chairman, if I could just add to that very briefly, is the notion that this is an unusual hearing, it is a narrowed scope hearing, it was designed to address the specific financial issue now. You know, 2010 might be the appropriate place to think about what is a rational harmonization approach, if you will.
7075 That might be the appropriate place for communities to get involved and say this is what we expect from our individual local TV stations. Because by 2010 we would then have a clear understanding of where the Commission would be going on the LPIF and/or the fee for carriage or any other revenue model.
7076 Then we might know as well what the impact of the addition advertising time is this coming September when advertising limits are lifted. We might know then what the impact of the Olympics have been. We would know then whether or not, for instance, pharmaceutical advertising might be allowed, as Canwest has proposed.
7077 And of course, perhaps most importantly, we might have a different view from the Commission as to how it actually intends to proceed with group licensing, where it would consider as well specialty in combination.
7078 So I guess our position here is that this is an exceptional hearing. Perhaps this is not the best time to start making decisions about local programming levels that may become permanent.
7079 THE CHAIRPERSON: I know. But at the same time, because it is an exceptional hearing, the question is whether there should be exceptional measures. You know, because you don't want the patient to die while you figure out what the cure is. That is really our problem here, one of them.
7080 I mean, it seems to me when I look at Canwest and the obligations across their network, they are so rational that whether we say 5 and 10 or 9.5 and 14, like CTV says, et cetera, as I say, the numbers are different -- the idea of rationalization struck me as logical.
7081 The other part that you haven't talked about at all, which is of course is both the issue of priority programming and independent production. Because the independent broadcasters have said, we need some relief, only for this year, but because it is an exceptional year we all know -- we hope for hitting bottom, maybe we already have, but we could only be so lucky. But this is an unusual crisis that nobody foresaw and so we need some relief. And either 75 per cent independent production or the priority hours, whatever it is, is too high and has to be brought down.
7082 Do you have any view on either one of those?
7083 MR. MURDOCH: At this point, no. We have focused our attention on local news. My colleagues in the guilds will be addressing that. I think that is their more central issue.
7084 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you. I think those are my questions.
7086 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Just to get back what Mr. Cameron was describing, and using the case of Halifax. If I understand you well, what you are saying and the model that you describe for Halifax where they have three local news items spread over an hour, is it the same model that they use in every market? So in other words, do they have a single cue sheet and accept the local items, the rest is the same from market to market?
7087 MR. CAMERON: It is very similar.
7088 The way in which it works, just so that we are very clear, and I don't want to unfairly state it, each of the stations that goes into a broadcast centre, so Winnipeg, Halifax, Regina and Saskatchewan will be rolled in, Lethbridge at this point in time --
7089 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Montreal is as well.
7090 MR. CAMERON: Montreal is done out of Vancouver. As well out of Vancouver we do Victoria and Kelowna.
7091 Each of those stations has a producer in the broadcast centre. So, for instance, in Vancouver, which I know well, there would be throughout the day a producer for Montreal, a producer for Kelowna and a producer for Victoria sitting in a row. I have a great story about this, I will throw that in, let me write that intro; same intro, same story goes everywhere.
7092 Does that answer your question?
7093 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Okay. So finally, the newscasts that Montreal, Lethbridge and Victoria will carry the same international and national content, probably in the same order?
7094 MR. CAMERON: The order may be slightly different, but the stories are the same.
7095 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: The stories are the same. And there are slots to introduce local components. And you were using the number 3. Is it a fixed number or it will vary from day to day?
7096 MR. CAMERON: It varies from station to station and day to day, depending on how many crews are assigned for that particular day.
7097 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Okay, thank you. That is a clarification that helps.
7098 MR. CAMERON: Just one further point, just so that I am absolutely clear. The way in which many of these shows are structured is the local will be part of a package.
7099 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes.
7100 MR. CAMERON: And then they will go to a commercial break and they will come back with their international and national stories, and those are the stories that the producers and the broadcast centre do, so they are called B block, C block, those stories are done in the broadcast centres and are similar across the country.
7101 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you. Well, that clarifies at least for better understanding of what they do.
7102 Now, Mr. Murdoch, in your oral presentation this afternoon, on page 10, in section B you talk about the return of the CAPEX to support local communities. And you end at paragraph 56, take the CAPEX back, put it into new original local news.
7103 Well, how would it work? What are you trying to get? It is BDU CAPEX that you're talking --
7104 MS AUER: Yes.
7105 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And the money will flow to the over-the-air broadcaster?
7106 MS AUER: To the local community by serving them with original local news.
7107 We're not talking about taking away CAPEX for existing capital projects, we're talking about the original --
7108 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: The old one of 1992?
7109 MS AUER: They kept half the money under the original plan.
7110 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes. Well, in 19 -- the decision was made some time in 1992 to leave it to them and, obviously, what's the value of that CAPEX now?
7111 MS AUER: Well, I have every confidence in the CRTC's highly capable Staff being able to calculate this, but back then it was worth a lot of money and presumably if they were allowed to keep that money under that particular regime, the money might be worth a little bit more now.
7112 The whole point is, I mean, certainly on the telecom side it was my understanding that under the old rate regulation regime, once you finished building a capital project you gave the money back so that subscribers didn't pay for it indefinitely.
7113 That's the principle here really.
7114 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Or you buy new equipment that are needed, you upgrade the plant and you keep the same money to upgrade the plant.
7115 MS AUER: Well, I suppose that's true, but if the -- if the CRTC got an application -- and I'm not an engineer either, you know, lawyers are ignorant in so many ways -- but if they got money to put in, I don't know, fibre to a hundred homes and the fibre was installed and fully paid for, that was what the increase was granted for, it wasn't granted for and, by the way, after you've built it you can do anything else you like with the money.
7116 I mean, the Commission at that time was granting it for very clear reasons.
7117 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Okay. Well, I wasn't there, neither of my colleagues were, so we don't know the details.
7118 But thank you.
7119 Those were my questions, Mr. Chair.
7120 THE CHAIRPERSON: Candice?
7121 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
7122 You mentioned that you focused, and I see in your presentation here that you have focused on the issue of local news, but your members also include technical membership; correct.
7123 Do you have a position related to the free set proposal that was presented to us last week that's related to the digital transition?
7124 MR. MURDOCH: You know, I'd be shooting from the hip, so I think I will just leave that alone.
7125 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Entirely, or would you be prepared to come back with something that reflects your members' position on that?
7126 MR. MURDOCH: Yes, we can take an undertaking, sure.
7127 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you very much.
7128 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. If there are no more questions, Madam -- sorry, Peter. I kept looking at you and...
7129 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I get lost down here.
7130 Just a quick -- try to make this quick for you, a clarification.
7131 I agree there's an enormous difference between local news being broadcast and a local news broadcast in terms of that and just to clarify on that, I'm just trying to get a clear picture of that.
7132 The line-up in Halifax, the order in which stories are presented, and we just call local local, so whether it's national, international, local local, international, that is all generically set; is it? Does that order change at all based on what might be -- like a story from China might be of much more interest in Vancouver than it is in Halifax, for instance. Is that line-up all generically set?
7133 MR. CAMERON: No, the producers in the broadcast centre work with the news directors to set out the line-up. So, there's a phone call --
7134 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
7135 MR. CAMERON: -- each day and the stories do move around a bit.
7136 Generally what happens -- when I say generally, I mean four days out of five -- what happens is your local stories go in your first package.
7137 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right.
7138 MR. CAMERON: And then the producer in the broadcast centre is said -- is told, fill it.
7139 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. And that just -- yeah, it just fills, it becomes -- it's back filled then, you lead with your local stories.
7140 Is there any opportunity at all in that structure for the local input into say national stories? If there's a story out of Ottawa, you know, is there any point at which the comments that are in that story come from...
7141 You know, typically in a political story you're talking to the Conservative, NDP and Liberal people. Are those people generic Ottawa people, or is there any opportunity for like the B.C. MPs to be spoken to in the Vancouver example or the Halifax MPs to be spoken to in that example?
7142 MR. CAMERON: You've keyed on one of our big problems. One size fits all for the stories from Ottawa or even for stories about, say, the flooding that happened on the Prairies.
7143 It's, "here's your story, take it or leave it".
7144 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: All right.
7145 MR. CAMERON: So, that's a real key point because when you go back and look at my station, for instance, CHAN, at one time maintained an Ottawa bureau and had a number of reporters that specifically addressed questions from a B.C. perspective.
7146 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right.
7147 MR. CAMERON: Which admittedly it's a little different than the rest of the country.
7148 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. So, you only get national news then from a national perspective, not from a B.C. perspective or a Nova Scotia perspective?
7149 MR. CAMERON: That's absolutely correct.
7150 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. And when was the last -- I don't need to know that right now.
7151 An issue around the fee for carriage, or even the LPIF solution, you want the money to go directly into local newsrooms, I take it.
7152 Really what difference does that make? I mean, if you've got a newsroom that costs $5-million to run and we order somebody to send it directly to you, that just means that funding doesn't have to come corporately into that centre and it just gets diverted; right?
7153 I mean, how do you see that as actually protecting the local product at all?
7154 MR. MURDOCH: Well, you know, I think -- as I understand it, being a former newspaper executive, you understand that there's some kind of autonomy in stations or newspapers that people value and I -- you know, what we want to see here is money putting feet on the street, putting reporters, news gatherers, people who actually are going to help produce local news.
7155 And that kind of autonomy I think comes directly from the stations where they are rather than from the central head office body.
7156 Give it to the people -- give it to the people where it's needed and let the local people decide where it's going to go, but, you know, it's got to go to news gathering.
7157 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: True, okay.
7158 I don't want to get into a long -- but we can't dictate to people what their corporate structures are. We can't tell them that they need to have a more decentralized decision-making process and do that, so -- sorry, go ahead.
7159 MR. MURDOCH: Well, no, but that's why we emphasized that the accountability and transparency is so important is, you know, if the cheque goes to head office in Toronto and then the proportional ratio of it goes to Halifax or Winnipeg, okay, but what we want to know is what happened, what did that actually produce for the folks in Winnipeg in terms of their local news, you know?
7160 It's just a matter of accountability and transparency. Whether I send it to Toronto and it goes to Winnipeg, you know, and it needs that hurdle, well, it needs that hurdle.
7161 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: You just want us to put like purple dots on the money so you can trace it as they go through it.
7162 MR. MURDOCH: You know, international financiers do something quite like that.
7163 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And then my other question is, with Wheatley/Windsor, I was just trying to check the transcript and I couldn't quite find it, but I'm pretty sure we had a number of around 40.
7164 THE CHAIRPERSON: (off microphone)
7165 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. And I just wanted it clear. You work there and you say there's 17 people.
7166 MS WARREN: There is 17 people in Windsor.
7167 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
7168 MS WARREN: Yes.
7169 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Well, we're going to have to -- somebody doesn't -- something's wrong.
7170 One more question. In paragraph 37 on page 8 you said, you know:
"...the broadcasters have reclassified sales made at local stations into sales made at the national level." (As read)
7171 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: How do you know that and what does that mean?
7172 MR. CAMERON: Our members work in all aspects of the business and they've looked at the avails, that's what they're called.
7173 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yeah.
7174 MR. CAMERON: And they know that. You can see it on the sheets, what's been allocated to the local station, what's been allocated to the national sales.
7175 We also have it from testimony in front of the Canadian Industrial Relations Board and we have it in staff meetings from across the country.
7176 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And do you have any idea why that was done? I mean, do you have knowledge as to why that was done? Is there like a memo saying, do this or is it --
7177 MR. CAMERON: I think you'd have to ask the managers of the company why they did that.
7178 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Well, no, I'm not going to let you off the hook that easy. You can't ring the doorbell and run away on that one.
7179 I mean, you're implying -- it's not implying -- you're stating, it's underlined, to look like they're losing money, right.
7180 I mean, so you've already said it, so I'm kind of getting -- I just want to know, I know you have testimony and that, but if you have something to back it up because it's an important thing to say or be clarified.
7181 MR. MURDOCH: Right. And, you know, our problem is, is that, you know, it's courageous for these people to be here and testifying about their employer.
7182 When we have significant disagreements it becomes even a little more risky, I'm afraid to say, and there is some, you know, responsibility put on employees, as you know legally, that they don't want to put themselves in jeopardy.
7183 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. But --
7184 MR. MURDOCH: Just hold on, Commissioner Menzies, we're not making this up.
7185 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. That's fine. I mean, I understand their position as being employees, but you're not an employee of them; right, you're their union representative, so maybe you can say things that they would not feel comfortable and I really think they would expect you to, you collect their dues and do that.
7186 So, if you're not making it up, I want to ask, can you take an undertaking to provide us hard evidence?
7187 I'm not saying I don't believe you, I'm not saying I believe you, just --
7188 MR. MURDOCH: I will take an undertaking to do what I can without putting a single member in jeopardy of losing their job.
7189 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Murdoch, you can file it in confidence, the same way as the broadcasters file their financial data in confidence.
7190 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: You can file it in confidence, if you need to. We just need to know -- we need good stuff to make decisions, that's all.
7191 The last thing, and this is perhaps a little more depressing, but I do want your view on it.
7192 I mean, everybody said the business model is broken, there's been obviously talk of regulatory changes and that sort of stuff.
7193 Have you considered the possibility that the halcyon days of OTA broadcasting are over and that it was a good ride; right, it lasted 30, 40 years and that managers did well, workers did well and that sort of stuff and that you're going to have to be looking in the years ahead at a whole -- you know, somewhat the same as the auto industry's doing, at a whole recreation of the model which is going to mean a much different set of expectations for the operators and the workers?
7194 MR. MURDOCH: Well, I'm going to take a little bit of time with this one.
7195 First of all, yeah, I think that -- I don't think the Hhlcyon days are over, I mean, some of that is just simply dependent on the economy. So, whether or not the conventional broadcasting itself can survive, well, some of that will depend on the economy, but our notion is, is that it will survive and do very well.
7196 You know, one of the -- the elephant in the room here for a lot of Canadian broadcasting is $4-billion in debt which I haven't heard anybody mention and, you know, what's caused a lot of these problems is servicing debt loads, not what's going on in the marketplace.
7197 So, let me just finish here. So, that's one thing.
7198 The other thing is, I have a great deal of faith that large media companies -- and this just doesn't come out of the air -- have a way of flexibility and have a way of kind of moving around changes in the media cycle so that they can adjust to this.
7199 And all I have to do is look at radio. Radio is still doing very well, you know, the iPods didn't change anything, television didn't change anything, radio survived very well thank you very much.
7200 Hollywood has survived television, Hollywood has survived DVDs, Hollywood is surviving the Internet.
7201 There's a way, and given that most of conventional broadcasting is content driven, will there be some changes in the sector, will there be some changes in distribution? I suspect so. But I wouldn't be surprised if some of those actually brought additional revenue in the long run, you know.
7202 And people are trying to sort this out one way or another. And, so, I'm certainly far from any kind of media guru, but I'm a little tired of hearing from the broadcasters that the sky's falling, the sky's falling. I don't see that.
7203 Are they facing some difficulties now? Yeah, but every sector of the economy is.
7204 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thank you.
7205 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7206 You say the elephant in the room is the debt service, the other elephant in the room is the Internet, and I think you appeared at our New Media hearing and that's obviously something we always have to keep in mind and when we regulate you, how far can we go, if we don't drive the whole broadcasting into the new media.
7207 MR. MURDOCH: I'm just going to let Mr. Holmes answer that.
7208 MR. HOLMES: Before we go, I'm Jim Holmes, I work at CKVR Television in Barrie which is an A-channel.
7209 THE CHAIRPERSON: M'hmm.
7210 MR. HOLMES: I've been there 30 years.
7211 It really has to be said that you really have to understand the importance that the community holds in their local news program.
7212 You can call it local news, you can call it local programming. The reality is at my station where I work there is no such thing as local programming if it isn't local news.
7213 All those -- all the programs were axed in 1990 when the regulations were changed. All the producers were moved into news or other functions, all the announcers were moved into news as news reporters or in promotions.
7214 So, there is no local programming that we like to talk about, it's news.
7215 And my community is -- was shocked when, first of all, on March 3rd our breakfast show was cancelled, that somehow they claim were not making any money. It was a minimal staff working on it, it wasn't like it was at Citytv in Toronto and they -- CTV hoped that we'd get a 20 percent share of the viewers and we ended up with a 33 percent share and we saved -- we actually saved 93 percent of our viewership that was watching Citytv when we would put 10-minute segments in to the Citytv Breakfast Television Show before.
7216 But when the news -- when the morning show was dropped and then there was this threat of cancelling the local news, it has to be said, the community of Barrie and surrounding area: Collingwood, Orillia, Elmvale, Gravenhurst, Muskoka, Newmarket, Bradford, they were outraged, literally outraged that they could possibly lose their local news.
7217 We started a petition -- I started a petition along with the MP, Patrick Brown -- the Conservative MP Patrick Brown and we would go out into the community. The workers, myself a ground floor worker, we were the ones going out in the community with the petition and asking people to sign it.
7218 And I literally would have a line-up of people when I was downtown and all they would say is, is that the petition?
7219 It wasn't, is that the petition to save the cat? Is that the petition to save, you know, the whales? They knew it was The Petition to save local news and their local station.
7220 So, please understand very clearly that you can use the term halcyon days of broadcasting. I disagree, it is not the end of the halcyon days of broadcasting, believe me.
7221 I have travelled -- I don't have trouble paying my mortgage, but I certainly have to pay a mortgage and I don't live in a halcyon lifestyle.
7222 But the local community loves their local news as they do in Windsor, as they do in London, as they do in Pembroke, as they do in Ottawa and we have been told -- let me make this very, very clear -- I was told on Friday by our general manager if we do not get fee for carriage local news will be cancelled at our station next September. Done, finished, fifty-five years, finished.
7223 So, please understand very clearly how important this is to the people of Canada, their local news information.
7224 THE CHAIRPERSON: We appreciate you were told that so that you could repeat it here and you've done your job.
7225 MR. HOLMES: I just wanted to make sure while I was here that it was said.
7226 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
7227 Madame Dionne?
7228 MS DIONNE: I have four undertakings.
7229 Please file comments in response to the three documents filed Monday the 27th of April on the public record regarding fee for carriage and the local programming improvement fund, including what the best formula would be for the fund.
7230 Second, provide your definition of original local news programming.
7231 Third, provide any comments that you may have on the Bell free set proposal.
7232 And, last, file any evidence that local sales are being recorded as national sales.
7233 I would ask that you file your responses by May 13th.
7234 Thank you.
7235 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you for your presentation. That's all we have for you today.
7236 Madam Roy, I believe we have one more witness.
7237 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
7238 I would now invite Centre for Community Study to come forward to the presentation table.
7239 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Commençions.
7240 THE SECRETARY: Appearing for the Centre for Community Study is Ms Sonja Macdonald, and you have 15 minutes to make your presentation.
7241 MS MACDONALD: Good afternoon.
7242 My name is Sonja Macdonald and I am the Executive Director of the Centre for Community Study which is a Hamilton, Ontario based non-profit urban research group.
7243 We have been working with the support of the City of Hamilton, local community groups and citizens for the last five years on what we call the Hamilton Media Project, with the aim of expanding the level of local media diversity in our community.
7244 Central to the project has been our work to effect change here at the Commission.
7245 Before I begin, I'd like to thank Commissioners and Staff for providing me time for my comments which will deal almost exclusively with issues surrounding the local television market in Hamilton, Ontario.
7246 I'll begin with a very brief review of certain unique characteristics of the Hamilton television environment, and then several specific points dealing with the renewal of two licences, the first for CHCH TV in Hamilton and the second is for SUN TV, a station that is licensed to serve both Toronto and Hamilton in local programming.
7247 First, let me provide you with some context about our community. Hamilton is one of Canada's older cities located at the western tip of Lake Ontario. It is the ninth largest Census Metropolitan Area or CMA in the country, on par with Winnipeg and Quebec City, with a regional population of over 700,000 people. With the inclusion of the Niagara Peninsula, the population is well over one million.
7248 In terms of defining the local Hamilton television market, the Commission, as recently as the Diversity of Voices decision identifies that:
"The parameters of a local market will be determined using the BBM/Nielsen definition of the local radio market." (As read)
7249 MS MACDONALD: Thus, the Commission lists Hamilton as its own local broadcast market on its website.
7250 Yet, BMM/Nielsen does not gather or publish data related to Hamilton as a unique television market but, rather, only as part of the Toronto/Hamilton extended market.
7251 This has fuelled a long-standing lack of diversity in local programming for our region and it has ensured a monopoly in local television for Canwest with the Commission's refusal to licence any new local stations for the area.
7252 This hearing provides a unique opportunity for the CRTC to clarify the definition of the Hamilton market for the broadcasters like Canwest and Sun TV and for the Hamilton region.
7253 Let me now turn to my comments about CHCH TV.
7254 Hamiltonians are fiercely proud of our local television station which was founded by Ken Soble in 1954. We like to remind folks that CHCH was one of the first independently owned local stations in Canada that produced significant levels of local programming ranging from news and public affairs to sports, variety and children's programming.
7255 There is tremendous local support for our station, albeit not in its current format, as demonstrated when Canwest announced its intentions to sell CHCH TV earlier this year.
7256 This includes the coalescing of a local non-profit group interested in buying the station and refocusing it on local news and public affairs programming.
7257 Also, Hamilton City Council passed a motion in support of keeping CHCH open and focused on local programming while stating that:
"The experiment with E! TV has been a dismal failure." (As read)
7258 MS MACDONALD: These actions were supported by the broader Hamilton citizenry as demonstrated in the thousands of individuals who joined a social networking group online related to the issue and many more who also attended rallies in support of keeping our station open and local.
7259 Despite this demonstrated demand from our citizenry for the preservation of our local television station, we do not see a similar commitment in Canwest's application for renewal of this station.
7260 Rather, Canwest is requesting a significant reduction from 36.5 hours per week of local programming to only five hours a week.
7261 The Centre for Community Study strongly opposes the request for this change.
7262 CHCH TV is the only television station licensed to exclusively serve the Hamilton, Halton and Niagara regions, a market of well over one-million Canadians. This reduction would remove any substantive local element to this station.
7263 The Commission recognized the importance of the independence of a local Hamilton television station when it approved the transfer of licence to Canwest in 2000. The approval was contingent on CHCH's:
"...continued operation as a stand-alone independent station providing a high level of local programming complemented by a full eight hours per week of unduplicated priority programming." (As read)
7264 MS MACDONALD: Since then, Hamiltonians have witnessed the whittling away of our treasured institution, first with Canwest's move to remove the local identity of this 50-year-old station with its re-branding to a defacto specialty channel E!
7265 This was followed by another recent approval by the Commission to relax the separation of programming between Canwest's Toronto Global and CHCH and now Canwest is requesting this extensive reduction in local programming.
7266 The importance of local content for a community is something I found repeated in the transcripts of the proceedings of this hearing, particularly by Mr. Asper in his comments on Tuesday, April 28th, where in response to the Chair's question about the purpose of conventional television Mr. Asper stated that:
"The essence of conventional TV is the provision of local information to people in those markets. Specialty [channels] does not provide that. And it's also a question of the diversity of voices that do provide that information. It's not just having one conventional TV channel and one local TV station, it's having several of them in a market. And it provides the support and the underpinning of the democracy we live in. It's the way information is disseminated to people so they can make informed decisions about their elected officials. And it's also where they get to know about their community. When a school is going to close, when a road is going to be paved, when a hospital is going to be open or closed." (As read)
7267 MS MACDONALD: By his comments, it appears that Mr. Asper is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. First, he's extolling the virtues of local programming while, at the same time, asking to substantially gut the local programming requirements of the Hamilton station.
7268 Furthermore, he is trying to have his cake and eat it too by continuing to transform the only conventional Hamilton television station into an entertainment specialty channel devoid of local identity.
7269 Thus, the Commission should deny the requested reduction of local programming hours for CHCH TV as this is the core element of the station's local identity without which it is a defacto second tier entertainment specialty channel, and that was clearly not what the station licence stipulated.
7270 I would like to turn now to our comments related to SUN TV formerly Toronto One.
7271 You heard from Mr. Nellis this morning. As the Commissioners are well aware, the initial application for this licence was to establish three local conventional stations in Kitchener/Waterloo, Toronto and Hamilton.
7272 Your predecessors decided to award one licence to Craig Broadcasting to serve Toronto and Hamilton.
7273 At the time that the station was sold to its current owners in 2004 we appeared before the Commission on behalf of the City of Hamilton to argue that because of the initial application process and due to the title of the station to serve Toronto and Hamilton, that this station should be required to provide local programming for the Hamilton region.
7274 In its Decision 2004-503, the Commission agreed with our position and stated:
"It considers that Toronto One's local programming should appropriately reflect the particular needs and interests of Hamilton residents and will expect the new licensee to demonstrate the specific efforts it has made in this regard when it applies for renewal of the Toronto One licence in 2008." (As read)
7275 MS MACDONALD: As noted in our brief, the applicants demonstrated some limited efforts, such as including the occasional Hamilton personality on some of their Toronto programs, yet they have not provided substantive Hamilton-specific content.
7276 As a result, we have requested that the Commission more clearly articulate the Hamilton local content conditions for SUN TV requiring that they are commensurate with those for Toronto.
7277 Additionally, to ensure that these conditions are upheld, the Commission should impose on SUN TV more accurate reporting standards, similar to those imposed on Canwest in their provision of local programming to the Niagara region in Decision 2005-544.
7278 Quebecor Media responded to our written submission in a letter to the Commission on April 8th, 2009. I'd like to focus my remaining comments on addressing certain claims made in that letter.
7279 The first point relates to the author's summary of the CRTC local programming requirements articulated in Decision 2004-503, where she seems to avoid mention of paragraph 21, where, as I stated earlier, the Commission states that:
"Toronto One's local programming should appropriately reflect the particular needs and interests of Hamilton residents and we will expect the new licensee to demonstrate the specific efforts it has made in this regard when it applies for renewal of the Toronto One licence in 2008."
7280 MS MacDONALD: So alongside the stations requirements for Toronto local programming, this decision clearly states that Sun TV is required to provide local programming for the Hamilton community. This is stipulated in the decision, it reflects the history of the granting of the licence and it differentiates Sun TV from other Toronto stations like CBLT, CFTO, and Citytv, as these were not licensed to serve Toronto and Hamilton.
7281 The second point I would like to address relates to the designation of Hamilton as a television market. The arguments presented by Quebecor in their letter are contradictory. In one instance they rely on BBM designation of the Toronto/Hamilton extended market to absolve themselves of the requirements of specific local Hamilton content, where elsewhere in the same letter they acknowledge:
"...that Hamilton does have a separate social, political, sporting and cultural life from Toronto."
7282 MS MacDONALD: Regardless of this contradiction, the fact remains that they have not fulfilled the obligations established in 2004. Therefore, we request that the Commission take the steps that I suggested earlier to ensure that Sun TV fulfill its requirements.
7283 Additionally, given their past performance, we urge the Commission to consider granting only a one year licence term for Sun TV to ensure their timely compliance with these conditions.
7284 Thank you for your time, and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding my comments.
7285 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
7286 I am somewhat puzzled here. You explained the great love Hamiltonians have for CCCH, their support for municipal government, the outcry by citizens, et cetera. Yet, when it was originally licenced it was 36.5 hours per week of local programming. Canwest and before -- whoever owned it before them have not been able to make money out of this.
7287 I mean, isn't the fact that the Commission agreed to that because that's what was proposed by the original applicant is why the terms should be held loosely. There is just not sufficient support for that much local programming in the Hamilton market? By us insisting that they live up to it aren't we just driving them into certain ruin?
7288 MS MacDONALD: Well, I think that there is a very particular problem with the Hamilton market and I think that there is demand for local programming and for high levels of local programming.
7289 But the way in which our market is defined by the BBM, which is what you rely on in terms of your television market designation, as do the broadcasters -- it doesn't provide the opportunity for whomever owns that station to seek out numbers for Hamilton specifically. So the ad numbers from what I understand, and what I have been told by BBM, is that they are numbers for Toronto and Hamilton as a whole.
7290 So for example, if CH or if Canwest or whomever owned the station prior to that say, "Well, we want to then provide advertising or programming for just, you know, this segment of the market" which is a smaller segment than obviously Toronto --
7291 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
7292 MS MacDONALD: -- then it's not as viable.
7293 The difficulty in terms of advertising also is what we have heard in the community, is that there are many smaller local businesses who would be very interested in advertising on television. They see the value of it because they know people watch CH. They can't afford it, and they can't afford it because it's part of the Toronto/Hamilton market and it's too expensive because the rates are too expensive.
7294 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry. If there is a demand for advertising and they want to advertise on that station and the station doesn't accept the advertising then presumably it is because at the rate that these people are willing to pay it's not commercially viable for them. I mean it has nothing to do with the ratings or anything.
7295 Isn't there just a sheer question here of supply and demand?
7296 MS MacDONALD: Well, there is two points. There is a supply and demand point but there is also the point about these licences are not just about Canwest making money. It's also a public resource for our community.
7297 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, absolutely. I understand that and we are trying to -- but it presupposes there is a business to be made and then if we say, "Here is your licence to make it but you have to serve the local community".
7298 I mean, from all the numbers I have seen on Hamilton it doesn't seem to be a viable case for a station in Hamilton for 36 hours of local programming. As much as the people may love their station, the financial support isn't there. And I don't think you have shown us anything that suggested it is there.
7299 MS MacDONALD: Well, I don't have access to the numbers that you have seen in terms of the station so I can't speak to that.
7300 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah.
7301 MS MacDONALD: What I can speak to, though, is that the programming -- and I was very interested to hear what the previous group was mentioning about the way in which local news is structured because that affects us very directly. Canwest does that in terms of our programming.
7302 So the way that they have currently structured the station as E! they have removed a lot of the local programming in terms of -- and the local feel to the station. They have re-branded it as E! and all sorts of things. So again, people don't turn to it because they don't view it anymore as being -- as much as being local.
7303 THE CHAIRPERSON: But isn't it logical to assume they re-branded and they did that because they weren't making money or sufficient money before and they are trying to think this through -- enhance it. I mean, I can't imagine anybody would go through this exercise if there was a viable business where they are making money. Why bother with re-branding? Why change from --
7304 MS MacDONALD: But I don't know if that decision on re-branding was being made specifically in concern of Hamilton alone because, as you know, the E! re-branding was done for five stations. It wasn't Hamilton-specific. So I can't speak to what the business model or the logic behind that has been.
7305 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, all I can tell -- I looked at the numbers for Hamilton and they are very awful.
7306 MS MacDONALD: We would love to see the numbers --
7307 THE CHAIRPERSON: Awful for the last --
7308 MS MacDONALD: -- for Hamilton.
7309 THE CHAIRPERSON: Unfortunately, they got progressively worse each year but I can't share them with you. I can only tell you the trend is clearly down.
7310 Rita, you have some questions?
7311 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you. Yes. Good afternoon, Ms MacDonald.
7312 MS MacDONALD: Hello.
7313 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: We will continue with CHCH for a few minutes and then we will move on to Sun TV and I did grow up watching Tiny Talent Time.
7314 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: If you were to rate on a scale from 1 to 10 on the level of satisfaction that people who live in Hamilton have for the 36.5 hours that CHCH does provide today where would you rate that -- E! branding issues apart, just on the essence and the quality and reflection of the local programming that's on that station today?
7315 MS MacDONALD: Well, if we are talking about the quality versus the quantity --
7316 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Yes.
7317 MS MacDONALD: -- and that's I think an important point, in terms of the quality of the production I don't think -- I think probably out of 10 you would probably be getting a 5 or a 6. It wouldn't be a hugely high rating. And one of the reasons why is that, what we heard about earlier in terms of the formatting of how the news is produced, which is what people primarily tune to.
7318 For news, I think that you would get a 5 or a 6. For the early morning program, so for the morning show and for the lunchtime show, you would probably get higher. You would probably get 7 or 8 and the reason why is because it tends to reflect what's going on in the community.
7319 So they will profile different events in terms of whether it's sporting events, whether it's community events and things like that. And, again, as I said, this is our only -- I mean in television this is our only avenue.
7320 We also don't have representation from our public broadcaster at all. So this is it for us.
7321 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And I know that -- you haven't used the word but, of course, going from 36.5 hours to five hours is a drastic reduction.
7322 MS MacDONALD: Yes.
7323 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: But do you believe that if we agree to the reduction to five hours that those five hours be a 10? In other words, all of their resources would go into producing some really good, high quality; reflective of Hamilton and the Niagara region programming because it's focused only on five hours and not a diluted 6.5 hours?
7324 MS MacDONALD: No. And I can't say anything -- I can't. Again, I don't work at CH. I don't know what their programming decisions are.
7325 But if I look at their news which would be what they would likely keep in terms of what they would air it doesn't -- as I said, it's not a 10 now. And I can't -- I can't assume that they are going to change their business model in terms of news that we heard about earlier just because they have reduced to five hours.
7326 You know, again, it is about this local reflection not only of local news and those three stories that may air in that hour, but also in those national stories. Again, having our Hamilton MPs speaking about what is going on at the CRTC or at the Heritage Committee or, you know, in terms of the budget that currently isn't what is going on in terms of the national coverage that we get in our local news.
7327 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay.
7328 Moving on to Sun TV, is it your suggestion that we should impose conditions of licence that a certain number of local hours be directed at Hamilton and Niagara region in their licence renewal the same?
7329 MS MacDONALD: We would like to see that. I found it interesting when I heard this morning about Mr. Nelles' and Mr. Gaudet's comments this morning about their existing efforts. They talked about $400,000 that were invested in terms of independent production. That's wonderful and I know that our local production industry supports that.
7330 But that does not necessarily mean that that money is spent on programming that reflects our community. It may just be they have used Hamilton as a venue for other production. So it would be -- I would like to see a quantitative number attached to what they are supposed to be doing in terms of that licence.
7331 Additionally, I mentioned both in our written brief and again in my comments this idea of tracking, of you know being able to record it, that they report back to you a measurement. And I know that the Commission imposed that upon Canwest in terms of CH coverage on the Niagara region. And from what we see of what that is, is that it's really just a tag at the bottom of the screen when a story is from the Niagara region. So that's all we are asking, is some clarity as to what did they actually consider Hamilton content.
7332 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay. I understand.
7333 Another issue you raised in your written submission that you didn't talk about this afternoon, however, is that you have a concern about the group renewal's process and specifically with the location of the public hearings. I don't know if you were in the room this afternoon but we did have videoconferencing from Vancouver.
7334 MS MacDONALD: I was here for that. I did see that. I think that --
7335 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: We would encourage you to use those videoconferencing facilities. There is one in Toronto, a heck of a lot closer than Gatineau.
7336 MS MacDONALD: It is.
7337 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: So if that is an issue we just want to let you know that videoconferencing is available for all of our hearings.
7338 MS MacDONALD: And that is great to know that it's available. I think there is another side to it, though, which is as much as it's for us to be able to communicate to you about what is important in terms of our communities, it's also an opportunity for you to come to different regions of the country to understand what is really going on in those regions because we don't really have an opportunity in 15-20 minutes or however much time is allotted to us in the renewals to be able to talk about that in great detail.
7339 And I know you received many submissions online and other things that may speak to that but, again, it's different when you actually have a feel to it. And I'm not necessarily suggesting -- we are not suggesting that you have a licence hearing in every city as the licence is renewed, but perhaps you do a regional structure so that there is representation maybe in Vancouver for the B.C. licences and Alberta for the Alberta licences and along by province. So that's, I think, one of the important things.
7340 Additionally, I think in terms of the process each licence is different. And I think that one of the concerns that we really have in terms of the group-based renewals is this -- you know, the levelling. You know, is Canwest suggesting the 10 and 5 in terms of local programming?
7341 Well, the history behind why certain stations have what they have is based on a long history of whatever those licences are. So the concern is that when they are in a group-based environment like this, there isn't as much time to really drill down to look at those individual stations and the individual conditions of those stations in particular. So that's a concern that we have.
7342 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Well, I think that I can speak on behalf of the Commission and that even though we would do a group licence renewal it doesn't mean that everything gets renewed under the same cloth in the sense that each station, each specialty service still has their own licence and each licence will get scrutinized. It's just that the group licence renewal means that we will see all of CTV over-the-air and conventional renewed at the same time, and the same with Canwest and every other broadcaster in the country.
7343 MS MacDONALD: No, I understand that. And I think the one thing that I do find interesting is the opportunity perhaps down the road to look at the specialty and conventional in the same -- and maybe I'm going back on myself here in terms of the group renewal process, but one of the other things that we mentioned in our written submission about fee for carriage was this idea that there is cross-subsidizing within the business.
7344 And I think that that is a venue if you have this group renewal where specialty and conventional are being renewed at the same time. There is an opportunity to look at that option.
7345 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Yes. Well, thank you very much, Ms MacDonald, for your intervention. Those are all my questions.
7346 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Those are all our questions. Thank you very much for your intervention.
7347 MS MacDONALD: Thank you very much.
7348 And I think, Madam Roy, that's it for today, right?
7349 THE SECRETARY: Yes, but I have something to add for the record, Mr. Chairman.
7350 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please go ahead.
7351 THE SECRETARY: I would like first of all to indicate that Mrs. Sandra Pupatello, MPP, Windsor West and Mr. Dwight Duncan, Item 21 on the Agenda, have indicated they will not appear at this hearing.
7352 As well for the record, on the opening day of the hearing the Commission presented a compensation for value of signal impact analysis in order to make a comparison with the funds that would be received through the Local Program Improvement Fund.
7353 On the second day of the hearing the Commission announced the formation of a working group to verify the assumptions behind the Commission's proposed compensation for value of signal impact analysis, following comments by parties who had appeared at the hearing.
7354 Although the Commission has announced on a number of occasions that the issue of compensation for value of signal does not fall within the scope of the hearing, the Commission does recognize that the issue forms an element of the backdrop to the hearing.
7355 The Commission will be contacting relevant industry representatives to participate in this working group following the end of the hearing and will arrange for this working group to meet before June 1st, 2009.
7356 The Commission cautions that this should not be taken as an indication of its position on granting of compensation for value of signal to conventional broadcasters but rather as an exercise to ensure that the Commission and interested parties have a common knowledge basis in any future discussions on this issue.
7357 Le premier jour de l'audience, le Conseil a présenté une analyse d'incidence sur la compensation de la valeur de signaux afin d'en comparer les revenus avec ceux qui pourraient provenir du Fonds pour l'amélioration de la programmation locale.
7358 Le second jour de l'audience, le Conseil a annoncé la formation d'un groupe de travail qui vérifierait les hypothèses sous-jacentes à l'analyse d'incidence proposée par le Conseil à la suite de commentaires des parties qui ont comparu à l'audience.
7359 Bien qu'il ait annoncé à plusieurs reprises que l'audience ne porterait pas sur la question de la compensation de la valeur de signaux, le Conseil reconnaît néanmoins que ce sujet s'impose comme un élément de la toile de fond de cette audience.
7360 À la fin de l'audience, le Conseil choisira les représentants de l'industrie dont il jugera la participation pertinente et les invitera à une rencontre de groupe de travail avant le 1er juin 2009.
7361 Le Conseil tient à souligner que sa démarche ne doit en aucun cas être interprétée comme une prise de position en faveur d'une compensation de la valeur de signaux à accorder aux radiodiffuseurs traditionnels, mais plutôt comme un exercice de recherche lui garantissant que le Conseil et les parties intéressées ont mis en commun leurs connaissances avant d'entreprendre de nouvelles discussions à ce sujet.
7362 Ceci conclut donc l'audience pour aujourd'hui, Monsieur le Président. Nous reprendrons l'audience demain matin à 9 h 00.
7363 LE PRÉSIDENT : O.K. Merci.
--- L'audience est ajournée à 1647, pour reprendre le mardi 5 mai 2009 à 0900
Johanne Morin Monique Mahoney
Madeleine Matte Jennifer Cheslock
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