Transcription, Audience du 16 octobre 2017
Volume : 1
Endroit : Gatineau (Québec)
Date : 16 octobre 2017
© Droits réservés
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Les participants et l'endroit
Tenue à :
Terrasses de la Chaudière
Administration centrale du Conseil
- Président : Ian Scott
- Vice-présidente, Radiodiffusion : Caroline Simard
- Conseillers(ères) : Yves Dupras, Linda Vennard, Christopher MacDonald
- Conseillers Juridique : Jean-Sébastien Gagnon, Adam Balkovec
- Secrétaire : Lynda Roy
- Gérante de l’audience : Sylvie Julien
--- L’audience débute lundi, le 16 octobre 2017 à 8h58
1 THE SECRETARY: Ladies and gentlemen, we will be starting in a few seconds. I would invite you to take place. Order, please. Merci.
2 Monsieur le président, nous sommes prêts à commencer.
3 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci.
4 Bonjour, mesdames, messieurs, et bienvenus à cette audience publique. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this public hearing.
5 Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge that we’re meeting here today on the traditional territory of the First Nations. I would like to thank the Algonquin people and pay respect to their elders.
6 Au cours de l’audience, nous nous pencherons sur le renouvellement de licences des fournisseurs de services de télévision qui arrivent à échéance en mai 2018.
7 A year ago, we mainly focused our review on providers’ practices regarding the small basic service and flexible packaging requirements as they were starting to implement the new policy framework, and with a view to ensuring long-term compliance, the Commission decided to renew the providers’ licences for one year.
8 We also established best practices to promote consumer choice and awareness.
9 La courte période de renouvellement a donné au CRTC l’occasion de surveiller les pratiques durant la mise en œuvre.
10 In the coming days, we will examine whether TV providers are following the best practices set out last year relating to the small basic package and flexible packaging options.
11 In addition, we will review whether and how they have implemented the requirement to offer all discretionary services, both on a standalone basis and in packages of up to 10 services.
12 Cette exigence est entrée en vigueur le 1er décembre 2016. Nous allons aussi poser des questions aux télédiffuseurs au sujet des canaux communautaires et de leur conformité aux exigences relatives à la programmation locale et d’accès.
13 Finally, we will discuss the progress of the industry working group on the development of a set top-box audience measurement system.
14 Avant de commencer, j’aimerais faire quelques présentations. Le comité d’audience se compose des personnes suivantes : Caroline Simard, vice-présidente, Radiodiffusion; Yves Dupras, conseiller régional du Québec; Dr. Linda Vennard, conseiller régional d’Alberta et des Territoires du nord-ouest; Chris MacDonald, conseiller régional de l’Atlantique et du Nunavut. I am Ian Scott, président du CRTC. Je présiderai cette audience.
15 The Commission team assisting us includes Sylvie Julien, Hearing Manager; Jean-Sébastien Gagnon and Adam Balkovec, legal counsel, and Linda Roy, our Hearing Secretary.
16 J’invite maintenant Mme Roy à expliquer les procédures que nous suivrons. Merci.
17 Madame la secrétaire?
18 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci, Monsieur le président et bienvenue à tous.
19 Before we start, I would like to go over a few housekeeping matters to ensure the proper conduct of the hearing. When you are in the hearing room, we would ask that you please turn off your smartphones as they cause interference on the internal communications systems used by our translators. We would appreciate your cooperation in this regard throughout the hearing.
20 Le service d’interprétation simultanée est disponible durant cette audience. Nous désirons rappeler aux participants d’allouer un délai raisonnable pour la traduction lors de leur présentation à vive voix, tout en respectant le temps alloué pour leur présentation.
21 Interpretation services will be available throughout the duration of the hearing. We would like to remind participants that during their oral presentation, they should pace themselves so as to provide reasonable time for interpretation while respecting their allocated presentation time.
22 Veuillez noter que les documents déposés lors de l’audience seront disponibles sur Twitter, sur le compte du Conseil @crtcaudiences en utilisant le mot clé #crtc.
23 There is a verbatim transcript of this hearing being taken by the court reporter sitting at the table to my right. Please note that the transcript of each day will be posted on the Commission website the following business day.
24 Just a reminder that pursuant to section 41 of the CRTC Rules of Practice and Procedures, you must not submit evidence at the hearing unless it supports statements already on the public record. If you wish to introduce new evidence as an exception to this rule, you must ask permission of the Commission panel before you do so.
25 Please note that if parties undertake to file information with the Commission in response to questioning, these undertakings will be confirmed on the record through the transcript of the hearing. If necessary, parties may speak with Commission legal counsel at the break following their presentation to confirm the undertakings.
26 For the record, please note that Blue Ant Media, Pelmorex Communications Inc. and intervenor Amanda Cape have indicated they will not be appearing at the hearing.
27 Et maintenant, Monsieur le président, nous allons débuter avec la présentation de Vidéotron lté et 9227-2590 Québec inc., associés dans une société en nom collectif faisant affaires sous le nom de Vidéotron, société en nom collectif.
28 Alors, s’il vous plaît présentez-vous d’abord aux fins du dossier. Vous disposez de 20 minutes pour votre présentation.
29 M. SASSEVILLE: Monsieur le président, Madame la vice-présidente, Madame la conseillère et Messieurs les conseillers, bonjour.
30 Je m’appelle Serge Sasseville et je suis vice-président principal, Affaires corporatives et institutionnelles de Québecor Média.
31 Nous sommes heureux de nous présenter devant le Conseil afin d’entamer la seconde phase du processus de renouvellement des licences de Vidéotron. Étant la première entreprise à comparaître devant vous, nous profitons de l’occasion pour féliciter le nouveau Président et la nouvelle Vice-présidente en radiodiffusion et leur adresser nos vœux de succès dans l'exercice de leurs fonctions.
32 Permettez-moi de vous présenter les collègues qui m’accompagnent aujourd’hui. À ma gauche, il s’agit de Philippe Cloutier, vice-président principal et chef de la direction financière de Vidéotron ainsi que Steve Desgagné, directeur principal de MAtv. À ma droite, Peggy Tabet, vice-présidente, Affaires réglementaires, Radiodiffusion de Québecor Média, Caroline Paquet, directrice principale, Marketing, Relation client et contenu de Vidéotron ainsi que Mario Lessard, directeur principal, Stratégies et données clients de Vidéotron.
33 M. CLOUTIER: Les valeurs d’entreprise de Vidéotron ont toujours été focalisées sur la volonté d’offrir à ses abonnés la meilleure expérience client, autant au niveau de la qualité et de la variété de l’offre que sur le plan du service à la clientèle.
34 D’ailleurs, les pratiques exemplaires qui ont été déterminées par le Conseil à la suite de l’audience de septembre 2016 ont notamment été inspirées par celles que Vidéotron mettait déjà en œuvre. Vidéotron a toujours été reconnue pour la simplicité et la transparence de ses offres, car elle a à cœur de fournir à ses clients une expérience conviviale. Selon l’étude Réputation 2017 de Léger, Vidéotron a été sacrée l’entreprise de télécommunications la plus admirée des Québécois en 2017, pour une 12e année consécutive. Le mérite revient, entre autres, au service à la clientèle de Vidéotron, réputé pour la rapidité, la clarté et l’efficacité des conseils des agents. Ces derniers ont toujours informé et guidé les abonnés actuels et potentiels à propos de tous les choix de services et de forfaits disponibles.
35 Vidéotron a aussi bonifié l’autonomie des abonnés en leur procurant les outils pour gérer leurs services de télévision de manière simple et efficace, notamment en ajoutant ou en retirant les chaînes de leurs choix directement via le boîtier décodeur ou en ligne.
36 Par ailleurs, Vidéotron n’offre qu’un seul service de base à 25 $, tout en donnant accès à des services à valeur ajoutée, tels que la vidéo sur demande, les applications mobiles et les services facultatifs. Les abonnés au service de base peuvent aussi bénéficier du rabais de services groupés.
37 En ce qui a trait aux pratiques relatives à la souplesse d’assemblage, Vidéotron est très fière d’avoir joué le rôle de précurseur et d’avoir fait preuve d’innovation, étant donné que ses abonnés ont bénéficié de la prérogative du choix depuis plus d’une quinzaine d’années grâce aux forfaits «Sur Mesure», et ce, sans aucune obligation réglementaire en la matière.
38 L’exemplarité de nos pratiques et de nos offres flexibles a d’ailleurs été soulignée par le Conseil durant l’audience portant sur la première phase des renouvellements de licences des télédistributeurs. Le Conseil a convenu que Vidéotron avait incité ses concurrents au Québec à suivre une stratégie orientée vers le choix des consommateurs. Il a également déclaré avoir été inspiré par nos pratiques prônant la souplesse d’assemblage lors de l’élaboration de la politique « Parlons Télé ».
39 S’agissant de MAtv, le canal communautaire de Vidéotron, nous tenons tout particulièrement à souligner que nous avons entrepris, depuis près de deux ans, de revisiter sa mission et de rendre sa programmation plus accessible, inclusive et représentative des communautés que nous desservons. Nous avons opéré cette transformation en prenant soin de respecter en tous points la réglementation et les clarifications que le Conseil y a apportées.
40 Mme PAQUET: En ce qui concerne la souplesse d’assemblage, Vidéotron a tenu à maintenir une approche orientée vers le libre choix, afin de conserver sa position de leader dans un contexte de révolution numérique. Celle-ci a transformé les habitudes de consommation des téléspectateurs, en leur donnant accès à un contenu mondialisé, disponible en tout temps et sur la plateforme de leur choix. Ainsi, les changements que nous avons mis en place pour nous conformer au nouveau cadre réglementaire axé sur la flexibilité et les options d’assemblage souples se sont naturellement inscrits dans notre stratégie dictée par le libre choix et l’expérience client.
41 L’aboutissement de nos efforts se traduit aujourd’hui par notre conformité à la nouvelle réglementation relative au service de base et à la forfaitisation. Tout d’abord, depuis le 24 février 2016, les abonnés de Vidéotron ont accès à un service de base à 25 $, contenant les chaînes exigées par l’article 17 du Règlement sur la distribution. Vidéotron a choisi de ne pas proposer de premier volet facultatif, étant donné que le service de base qu’il offrait rencontrait déjà, de manière générale, les exigences prévues par la réglementation.
42 De plus, depuis novembre 2016, un abonné de Vidéotron peut profiter d’une offre évoluée de forfaits sur mesure thématiques, donnant accès à une panoplie de services facultatifs et ce, en fonction de ses goûts et intérêts. Il s’agit là du cœur de la nouvelle offre de Vidéotron que nous sommes fiers de proposer à nos abonnés, car nous pensons qu’elle répond le mieux à leurs besoins.
43 Par exemple, comme vous pouvez le voir à l’écran, un abonné intéressé par le monde sportif peut décider d’opter pour le forfait « fan de sports » qui lui permet de sélectionner 15 services qui l’intéressent parmi les chaînes sportives et d’autres types de chaînes répondant à ses goûts.
44 Par ailleurs, comme l’exige le Règlement sur la distribution, les abonnés ont accès à tous les services facultatifs distribués par Vidéotron, soit dans le cadre d’un forfait d’au plus 10 services de programmation ou de façon autonome.
45 Par exemple, en sélectionnant le forfait « La Découverte Plus », l’abonné pourra choisir neuf chaînes parmi tous les services facultatifs distribués par Vidéotron, en plus d’en sélectionner une dixième parmi un choix de chaînes de catégorie « premium ».
46 De plus, toutes les chaînes sont disponibles de manière individuelle depuis novembre 2016, et peuvent donc être sélectionnées par les abonnés de façon autonome, après avoir choisi le service de base. Enfin, mentionnons qu’il est aussi possible d’opter pour un bloc de cinq, 10 ou 20 chaînes additionnelles choisies sur mesure en sus du forfait thématique sélectionné.
47 Toutes ces offres ont été mises à la disposition de nos abonnés existants, et elles sont proposées de la même manière aux nouveaux abonnés. En somme, Vidéotron a adapté son offre en la taillant en fonction des attentes et des souhaits de sa clientèle, tout en respectant l’esprit et la lettre de la réglementation du Conseil.
48 M. DESGAGNÉ: Concernant MAtv, nous sommes singulièrement fiers des résultats de la transformation effectuée, autant sur le plan de la conformité réglementaire qu’au niveau de la qualité de la programmation produite et diffusée.
49 C’est pour cela que nous nous expliquons mal les reproches injustifiés et non fondés que la Télévision communautaire et indépendante de Montréal, le TVCI, continue à nous adresser. Le 5 novembre 2015, la TVCI a déposé une nouvelle plainte contre MAtv prétendant notamment qu’elle ne se conforme pas aux seuils réglementaires de présentation de la programmation d’accès, et que sa programmation locale ne reflète pas adéquatement les minorités.
50 D’une part, nous avons pris le soin de démontrer au Conseil, émission par émission, zone par zone, que MAtv dépassait l’exigence réglementaire de présenter 50 pour cent de programmation d’accès. D’une part, nous avons informé le Conseil, à sa demande, des nombreuses démarches que nous avons entreprises pour que la programmation de MAtv Montréal rejoigne les minorités de façon adéquate.
51 De manière générale, MAtv tient à ce que ses publics cibles, c’est-à-dire les téléspectateurs de langues française et anglaise, les Autochtones ainsi que les membres de communautés ethniques et culturelles de Montréal, prennent plaisir à regarder et à s’identifier à leur télévision communautaire.
52 Ainsi, depuis l’automne 2015, les attentes des anglophones de Montréal sont dûment prises en considération, car MAtv diffuse près de 20 pour cent par semaine de programmation de langue anglaise produite par la communauté ou par les membres du personnel, comme les émissions « Montrealers », « City life », « Studios, Lofts & Jam Spaces ». Nous avons également offert une programmation représentative de la diversité culturelle de Montréal à travers des émissions comme « Mosaïque en lumière », qui se veut un pont entre les gens d’ici et d’ailleurs, et « Black Wealth Matters » qui traite de l'entrepreneuriat de la communauté noire.
53 Nous avons aussi renforcé la représentativité des communautés autochtones dans la programmation de MAtv. Par exemple, nous avons collaboré avec des citoyens autochtones de Montréal pour produire l’émission « Urban Nations », qui est riche en contenu représentatif de leurs communautés. Développé et animé par Lachlan Madill, de descendance Saulteaux et Cri, le projet en est à une deuxième série d’émissions, diffusée cet automne et comprenant 10 émissions originales. Nous aurons produits au total 20 émissions en incluant la première série.
54 De plus, durant l’été 2017, MAtv a collaboré à l'événement « Aboriginal Day Live 2017 » en offrant des services de production à APTN, ce qui lui a permis de produire une émission en direct et des émissions qui seront diffusées au cours des prochaines saisons.
55 Nous avons cité ces exemples de contenu, parmi tant d’autres, afin de souligner à quel point la programmation de MAtv s’est transformée en se collant de près à sa mission de télévision communautaire et en interpellant l’ensemble des communautés desservies. Il ne subsiste donc aucun doute quant à la conformité de MAtv.
56 MAtv a d’ailleurs l’intention de poursuivre sur sa lancée en continuant, pendant la prochaine période de licence, de produire des émissions qui reflètent les divers groupes communautaires desservis dans ses différents marchés du Québec.
57 À titre d’exemple, parmi les projets de MAtv pour les prochaines années, nous avons prévu continuer à diffuser et produire de la programmation de langue anglaise. Ainsi, des émissions sont actuellement en développement et seront offertes à l’hiver et au printemps 2018, comme « Montreal Underground » qui mettra en lumière des côtés moins connus de la communauté montréalaise.
58 Également, des émissions de langue anglaise s’intègrent graduellement à la programmation de MAtv en région. Par exemple, à MAtv Outaouais avec l’émission « City life », fruit d’une implication active du groupe Regional Association of West Quebecers, ou encore à MAtv Sherbrooke qui prépare une émission d’accès de langue anglaise pour sa programmation de 2018.
59 MAtv cherche aussi à offrir une programmation représentative de la diversité culturelle pour le reste du Québec. Plusieurs de ces émissions, la plupart d’accès, sont en développement pour diffusion en 2018, comme l’émission « Si pareils en Affaires » à MAtv Sherbrooke et l’émission « Vivre ensemble » à MAtv Québec.
60 Par ailleurs, des comités consultatifs établis dans les marchés du Grand Montréal, Gatineau, Granby, Sherbrooke, Québec et Rivière-du-Loup nous appuient dans l’atteinte de notre objectif de refléter adéquatement tous les groupes communautaires. Ces comités sont formés de représentants provenant des diverses communautés et permettent un rapprochement important avec celles-ci. MAtv compte solidifier ces comités en les rendant de plus en plus actifs et impliqués.
61 Il faut aussi souligner l’importante restructuration du programme de bénévolat qu’a opéré MAtv depuis 2015. Ce programme a permis à plusieurs centaines de citoyens, à travers plus de 30 000 heures de formation et de production, de participer au succès de MAtv. Ce programme est même reconnu depuis cet automne par le département d’information et de communication de l’Université Laval à Québec qui, par la reconnaissance d’acquis scolaires et extrascolaires, accorde trois crédits universitaires aux étudiants participants. MAtv entend poursuivre ce programme qui prend plus en plus d’importance dans son mandat.
62 Mme TABET: Pour ce qui est des questions relatives à l’accessibilité, rappelons que le Conseil a décidé que les télédistributeurs exploitant des télévisions communautaires devront sous-titrer 100 pour cent de la programmation originale qu’ils produisent d'ici la fin de la période de licence. Également, pour la même période, le Conseil s’attend à ce qu’ils veillent à ce que 100 pour cent de la programmation d’accès originale soit sous-titrée. Vidéotron entend prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires pour offrir à ses abonnés le plus de programmation sous-titrée possible.
63 Cependant, Vidéotron a proposé, en réponse à la suggestion du Conseil, une solution de rechange appuyée par plusieurs joueurs de l’industrie et qui prend en considération la réalité économique et les obstacles techniques auxquels font face les canaux communautaires. La solution que nous avons mise de l’avant consiste à consacrer au sous-titrage 3 % du budget total des télévisions communautaires de Vidéotron qui se répartit comme suit :
64 - 1,25 % serait consacré aux émissions locales originales produites par Vidéotron, excluant les émissions en direct; et
65 - 1,75 serait consacré aux émissions d’accès, incluant celles produites par les télévisions communautaires autonomes et excluant celles diffusées en direct.
66 Cette solution de rechange garantit le sous-titrage d’au moins 80 % de la programmation de MAtv qui n’est pas en direct.
67 Pour juger de la pertinence de cette alternative, il convient de garder à l’esprit des changements réglementaires récents qui accentuent la volatilité des revenus des télévisions communautaires. En effet, la contribution des télédistributeurs à l’expression locale est passée de 2 % à 1,5 % des revenus, ce qui se traduit par une diminution considérable des budgets de fonctionnement des télévisions communautaires. De plus, les distributeurs exploités dans les grands marchés ont dorénavant la possibilité d’allouer la totalité ou une portion de cette contribution aux autres marchés desservis ou aux émissions de nouvelles locales.
68 Dans une telle conjoncture, la solution que nous préconisons a pour objectif d’équilibrer les dépenses en matière de sous-titrage en fonction des budgets de production et de programmation. Prenant en considération les priorités du Conseil à l’égard de la richesse de la programmation, notre proposition nous semble raisonnable tout en étant adapté au budget de programmation des télévisions communautaires, aux besoins de notre clientèle et aux objectifs du Conseil.
69 M. LESSARD: Finalement, pour ce qui est du groupe de travail formé par l’industrie en vue de concevoir un système de mesure de l’auditoire fonctionnant à partir des boitiers décodeurs, Vidéotron est proactive et participe aux réunions et discussions depuis sa création en 2015. Nous avons donc l’intention de continuer à nous impliquer activement afin de faire avancer le projet.
70 Le Conseil est constamment tenu au courant des développements, notamment à travers la participation de son représentant aux réunions du Groupe, mais aussi aux rapports des progrès soumis à une fréquence périodique. Les derniers rapports font état de certaines problématiques qui sont, à notre avis, cruciales à prendre en considération par le Conseil, car elles touchent à la faisabilité et à la viabilité du système.
71 Il convient de garder à l’esprit que la création du système de mesure de l’auditoire dépend d’un équilibre délicat à trouver entre les capacités du système, les besoins des radiodiffuseurs, le cout total de sa mise en place et le retour sur investissement. Avant la mise en œuvre concrète du système, nous devons nous assurer d’avoir un plan d’affaires réaliste, un échéancier clair et une estimation raisonnable des couts. Ces informations seront déterminées par Numeris dans les prochains jours et constituent des prérequis à l’implantation du système.
72 Le fait que l’initiative n’existe nulle part ailleurs dans le monde et que le Canada soit le premier pays à tenter de créer un système utilisant une mesure unique de l’auditoire sont très révélateurs de l’ampleur de la tâche qui incombe au Groupe. Le choix s’est tourné vers Numeris puisque cette entreprise fournie déjà une mesure pour l’analyse des cotes d’écoute télévisuelles. Ainsi, Numeris devrait être en mesure de livrer à terme un système utilisant une seule mesure de l’auditoire combinant la mesure actuelle des cotes d’écoute à la nouvelle mesure tirée des boitiers décodeurs.
73 Les jalons que nous venons de résumer démontrent que la mise en place du système de mesure de l’auditoire est tributaire à la participation de l’industrie dans sa globalité. L’aboutissement du projet ne dépend donc pas d’un seul télédistributeur comme Vidéotron, car il n’est pas directement… il n’en a pas directement le contrôle. Par conséquent, il nous apparait tout à fait inapproprié que le Conseil impose à Vidéotron une condition de licence relative à sa mise en œuvre, du projet.
74 Cependant, nous nous engageons à poursuivre notre implication active au sein du Groupe afin de faire avancer adéquatement ce projet.
75 M. SASSEVILLE: Pour terminer, Vidéotron est fière des exploits accomplis au fil des années grâce à sa capacité d’innovation et à l’écoute constante des besoins de ses abonnés. Vidéotron n’a pas attendu que la réglementation l’y oblige pour commercialiser des forfaits flexibles taillés en fonction des intérêts et préférences de ses abonnés. Bien au contraire, Vidéotron a toujours été à l’avant-garde en matière de libre choix et de flexibilité.
76 Vidéotron s’engage donc à continuer à mettre les abonnés au centre de ses décisions, tout en s’assurant de la conformité de ses activités à la réglementation et aux politiques du Conseil.
77 Nous remercions le Conseil et nous sommes maintenant prêts à répondre à vos questions.
78 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci beaucoup.
79 Monsieur Dupras?
80 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Merci, Monsieur le Président.
81 Bonjour. Alors, c'est vrai que Vidéotron est une entreprise pionnière, innovatrice au niveau de la distribution des produits audiovisuels, audio, et je vous en félicite, vous Êtes l’exemple finalement qu’on aimerait que tous puissent suivre.
82 Donc, j’aurai pas beaucoup de questions au niveau des pratiques quant aux petits services de base et aux options d’assemblage, mais j’aurais peut-être… en lisant ce matin, je me demandais, pour ce qui est des chaines facultatives, le premier bloc que vous offrez qui contient le moins de canaux, combien de canaux contient-il? Est-ce que c’est 5, 10, 15?
83 Mme PAQUET: Dix.
84 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Dix?
85 Mme PAQUET: Oui.
86 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et quel est le prix de ce bloc-là?
87 Mme PAQUET: Quarante-deux dollars (42 $), incluant le service de base.
88 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: OK. Non mais, seulement le bloc de 10, est-ce qu’il est chargé séparément? Oui, j’imagine, du service de base? Il s’ajoute au 25 $, donc ce serait 15 $ environ?
89 Mme PAQUET: Ben, en fait, le consommateur a plusieurs choix.
90 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui.
91 Mme PAQUET: Le client peut prendre le service de base à 25 $ et s’y ajouter un bloc de 5 chaines pour 10 $. Mais, si on parle d’assemblage thématique, comme on en a parlé dans notre discours…
92 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui.
93 Mme PAQUET: …ça commence à 10 à 42 $.
94 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Vous avez dit « peut prendre 5 chaines ». Ça, ce que j’ai vu ce matin dans votre texte, c’est que c’est des blocs additionnels…
95 Mme PAQUET: Absolument.
96 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: …qui devaient être pris, ça, au premier bloc de services facultatifs que un peut prendre.
97 Mme PAQUET: Tout à fait.
98 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Il ne peut pas prendre en commençant un bloc de 5 services pour 10 $ seulement.
99 Mme PAQUET: Non. La personne doit absolument prendre le service de base et si, par exemple, il désire y ajouter des chaines, donc il ajoute 5 chaines à son choix pour 10 $.
100 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: D’accord. Ma question ou je veux en venir, c’est que l’offre des services facultatifs, de façon indépendante, si on regarde le prix des services, y’a l’Union des consommateurs qui a soulevé le fait que si, avec le service de base et l’achat de trois services facultatifs par exemple, ça coute plus cher que d’acheter un premier bloc facultatif, que c’est… on se demande jusqu’où ça peut… on peut donner le choix aux abonnés de choisir les canaux qu’ils veulent à l’unité par exemple.
101 Mme PAQUET: Oui, en fait, nous avons vu cette question. Nous, chez Vidéotron, comme vous pouvez le constater, on a dépo… dans la réplique que nous avons déposée le 10 juillet dernier, on a regardé un peu les services qui étaient facultatifs, le prix – même c’était PIAC qui en avait fait le comparatif –, et nous y avons ajouté également les prix auxquels nous vendions les chaines à l’unité et, comme vous pouvez le constater, les services, les prix des services à la carte de Vidéotron figurent parmi les plus bas dans le marché.
102 Donc, notre grille de prix reflète un juste prix permettant de conserver nos clients aussi dans l’écosystème tout en reflétant les termes de nos conditions.
103 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais il demeure que si je choisis par exemple trois services facultatifs seulement, en plus du service de base, est-ce que mon cout là est égal ou plus élevé que… parce que j’ai vu que vous avez quasiment un prix unique pour tous les services à l’unité…
104 Mme PAQUET: En fait, nous avons trois prix.
105 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui.
106 Mme PAQUET: Nous avons des prix de 5…
107 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Cinq…
108 Mme PAQUET: …10, et 15 $.
109 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: C'est ça.
110 Mme PAQUET: Par chaine à l’unité.
111 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: C’est ça.
112 Mme PAQUET: Donc, évidemment, dans la façon dont nous avons pensé les forfaits thématiques et la forfaitisation, c’est de toujours donner le plus de choix possible aux clients et de lui donner également une bonne valeur qualité/prix. Donc, bien sûr, si un client décide par exemple de prendre le service de base et de prendre 3 chaines à la carte, il serait beaucoup plus avantageux pour lui de prendre un bloc de 5 chaines.
113 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais il peut pas prendre 5 chaines, il faut… il doit prendre 10 chaines.
114 Mme PAQUET: Non, il peut en prendre 5.
115 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Comme premier bloc facultatif?
116 Mme PAQUET: Absolument.
117 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Ah! Je vous ai posé cette question tantôt.
118 Mme PAQUET: Oui, j’ai répondu.
119 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: J’avais compris que c’était seulement additionnel au premier bloc de 10.
120 Mme PAQUET: Non. La personne peut prendre le service de base à 25 $ et y ajouter 5 chaines de son choix…
121 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Ah bon!
122 Mme PAQUET: …pour 10 $.
123 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Bon. Parfait. Alors, vous avez répondu à ma question. Alors, c'est tout pour mes questions sur le service de base et les options d’assemblage J’aimerais maintenant vous poser des questions sur les canaux communautaires. Comme vous le savez là, la plus récente politique sur la télévision locale et communautaire permet maintenant aux EDR de fermer les canaux communautaires dans les grands centres métropolitains, afin de distribuer une partie des ressources historiquement consacrées à la télévision communautaire au soutien de la production de nouvelles locales. Pour l’instant, vous avez décidé de maintenir la programmation communautaire à Montréal, contrairement à d’autres EDR qui ont décidé de fermer leurs canaux communautaires à Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver.
124 Alors j’aimerais connaître quels sont vos plans d’avenir pour MAtv à Montréal.
125 M. DESGAGNÉ: Donc effectivement, pour l’exercice budgétaire en cours, nous avons décidé de préserver le financement pour les télévisions communautaires. Ceci dit, nous avons... autant la télévision locale que la télévision communautaire sont importants pour nous, nous sommes tout à fait conscients des défis de financement auxquels elles font face, la possibilité de partager ou non l’enveloppe de financement entre ces différents joueurs nous mènent vers des décisions délicates que nous devons prendre dans les meilleurs intérêts, à la fois de nos clients, de nos citoyens et de nos employés. Et quant à nous, ben cette décision mérite encore une réflexion approfondie que nous serons... nous ferons au cours de la prochaine année.
126 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Donc il est pas exclu que une partie de financement ultimement serve à financer les nouvelles locales à Montréal?
127 M. DESGAGNÉ: Éventuellement, mais par contre pour cette année on a annoncé nos...
128 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Donc là votre financement est toujours le même et reste entier?
129 M. DESGAGNÉ: C'est notre plan effectivement de continuer, oui.
130 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Et vous avez pas non plus idée de transférer des fonds à d’autres marchés que Montréal... à partir des sommes de Montréal? Parce que c'est une possibilité que vous avez aussi, autres marchés de... pour la télé communautaire... aider la télé communautaire dans d’autres marchés?
131 M. CLOUTIER: Pour l’instant c'est un statu quoi, Monsieur Dupras, tant qu’à...
132 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k.
133 M. DESGAGNÉ: C'est un statu quo, comme expliquais Philippe, y a une réflexion qui sera à faire, mais pour l’instant y a pas de transfert vers d’autres marchés...
134 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k.
135 M. DESGAGNÉ: ...de télévisions communautaires. C'est ce que vous vouliez dire?
136 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui.
137 M. DESGAGNÉ: C'est ça, non, pas pour l’instant.
138 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Et qu’est-ce qui en est des plans d’avenir pour les autres canaux communautaires en dehors de Montréal?
139 M. CLOUTIER: Veux-tu y aller, Steve?
140 M. DESGAGNÉ: Les plans pour les autres télévisions communautaires en dehors de Montréal?
141 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui.
142 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben c'est la même chose, la réponse est la même je vous dirais, y a une réflexion qui reste à faire.
143 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k.
144 M. DESGAGNÉ: Parce que comme on disait, y a beaucoup d’impact là quand même sur la... faut regarder nos clients, les citoyens, y a un impact quand même important sur nos employés.
145 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui.
146 M. DESGAGNÉ: Parce que y a quand même beaucoup d’employés qui travaillent à MAtv, donc c'est toutes des choses qui faut... qui faut réfléchir à prendre... avant de prendre des décisions, aller plus loin de ce côté-là.
147 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais y a pas de mouvement de contribution d’un marché à un autre en dehors de Montréal non plus?
148 M. DESGAGNÉ: Je vous dirais que non, mais c'est sûr qu’on va regarder, y a peut-être des marchés qui mériteraient peut-être un coup de main là. Je pense à des petites régions comme Chicoutimi ou d’autres, que c'est peut-être un petit peu plus difficile. On parlera pas à ce moment-là de transferts massif là de sommes importantes, mais de sommes peut-être pour soutenir ces petits marchés là pour différentes raisons, comme par exemple pour le sous-titrage, ça pourrait être une possibilité.
149 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Bon, alors je comprends là c'est le statu quo pour l’instant, mais j’ai cru lire dans une intervention qui avait quand même des choses qui avaient déjà changées au sein de la télévision communautaire à Montréal, dans ce sens qui aurait déjà une trentaine de postes qui ont été abolis. Est-ce que vous pouvez nous expliquer ça?
150 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui, ben en fait y a une chose importante qui faut dire, c'est que oui, y a eu un changement de réglementation, donc depuis le 1er septembre y a .5 pour cent de la contribution... on passe de 2 à 1.5, et ça ça veut dire 25 pour cent des budgets qui ont été perdus pour MAtv. À ça, on peut rajouter un bon pourcentage aussi de revenu de télédistribution qui ont baissé au cours des dernières années, donc qui ont affecté à la baisse le budget des télévisions communautaires.
151 Donc nous dans les deux dernières années on a été dans un exercice de rééquilibrage des budgets, surtout en prévision depuis la décision en juin 2016, surtout la décision de changer le financement de la contribution. Donc nous on s’est préparé à faire face à cette situation-là, donc on a coupé des postes. Y a eu environ... on a coupé à peu près 28 pour cent de notre masse salariale, on parle d’à peu près 35 postes dans tout le Québec. Dans les neuf régions du Québec, 35 postes; 27 à Montréal entre autres sur les 35. Donc c'est 28... pas loin de 30 pour cent de notre masse salariale dédiée à la production surtout qui est plus là.
152 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Donc des postes liés à la production surtout?
153 M. DESGAGNÉ: Surtout des postes liés à la production, oui.
154 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Et pour ce qui est de la production là, je veux dire des employés qui demeurent...
155 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben, évidemment...
156 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: ...est-ce qui sont en mesure de satisfaire... à maintenir le niveau de programmation que vous aviez?
157 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui, évidemment le changement de revenus, la perte de revenus qu’on a ça affecte la production, oui, ça affecte notre capacité de production, mais on réussi quand même à maintenir notre niveau de production de façon adéquate là pour représenter les intérêts de la communauté. Mais oui, on peut pas... on peut pas le cacher là, y a eu quand même une perte importante là si on parle de 28... quasiment 30 pour cent des capacités de production... je veux dire de salaire, ça affecte évidemment d’autant et sinon plus la capacité de production.
158 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et hormis des coupures de postes, est-ce que y a des sommes d’argent en moins qui sont... qui sont payées à par exemple aux TVC?
159 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui, je vous dirais dans la région de Montréal entre autres, les télévisions communautaires autonomes, on a des protocoles avec eux, les protocoles sont prévus baisser, donc depuis... si je compare le protocole de l’année en cours 2017-18, comparé au protocole de 2015-16... puis quand je parle de protocole là, je parle d’ententes formelles qu’on a de financement avec les télévisions de la couronne de Montréal. Donc pour elles, ces télévisions-là, oui, y a une baisse qui est au même niveau que MAtv Montréal.
160 Par contre, on a... ce qu’on a fait dans les deux dernières années, sachant cette baisse-là, c'est qu’on a essayé de contrebalancer un petit peu cette perte-là grâce à une marge de manœuvre financière qu’on avait, donc on a réussi non pas à baisser le... on a baissé le protocole, oui, mais d’un autre côté on a réussi quand même à maintenir leur financement, même à en donner un petit peu plus.
161 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k.
162 M. DESGAGNÉ: Donc les TCA de la couronne de Montréal, y ont pas perdu de financement, même y en ont 10 pour cent de plus là dans les trois dernières années.
163 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et quelle est l’importance de la télé communautaire pour Vidéotron, si je peux vous demander cette question-là « at large », pour que vous décidiez de tout maintenir quand vous avez une flexibilité qui vous est donnée maintenant, quelle est l’importance de MAtv pour Vidéotron?
164 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben nous on est engagé dans... Vidéotron est engagé dans la télévision communautaire là depuis 40 ans. Donc, je pense qu’on a développé des partenariats importants avec les gens de la communauté. Puis pour Vidéotron c'est un produit... quand même un service exclusif qu’on rend aux citoyens. Je pense par exemple aux conseils de ville qui sont télédiffusés dans les régions de Québec entre autres, qui sont beaucoup écoutés dans d’autres régions du Québec, les conseils de ville.
165 Y a beaucoup de services donc qu’on rend aux citoyens à travers la programmation communautaire, fait qui a un lien qui s’est développé, fait que c'est pour ça que c'est aussi une décision qui est difficile à prendre. Même si on a cette flexibilité-là, ça mérite beaucoup de réflexion. Mais on a quand même un lien tissé serré avec la communauté, beaucoup de choses qu’on fait, donc nous on croit... on croit en la télévision communautaire évidemment, puis à travers les 40 ans d’histoire, ben y a quand même quelque chose qui s’est installé avec le citoyen.
166 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais l’audience sur la télévision locale communautaire, vous nous aviez dit que TVA, Vidéotron, c’étaient deux entités différentes, que ça serait difficile de transférer des fonds d’une entité à l’autre. Est-ce que c'est une des raisons toujours pourquoi vous portez pas d’aide additionnelle aux nouvelles locales?
167 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben en tout cas nous, dans notre fonctionnement, on a toujours été dissocié là...
168 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui.
169 M. DESGAGNÉ: ...on n’a pas... on n’a pas de... on a un lien de parenté corporatif, oui, mais on a des activités complètement dissociées avec TVA.
170 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Non, mais y a rien qui vous empêche quand même... qui vous empêcherait de le faire, de financer les nouvelles locales à TVA avec des sommes dédiées à l’expression locale?
171 M. CLOUTIER: Non, pas à notre connaissance.
172 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: On pourra, o.k., parfait. Merci. Bon, compte-tenu des difficultés que vous avez eues dans le passé à respecter les quotas, vous avez travaillé fort à essayer de rétablir ça, quels sont les plans que vous avez mis en place ou que vous prévoyez mettre en place afin d’assurer la conformité de vos canaux communautaires à l’avenir?
173 M. DESGAGNÉ: Nous c’est déjà des choses, Monsieur Dupras, qu’on a mises en place dans les deux dernières années. On a quand même... d’abord, en partant, quand il y a une plainte déposée contre nous, il y a une décision du CRTC. La première chose qu’on a faite c’est de venir rencontrer vos employés pour clarifier certaines choses. Donc on a mis ça au clair, pas juste ce qui est écrit dans la réglementation mais aussi tout le tour de l’esprit de la réglementation.
174 Donc nous, on a travaillé fort dans les dernières années. D’abord, la plainte portait à Montréal spécifiquement. On nous disait qu’on ne représentait pas assez les communautés minoritaires à Montréal. Donc nous, on a travaillé fort pour faire de la promotion auprès de ces communautés-là et puis aller chercher plus de projets.
175 Maintenant je peux vous dire que si on regarde... si je calcule le pourcentage de programmation qui porte sur des thèmes en rapport avec les communautés multiethniques dans la région de Montréal, on peut dire à peu près 35 pourcent de notre programmation porte là-dessus. Donc on a fait quand même des efforts importants de promotion. On a développé des projets avec les communautés autochtones aussi. Comme je vous disais tantôt dans notre allocution, on a un projet avec les autochtones présentement qui est en ondes et puis on va en développer encore. Donc les communautés culturelles sont très bien représentées maintenant à MAtv Montréal.
176 On a mis aussi sur pied un comité consultatif qui est formé de neuf citoyens, neuf citoyens qui représentent différentes sphères de la vie socioculturelle de Montréal. Ça c’est un autre effort qu’on a fait.
177 Ensuite, on a mis sur pied notre programme de bénévolat. On l’a tout restructuré parce qu’avant, oui, il y avait des bénévoles à MAtv, mais c’était plus ou moins formel. Donc les gens venaient et on les formait, mais maintenant on a mis sur pied un programme que nous on considère comme le meilleur au Canada dans le sens qu’il y a même des universités qui viennent voir les fascicules de formation qu’on a faites. Donc les gens qui passent chez nous ont une formation. Après, ils peuvent expérimenter le milieu de la télévision de leur domaine. S’ils viennent, c’est parce qu’ils aiment le milieu de la télévision. Et ensuite on leur laisse beaucoup de temps pour pratiquer et puis ensuite on les lance dans la production, ce qui fait qu’on fait beaucoup de formation. On fait beaucoup de production avec eux et on fait de la production de qualité parce que ces gens-là sont aussi bien encadrés par nos professionnels de la production.
178 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et ce comité facultatif-là, les bénévoles, c’est ça les plans, afin d’assurer la conformité?
179 M. DESGAGNÉ: Le comité consultatif agit sur trois volets de participation, d’abord sur la programmation. Il nous conseille sur la programmation. Donc il regarde ce qu’on fait en programmation, nous donne des conseils. Mais aussi, on leur donne des projets, des projets qui ont été soumis par des citoyens, et puis ils nous donnent des conseils là-dessus. Ça c’est le premier volet de participation.
180 Le deuxième volet de participation c’est d’assurer toute la représentativité de la communauté à travers notre programmation.
181 Donc ce qu’on s’attend d’eux c’est qu’ils regardent notre programmation et puis qu’ils nous disent, oui ou non, si on est assez représentatifs de la communauté. Ça c’est le deuxième volet.
182 Le troisième volet c’est de créer des partenariats avec les gens du milieu. Donc on s’attend de notre comité qu’il nous mette en contact avec des groupes citoyens pour qu’on puisse développer des partenariats avec eux. Donc c’est un comité qui a du succès à Montréal. On a déjà eu 15 rencontres depuis 2015. Donc c’est productif. Ça va bien.
183 Puis on n’a pas fait juste un comité consultatif à Montréal parce qu’on a une obligation de le faire à Montréal parce que c’est une zone métropolitaine, mais on l’a fait aussi dans les autres régions du Québec. On en a à Montréal. On en a à Rivière-du-Loup. On en a Saguenay... on en n’a pas à Saguenay. C’est la seule région qu’on en n’a pas. On en a Rivière-du-Loup, à Granby. Donc dans la plupart des régions du Québec, on a mis un comité consultatif sur pied, même si c’est pas une obligation de le faire, mais nous, on croyait que c’était important de le faire.
184 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. On va revenir au comité consultatif un peu plus loin.
185 Justement au cours des deux dernières années, vous avez reçu des plaintes par rapport à plusieurs canaux communautaires. On pense à ICTV. La plupart de ces plaintes sont fondées sur des informations partielles ou incomplètes sur la programmation, parfois en raison d’une difficulté d’accéder à l’information complète.
186 Est-ce qui serait approprié de mettre à la disposition du public toute l’information relative aux émissions diffusées? Je pense aux informations comme celles qui peuvent être demandées dans le cadre de l’exercice de surveillance comme les grilles de programmation contenant, là où c’est applicable, les renseignements sur l’individu, l’organisation, demandant l’accès et son rôle dans la production de l’émission?
187 M. DESGAGNÉ: Dépendamment des informations, il y a certaines informations comme les informations financières, évidemment, qu’on ne pourrait pas mettre publiques, mais nous, on est tout à fait ouvert à rendre publiques certaines informations comme celles que vous venez de nommer, par exemple, sur le nombre de projets, l’accès, tout ça. Il n’y a pas de... je ne vois pas de problème pour nous à fournir ces informations-là.
188 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Et ça, ça pourrait également être mis sur le site web de la chaîne communautaire où ça serait facilement accessible?
189 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui. D’ailleurs, avec le comité consultatif, un des conseils ou une des recommandations qu’ils nous ont fait c’est de faire un bilan à chaque année sur les activités de la programmation communautaire dans chacune des régions puis de le rendre public, entre autres sur notre site web.
190 Donc c’est une chose qu’on projette de faire, effectivement, qu’on est ouvert à faire sans problème.
191 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et puis est-ce qu’il y a d’autres mesures que vous proposeriez pour assurer une plus grande transparence et faciliter la surveillance du canal communautaire?
192 M. DESGAGNÉ: Avec ce que vous venez de dire, je pense que déjà ça serait bien et puis il y a déjà des choses qui existent, de toute façon, dans la réglementation des rapports qu’on dépose. Je pense qu’ils conviennent actuellement tant qu’à la transparence de la programmation communautaire.
193 Mme TABET: Si je peux me permettre, Monsieur Dupras, on avait demandé, lors des consultations, d’avoir un formulaire standard pour surveiller la conformité, ce que le Conseil avait jugé que ce n’était pas nécessaire de le faire.
194 Par contre, je crois que c’est important de le faire pour que l’information soit uniforme partout au niveau de Vidéotron, au niveau de tous les autres télédistributeurs.
195 Donc si vous voulez mettre en place ce système de surveillance-là, on croit toujours que c’est important d’avoir un formulaire standard uniformisé pour tous les télédistributeurs. Ça faciliterait beaucoup le travail, autant pour nous que pour vous.
196 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Très bien. Merci.
197 Maintenant, est-ce que vous pouvez commenter sur la possibilité que le Conseil puisse imposer une condition de licence exigeant qu’une ventilation des heures de programmation originale par les canaux communautaires par source de programmation pour chaque canal soit requise dans le cadre du dépôt des rapports annuels?
198 M. DESGAGNÉ: Moi, je...
199 Mme TABET: Je veux juste comprendre la question. Donc dans les rapports annuels qu’on dépose le 30 novembre, vous voulez une ventilation des heures originales?
200 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Exact.
201 Mme TABET: Je crois pas qu’il y aurait un problème de faire ça.
202 M. DESGAGNÉ: Non, il n’y aurait pas de problème. Il y a quand même plusieurs informations qu’on dépose dans nos rapports. C’est pas une information difficile à rajouter.
203 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et également une ventilation des dépenses de programmation?
204 M. DESGAGNÉ: Mais ça c’est déjà déposé dans nos rapports de fin d’année.
205 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Par source de programmation pour chaque canal?
206 M. DESGAGNÉ: À ma connaissance, oui.
207 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Bon, pour ce qui est du reflet, j’allais vous demander ce matin quels sont les efforts que vous faites pour diversifier votre programmation. Je pense que vous nous en avez parlé un peu dans votre présentation ce matin.
208 Avez-vous d’autres choses à ajouter à cet égard?
209 M. DESGAGNÉ: Je vous dirais qu’on fait beaucoup d’effort de promotion de l’accès de la chaîne. Donc ça serait ça que je voudrais rajouter parce que c’est important, tous les efforts qu’on a déployés, que ce soit sur des réseaux sociaux, sur notre site internet. On fait beaucoup d’activités, de rencontres avec les citoyens, des sessions d’information. Les journées de la culture, les portes sont ouvertes pour que les gens puissent venir chez nous. On fait deux sessions d’information par année où on invite les gens à connaître la TV. On leur explique c’est quoi la télévision communautaire, les possibilités de déposer un projet chez nous et comment ça marche déposer un projet à la programmation communautaire.
210 Donc ç’a fait que dans les dernières années, juste dans la région de Montréal, on a eu 500 projets qui ont été déposés par les citoyens.
211 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: M’hm.
212 M. DESGAGNÉ: Puis on voit de plus en plus, parce qu’on fait de plus en plus de rencontres avec les citoyens, au début, je vous dirais que les projets... souvent, on rejetait des projets parce que c’était pas conforme. Là, il y a beaucoup de professionnels d’ailleurs qui nous proposaient des projets et puis nous, on rejette les gens qui sont du milieu de la télé parce que la télévision, on la fait avec les citoyens. Et de plus en plus, on dirait que les gens comprennent grâce à cette promotion de l’accès-là, ces rencontres qu’on fait, les sessions d’information. Les gens comprennent de plus en plus c’est quoi la télévision communautaire et puis les projets qu’ils déposent sont de plus en plus conformes à nos attentes et conformes en même temps à la réglementation.
213 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais également aussi, pour essayer d’avoir de la programmation ethnique, anglophone, autochtone, à Montréal ça semble... vous semblez faire des efforts.
214 Qu’en est-il des autres canaux communautaires en dehors de Montréal?
215 M. DESGAGNÉ: Les mêmes efforts sont faits partout. Évidemment, il y a une population à Montréal qui se prête plus à ça, mais comme je disais dans l’allocution, à Sherbrooke, on a projet avec les communautés multiculturelles. Même chose à Québec, on est en développement d’un projet qui s’appelle « Vivre ensemble » qui va être fait avec la collaboration des différents consulats qu’on a à Québec. Donc, ces efforts-là se poursuivent. C’est pas encore la perfection, mais je pense qu’on s’en va vers une programmation en région ou n’importe où qui va vraiment refléter la…
216 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Vous essayez de réserver, quoi, un pourcentage de la programmation à d’autres que les citoyens francophones, par exemple, dans chaque système que vous desservez?
217 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben, par exemple, à Montréal, on a 20 % de notre programmation qui est en anglais.
218 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui.
219 M. DESGAGNÉ: Donc… puis la production est reflétée aussi, y’a 20 % de production en anglais, donc 20 % de production… euh, 20 % de diffusion, donc ça se reflète. Mais évidemment, on n’est pas non plus une chaine multiculturelle, on n’est pas… on n’est pas une chaine multiethnique non plus; nous, ce qu’on souhaite, c’est que la diversité soit représentée de façon inclusive à travers notre programmation. Oui, y’a de la place pour des émissions spécifiquement pour des communautés culturelles, mais ce qu’on souhaite, nous, c’est que notre programmation globalement reflète la diversité.
220 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Par exemple, vous avez une émission en français, mais y’a toutes sortes de nationalités qui animent ou qui sont présentes dans l’émission.
221 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui.
222 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Le genre de…
223 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui.
224 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: …d’inclusion dont vous parlez?
225 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui, entre autres, ou à Montréal, par exemple, ou dans d’autres régions du Québec, on a une émission qui s’appelle « Mise À jour » sur l’actualité locale, sur les affaires locales, donc dans cette émission-là, ben, on traite de toutes sortes de sujets, puis souvent ça inclut les gens des communautés multiethniques là qui viennent s’exprimer dans ces émissions-là aussi.
226 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mm-mm. OK. Pour les comités consultatifs, j’aimerais peut-être que vous nous rappeliez comment fonctionnent ces comités consultatifs là et quelle est exactement l’influence qu’ils peuvent avoir dans le choix de la programmation.
227 M. DESGAGNÉ: Comme je vous disais tantôt, y’a trois volets de participation, donc : la programmation, la représentativité, puis la création de partenariats. On a quatre à six rencontres par année. Dépendamment des régions, on a quatre à six rencontres par année, donc à chacune des rencontres, on passe à travers ces trois volets de participation là.
228 On invite les gens, sont à peu près… bon, y’a… comme à Montréal, sont neuf, sont pas tout le temps les neuf là présents malheureusement, mais bon, y’a un certain nombre qui sont là. On a un agenda puis on passe à travers les trois volets en deux heures, puis on passe… un des volets importants, c’est les projets qu’on leur a remis, donc dans une rencontre précédente, on peut leur avoir remis peut-être une dizaine de projets, on leur a demandé de les lire, puis à la rencontre suivante – pardon –, à la rencontre suivante, ben, on fait un tour de table puis chacun fait un commentaire sur les projets, ils nous font une recommandation au final.
229 Donc, c’est à peu près ça le fonctionnement, puis c’est à peu près de même dans toutes les régions que ça fonctionne.
230 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et à quel point vous suivez les recommandations? Je comprends que c’est vous qui décidez en bout de ligne là, mais…
231 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui, mais…
232 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Vous décidez, je le sais pas moi, à 80 % du temps, vous choisissez les recommandations du comité ou…
233 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben, on…
234 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: …c’est moins que ça?
235 M. DESGAGNÉ: Dans les trois dernières années, je vous donne l’exemple de Montréal encore une fois là, on a eu 58 projets qu’on a soumis au comité consultatif. Là-dessus, y’en a 26 qui nous ont été recommandés positivement par le comité, puis nous, on en a choisi 15 là-dessus. Donc, ça veut dire 60 %. Mais là, je regarde ça sur un ensemble de trois ans. C'est sûr qu’au début le comité connaissait plus ou moins les axes de programmation puis toute la conformité réglementaire, les règlements, tout ça, ça fait que y’a plusieurs projets qu’ils nous ont recommandés qui convenaient pas là, si on regardait au point de vue réglementaire.
236 Mais plus ça va dans le temps, plus la mécanique avec le comité s’est bien installée pi ils connaissent mieux la réglementation, ils connaissaient mieux MAtv puis les axes de programmation. Donc là, y’a une tendance à la hausse là dans les recomm… dans l’acceptation des recommandations qu’il nous fait.
237 Mais, oui, comme vous le dites, le comité de programmation de MAtv reste décisionnel sur la programmation.
238 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et comment sont choisis les membres sur les comités consultatifs?
239 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben, nous, on a établi des sphères d’activités comme, par exemple, l’économie sociale, le milieu anglophone, les arts, la culture, donc on a établi des sphères d’activités comme ça puis on a ciblé des gens dans ces sphères-là qui sont… qui ont… qui sont actifs dans la communauté, on les a contactés, puis on leur a demandé s’ils voulaient participer aux comités. S’ils disaient non, ben, on leur demandait qu’ils nous recommandent quelqu’un. Donc, on prenait contact comme ça avec les gens. C’est la façon dont on fonctionne pour monter nos comités consultatifs.
240 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: OK. Et puis ces gens-là demeurent pendant un terme?
241 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben, nous, on n’a pas fixé de temps, on espère que les gens vont rester au moins pour un mandat de deux ans. Quand quelqu’un décide de partir, ben, on lui demande si y’a quelqu’un qui peut le remplacer, sinon, ben, on fait une recherche pour remplacer la personne rapidement.
242 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et c’est relativement facile de trouver des membres?
243 M. DESGAGNÉ: Je vous dirais quand même oui. On a eu un petit peu plus de difficulté à trouver un représentant de la communauté autochtone à Montréal, mais pour des raisons de disponibilité là, on a contacté des gens, y’en a qui sont venus, mais ils sont pas restés longtemps pour des raisons de disponibilité, mais on travaille fort pour avoir un représentant dès janvier de la communauté autochtone à Montréal.
244 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et le nombre de…
245 M. DESGAGNÉ: Mais on en a un à Québec.
246 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Le nombre de membres, ça varie, j’imagine, dans une grande ville comme Montréal où y’a plus de diversité, y’a plus de membres qu’à Sherbrooke ou ailleurs, je le sais pas?
247 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ça varie pas tant que ça. À Montréal, y’a… on a ciblé neuf secteurs d’activités, puis je vous dirais, dans les régions là, ça varie je vous dirais entre cinq et huit participants.
248 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Ah bon.
249 M. DESGAGNÉ: Mm.
250 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Très bien. Y’a ELAN, English Language Arts Network, qui a proposé une série de mesures pour renforcer le comité consultatif de MAtv à Montréal, incluant des exigences d’un minimum de quatre rencontres par année, des critères spécifiques quant à la composition du comité, des règles de procédure et d’opération.
251 Jusqu’à quel point les mesures suggérées par ELAN diffèrent-elles de la façon dont opère actuellement…
252 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben…
253 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: …le comité de MAtv?
254 M. DESGAGNÉ: Toutes les mesures que propose ELAN, on les a déjà dans notre comité. Puis on a fait d’ailleurs le tour avec ELAN, qui a un représentant dans le comité… qui a un représentant dans notre comité consultatif, donc on a fait le tour de toutes les mesures qu’ils proposent. Je vous dirais que 95 % des mesures sont déjà établies là. J’ai pas la liste devant moi là, mais on les a… on était même d’accord dans le comité que, ces mesures-là, on les respectait déjà.
255 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: D’accord.
256 M. DESGAGNÉ: Pour la plupart.
257 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: OK. Bon. La programmation d’accès : en général, quels problèmes devez-vous régler en vue de satisfaire aux exigences relatives à la programmation locale et communautaire? En général, avec quel genre de problèmes devez-vous composer là pour satisfaire aux exigences relatives à la programmation locale?
258 M. DESGAGNÉ: Je vous dirais que… en fait, c’est surtout dans la recevabilité des projets. On reçoit beaucoup de projets qui sont pas conformes ou qui sont irrecevables par rapport à la conformité règlementaire. Par exemple, des projets qui sont déposés par des professionnels de la production télé, des gens qui nous déposent des projets qui ont… qui sont pas vraiment dans le mandat de la télévision communautaire, des gens qui sont pas des citoyens de la zone de desserte. Je vous dirais, à ce niveau-là, c’est la difficulté qu’on rencontre. Y’a beaucoup de projets qui sont déposés, mais y’a beaucoup de projets qui sont pas conformes.
259 Mais ça s’améliore. Comme je vous disais tantôt, on fait beaucoup d’activités d’information pour que les gens connaissent plus la télévision communautaire puis connaissent plus les exigences. Puis je vous dirais, plus ça va, moins y’a de projets qu’on rejette parce qu’ils sont pas recevables.
260 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: OK. Parfait. Et pour ce qui est de la programmation d’accès là avec des personnalités bien connues, ça s’éloignait des objectifs là. On en a fait mention en 2015. Comment avez-vous changé vos pratiques en ce qui concerne l’utilisation des professionnels de médias depuis ce temps-là?
261 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben, si on parle de professionnels, des animateurs professionnels là, d’abord, la première chose qu’il faut comprendre, quand on fait un projet d’accès, faut que le projet ait été déposé par un citoyen qui n’a pas accès à d’autres médias – ça, on avait clarifié ça avec le CRTC, on a… puis y’a pas de problème. C’est la première chose qu’on regarde. Donc, si une vedette venait nous déposer un citoyen… un projet – pardon –, on considère que c’est pas un citoyen ordinaire dans le sens qu’il a accès à d’autres réseaux. Son projet serait refusé.
262 Si un citoyen vient nous déposer un projet pis que y’aimerait ça que ce soit un animateur connu qui l’anime, ben, on regarde sa requête pi on regarde si c’est possible de le faire. Donc, si y’a encore des animateurs connus à MAtv, c'est soit parce que c’est une émission locale, donc c’est pas une émission d’accès, ou soit c'est une émission d’accès, mais on a mis quelqu’un de connu à la demande du citoyen. Donc… mais vous allez avoir moins de vedettes à MAtv, vous en voyez moins présentement, vous allez en voir moins dans le futur.
263 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: OK. Les matchs de hockey, la Ligne junior majeur, vous en incluez dans votre programmation. À quelle fréquence le faites-vous?
264 M. DESGAGNÉ: On fait 15 matchs par année à partir du mois de janvier jusque dans les séries éliminatoires. Donc nous on...
265 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et vous catégorisez comment cette programmation-là?
266 M. DESGAGNÉ: Dépendamment où le hockey est diffusé. Si le hockey est diffusé à Sherbrooke puis que c'est Sherbrooke contre... à Sherbrooke contre Montréal ou contre Québec, ben ça va être une émission locale à Sherbrooke, mais ça va être une... si Québec le diffuse, ça va être une émission hors zone à Québec.
267 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k., mais y a pas de programmation d'accès jamais de comptée pour...
268 M. DESGAGNÉ: D’accès, non.
269 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Bon.
270 M. DESGAGNÉ: Local... local, je vous dirais...
271 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui.
272 M. DESGAGNÉ: ...sur 15 parties... par exemple, si y en a trois qui concernent l’équipe de Boisbriand qui est dans la région de Montréal, ben ça va être trois fois des émissions locales pour Montréal, mais les 12 autres parties ça va être du hors zone.
273 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et comment vous expliquez le... comment l’émission satisfait au critère de programmation locale?
274 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben c'est du hockey amateur, c'est un sport national puis qui est très apprécié par les gens. D’ailleurs, le hockey c'est une mission dans nos cotes d’écoutes, dans notre mesure d’auditoire qui est la plus écoutée à MAtv.
275 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: M'hm.
276 M. DESGAGNÉ: C'est une émission qui est très demandée. Ça nous est déjà arrivé par le passé d’avoir un problème technique qu’on puisse pas diffuser le hockey, je peux vous dire que les lignes puis les réseaux sociaux puis internet... on a beaucoup, beaucoup de commentaires quand on le fait pas. Fait que pour nous c'est une programmation qui convient à notre mandat dans le sens que c'est du hockey amateur, c'est là pour les jeunes, puis c'est un sport qui est apprécié puis qui est écouté par tout le monde. Puis y a pas beaucoup d'autres antennes non plus qui font la promotion du hockey junior.
277 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: M'hm. Y en as-tu... est-ce qui a en d’autres auxquelles vous pensez ou y en a pas du tout?
278 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui, y a TVA Sports qui font...
279 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: TVA Sports.
280 M. DESGAGNÉ: ...qui font du... ah oui, absolument, qui sont...
281 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Ils couvrent la ligue majeure... junior?
282 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui, oui.
283 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Parce qu’on dit que c'est quand même une ligue qui génère beaucoup d’argent, que ça peut être une activité commerciale et en quoi vraiment est-ce que c'est considéré comme de l’expression locale?
284 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben les gens... les gens des localités où y a du hockey, ben y a des fans, y a des gens qui apprécient ce spectacle-là. Puis on peut leur permettre de voir ce spectacle-là sans se déplacer dans l'aréna, ou si leur équipe joue à l’extérieur, ben ils peuvent suivre les performances de leur équipe. Ça nous on a vraiment... on est vraiment convaincu que le hockey a sa place là à la télévision communautaire. D’ailleurs, on produit le hockey de la ligue junior et majeure du Québec depuis une vingtaine d’années peut-être dans différents secteurs. Donc c'est... c'est une entente là, c'est une diffusion qui remonte à loin, je pense qui a une tradition de rattachée à ça là au canal communautaire.
285 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais c'est... c'est qui produit l’émission?
286 M. DESGAGNÉ: C'est nous-mêmes, le hockey.
287 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: MAtv?
288 M. DESGAGNÉ: C'est MAtv, oui. On a un mobile de production... ou en tout cas, on est équipé pour produire en mobile. Donc, on se déplace puis c'est nous-mêmes qui le produisons.
289 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et pour ce qui est de la diffusion à TVA Sports, c'est TVA Sports aussi qui fait une production de ces... la couverture de ces évènements-là, ou si c'est la même émission que vous faites qui se retrouvent sur TVA Sports?
290 M. DESGAGNÉ: Non, c'est deux équipes complètement différentes, deux équipes de production, deux équipes d’animation. Puis même vous allez voir là, des fois TVA eux autres font le hockey le samedi, nous on le fait le vendredi. Bon, peut-être un vendredi nous on va être à Québec, puis le lendemain TVA va être à Gatineau, donc physiquement c'est presqu’impossible là qu’on... que nous on soit impliqué dans le hockey de TVA si y a une partie à Québec ou à Chicoutimi, puis le lendemain à Gatineau. Donc nous on a aucun lien...
291 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et vous utilisez vos propres équipements, c'est jamais les équipements de TVA ou TVA utilisent pas les équipements de MAtv?
292 M. DESGAGNÉ: On est... jusqu’à maintenant on a toujours utilisé nos équipements à nous, mais oui, TVA a un mobile. Ça serait pas exclu dans le futur qu’on utilise là... qu’on fasse une entente avec TVA pour utiliser leur mobile. Là je parle de leur équipement technique, je parle pas de leurs employés. Donc on prend leur équipement, on s’entend, puis nous on l’utilise avec nos équipes de production.
293 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Bon. MAtv Montréal, les sept zones, ça été créé en 2003, est-ce que c'est encore valide et suffisant pour bien desservir les abonnés de Vidéotron dans la grande région de Montréal?
294 M. DESGAGNÉ: Je répondrais oui à cette question-là.
295 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Au niveau démographique là, y a pas eu trop de changements? Je veux dire ça c'est pas développé plus dans certaines zones qu’ailleurs, ça justifie le maintien des zones telles qu’elles sont?
296 M. DESGAGNÉ: À notre avis, oui. Y a eu des développements évidemment. Dans chacune des zones y a eu du développement, mais ça justifie pas de changer le zonage.
297 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Par exemple, les municipalités de Vaudreuil-Soulanges que vous desservez, quel est le pourcentage des abonnés de ces régions-là versus le nombre total d’abonnés de la zone 7?
298 M. DESGAGNÉ: J’ai pas les données devant moi, mais ça on pourrait vous les fournir si vous les voulez, Monsieur Dupras, mais je pourrais pas par cœur vous dire...
299 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k..
300 M. DESGAGNÉ: ...exactement...
301 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Grosso modo, vous avez pas d’idée non plus?
302 M. DESGAGNÉ: J’ai pas d’idée, j’ai pas d’idée. Ce que je peux vous dire au sujet de...
303 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui, ça serait utile d’avoir cette information-là.
304 M. DESGAGNÉ: O.k.
305 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Pour ce qui est de la TVC du Sud-Ouest... Chateauguay, les émissions d’accès qui sont produites à la TVC du Sud-Ouest, est-ce que elles incluent des émissions d’accès qui viennent des membres de la communauté de Vaudreuil-Soulanges?
306 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui, en fait...
307 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: À part les émissions de Csur la télé.
308 M. DESGAGNÉ: En fait, là-bas y a une... la zone Chateauguay... Chateauguay, la télévision communautaire de Chateauguay dans cette zone-là diffuse 24 heures de programmation que elle-même fait. Csur qui est dans la même région, produit neuf heures, donc donne neuf heures de programmation. Donc au total là, 24 plus 9, ça veut dire qu’on fait 33 heures à peu près - de mémoire là - de programmation dans cette zone-là, 24 venant de Chateauguay, neuf venant de Csur. Puis ça ça correspond à la réglementation, donc Csur qui fait une demande d’accès à la programmation communautaire. Nous, ce qu’on doit y donner, c'est quatre heures de programmation, donc on y en donne neuf...
309 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k.
310 M. DESGAGNÉ: ...dans la zone Chateauguay.
311 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Dans la zone 7 par exemple, toute la programmation d’accès est faite par des TVC?
312 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben non, en fait, GamaTV Montréal qui est là, puis y a une...
313 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Tu peux mettre de ces émissions d’accès dans cette zone-là?
314 M. DESGAGNÉ: Y a une baie de diffusion là-bas que Chateauguay a accès à des détachements locaux, donc pour 24 heures Csur à accès à neuf heures de détachements locaux. Donc cette programmation-là, ce 33 heures là, y est diffusé à travers la programmation de MAtv Montréal.
315 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k., mais dans les 27 heures qui sont faites par Télévision du Sud-Ouest là, pas les neuf heures de Csur la télé, est-ce qui a de ces émissions d’accès-là qui proviennent de membres de la communauté de Vaudreuil-Soulanges?
316 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ils proviennent toutes de la communauté, c'est toutes des émissions d’accès.
317 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Non, mais des... comment dire donc, des...
318 M. DESGAGNÉ: Vous voulez dire des émissions faites...
319 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Pas de...
320 M. DESGAGNÉ: ...qui sont sur le territoire que réclame Csur là?
321 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: ...qui sont produites... qui sont, oui, qui sont produites par les installations de la TVC du Sud-Ouest là, pas par Csur la télé.
322 M. DESGAGNÉ: Faudrait valider cette information-là. Moi, je vous dirais je pense que oui, y a des émissions qui sont probablement faites par Chateauguay qui se retrouvent avec des... peut-être avec des citoyens ou des groupes qui sont... qui se retrouvent sur le territoire de Csur mais je suis pas sûr. Faudrait que...
324 M. DESGAGNÉ: Faudrait je vérifie.
325 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Non, mais ce que chercher à savoir là c'est si la TVC du Sud-Ouest dessert avec des programmes d’accès qui sont pertinents aux communautés de Vaudreuil-Soulanges, ou si y a juste Csur la télé qui s’occupe de faire ça?
326 M. DESGAGNÉ: À mon avis, oui. La réponse est oui.
327 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Y en a...
328 M. DESGAGNÉ: Chateauguay...
329 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: En fait...
330 M. DESGAGNÉ: Chateauguay dessert toute la région au complet.
331 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui. Puis ça serait intéressant de savoir combien d’heures qui font pour...
332 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui.
333 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: ...si vous pouvez nous inclure ça comme information également.
334 M. DESGAGNÉ: Parfait, on va vous détailler ça.
335 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et si on allait de l’avant avec la création d’une nouvelle zone telle que Csur le propose, quelles seraient les incidences pour Vidéotron?
336 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben y a des... y a sûrement des incidences d’infrastructures technologiques qui faudraient valider avant. Mais nous on croit pas que c'est pertinent de le faire parce qu’on continue de dire que Csur - qui est une télévision communautaire sur le même territoire que Chateauguay - ben y ont du temps d’antenne... y ont neuf heures de programmation, je pense c'est pertinent puis c’est déjà pas mal ce qu’ils ont, à notre avis. Il ne devrait pas y avoir de changement de ce côté-là.
337 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et ils seraient pas mieux desservis avec une nouvelle zone, les résidents de Vaudreuil-Soulanges?
338 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ils seraient mieux desservis s’il y avait deux télévisions communautaires qui s’entendent bien puis qui décident de travailler ensemble puis qui font de la bonne programmation. Les citoyens seraient bien desservis. Je pense pas que c’est une histoire de reconfigurer le territoire. C’est juste une histoire de bien s’entendre et puis de produire des émissions, puis ça, nous, d’ailleurs, on a planifié une rencontre. On va planifier une rencontre cette semaine avec Madame Bédard. C’est sûr, on va la rencontrer, puis on va réussir à s’entendre avec elle, j’en suis certain, mais c’est pas une question de reconfigurer technologiquement et puis faire des infrastructures de diffusion qui vont arranger le problème. Je pense qu’il faut juste s’asseoir ensemble, discuter et puis s’entendre sur une bonne façon de fonctionner.
339 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Ça m’amène à parler du financement des TVC. Je veux dire, il y en a que vous financez comme justement TVC du sud-ouest et d’autres que vous ne financez pas comme, c’est sûr, la télé.
340 Quels critères utilisez-vous pour décider qui vous financez?
341 M. DESGAGNÉ: D’abord, on n’a pas d’obligation de financer toutes ces télévisions communautaires-là.
342 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Je comprends.
343 M. DESGAGNÉ: Le critère c’est qu’à un moment donné, une télévision communautaire... disons qu’on a un certain budget, puis une deuxième télévision communautaire arrive dans le même territoire et puis demande, elle aussi, des budgets pour la télévision communautaire. Donc il faut prendre le budget et le couper en deux.
344 Cette expérience-là, nous, on l’a vécue à Laval où pour un budget, il fallait le couper en deux. Donc on le donnait à deux télévisions communautaires différentes. Ça fonctionne pas. Ça fonctionne pas.
345 C’est mieux quand il y a un seul budget. C’est plus optimal qu’un budget séparé en deux pour deux groupes.
346 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Pourquoi? Pour payer pour un studio, par exemple, ou concentrer les ressources...
347 M. DESGAGNÉ: C’est des infrastructures en double. Ça donne rien de payer ça. C’est pour ça que je vous dis, assoyons-nous avec ces deux groupes-là; regardons ce qu’on peut faire. Pourquoi séparer en deux une subvention qu’on leur donne et puis ça va juste les affaiblir. Ça ne les aidera pas du tout.
348 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais ils vous fournissent quand même... dans le cas de Csur la télé, par exemple, fournissent quand même neuf heures de programmation qui sont là pour desservir des abonnés que vous avez choisis... à qui vous avez choisi d’offrir la télé communautaire.
349 Donc je comprends que les gouvernements aident certaines télévisions communautaires autonomes, mais...
350 M. DESGAGNÉ: Mais, Monsieur Dupras, supposons qu’il y avait un...
351 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: ...vous ne trouvez pas que vous avez une obligation morale de le faire parce que ça va dans le cadre de remplir vos responsabilités?
352 M. DESGAGNÉ: Je pense qu’à un moment donné il faut mettre une limite, parce que là on parle d’un deuxième groupe. S’il arrive un troisième groupe, un quatrième groupe, on va faire quoi? On va séparer les moyens financiers en deux, trois, quatre?
353 Moi, je pense qu’il y a une façon de procéder et puis je pense que le monde devrait comprendre que c’est pas des budgets illimités non plus.
354 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Donc idéalement, ce que vous dites c’est que nous autres on peut payer pour un studio seulement, une infrastructure principale seulement. De diviser ça en plus que... en plusieurs, c’est pas une utilisation maximale des ressources, donc il faudrait que tout le monde vienne produire ses émissions au studio de la TVC principale? C’est ça que vous dites, finalement?
355 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui, oui.
356 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais est-ce que c’est possible, quand on est dans des grandes régions comme ça avec les distances qui séparent, c’est tu quelque chose...
357 M. DESGAGNÉ: On a d’aussi grandes régions ailleurs au Québec qui réussissent à desservir des grands territoires. C’est peut-être pas aussi peuplé, mais il y a des territoires quand même qui sont assez grands qui sont desservis par une seule télévision communautaire et puis qui le font bien. Il faut juste prendre des décisions de programmation, des bonnes décisions dans ce sens-là, mais nous, on pense que ce territoire-là est bien desservi par une télévision communautaire. On n’a rien contre, c’est sûr. Ça c’est sûr. C’est certain qu’on n’a rien contre, c’est sûr, mais on est prêt à collaborer avec eux autres et puis regarder qu’est-ce qu’on peut faire, mais l’idéal c’est pas de « splitter » une subvention en deux. Ça aidera pas personne ça.
358 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Quand même une contribution par heure d’émission, c’est pas quelque chose qui pourrait être possible?
359 M. DESGAGNÉ: Je vous dis c’est pas possible dans le sens que c’est les mêmes budgets. Il faut juste les répartir différemment.
360 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et quels sont les montants habituellement versés par Vidéotron aux télévisions communautaires?
361 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ça c’est une information qui est confidentielle que je peux pas dire ici publiquement mais qu’on pourrait vous...
362 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Nous fournir?
363 Mme TABET: Qu’on a déjà déposée d’ailleurs, mais si vous voulez, on peut le...
364 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Vous l’avez déjà déposé. Oui, je pense que j’ai vu des chiffres.
365 Mme TABET: Oui. Mais si le Conseil croit bon, on pourrait le redéposer.
366 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. On va vérifier avec le personnel et puis on va vous revenir tantôt.
367 Mme TABET: Monsieur Dupras, j’aimerais juste ajouter quelque chose sur ce que Steve a dit. C’est qu’il ne faut pas minimiser l’impact des changements réglementaires en ce moment. Donc ça aussi ça impacte le financement.
368 Comme Steve l’a expliqué, on a passé de 2 po9urcent à 1.5 pourcent. Les revenus des télédistributeurs baissent, donc l’argent, comme Steve dit, n’est pas illimité. Donc c’est un autre facteur à prendre en considération dans vos délibérations quant aux contributions qu’on donne aux TCA.
369 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui. Merci.
370 La programmation des télévisions communautaires en HD, quelle proportion de la programmation produite est diffusée en HD produite par les TVC?
371 M. DESGAGNÉ: Bien, je vous dirais qu’on est dans un projet de passer les télévisions communautaires, les télévisions communautaires de la région de Montréal ou toutes les télévisions communautaires au Québec. Il y en a 19 au total. Il y en huit déjà qui sont passées au HD. Donc ils produisent en HD et tout ce qu’ils diffusent, c’est en HD à ce moment-là. C’est 100 pourcent de leur production. Il y en a cinq qui devraient passer au HD d’ici août 2018. Donc sur les 19 télévisions communautaires au Québec, il y en aura 13 qui vont être en HD d’ici août 2018.
372 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Et pour celles qui vont rester, quels sont les obstacles qui empêchent le HD?
373 M. DESGAGNÉ: Dans celles qui restent, il y a des petites télévisions communautaires, je pense, à la haute Côte-nord, par exemple, les petites télévisions communautaires qui produisent pas beaucoup d’émissions et c’est des services aux citoyens qu’ils offrent. Souvent c’est du babillard électronique. Donc là, je pense pas qu’ils vont demander à passer en HD.
374 Pour les autres, on va regarder ça à mesure qu’ils nous en font la demande. On les examine.
375 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et pour celles qui vont passer au HD qui ne le sont pas encore, comment réussissent-ils à passer au HD? Est-ce que c’est avec l’aide de Vidéotron ou s’ils doivent trouver des moyens pour le faire par eux-mêmes?
376 M. DESGAGNÉ: C’est par leurs propres moyens de financement parce que nous, on croit que c’est normal au niveau des télévisions communautaires qu’ils assument eux-autres mêmes, qu’ils supportent eux-autres mêmes le passage au HD, à même la contribution communautaire.
377 Donc c’est ce qu’on a fait nous aussi. Les télévisions communautaires gérées par Vidéotron, il n’y a pas eu de budget d’extra qui est passé. C’est à même nos budgets d’opérations qu’on a réussi à passer en HD. Donc on demande la même affaire aux télévisions communautaires qui veulent passer au HD. Il ne faut pas oublier qu’il y a une partie de leur budget d’opérations vient des subventions que nous on leur donne.
378 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et avec ces argents-là, vous êtes confiants qu’ils vont réussir à passer au HD, celles dont vous parliez?
379 M. DESGAGNÉ: Il y en a cinq qui ont réussi à date et puis il y en a d’autres qui vont venir dans le futur.
380 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Les sept autres... huit autres?
381 M. DESGAGNÉ: Il y en a huit qui ont réussi, cinq qui vont réussir.
382 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et quel rôle pouvez-vous jouer dans la transition vers la diffusion en HD?
383 M. DESGAGNÉ: C’est un support technique au niveau de l’ingénierie. Aussi au niveau de l’équipe de direction technique de MAtv, on amène un support qui est nécessaire là.
384 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Pour ce qui est des autres plateformes, est-ce que vous faites quelque chose pour essayer de diffuser la programmation communautaire sur d’autres plateformes?
385 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui, on diffuse sur d’autres plateformes, sur la VSD par exemple. Sur notre site internet, il y a différentes émissions qu’on diffuse, mais on ne diffuse pas tout.
386 Puis là on est dans une refonte de notre site web où on va améliorer la diffusion multiplateformes de MAtv. Évidemment, notre focus reste la diffusion de télé, mais on a des projets aussi pour améliorer notre diffusion multiplateformes.
387 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Bon, merci.
388 Bon, je vous poserais quelques questions sur l’accessibilité sous-titrage. Bon, y’a une règle qui exige que si y’a du matériel ou un logiciel accessible et disponible et compatible avec le système d’une EDR, qu’il doit alors être offert aux clients handicapés. Dans cette instance, y’a des Canadiens qui ont soulevé le désir d’avoir des boitiers plus accessibles là, plus… avec plus de fonctionnalités, et ils ont noté dans certains cas que ces boitiers-là n’étaient disponibles qu’en lien avec un abonnement, un forfait plus couteux. Quelle approche avez-vous face à de telles demandes au sujet des boitiers disponibles qui ont le plus de fonctionnalités, d’accessibilité?
389 Mme TABET: En fait, Vidéotron donne des boitiers décodeurs gratuitement à toute personne qui en fait la demande qui est aveugle ou malvoyante. Et depuis l’an dernier, on a aussi des télécommandes qui sont accessibles pour la vidéodescription et pour le sous-titrage, donc qui sont très conviviales et ne requièrent pas beaucoup de touches pour arriver à la vidéodescription ou au sous-titrage. Donc nous, c'est… si la personne en fait la demande, c'est gratuit pour elle.
390 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Parlant de touches là, compte tenu de la variabilité des réponses des différentes EDR là, pouvez-vous clarifier quel nombre de clics vous semble raisonnable pour activer la fonction vidéodescription et activer la fonction de sous-titrage, ainsi que le raisonnement vous portant à considérer ces réponses comme étant raisonnables?
391 Mme TABET: Ben, nous, en fait, c'est très raisonnable, puis pour la vidéodescription, c'est deux clics, et pour le sous-titrage, trois clics. Donc…
392 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et ça, est-ce que c’est pour vos appareils les plus évolués ou c’est sur tous vos appareils?
393 Mme TABET: Si je me trompe pas, c'est Illico 1 et Illico 2, donc les deux, mais je pourrais le confirmer. Mais c’est quand même très convivial en termes de touches, c’est seulement deux touches pour la vidéodescription avec nos télécommandes accessibles.
394 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et l’autre à trois touches, c’était quoi, ça?
395 Mme TABET: C’était le sous-titrage.
396 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: OK. Parfait. Et vous trouvez que ce nombre de clics là, c’est raisonnable pour ces personnes handicapées.
397 Mme TABET: D’après nous, c’est très raisonnable, oui. En fait, je pense que c’est le moins de clics possible qui existe en ce moment.
398 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: D’accord. Pour le sous-titrage là, vous demandez une exception?
399 Mme TABET: Oui.
400 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: D’être à 3 % du budget de MAtv. Comment en êtes-vous arrivés à ce chiffre-là?
401 Mme TABET: Steve va vous expliquer tout ça.
402 M. DESGAGNÉ: En fait, nous, dans les six marchés qui seraient touchés par ça, on a regardé, puis il faut dire là, d’abord, que, d’un côté, on perd… on a perdu du budget à cause de la baisse de revenus, mais surtout à cause du changement règlementaire, puis d’un autre côté, on nous demande de dépenser plus en sous-titrage.
403 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mm-mm.
404 M. DESGAGNÉ: Nous, on est d’accord qu’il faut offrir un service de sous-titrage, mais il faut aussi regarder à l’intérieur de quelle… de quelle enveloppe budgétaire c’est raisonnable de le faire. On a pris nos six marchés, on a regardé qu’est-ce qui était raisonnable de mettre en budget pour le sous-titrage.
405 Je vais vous donner un exemple. À Chicoutimi, c’est pas un super gros budget là, donc on regardait si on sous-titrait 100 % de la programmation, ben, faudrait mettre à peu près 12 % du budget de Chicoutimi là-dedans. Ce qui est énorme, parce qu’à Chicoutimi, y’a quand même d’autres dépenses, y’a une masse salariale, faut produire des émissions, donc on met beaucoup d’argent dans la production, une bonne partie de notre…
406 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Ça, 12 %, c’est avec les émissions en direct aussi?
407 M. DESGAGNÉ: En direct, parce que c’est important de vous dire aussi que nous, dans notre proposition, on propose de faire juste les émissions qui sont pas en direct. Donc, si on met 12 % de sous-titrage du budget de Chicoutimi là-dedans, c'est beaucoup.
408 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Si on enlève les émissions en direct, disons, pour Chitoutimi, ça représente quel pour cent du budget à 100 %?
409 M. DESGAGNÉ: Je vous dirais ça dépend là d’une saison à l’autre parce que si on prend que les messes, les conseils de ville, les bingos, c'est des émissions en direct, ça dépend ce que Chicoutimi fait exactement là-dedans, mais pour certaines régions, ça peut être 50 % de la programmation, ça peut aller jusqu’à 50 % dans certaines régions à certains moments. Mais, en général, je vous dirais, grosso modo là, c’est à peu près 20 % la programmation en direct en général.
410 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: OK, non mais, pas en direct. Je vous parle de la programmation que vous avez produite, que vous présentez plus tard là.
411 M. DESGAGNÉ: Bon.
412 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Vous avez eu la chance de faire le sous-titrage de la façon la plus économique possible.
413 M. DESGAGNÉ: Bien, si vous me permettez, je vais juste continuer à vous expliquer un peu notre raisonnement là qui nous a conduits vers le 3 %. Donc, on a regardé le… notre budget potentiel qu’on pouvait mettre dans chacune de ces régions-là, les six régions. Sur les six régions là, c’est des petites régions qu’on a considéré que 2 % du budget pour le sous-titrage, ça serait raisonnable, mais ce 2 %-là n’est pas suffisant pour couvrir les heures qui sont pas en direct. Par contre, pour Montréal pis Québec, on s’est dit si on mettait 3,5 % du budget à Montréal pi 3 % du budget à Québec, là on peut dans ces deux régions-là couvrir plus que ce qu’on aurait à faire de sous-titrage.
414 Donc, si on additionne l’enveloppe des six marchés, ça nous donne quand même un budget global qui nous permettrait de sous-titrer presque 90 % des… 100 % plutôt des émissions qui sont pas en direct.
415 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: OK.
416 M. DESGAGNÉ: Donc, on arrive à peu près à un chiffre de 97 % là de ce qu’on pourrait faire avec ce budget global là, donc de d’là l’enveloppe globale. Si on le met sur le budget global, ça donne à peu près 3 %. Donc, pour nous, ça serait raisonnable de mettre 3 % de l’enveloppe globale sur le sous-titrage, donc on arriverait à sous-titre presque 100 % de notre programmation.
417 Dans le cas où le budget stagne ou qu’il monte pas beaucoup ou qu’il baisse, mais que les heures de production, elles, pourraient varier à la hausse, ben, nos calculs… on estime selon nos calculs qu’on pourrait sous-titrer au moins… tout le temps au moins 80 % de la programmation qui est pas en direct.
418 Donc, c'est pour ça qu’on fait cette proposition-là. On s’assure quand même de moduler le sous-titrage selon les heures de production, selon les budgets, mais on est sûr de toujours faire entre 80 et 100 % du sous-titrage des émissions qui sont pas en direct.
419 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et si y’avait une condition de licence de faire 100 % d’ici la fin de votre période de licence, excluant les émissions en direct par exemple là, est-ce que c’est quelque chose que vous considéreriez qui est possible ou si vous devriez couper dans la programmation?
420 M. DESGAGNÉ: Évidemment, on va respecter les conditions de licence, mais c’est sûr que ça va avoir un impact sur la production parce que, bon…
421 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais quel genre d’impact? Êtes-vous capable de chiffrer qu’est-ce que ça pourrait être en heures de programmation par exemple?
422 M. DESGAGNÉ: De chiffrer là, sur place comme ça ici, non. On peut le calculer pis on peut le faire là, ça c’est pas un problème.
423 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui.
424 M. DESGAGNÉ: Mais je vous dirais que c'est sûr que y’aurait un impact sur la capacité de production. On produirait moins d’heures.
425 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: OK. Et vous dites que y’a 20 % de la programmation qui est… d’émissions en direct?
426 M. DESGAGNÉ: Je vous dis ça là de mémoire, grosso modo. Ça aussi, on pourrait vous en dire un peu plus là-dessus.
427 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui, si vous pouviez nous fournir ces informations-là.
428 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui. Ben, d’ailleurs, on a… on nous a déjà demandé ces informations-là, non?
429 Mme TABET: Ben, je pense que pour le 27 octobre, y’a déjà quelque chose qui va être déposé à cet effet-là, donc on pourra le préciser à ce moment-là.
430 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: D’accord. Merci.
431 Bon. Maintenant, j’ai d’autres enjeux. Les messages d’intérêt public dans les disponibilités locales, bon, le 75 % des disponibilités locales que vous contrôlez doit aller à la promotion des émissions canadiennes. Quel pourcentage de ce 75 % est effectivement utilisé par les services de programmation?
432 Mme TABET: Em…
433 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Dans votre cas?
434 Mme TABET: C'est une bonne question, parce que nous, ça fait pas longtemps qu’on a remis en place notre système de disponibilités locales parce que ça faisait longtemps qu’il ne fonctionnait pas, donc c’est tout récent qu’on a remis ça en place. Mais je pourrais vous fournir cette information-là en engagement, mais j’ai pas le chiffre, mais c'est… et ça fait pas très longtemps qu’on a… qu’on réexploite notre système de disponibilités locales chez Vidéotron.
435 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: OK. Et quelles sont vos exigences aux services de programmation pour qu’ils puissent les utiliser?
436 Mme TABET: Ben, en fait, nous, c’est retour sur inves… tsé, c’est juste le cout pour le mettre en ondes, mais y’a pas de frais supplémentaires là, il faut pas qu’ils le payent plus que ça. Mais c’est vraiment les frais que ça coute à Vidéotron pour mettre ça en ondes des services de programmation, et évidemment il faut que ça réponde aux exigences règlementaires.
437 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mm-mm. Et là, vous êtes… il est trop tôt pour dire jusqu’à quel point les services peuvent l’utiliser compte tenu de ce que vous m’avez avancé?
438 Mme TABET: Je crois qu’il est trop tôt, mais je vais essayer quand même d’obtenir l’information pour vous.
439 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Parce qu’on a d’autres titulaires dans l’instance qui nous ont dit que les services de programmation utilisaient pas plus que 35 % des… de ce qui était possible d’utiliser.
440 Mme TABET: Mm. Ça se peut.
441 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et ils demandent une exception à la condition de licence pour qu'ils puissent insérer des messages d'intérêt public canadiens dans cette partie-là.
442 Mme PAGET: D'ailleurs, ceci c'était permis avant et lorsque le CRTC a revu les autorisations générales, il a enlevé cette permission-là.
443 Donc ça, nous aussi, on est pour ça de réinclure les messages d'intérêt public parce que nous croyons que c'est important.
444 Mais pour ce qui est de l'utilisation pour les émissions originales canadiennes, j'ai pas le chiffre mais je pourrais vous revenir. Mais je vous dis c'est très récent chez nous ce système-là.
445 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et disons que ce serait le cas que ce serait possible de réintroduire des messages d'intérêt public canadiens dans ces disponibilités-là, est ce que ça, ça garantirait que les… qu'est-ce qui garantirait que les EDR limiteraient pas la capacité des services de programmation d'utiliser ces disponibilités-là?
446 Mme TABET: Bien en fait, on a une condition à suivre là-dessus. L'autorisation générale nous limite à ça. Donc, je crois que c'est de notre devoir de respecter ceci.
447 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: D'accord. Bon. Une petite question sur les services HD en général, pas sur les communautaires seulement.
448 Est-ce que vous faites la distribution de tous les services facultatifs en HD? Sinon, pourquoi?
449 Mme TABET: En fait, la plupart, oui. Et pourquoi? Si on ne le fait pas, c'est une question de capacité tout simplement mais la plupart des services sont en HD ou sont en train de passer au HD.
450 Mais si on le fait pas, c'est vraiment une question de capacité.
451 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.K. Et à ce moment-là, comment vous faites le choix? C'est une question de capacité, est-ce que…
452 Mme TABET: Premier arrivé, premier servi. Celui qui en fait la demande en premier, il est sur une liste… sur le "roadmap" puis on fonctionne comme ça.
453 Mme PAQUET: Il y a aussi une question de demandes au service à la clientèle également.
454 Mme TABET: Oui.
455 Mme PAQUET: On prend ça en considération.
456 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Alors, il vous manque de capacité pour combien de canaux finalement en HD que vous ne pouvez pas présenter?
457 Mme PAQUET: J'ai pas cette information-là.
458 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Bien là, premier arrivé, premier servi, ça veut dire qu'il y a un nombre de places qui ne sont pas possibles en HD.
459 Mme TABET: Bien comme je vous dis, la plupart est là. On a quand même un très haut pourcentage de services qui sont distribués en HD mais ceux qui ne le sont pas c'est vraiment une question de capacité.
460 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Bon. Je vais vous laisser là-dessus pour cette question-là.
461 Je dois accélérer. J'aimerais vous poser des questions sur la nouvelle plateforme de télévision IP que vous avez annoncée récemment XFINITY X1 développée par Comcast aux États-Unis. Quand pensez-vous que cette nouvelle plateforme va être disponible aux abonnés?
462 M. CLOUTIER: Donc, c'est une nouvelle assez récente. On a fait l'annonce il y a près de six semaines.
463 Donc, lors de notre communication, on a un plan d'implantation qui est présentement en place mais on ne s'est pas commis à aucune date pour l'instant en termes de communication au public. Et dès qu'on va être en position de le faire, on va le faire.
464 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Mais comme dans la prochaine année ou encore là c'est pas déterminé?
465 M. CLOUTIER: C'est pas déterminé.
466 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et quels bénéfices voyez-vous de l'utilisation de cette nouvelle technologie-là pour votre entreprise, pour les abonnés et pour le système de radiodiffusion?
467 M. CLOUTIER: Bien pour nous, ça nous permet de compléter notre virage IP, d'offrir une expérience télévisuelle enrichie à nos abonnés, donc de plus haute qualité.
468 Certains des défis qu'on a au niveau de la bande passante, tel qu'on l'a expliqué, vont pouvoir être résolus avec cette nouvelle technologie-là. Mais je pense que quand on parle de développement, d'innovation technologique, on voit ça comme étant la prochaine vague.
469 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et un moyen de garder les Canadiens dans le système de radiodiffusion?
470 M. CLOUTIER: Absolument et de tenter de baisser les déclins organiques qu'on voit, effectivement.
471 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Est-ce que les abonnés de Vidéotron vont devoir, dans le cas de cette plateforme-là, vous dites, bon, le lancement n'est pas encore déterminé, peut-être nos questions sont un peu en avance.
472 Mais ceux qui voudront utiliser la plateforme, est-ce qu'ils devront obligatoirement s'abonner au service internet de Vidéotron?
473 M. CLOUTIER: Pour l'instant, comme je vous l'ai mentionné, il est un peu tôt parce que nos équipes sont toutes en train d'arrimer le plan de travail et ainsi de suite. Donc, en termes de se prononcer en termes de contraintes technologiques, il est trop tôt pour se prononcer là-dessus.
474 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais c'est un service ça qui va fonctionner avec le nuage?
475 M. CLOUTIER: Oui.
476 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Donc, ça prend une connexion internet?
477 M. CLOUTIER: Oui.
478 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Est-ce que ça va devoir être Vidéotron le fournisseur internet pour que la plateforme fonctionne?
479 M. CLOUTIER: Comme je vous dis, il est trop tôt pour se prononcer concernant les contraintes technologiques, concernant cette offre de produit-là.
480 Cependant, nous sommes au courant de la réglementation et nous comptons la respecter.
481 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Et je continue quand même dans mes questions même si c'est trop tôt.
482 Quel rôle jouera Comcast dans le déploiement de XFINITY par Vidéotron?
483 M. CLOUTIER: Bien, Comcast va jouer un rôle comme nouveau partenaire au niveau du développement, de la solution et du support. Mais Vidéotron va jouer un rôle très actif au niveau de la commercialisation puis l'adaptation…
484 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Est-ce que, par exemple, l'opération de la plateforme va passer par des serveurs de Comcast et si oui, quel niveau de contrôle Vidéotron va-t-elle garder sur la plateforme?
485 M. CLOUTIER: C'est une bonne question. Je ne peux pas vous répondre pour l'instant là-dessus.
486 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Bien peut-être qu'on peut poser à d'autres plus tard…
487 M. CLOUTIER: Oui.
488 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: …qui ont déjà mis en route la plateforme.
489 Également, bon, d'autres questions là-dessus, sur le type d'informations qui pourront être colligées; si on va pouvoir colliger davantage d'informations sur les utilisateurs; et si ça respecte les lois canadiennes.
490 Enfin, bon. Donc, vous avez eu une entente à date avec Comcast mais vous n'avez pas déterminé ce que l'offre de service par cette nouvelle plateforme sera encore?
491 M. CLOUTIER: Oui, par contre, il y a différentes ententes qui ont été mais en termes de communication au grand public, nous sommes plutôt limités pour l'instant.
492 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Non mais pour le concept, vous pouvez nous donner des réponses confidentielles?
493 Comme si vous pouviez… peut-être que je pourrais vous donner la liste des questions?
494 Mme TABET: Oui puis on va répondre du mieux qu'on peut.
495 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui.
496 Mme TABET: Comme Philippe a dit, c'est très nouveau pour nous. Donc, il y a peut-être beaucoup de réponses qu'on n'a pas pour l'instant mais au mieux de notre connaissance, on va pouvoir le faire. Oui.
497 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Bon, parfait. Et peut-être qu'on pourra poser les mêmes questions aux autres.
498 Alors, je ne sais pas avec le Conseiller légal si ça fonctionne cette façon de procéder?
499 M. GAGNON: Oui, on peut s'arranger quand la présentation sera terminée.
500 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: D'accord.
501 Alors pour moi, ce sont toutes mes questions. Je vous remercie beaucoup.
502 Il y a mon collègue, le Conseiller MacDonald qui a des questions à l'égard du boîtier décodeur pour vous. Merci.
503 CONSEILLER MacDONALD: Merci pour votre présentation. J'ai quelques questions à vous poser aujourd'hui concernant les décodeurs et les efforts maintenant pour développer un système de mesure d'audience au Canada.
504 Je dois poser mes questions en anglais mais n'hésitez pas à répondre dans la langue de votre choix et je peux utiliser le service de traduction.
505 We've been talking a lot about "Let's Talk TV" and talking a lot about set-top boxes in the context of that proceeding.
506 And when we issued our decision, in "Let's Talk", we set out five basic objectives for an audience measurement system. And they were to permit broadcasters to make more informed programming selections and scheduling decisions; provide broadcasters with new opportunities to effectively monetize advertising; place BDUs in a better position to tailor the services offered and content of packages; place the Canadian broadcasting industry on a more equal footing with international and online video markets; and finally to ensure that privacy of individuals is protected.
507 You are members of the Set-Top Box Working Group, so you have a great deal of experience on the issue. So I would like to start off by asking do those five objectives -- are they still appropriate or do they need to be re-examined?
508 MS. TABET: It's a good question. I think they are still appropriate. However, the needs of certain broadcasters versus certain distributors differ, and this is where we are trying to find a solution to get a system that meets the needs of the broadcasters and the distributors.
509 But I think the objectives are still accurate.
510 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And I'm just asking you, I'll ask the question of others.
511 Do you think that the scope of what the working group is trying to accomplish has perhaps become too broad and needs to be narrowed, or are you confident that a system can be developed to the satisfaction of all the parties involved?
512 MS. TABET: Well, some parties have asked to broaden the scope, and I think we've came to an understanding that the scope has to stay with the objectives that the CRTC has settled. And I think we're on the good path now.
513 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. The group has worked hard and progress has been made, but there are parties in this proceeding that think progress has been far too slow.
514 Why do you think it's taking so long, or is this the timeline that you always thought it would take?
515 MS. TABET: Well, it's a good question, and we always have to keep in mind that this system does not exist anywhere else in the world. So it's not to taken lightly.
516 And we have to -- we have a lot of steps to accomplish, and we're doing that now with Numeris because the feasibility of this system is not proven yet. And this is what we're accomplishing in the next months.
517 And the return on investment is still not proven to this day, and we don't know if it's going to be feasible on that end or not.
518 So a lot of steps have to be done and have to be done carefully because it's not a small task that the Commission has given the group.
519 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Some have suggested that perhaps certain BDUs are not overly motivated to advance the project forward because they already have access to that information which they can use for whatever purposes they choose. There is a CRTC observer on the working group. That individual is not me, so I'd like to ask, do you believe that there's any intentional feet-dragging going on?
520 MS. TABET: Well, the reason why, it's because some BDUs are more advanced than others.
521 I can -- I can speak to -- for Videotron. We don't collect -- we collect a very small sample of our set top box. And so we're not at the same level as other BDUs that may collect more than these -- more than us.
522 And what we do now is really it's la gestion sens du reseau. We do it just to manage the network and to manage the needs of our subscribers, but we don't sell this information, we don't use it with a third party.
523 So every BDU is not at the same place.
524 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So from the Videotron perspective, you exclusively use that information for network monitoring, not trying ---
525 MS. TABET: Exactly.
526 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: --- to monetize that data in any way.
527 MS. TABET: Exactly.
528 So we're not at the -- the BDUs are not all at the same place.
529 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. You correctly noted that this is a very complex system to develop and will be one of a kind, a made-in-Canada solution.
530 Perhaps you've seen the most recent CRTC three-year plan in which we touched on the issue. And I'll read that for you:
531 "In 2017 and 2018, a broadcast industry working group will continue to develop and implement a set top box audience measurement system so that Canadian programming services can meet the needs and interests of viewers. The CRTC will participate as an observer to the group. If the CRTC does not see adequate progress being made, it may intervene and advance -- to advance the establishment of the system." (As read)
532 And moving forward to next year, we said that:
533 "A broadcast industry working group will implement a set top box audience management system so Canadian programming services can meet the needs and interests of viewers." (As read)
534 That was from the three-year plan. Do you think, given the complexities, that that's still a reasonable timeframe to expect implementation of the system?
535 MS. TABET: Well, I think we're doing the best that we can do as a working group to get there.
536 Like I said, there's a lot of steps to be taken, and to be taken carefully. And the return on investment is a major issue that we have to accomplish and to get to before we do a system.
537 So what's in it for them, what's in it for us? It's still -- we don't have these answers yet, but we're hopeful that in the next months or so we're going to get to these answers because we're doing the -- another phase with Numeris regarding these issues.
538 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: This may be a difficult question for you to answer and, as a heads up to other BDUs, I'll be asking the same thing so they have a little bit more time to consider it.
539 But we've just recently received another schedule of activities from the working group dated September the 20th of this year outlining some of the steps that you have mentioned and the expected time line.
540 How confident are you in that time line? Because to be blunt, we've received time lines in the past and not one of them has been met.
541 MS. TABET: Well, if we can count on all the members of the group, I think we can meet these time lines. And it's the group who made them, so we are trying to meet them. And we'll do everything in our possible to do so.
542 So it was -- we did -- we made these time lines as a group, so hopefully we will be able to meet them.
543 M. LESSARD: Et juste pour compléter là-dessus, on a déjà aussi rencontré Numeris au niveau de la solution et puis techniquement, il n’y a pas d’obstacles qui nous ne permettraient pas de lancer à temps. Donc au niveau technique, la possibilité est là.
544 Et la prochaine étape est majeure au niveau du plan, qui est la livraison de la preuve de concept. Donc une fois que cette étape-là va être accomplie, je pense qu’on va être très confiants de la possibilité de mettre en place la solution complète.
545 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Some of the dates on the schedule of activities have just recently passed, basically, the three deliverables that fall into the category of establishing technical and business parameters of BDU participation.
546 The first date was September the 21st, September the 30th, and then just yesterday on October the 15th.
547 To the best of your knowledge, have those activities taken place at this point, i.e. is the schedule on track so far?
548 MR. LESSARD: Yeah.
549 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay.
550 MR. LESSARD: The activities are on schedule.
551 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you.
552 What is your understanding of how the various different issues are going to be addressed?
553 We know that there's technical issues, but there's also issues with respect to governance, there's issues with respect to treating of information, privacy considerations.
554 Is it your expectation that these issues are going to be addressed at the same time on a parallel path or does it solve the technical issues, hard stop, then move on to governance, then move on to privacy and other issues?
555 MS. TABET: I think we can do it on the -- at the same time so we won't delay the process. I think it's doable.
556 While Numeris is working on the technical side, we can do this as a group and tackle these issues.
557 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You had mentioned in your opening remarks that you're perhaps not the biggest fan of a conditioned licence being imposed on BDUs to implement the system.
558 Would you like to expand on that?
559 MS. TABET: Well, as we mentioned in our opening remarks, it doesn't -- like this system is not -- Videotron has not solely the control on this system, so I don't see how we can get a condition of licence on something we don't have a -- we don't have control on.
560 It's the whole group that has to work towards the system, and Videotron is a small player in this whole group.
561 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Others have made that argument as well, and where I struggle is we frequently impose conditions of licence on providers, on radio stations, as an example, who then have to go out and engage third party vendors or new equipment that is outside of their core business.
562 I'm thinking of condition of licence, for example, that radio stations have with respect to public alerting. They didn't actually make the public alerting equipment.
563 So why is this situation different?
564 MS. TABET: And I'm going to tell you why; because public alerting, we knew that the system existed and was working. For this instance, we don't know if the system is going to exist and is going to be working and we're going to have return on investment and we're going to have a governance that -- like, we have a lot of issues that are still not tackled yet, so this is the difference between this system and other system that we knew that existed, that were working, that we can implement. This is still not the case in this particular case.
565 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. If we were to implement a condition of license, do you have any thoughts on who it should apply to? Should it be broadly applied to all BDUs, just the larger ones, perhaps only the BDUs that are actively collecting and utilising the information today?
566 MS. TABET: And again, this is why we don't think a condition of license should be applied because it does -- it won't apply to everyone in the same manner. And but as I said, I think Videotron is an active member and we are -- nous nous sommes engagé -- I'm sorry, I have the answers in English and French. Commitment. Thank you. I'm losing my words. So we took -- we can take the commitment to continue and work with this group to -- in order to get this done. But for a condition of license, I don't see how you would do it because it's not all the BDUs that are part of this group. It wouldn't apply this in the same manner. We don't have the same equipment. We don't do things the same way that other does. So this is why we don't think it's a good idea, but we are committed to do this.
567 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: What's the current status of your relationship with Numeris? Because I note that a letter of intent was supposed to be in place between each of the BDUs and Numeris ---
568 MS. TABET: Yeah.
569 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: --- by yesterday. Has that happened?
570 MS. TABET: Well, it's happening. Our general counsels are talking and it will be signed in the next days.
571 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay.
572 MS. TABET: But the relationship is very good.
573 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Perfect.
574 The Independent Broadcasting Group has suggested that BDUs should provide all programming services access to the same set-top box data that they have access to for the use of other programming services. Do you have thoughts on that proposal?
575 MR. LESSARD: We can provide all the data we use internally for their needs, so that's not a problem of ability in terms of data.
576 MS. TABET: As I said, we -- these data are for the management of the network. We don't use these data for -- we don't sell them. We don't give them to third parties. So for us, it would be very difficult to do so, and the sample is very small again.
577 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. So this may not actually apply so much to your organization, but how difficult is it to pull that data out of your systems? I don't know whether it takes a team of analysts three days to generate a report or whether it's a point in the click and ---
578 MR. LESSARD: Yeah, the ---
579 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: --- it's exported.
580 MR. LESSARD: --- data is collected through the -- our set-top box, so for a small sample. And we have a solution in place for that. The problem is that we cannot scale the solution to the whole customer base we have because of technical issues. But still, for the data that is already collected, the data is already organized in order for us to be able to understand the customer behaviour and to provide that data to Numeris.
581 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: And for my own education, how -- what is the cause of the technical issue? Is it just the set-top boxes that you actually have deployed in some communities?
582 MR. LESSARD: No, it's a matter of throughput in terms of IT architecture. It's -- the architecture is made to program specific campaigns for a specific number of customers, not to extract the whole set-top box population or set-top box infrastructure.
583 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: So if you received a request for that data, you would have no objection to providing it to a programming service, for example?
584 MR. LESSARD: No, in a sample way it's not a problem.
585 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Should any guidelines be put around that? I assume you don't want to run the report daily. Should programming services have to pay on a cost recovery basis so you're not out of pocket for pulling those reports? Are there any parameters we should put around this?
586 MS. TABET: Again, even if it's possible, we don't do it. So, yes, there is parameters that we should think of that we didn't even think of. So it's not something that we do. So if we would want to do that, we would have to put some in place but for now we don't do it.
587 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay.
588 MR. LESSARD: And the proof of concept I think will help us in order to estimate those costs to a personalized solution, you know.
589 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Perfect. Thank you very much. Those are my questions.
590 MS. TABET: Thank you.
591 MR. LESSARD: Thank you.
592 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Question très brève. J’aimerais revenir sur la télédiffusion des matchs de hockey junior majeur et j’aimerais savoir si Vidéotron ou des entreprises affiliées ont des intérêts dans ces équipes-là qui bénéficient de cette télédiffusion-là? Merci.
593 M. DESGAGNÉ: Il y a les Remparts de Québec et Boisbriand aussi à Montréal ou Québecor a des intérêts, mais nous, quand on fait notre production de hockey, quand on fait notre calendrier de diffusion, c’est pas quelque chose qu’on tient compte. On a nos 15 matchs à faire. C’est l’entente qu’on a, et puis nous, on essaye de couvrir toutes les régions du Québec.
594 Évidemment, des fois pour des raisons de production, on va peut-être en faire un petit peu plus dans la région de Montréal ou Québec ou Victoriaville parce que c’est plus proche de nos centres de production, mais on essaye de couvrir également toutes les équipes, autant que les budgets nous le permettent.
595 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Puis peut-être une dernière question. Est-ce que la télédiffusion de ces matchs-là a un impact sur la télédiffusion de d’autres émissions de sports amateurs? Autrement dit, est-ce qu’il y a d’autres émissions de sports amateurs qui font partie de la programmation?
596 M. DESGAGNÉ: Il y a certaines régions où il y a des émissions de sports amateurs. C’est pas dans toutes les régions, mais le fait de faire le hockey, ça nous empêcherait pas ou ça prive pas des ressources à mettre dans le sport amateur. On est ouvert à le faire. Si on a des projets là-dedans, on va en faire. On en a déjà fait souvent, puis on en fait encore, comme je vous dis, dans certaines régions, mais il n’y a pas... on est ouvert à faire du sport amateur, tous les types de sports amateurs. C’est notre mandat même.
597 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Puis peut-être une dernière question. Est-ce que vous tirez des revenus de la télédiffusion de ces matchs-là? Autrement dit, est-ce qu’il y a une entente puis il y a de l’argent qui est donné pour aller de l’avant avec ça?
598 M. DESGAGNÉ: Pour l’instant, non, on tire aucun revenu de ça. Évidemment, ça pourrait être un objectif qu’on se donne, nous, d’avoir certains revenus au moins pour couvrir certaines dépenses, mais on n’a pas de revenus qu’on tire de ça.
599 LE PRÉSIDENT: Alors, merci pour votre présentation.
600 We’ll take a break now, returning at 11:10. Merci.
--- L’audience est suspendue à 10h56
--- L’audience est reprise à 11h10
601 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning.
602 Madame la secrétaire.
603 THE SECRETARY: Mr. Chairman, we will now hear the presentation by Rogers Communications Canada Inc. Please introduce yourselves first for the record, and you have 20 minutes to make your presentation.
604 MR. WATT: Thank you.
605 Good morning Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is David Watt. I am Senior Vice President, Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer at Rogers.
606 To my left is Julie Henson, General Manager of Rogers TV. To my right is Pam Dinsmore, Vice-President, Rogers Regulatory Cable. To Pam's right is Jon Medline, Senior Vice President of Content. To Jon's right is Peter Kovacs, who is Director of Regulatory. Behind us is Dilhan Kamalendaran, Director of Cable Programming and Operations. In the middle is Ruth Altman, Senior Manager, Regulatory; and Charles Wechsler, who is Senior Manager, Distribution and Compliance for Rogers TV.
607 Before we begin we too wish to congratulate the new Chair and Vice Chair on your appointments.
608 Rogers is pleased to discuss with you the renewal of our two regional licences serving parts of Ontario and Atlantic Canada. We are proud of our many accomplishments over the past licence term. We have made tremendous strides on the current television platform but we also look forward to the future with considerable optimism as we prepare for the launch of our new IPTV platform.
609 While we want to talk about that future, we will begin by talking about the past and highlight some of the things we have accomplished during our current licence term. In doing so, we will address the issues identified in the public notice, specifically: the roll-out of our small basic service and flexible packaging options; the operation of our community channels; our commitment to accessibility; and the contributions we have made to the industry working group that is developing a set-top box audience measurement system.
611 MR. MEDLINE: Rogers has embraced the new small basic and flexible packaging rules. Our efforts to provide customers with more choice predated the release of the Commission’s Choice policy two years ago. In 2011, we conducted a market trial in London to test new pick-and-pay offerings and have been expanding the range of packaging options we provide to consumers ever since.
612 In March, 2016, we introduced a small basic service called “Starter”. It includes all of the priority and 9(1)(h) services, as well as a set of US 4+1 networks. Our small reasonably priced theme packs were introduced at the same time. All customers can subscribe to multicultural packages and premium service offerings, as well as access video-on-demand, pay-per-view, and TV Everywhere online extensions at no additional charge. We also provide bundling discounts to our Starter customers.
613 About a year ago, we decided to use Starter as our only entry-level service. While existing customers can retain the legacy basic package or move to Starter, every new Rogers customer receives Starter as the basic service. In an effort to simplify our product offering, we also replaced all of our traditional legacy packages with three new value packages called Select, Popular, and Premier. Each includes Starter and a defined set of channels, as well as an option to pick one additional channel at no extra cost.
614 We no longer market our legacy packages. And while we encourage all customers to migrate to the new options, no one is being forced to switch. This means we continue to manage a wide range of in-market and grandfathered packages. This is the most customer-friendly way to serve our subscribers.
615 And last November, we took another step toward maximizing the choices available to consumers. That was when we introduced our full à la carte offering. Today, every discretionary service we provide is available on a standalone basis, and the vast majority are offered at price points ranging from $4 to $7.
616 Customers to our in-market packages also have access to all of these theme packages and à la carte services.
617 At every stage in the rollout of these new service offerings, we provided extensive training to our customer service representatives. This enables them to properly assess each consumer’s interests and ensure that the choices they are making satisfy the needs of their household. We also clearly display our in-market and flexible packaging options on our website along with all pricing information. A variety of marketing tools continue to be used as well, to actively promote the offerings and to ensure that consumers are aware of their options.
618 Rogers operates in an environment that is highly competitive. We are constantly looking for ways to gain a competitive edge and in doing so, our goal is to satisfy the needs of every customer we serve and provide them with the best TV experience possible.
620 MS. HENSON: Community television has always been an important part of Rogers’ cable offering. We pioneered community television in Canada and we pride ourselves on giving viewers the most interesting, entertaining, and relevant local and access programming available in each of the markets we serve.
621 When we acquired cable systems in New Brunswick, we had over 100 licences. It was impossible to create a community channel for each one of those licences. So with the Commission’s assistance in 2006, we developed a zone-based model for offering community programming in markets in both New Brunswick and in Newfoundland.
622 Under the zone-based model, one zone is made up of a collection of licensed and exempt systems that receive a single community channel. By aggregating funding from all areas within a zone, we have been able to provide relevant local and access community programming that serves a community of interest. Now we have six zone-based serving areas in New Brunswick and two in Newfoundland, each with at least one dedicated community channel.
623 The model has been an enormous success because it has ensured customers in those service areas continue to receive a full schedule of quality community programming.
624 Rogers a également travaillé afin de mieux servir les communautés de langue officielle en situation minoritaire, en particulier dans les marchés où la population francophone est importante.
625 À Ottawa et dans la région de Moncton, nous exploitons deux canaux pour répondre aux besoins des deux communautés linguistiques. La capacité d'exploiter et de financer des deux canaux communautaires distincts sert les intérêts des résidents anglophone et francophone dans ces marchés. De plus, ces stations séparées favorisent les objectifs de la Loi sur la radiodiffusion en nous permettant de refléter la dualité linguistique qui caractérise ces deux marchés.
626 Funding for community channels has changed materially. Consistent with the new community television policy, we made the decision to close our Toronto community channels and to redistribute these funds to our City local stations to produce news, and also to our community channels in small and medium sized markets. At Rogers, we strive to strike the balance between supporting local news and supporting community channels, both of which are important elements of the broadcasting system.
627 Conforme au nouveau cadre réglementaire, le financement de la programmation communautaire a été réduit de 25 pour cent. Cette réduction présente un défi important pour tous nos canaux communautaires. C'est une des principales raisons pour lesquelles nous croyons qu'il est important que le Conseil approuve notre demande de continuer à offrir des secteurs de programmation communautaire dans la région de l'Atlantique et d'offrir deux canaux communautaires à Ottawa et dans la région Moncton.
628 In every community Rogers serves, we work closely with volunteers, community members and access producers to ensure the programming we offer meets the needs of our viewers and fully complies with regulatory obligations.
630 MS. DINSMORE: With respect to accessibility, throughout the current licence term Rogers has made a strong commitment to ensuring that our services are accessible.
631 Our commitment to accessibility is reflected in various measures we have implemented over the last decade. These measures include the following.
632 One, we pass through to subscribers closed captioning and described video and ensure that those features are identified on our interactive program guide.
633 Two, we provide a free set-top box to customers with visual impairments. All of our set-top boxes include a “set and forget” feature that allows audio settings for described video to be programmed once. In addition, we provide a complementary big-button remote that can be used to turn described video on or off with the push of a single button.
634 Three, we were part of the described video working group that engaged AMI to launch an online programming guide that works with screen-reader software.
635 Four, we have a dedicated accessibility customer service team that is fully trained to assist every subscriber who self-identifies as having a disability.
636 Five, we committed to close caption 100 percent of the licensee-produced programming on our community channels by the end of the renewal term and are not seeking any changes to that commitment despite significant funding reductions.
637 Finally, we have adopted the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and continue to bring progressive improvements to the rogers.com website.
638 Rogers is committed to expanding the range of accessibility options we offer in the next licence term, including innovative features that will form a key part of our IPTV service.
640 MR. KOVACS: The development of a set-top box audience measurement system is another matter that the Commission has asked applicants to address in this proceeding.
641 We are encouraged by the progress that has been made to date.
642 Rogers and other BDUs have been actively involved in the set-top box working group. We participated in a technical trial in Toronto in early 2016 with Numeris and two other BDUs. This trial enabled the group to confirm that metadata associated with set-top box data from different BDUs could be integrated into a single reporting system.
643 On September 20th of this year, the working group filed a progress report with the Commission. It includes a detailed timeline for the completion of a proof of concept for the new audience measurement system and a commitment to provide regular reports to the Commission on how specific milestones have been met. The report contains a schedule of activities that will be carried out over the next year, with an expected implementation date for the new system of September 30th, 2018.
644 All members of the working group have signed off on the timeline for completion. We firmly believe that we are, collectively, on the right track and should let the process take its course under the able guidance of Numeris and its expert staff.
646 MR. WATT: As we look to the future, we envision a marketplace for content aggregation and distribution that will become even more competitive than it is today. Rogers is confident, however, that with the conditions we have proposed for our licences and the launch of our new IPTV platform, we will grow our business and meet the needs of the communities we serve.
647 In our renewal application, we asked for approval to maintain the authority to provide zone-based community channels in Atlantic Canada and French- and English-language community channels in both Ottawa and Moncton region. In making these requests, our goal is to maintain longstanding service offerings and in doing so, respond to the interests of our customers. We are committed to providing timely and relevant local programming in these communities and we want to continue to do so.
648 We will also be introducing our new IPTV platform next year. We will be using Comcast’s X1 IP-based video platform on our networks. It is a game-changer for us. It will enable Rogers to better serve consumers and to compete more effectively with the over-the-top services coming into Canada. The new platform is similar to the one recently launched by Shaw, which has been deployed in the United States for a number of years and has been a genuine success.
649 X1 has a variety of innovative features that will expand the range of choice we offer and provide customers with a variety of aggregated and curated content that will enhance discoverability and their viewing experience. It will improve our ability to retain subscribers, will encourage cord-cutters to re-subscribe to cable, and will attract cord-nevers who have a strong appetite for television programming.
650 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, Rogers is proud of the BDU service. We operate an advanced communications network that enables us to provide the very best programming and related features that the Canadian broadcasting system has to offer. We look forward to continuing to meet the needs of Canadians during the next licence term.
651 We would be pleased to respond to any questions you might have.
652 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your presentation. Dr. Vennard has some questions for you.
653 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Good morning. Nice to see all of you and thank you for coming to our hearing today.
654 I have a series of questions for you. Many times we'll sort of loop back into points that you’ve touched on already and possibly things that we've already discussed and then I'll pass you over to Commissioner MacDonald to talk about the set-top box situation.
655 So the first question that I have for you has to do with the transparency and the availability of information related to community programming.
656 In the past two years the Commission has received a number of complaints regarding various community channels and it's noted by different BDUs and sometimes acknowledged by complainants, most of these complaints were based on partial or incomplete programming information. And that was due in part to the difficulty in accessing complete information.
657 And I noted that of course, Rogers had some issues in that area too, inaccuracies and so on.
658 Now, given the nature of community program, it would seem to make sense to ensure that all the information related to programs aired be widely available to the general public. Now, this could include information that was requested as part of the monitoring exercise such as programming grids containing information about the person, organization requesting access, and their role in the production of the program.
659 Now, do you agree it would be useful for all parties involved to be able to access this type of information on the community channel website?
660 MR. WATT: I'll ask Julie to respond to the question.
661 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you.
662 MS. HENSON: Yes, we agree. Yes, we agree that the information is useful. In fact, our website is quite a rich environment. It is dynamically driven so our program schedule software powers the website. So the latest information is always front and centre on the website.
663 Our website also features the names of the folks that are associated with the programming so if it's an access series you will see in some cases the name of the access producer. In some cases depending if they're willing to share a photo with us we'll put their photo and a short biography as well.
664 So the information is there and we would endeavour to continue to offer that information via our website.
665 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, and in our last group of people in -- with Videotron there was a suggestion that possibly something like this should be in an annual report, a standardized type of annual report. Would you -- what are your thoughts on that? Do you think that would be useful?
666 MS. HENSON: Yes, we agree with Videotron's suggestion that there be a standard form to provide this information to the Commission. There's a lot of additional information that we're supplying as part of this new regulatory environment and we'd be pleased to continue to offer those details.
667 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
668 What do you think accounted for the problems that Cactus had in actually accessing the information when a lot of that came off the website? There would seem to be a bit of a disconnect there then. Seems like maybe they should have had pretty accurate information if it's accurately available already.
669 MS. HENSON: Far be it from me to guess how this came about but I -- we definitely feel that there's been some serious flaws in Cactus' analysis, Commissioner, incomplete research and some assumptions made along the way. They seemed to fail to make the distinction between the requirements for licence systems versus exempt service areas and misunderstanding the zone-based model we have created in Atlantic Canada.
670 So I can't speculate beyond that but those were sort of the big areas where the misinformation seemed to be generated from.
671 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So from your point of view enough information was available through your website that accurate information was available through the website?
672 MS. HENSON: I think the information is available on our websites, yes.
673 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, okay. Thank you. Because it seems like there's a lot of time and resources expended on the parties on the part of everybody concerned and accurate information gets everybody at least the same information in their hands. And then from there it's a question of identifying mistakes and accuracies and interpretation of course is always an issue as well. So thank you very much for that.
674 Now, before leaving this particular point, what other measures would you suggest to ensure greater transparency and facilitate monitoring of the community channel? Do you have any suggestions for us in that sense?
675 MS. HENSON: Well, I'll begin this question and then I'll ask my colleagues in the regulatory realm to enhance that.
676 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
677 MS. HENSON: But I do think that the new measures that have been undertaken under the new policy for community television will reach that objective of additional transparency.
678 There are program grids being completed now, most recently through the audit that CRTC staff undertook in the fall of 2016. It required a lot of detailed information from our local stations. That information is now going to be required on an ongoing basis.
679 So I do think you're going to be receiving the qualitative and quantitative information on both levels. I don't know if Peter or ---
680 MR. KOVACS: I would just add that the new program -- programming log requirements under the Regs have been expanded to add a number of data points that historically hadn't been required for reporting. And so as Julie had mentioned, our reporting systems have been adapted to address that and also extract data in a format that the Commission would find useful.
681 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
682 Do you have anything else you want -- any other suggestions or anything you want to add before I move on from that point?
683 MS. HENSON: No.
684 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: No. Thank you.
685 Yeah. The second thing I want to talk to you about is basically the changes that we've had in the entire policy landscape for you.
686 So in light of the changes to the community channel regulatory framework that were made in 2016, what are Rogers' plans for the community channel going forward?
687 Now, you've mentioned some of those already, but I would like to give you an opportunity to give us a little more detail on the ones that you are -- would like to put out there, including plans with regard to BDUs in the metropolitan markets and also in the non-metropolitan markets.
688 Now, of course, here we're talking about the flexibility, reduction in the fund, of course, and also flexibility to move things from one place to another.
689 In the case of Rogers, I know that it becomes even more complex because it depends on the requirements according to how you're licensed in these areas, too. So I sort of put out that big question there and I ask you to please just give us some idea of what your plans are.
690 MR. WATT: So the major components of the new policy was first a reduction in the funding from two percent down to 1.5, so a 25 percent reduction. So the second major aspect was a recognition that large metropolitan areas, customers there were comparatively well served with local news and information programming.
691 So for example, in Toronto there are lots of local news outlets, so the flexibility was given to us to re-direct funding from those large metropolitan areas to local over-the-air channels for news and information programming purposes, and secondly, we're allowed to divert -- direct money to smaller community channels.
692 And so we have done both of those -- undertaken both of those activities pretty much as we've told you we would -- well, last January, I think, was the hearing, January 2016.
693 So we have closed our local community channels in Toronto, Mississauga, Richmond Hill, and taken the money from those locations. This is, bear in mind -- to frame this, our community channels operated with approximately $40 million. This is give or take a million or two.
694 With the 25 percent reduction, we're down to $30 million.
695 The savings in -- or the money apparently freed by closing the channels in Toronto was about $10 million, 10.5 million. However, there are substantial fixed costs in running the community channels, for example, the mobiles, the cameras, et cetera, so we have depreciation expense.
696 Depreciation expense is roughly $8 million out of that 40 million that we had before, so it's now about $8 million out of 30 million. That expense can't be reduced by savings by closing channels.
697 So Toronto's portion of the depreciation that was being funded was $3 million, so the $10 million that are apparently freed by closing those channels is down to $7 million. And to operate all the community channels in Ontario, there is a master control, a very expensive piece of equipment.
698 That is still needed whether it is master controlling 15 or 22 or whatever channels.
699 The Toronto contribution to fund that was another $2 million, so we're down to sort of, say -- what's the reduction there? We're down to about $5.5 million of actual cash.
700 And we are directing four million of that to increase news programming on the over-the-air City TV channels across the country. And the other $1.5 million is being directed to support the remaining smaller community channels.
701 Julie, is that a fairly accurate summary?
702 MS. HENSON: That's right. Thank you, Dave.
703 On the community channel side, our focus really now is squarely on serving small and medium-sized markets. With the closure of Toronto and the four channels we operated in the Toronto licence, those were -- those were large undertakings.
704 We now are focused on small and medium-sized markets and, if I could, those markets where there aren't a lot of options in television. The smaller the market, the more important Rogers TV service becomes because there just isn't a whole lot else available.
705 So in saying that our focus is on small and medium-sized markets, the way forward for us is to really emphasize live, local and relevant. And we're going to be doing that through more event coverage, being live whenever we can.
706 Our team right now is making sure that we're ready and able to serve those small and medium-size market communities by right sizing the equipment. And by that I mean we have to be more nimble in light of the reduction in funding from two percent to 1.5 percent and the subscriber losses.
707 We've had some staff reductions, so we have to find, in some cases, technological solutions to allow us to get to the communities, to get to the neighbourhood level and to cover the Santa Clause parades, the Council meetings, the sporting events, the high school championships.
708 It's a technological solution. We're looking at different technologies that are more nimble so that our reduced staff can still provide the quality local service that we pride ourselves on.
709 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Do you see closing more stations or do you see expanding more into the smaller market, or how -- what are your plans in that sense?
710 MS. HENSON: We don't plan any more station closures, no.
711 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: No. Do you plan any expansions to go out into other communities or is it status quo for the time being?
712 MS. HENSON: I don't think expansion is possible with the new funding formula, Commissioner, but our focus is on those small, medium-sized communities. We'll do what we can to continue to provide the service level that we're renowned for.
713 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
714 How does this make a difference with respect to your zone-based regime that you have right now? Does it make any difference at all?
715 Could you just give me a sense of the changes in the regulatory framework and how that impacts the zone model, if at all?
716 MS. HENSON: Just I'd like to go back just one moment.
717 We are closing our Newmarket station, which is part of the Toronto metropolitan market as defined by the census definitions. That channel will go dark on December 31st, so clarification on that.
718 You're asking me about zone-based model.
719 The zone-based model is working very well for us. AS I explained in the opening remarks, it's a system that was developed with the assistance and the approval of the Commission and, more than ever, it is going to save the day.
720 The zone-based model affords us the opportunity to bring funding from very small licences, some with hundreds, a couple with dozens of customers. So you can imagine 1.5 percent of basic cable revenues from a system that has 44 customers doesn't amount to very much.
721 So the zone-based model in this new environment is really going to be helpful and it's going to be essential going forward in our communities in Atlantic Canada.
722 It provides the resources required to offer a full, rich offering, and it's really going to be key to our continued success in providing that service.
723 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I understand that you have reduced requirements with a zone-based model, though, the access requirements or the programming requirements?
724 MS. HENSON: Yes.
725 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: And that you've -- can you -- should those be increased? Is that still working? What are your thoughts on that?
726 MS. HENSON: We are meeting -- so there's two layers, if you will, of requirements in the zone-based environment, so the first one is within each zone we are required to offer 40 percent local and 20 percent access programming. And then above and beyond that, in the province or in New Brunswick or in Newfoundland, we are required to offer 60 percent local and 30 percent access from anywhere throughout the province. Again, the zone model is working well and we are meeting, and in some cases exceeding, those requirements.
727 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So you don't see expanding out other channels into other community channels within the zones?
728 MS. HENSON: I'll ask Dave to comment.
729 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
730 MR. WATT: I probably didn't close off the loop really very well with my numerical example before.
731 So I went through where the money was going from the closure of the Toronto GTA channels, but I really didn't highlight the impact of the 25 percent reduction in funding on the medium-sized and smaller markets. They were roughly $26 million in revenue prior to the 25 percent reduction. So you can see there was roughly a 6, $6 1/2 million reduction in revenue arising from that 25 percent reduction. So the redirection of the money from Toronto goes part of the way to replace that money, but it certainly doesn't allow us to consider expanding and is with more channels.
732 And as Julie has said, we really think in New Brunswick it's working really well. We have a lot of community channels there with the six zones, both in French and in English. And I think it has been a great success, same actually in Newfoundland. There's some very popular programming that Julie can speak to, both in New Brunswick and Newfoundland that is provided by the community channel. But I think the key is to maintain what we are doing today and make that sustainable for the future.
733 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Can you give us an indication of news, how news fits into your picture? You mentioned you're going to be live, local and relevant, so can you fit news into that as well?
734 MS. HENSON: Commissioner, if you were talking about traditional newscasts with an anchor and reporters, that's not within -- that's not feasible with the budgets we have in community television. And the Commission itself determined that that was best kept with the broadcasters, which is why Rogers decided to move some money to fund the expansion of city news across Canada.
735 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
736 MS. HENSON: We don't do news in community television.
737 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for clarification on that. So your local, live and relevant is more like an information and ---
738 MS. HENSON: Local events ---
739 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
740 MS. HENSON: --- city council coverage, events, if they're -- I'll give you a very local example. SOS Vanier, there was some concerns with a shelter being built in the neighbourhood of Vanier here in Ottawa, Gatineau, and the sessions, the information sessions hosted by a city councillor were very well attended, so they had to have more. We went in there and were able to amplify that, if you will, to make sure that everyone, people who couldn't make it that night or those who couldn't get into the room because it was overcapacity, had access to hear the discourse and be part of the debate.
741 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that. There's a blurry line sometimes between information, events, news and so on so I just was looking for some clarification on that.
742 Now what I'd like to -- just hang one sec here. So can you please describe for us how subscribers served by the zone-based community channels are advantaged compared to how they would be if Rogers operated distinct community channels in each community?
743 MS. HENSON: Yes, I will describe. It really comes back to the nature of the licenses in the service areas within our Atlantic license. They're very small, as I mentioned earlier, in some of those markets. There's dozens or hundreds of customers. It wouldn't be enough to create a substantial or relevant community channel. It would likely be an alphanumeric community message board type service.
744 The other part that's important to remember is the zone-based model and those two-tiered requirements allow us to present programming that is of interest to the entire province. An example of that is Voice of the Province, a production based in Fredericton, the provincial capital. And it's really the only opportunity for provincial politicians to reach their constituents and speak to the entire province, and vice versa for New Brunswickers to hear from their elected officials through that vehicle.
745 So the zone-based model affords us that. If we were to try to offer a community channel in each one of those small markets, I don't think it would be nearly the offering that we have today. I think Dave would agree with me on that.
746 MR. WATT: Yes, as we said in our opening remarks, 100 licenses. So the 6 zones, they are truly community of interest. So you have the Edmundston region, you have St. John, you have Moncton, Fredericton, then you have Bathurst and then Miramichi. And so around each of those are the collection of communities. For example, I took a look yesterday at Fredericton. And one of the community -- Juniper, we have 29 subscribers there. So you're talking about -- I didn't quite work it out but you're probably talking about $300 that would go towards operating community channel in Juniper, so it's just not feasible. This is an excellent arrangement that was come to in 2006 and has really worked well.
747 The same -- even some of the regions themselves are small. If I switch to Newfoundland, the Corner Brook region, Deer Lake and Corner Brook were -- and little places around -- again, you're only talking about 3,000 subscribers roughly there. So it isn't feasible to go down to any lower level of community channel and it's much better to have a community channel, to have the province-wide information and have the zone-based information that is really relevant to you in that small area.
748 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you. Thank you for that.
749 It's a good segue into talking about local and access requirements, which are less, you have the two tiers. Can you give us an idea of what sort of challenges you face in meeting those requirements?
750 MS. HENSON: We work hard at it. We work hard at generating access requests. And in all cases we need the access requirements.
751 I would say, Commissioner, that the biggest challenge in Atlantic Canada is the population base. It's not -- these are not urban communities. There's not a whole lot of activity, in particularly the north of the province of New Brunswick or western Newfoundland, but the folks that are there are very engaged, so we're quite blessed that way.
752 Occasionally, if I come back to Ontario, we do get requests from outside of our service areas. So that's something that we regret to reject those proposals for access. Some of them are very compelling but they don't fit the requirements. We apply the policy definition for access and accept those that we can and those that don't fit that description we reject.
753 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Can you give us a sense of how many requests for access would you get? How many would be accepted? How many would be -- what's your process there for?
754 MS. HENSON: I don't have exact numbers for -- numbers of access requests but I can tell you that in the broadcast year that ended August 31st, so the 2016/17 broadcast year, we had 16,856 different unique community groups or individuals that came and required -- requested, rather, access from our stations in our 3 provinces.
755 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: And of that, how many got access?
756 MS. HENSON: Those are the ones that ---
757 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Right.
758 MS. HENSON: --- did ---
759 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes. So that ---
760 MS. HENSON: Over 16,000.
761 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sixteen thousand (16,000). So that couldn't have been everybody though.
762 MS. HENSON: Unlikely.
763 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah. How many would you have received? Do you have any idea?
764 MS. HENSON: I would have to confirm that number for you.
765 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Could you offer a guess and even percentage-wise?
766 MS. HENSON: Percentage-wise, because the access requirement is 50 percent for our license systems, I would say that in the neighbourhood of 70 to 80 percent of our access requests are fulfilled.
767 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Okay.
768 Now how -- it's still sort of unclear in my mind about the process that you would use, the numbers, the process, and how you make decisions on what to accept as access, what to accept as local. These are sometimes kind of blurry. Can you give me a sense of your -- I guess I'm after a better understanding of your process of how you decide what is access and what is local.
769 MS. HENSON: There isn't a lot of guesswork, to be frank. There is a definition in place and we follow the letter and the spirit of the regulation as far as what constitutes an access request. That's -- it's really quite clear to us what constitutes an access request.
770 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, what about -- that's a good time to start talking a bit about hockey and how do you make that definition when it comes to hockey?
771 MS. HENSON: Hockey is the national sport and something that our local communities and those small and medium size markets are very passionate about. Much like you heard from Videotron, when hockey isn't on, we hear about it. So we're delighted to offer a junior and minor amateur hockey and amateur sports from high schools, colleges, a wide offering of sports.
772 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. And can you explain how that meets the access programming criteria?
773 MS. HENSON: In the case of our junior hockey coverage, both the OHL and the QMJHL coverage, those requests came -- the access requester came from the local teams, so the local community members, the teams that are in those markets.
774 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, so how would something like this -- how do you interpret that, the individual making the request would have creative control of the program?
775 MS. HENSON: The local teams set their own schedules, the date and time where the games are going to be played. They also will determine which players are made available for interviews or profiles. If we want to do some intermission programming we have to request that. And the teams will decide who is profiled and whether or not their teams or coaches or front office is available for interviews.
776 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. And so in the case of junior hockey games, is that access or local?
777 MS. HENSON: It's access.
778 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: That's access, okay.
779 Okay, so in light of some of the challenges associated with meeting local and access programming quotas, can you describe the plans you have in place or you intend to put in place to ensure compliance of the community channels on a going-forward basis, going back to the whole question of transparency, monitoring, and so on, reporting?
780 MS. HENSON: Rogers TV has been able to meet, in some cases exceed the requirements for access programming. It doesn’t happen by itself. We work very hard at it. We take every tool in our arsenal to solicit and generate those access requests. We promote it on the channel, through social media, on our website. We hold public meetings in each one of our licence systems in order to make sure that we're front and centre and that we explain what community television -- 49 years into this adventure we still need to explain what community television is. So we're happy to do that.
781 We take all the of those measures to generate access so the challenge is not so much in generating access. The challenge is on converting the access requests when they come with the reduction in budget. We've had some staffing reductions so we -- with the right equipment, as I mentioned earlier, we will do our very best to accommodate every access request that we do generate.
782 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So one of the main challenges that you're facing with this -- it sounds like the main challenge would be a budget reduction then?
783 MR. WATT: Well, on an overall basis the budget reduction is important because we have to have people who can assist the community. The people from the community who are providing the access programming want to work with us. We have to have people who will help them with their programs. It's -- Julie can expand further but my understanding is that it's relatively rare that a turnkey program is presented to us ---
784 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Right.
785 MR. WATT: --- from a group so that we are involved in helping them with the technical expertise et cetera. So the reductions in funding definitely will hurt -- it hurts both access and local. It hurts all the programming.
786 The point I was -- you know, I turned my light on before you asked your question. It was -- the percentages in terms of access and local are presented on an annual basis and -- at least on an aggregate basis are public, I think in the aggregate annual returns. And so I don't think there's a lack of transparency.
787 And as Julie said, we have consistently met those percentages so they're not bouncing around from month to month or year to year. So I think transparency is in place.
788 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So could you comment on the possibility that the Commission might impose a condition of licence requiring that a breakdown of community channel programming expenses by programming source for each community channel be required to be filed with the annual return each year?
789 MR. WATT: That was a mouthful for me to decipher. Could you repeat that please?
790 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I would sure be glad to. Could you please comment on the possibility that the Commission might impose a condition of licence requiring that a breakdown of community channel programming expenses by programming source for each community channel be required to be filed with the annual return each year?
791 MR. WATT: So it's part in the middle, “by each source”?
792 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
793 MR. KOVACS: I think I would just clarify. Like, that's -- I think it's in the form 10-20 with the annual returns, what we do break down by undertaking the break -- the different sources of programming from licensee-produced community access and from other licensees. And that breakdown is provided by hours and by expenditure. So that is formally provided in our return process already.
794 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So you -- do you have any comments on that with respect to that actually being a condition of licence?
795 MR. WATT: So I think what Peter was saying is that we, I think today, by community channel, we do break down between access and local. Now, in terms of transparency -- this might be one of your issues -- that is not a public report. That is a private report. That's confidential.
796 But then I think where we're -- where I'm struggling at least is I think when you say "by source" you're -- are you contemplating something on a more disaggregated basis than ---
797 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
798 MR. WATT: --- that report?
799 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, breaking it down by -- yes, something that would be more transparent and more granular, if you will.
800 MR. WATT: It really -- after you have the category of local and access you're really just down to the individual programs. And I think that is a -- that's a lot of information, lot -- I'm not sure exactly what -- so the requirement is to provide certain percentages for access and for local and so we have that. And then I guess I'm not sure what the benefit would be of having the ---
801 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: The expenditures for that.
802 MR. WATT: --- the expenditures by program. The expenditures are there as well as the hours in the 10-20 form.
803 MR. KOVACS: And on the aggregate forms collectively for those categories of program type sources it is broken down as well by licensee, access, other licensee, bulletin board. So those categories are there for each licensee collectively for their various community channels.
804 And then as David mentioned for the individual returns, that's filed on a confidential basis but that gives you the granular view for each individual community channel, so in our case for the 32 different channels that we operate and the various BDUs.
805 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you.
806 MR. WATT: And I probably confused you further. I kept saying local and access. It's licenced and access. It's all local. Sorry.
807 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: No problem. Could you also comment on the possibility that the Commission might impose a condition of licence requiring that a breakdown of the hours of original programming per programming source for each community channel be required to be filed with the annual return each year?
808 And this is because apparently you had some difficulty in providing hours of original programming, those numbers in the monitoring exercise?
809 MS. HENSON: So if I understand the question correctly, you're asking ---
810 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
811 MS. HENSON: --- if we'd be able to provide ---
812 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: A breakdown of the hours of original programming.
813 MS. HENSON: Breakdown of original ---
814 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
815 MS. HENSON: --- programming.
816 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
817 MS. HENSON: It's not how we're reporting currently but I do believe that there is -- there's been a change in the 10/20 form; is that correct, Peter?
818 MR. KOVACS: Well, it's a combination of the programming log changes that were instituted in the new -- in the Regs that were amended for -- starting September 1st.
819 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
820 MR. KOVACS: And that now has a specific breakdown of local -- or sorry, like original run and then repeat ---
821 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
822 MR. KOVACS: --- programming. And so as Julie had mentioned, our pre-existing programming logging system didn't require that breakdown because it wasn't requested in the logs before.
823 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
824 MR. KOVACS: But we acknowledge going forward from the September 1st onward we have that detail.
825 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
826 MR. KOVACS: And certainly in the annual returns and the form 10/20 where we have the different sources broken down, we have hours and we have expenses that going forward if the requirement is for original hour breakdown we can extract that.
827 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
828 Now, the next question is to do with BDU contributions to Canadian programming; okay? In our broadcasting decision, 2015-32, the Commission denied a request for a condition of license that would have provided Videotron with the authority to reallocate a portion of its annual revenues from broadcasting activities to fund a separate English channel -- English language community channel in Montreal, in addition to its French language channel. And in light of this, explain why the Commission should approve your request to maintain its conditions of license to contribute double the maximum amount of BDU contributions to English and French language community channels operated in Ottawa and Moncton?
829 MS. HENSON: For our markets in Ottawa and Moncton, we believe the population size warrants standalone French language community channels. While the francophone population in those markets is in the minority, it's still substantial, and it's enough to sustain standalone channels. We also think that offering -- having the authority to fund the English and French language channels in Ottawa and Moncton serves the objectives of the Broadcasting Act to reflect the linguistic duality of the markets.
830 It's also a better viewer experience when you tune in to one of TV Rogers stations in Ottawa or Moncton, it's the full offering that's in French. The programming is in French. The station breaks are in French. The community message board is in French. The public service announcements that we broadcast are in French. And that affords an immersive experience for the viewer.
831 I would go on to say that in our production in our stations in Ottawa and in Moncton, we offer -- because we have standalone channels, we're able to offer a French language working environment and that is something very precious and something that we hold dear as francophones in Ottawa and in Moncton.
832 MR. WATT: The other thing I would add, and it may not be fair to Videotron, but a distinguishing factor is that our channels are up and running. People are accustomed to them, people want them. They have watched them for years. So they know what they would miss if they were gone.
833 And this is a self-interested position obviously of ours, but we will maintain customers within Rogers cable subscriber base through the offering of these community channels. People like them. Without a doubt we would lose subscribers if they were no longer standalone operations.
834 You know, sort of an overall context to this proceedings, it is a BDU cable license renewal proceeding, but the -- you know, the backdrop is it is an industry that's facing intense competitive pressure from over-the-top providers. We hope to come out of this process with a robust system that makes our services attractive and keeps subscribers within the system.
835 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Before I leave the questions on the community channel, I would just like to invite you to -- if you have anything else that you want to share with us in terms of your plans or your challenges? Anything -- it's a hearing, so we would like to hear what your plans and challenges are, if you'd like to -- anything else to add to that.
836 MS. HENSON: I would thank you for the opportunity. I think what I'd like to leave you with on that last point, Commissioner, is that in Ottawa and Moncton, as Dave said, those channels are embedded. They're vibrant and well appreciated by the communities. In fact, there were two interveners who applauded and supported our request for the Authority to continue to fund English and French language channels.
837 And they really admired -- I admired their writing. L'Association acadienne des artistes professionnelles du Nouveau-Brunswick as well as the Fédération culturelle canadienne-française reminded us that the channels -- the French channels in Ottawa and Moncton allow us to really help grow those French language communities and serve an important service. And it was the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne in its letter who also reminded us that Rogers is the main operator of French language channels outside of Quebec, something that I sometimes forget, but we should take great pride in that.
838 Here in Ottawa, the French channel TV Rogers is celebrating its 25th year of service to the community. And it's really an important value add service for francophones here.
839 So I think there's widespread support for our French language stations and we respectfully request the Authority to continue to offer that terrific service.
840 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you.
841 MS. DINSMORE: And I'll just make one last point. Traditionally, the Commission has been concerned about allowing these second channels in the market because of the drain it would mean for the CMF. But in our context, that's -- it's quite a different situation because, first of all, the CMF -- these channels already exist, so whatever drain has happened, that decision was taken deliberately a number of years ago. And secondly, as we all know, because we've now gone down to the 1.5 percent, these channels collectively go down from 4 to 3 percent of funding, that -- a portion of the extra funding will go off to the CMF as per the decision taken last year.
842 And finally, I would just make the point that, as we know, the Minister of Canadian Heritage made an announcement on the 28th of September that the government would be, you know, in a broader sense stabilizing CMF funding.
843 So if the concern is that we shouldn't continue to have the two channels because that funding is better sent off to the CMF, I think our position would be, in our case that's not the case.
844 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
845 Now I'll leave the community channels and you've -- and move on to the small basic service and the flexible packaging options; okay? And you've talked about those and you've written about those in your opening remarks as well.
846 Some interveners argued that BDUs are not offering their services and are consistent with the best practices identified in our broadcasting decision. So could you explain if and how their -- your offerings align with the best practices set out in that decision, for example, with regard to providing customers with a variety of methods to manage their television services, for example, online, by phone, in person, making bundling discounts available to basic service subscribers, and not penalizing consumers for switching to a lower-priced package. Could you just offer us some comments on that?
847 MR. WATT: I'll tackle the last two ---
848 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
849 MR. WATT: --- two parts of the question.
850 When we appeared before you last September, we indicated we would be introducing bundled discounts for subscribers who chose to take the starter package. And we have implemented those bundled discounts. So people who subscribe to starter and take internet and then could also subsequently take telephony, they are now eligible for discounts as well. So you do not have to be a subscriber to a larger video package.
851 And I confidently said I would answer the last two but I've forgotten the third question now.
852 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Not penalizing consumers for switching to lower priced package.
853 MR. WATT: Really, it's pretty much the same question. When people switch to a lower-priced package -- I think actually even as it's stated in the best practice, with discounts -- if your question is do they receive the same absolute dollar discount when they switch down, no, they do not. They are no longer paying us as much money.
854 Our discount -- bundle discounts work on the principle that if you take two services from us and three you get a discount relative to the sum of the stand-alone prices. But if you are at the top end of the range in taking the premium services, the top-of-the-line video package, R gigabit internet service, and telephony, you're paying us substantially more, you receive a larger absolute discount. So it's an increasing scale depending on the dollars spent with us. It's not a smooth line drawn on a graph because they're the discrete packages but that is the general principle.
855 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
856 MR. MEDLINE: As far as making Starter available through a number of sales channels, we make it available in three different channels so customers can talk to us, they can call us, they can come to our stores and we've got tools there. One of them is called Sales Assist so they can -- we can walk them through Starter in person. Or if they choose and they come onto our website we can live chat with them from our website. So we can have a conversation online with them.
857 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Now, in terms of your pricing of the small basic service and the discretionary services -- no, I think I'll just skip that question.
858 And the flexible packaging, can you describe the impacts the flexible packaging requirements have had on the wholesale pricing of your discretionary services?
859 MR. MEDLINE: I just want to make sure I understand. On the wholesale pricing?
860 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Pricing of your discretionary services.
861 MR. MEDLINE: Yeah. That's -- so let me start with this. There was direct impact on the wholesale pricing of discretionary channels when this new flexible packaging regime was put in place. There were two principal impacts on it, in fact.
862 So the first impact is that many of our deals or agreements with the discretionary channels are tied to penetrations or volumes. So a channel that has a high penetration -- let’s say 90 percent of our customers would get it -- the wholesale price would be at a certain level. However, if that number drops to let's say 70 percent penetration, then the cost for that channel on a per-month basis on a per customer basis would go up accordingly.
863 So when we introduced a skinny basic package which we call Starter and when we've now got more flexible packaging and customers -- fewer customers are taking the large packages -- what that does is it reduces the penetrations for several of the services. In fact, almost all of the services will go down accordingly. So in the wholesale pricing, that's what -- that's the first impact.
864 The second impact is that there were channels that were included in the entry-level package before, what I'll call the old basic package which we still offer but we don’t sell in market -- we've grandfathered that package. But in the new Starter package many of those channels are -- they're not allowed to be in there so they're on a purely discretionary basis.
865 And I guess the third part -- if I can add a third part -- is that when channels are sold on an à-la-carte basis or a stand-alone basis, that changes the business model entirely. So that's usually what we'd refer to as a revenue share model. So if a channel is being sold for $5, you know, 50 percent may go to the programmer and 50 percent may go to Rogers at the retail level.
866 So that's how that would be impacted by the new regime.
867 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you for that.
868 Okay, I've got only just a couple more questions for you. And you’ve already talked a little bit about the accessibility so I'll just read you basically my question and then you can just comment on it.
869 On the record of this proceeding, Canadians made mention of their wish for more accessible set-top boxes to be made available. I noted that in some instances the more accessible set-top boxes appear to only be made available with a subscription to more expensive programming packages.
870 So how is your company treating requests for your most accessible set-top boxes that is available and compatible with your systems? You mentioned you've -- in your opening remarks you talked a bit about accessibility.
871 So how do you treat your requests for your most accessible set-top boxes? And here I'm presuming that it would be the big-button box that you were talking about and so on.
872 MS. ALTMAN: Well, we do offer a free set-top box on request to customers with visual disabilities and that is compatible with our remote control which activates described video in one-button push. And generally on all of our equipment we've ensured that functions like described video can be activated in a minimal amount of steps.
873 With described video in particular, we've set up a -- we've ensured we have the set and forget feature which makes it easier to maintain the described video audio.
874 I think probably what we would want to talk about is our IPTV platform and some of the accessibility features that will be available on that platform as well. And I mean, I think affordability is addressed with the Starter package. That is available to all consumers.
875 Dave, I don't know if you'd have anything else to add on that?
876 MR. WATT: No, I have nothing to add.
877 MS. ALTMAN: Oh, okay.
878 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: You might recall that Commissioner Dupras mentioned -- asked how many clicks are required and I will put that same question to Rogers, okay? How many clicks are required for the set-top boxes offered by your BDUs to turn on the described video and turn on closed captioning?
879 MS. DINSMORE: Well, we have a number of different set-top box models but on described video it's generally activated within about four or five clicks.
880 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Four to five? Okay.
881 MS. DINSMORE: And again, we have the one-button remote that's compatible with some of our set-top boxes including the one that's part of the free set-top box offer. And that enables described video in one click.
882 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
883 MS. DINSMORE: Just to be clear, just so we understand what the set and forget feature is, once you make those four to five clicks, that feature stays. So if you're visually impaired you turn on your TV set and all the described video is coming through unless and until you decide to deactivate that.
884 The one-button remote, quite separately, if you haven't activated set and forget and you simply turn the television on and you want to watch described video in a particular show at that moment, you press that big button on the remote and boom, you're right into the described video.
885 And it's the same thing with our closed captioning. Initially you activate it, four or five clicks but then it stays and it's there every time you turn on the TV set. So you don’t have to go back and forth, in and out, activating every time you watch television.
886 So the set and forget feature, which applies both to the closed captioning and the described video, is permanent unless you deactivate it. So just -- I just want to be clear that you understand how that works.
887 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you for that clarification.
888 MR. KOVACS: And that -- and I would just clarify that we have options to set that up for consumers either with instructions that they can do it (inaudible) or if they request a technician to come and do that for them; we have a free call that would be done further to set them up for that. But when the set and forget is set up universally, as Pam had mentioned, it's always there.
889 But with the big-button remote, if the customer never activated that it's on a by-program basis. They can turn it on and off. And some customers find that useful when they have the broader family around. They may not want to have described video on all the time. So they want to have the ability to turn it off from time to time as well and we support both scenarios.
890 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you for that.
891 I'd like to ask a question. It's basically just one question on your public service announcements on local availabilities, okay?
892 Do you want to tell us a little bit about your views on that?
893 MS. DINSMORE: Yeah. We recognize that when the new rule came down it actually surprised us because up until that point there had never been sort of a discussion on whether or not PSAs should be eligible in the 75 percent. And we had been using the unused portions of the 75 percent to run PSAs, so once the new rule came down and required that it only be used for Canadian programs, that meant that we had to turn away many charitable organizations who had been used to using up the over -- effectively the unused portion of the 75 percent.
894 What this meant is that we are actively using about 15 percent of the 75 percent and the other -- what the remainder may be used for repeats but certainly it’s not allowed to be used for PSAs. So organisations that wished to run a PSA with our organization either have to buy the time or they would -- there would be a mechanism in perhaps Rogers media.
895 But this was a very major vehicle for these organizations and it’s unfortunate that the change came down because we can’t -- we don’t otherwise use the full amount.
896 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
897 My last question before turning you over to Commissioner MacDonald is the HD services. Can you tell us what you are up to there? You distribute in HD?
898 Mr. MEDLINE: Is it -- you’re asking about the overall HD availability across our systems?
899 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
900 Mr. MEDLINE: Yes. So most of the -- most of the channels that are -- that are watched on our system are in HD. Where we don’t have -- it depends on system to system, but where we don’t have a given service in high-definition is usually in the third language or multicultural space. So we offer 107 -- roughly 170 multicultural or third-language services. Some have very few subscribers; they’re terrific services but don’t have a lot of subscribers. Those services, for capacity reasons primarily, we don’t offer in high-definition. Sometimes those services are not provided in high-definition either, so that’s the other issue. But for the most part, the channels that are watched most frequently are now in high-definition.
901 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So I’m going to pass you over to Commissioner MacDonald, but before doing that I’d like to again offer you an opportunity to -- if there’s anything else that you wish you would have said at some point.
902 MR. WATT: No, I think we’re fine. Thank you.
903 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: You’re good? Okay. Thank you. So I’ll pass you over to Commissioner MacDonald.
904 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Good afternoon. Before I get into a discussion about set-top boxes and your new partnership with Comcast I'd like to start off chatting about one of my other favourite topics which is Atlantic Canada. And I'd like to circle back to the discussion we were having earlier with respect to your dual community stations in Moncton and in Ottawa.
905 And how large is the Moncton zone? Obviously it includes Dieppe, which is largely Francophone; Riverview, which is largely Anglophone; and Moncton, which is a bit of a mix. But how far does that extend out?
906 MS. HENSON: The Moncton zone, Commissioner MacDonald, is -- includes those systems you mentioned in the Moncton region. So that includes our operations in Bouctouche, St. Edouard, Petitcodiac, St. Antoine, Sainte Anne de Kent, St. André-Shediac, and Sainte Marie de Kent. So all of those are served out of the anchor stations in Moncton, both the English and the French.
907 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So you extend out into Beausejour County and into Kent County. Do you extend -- which are largely Francophone again. Do you extend onto the other side of Moncton into Albert or Petitcodiac as well?
908 MS. HENSON: I'm unsure.
909 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Sure. I see Ms. Watson nodding her head yes ---
910 MR. KOVACS: Yes, we do. Yes.
911 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: --- a couple of rows back so I'll mention that for the record.
912 MR. KOVACS: Yes, Petitcodiac is also under the cover, yes, those two areas as well.
913 COMMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Perfect. What was your original rationale for selecting those two markets to want to operate two community stations, because you correctly note that others have applied and have not been successful in the past?
914 MS. HENSON: Commissioner MacDonald, the decisions to operate those dual channels in Ottawa and Moncton, starting with Moncton -- Moncton had that authority when we purchased it and the Commission allowed us to continue to operate those two Moncton channels as such.
915 Here in Ottawa the history goes back to the acquisition of Skyline and it was a benefit of that purchase so we launched the French channel in October of 1992 as a benefit to the community as part of that -- as that transaction and we were financing it as part of that benefit. And then we applied and were successful in requesting and received the authority to fund those two channels in Ottawa.
916 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. New Brunswick is in a bit of a unique situation because it's essentially owned by one family that controls all of the newspapers in the province, several radio stations in the province. Even local news often comes to New Brunswickers through a Halifax set of lenses as the regional hub of Atlantic Canada.
917 Do you think that that should be taken into consideration, the degree of concentration and lack of access to local content and information that may be experienced by people in the Moncton region?
918 MS. HENSON: I will comment on that question.
919 It is true that there is a consolidation of a lot of the media assets, the community newspapers, as you mentioned and that the television service that New Brunswickers receive is based in Halifax and as such, may not be great quality.
920 I personally think that that serves to underline the need for Rogers to offer community -- strong, zone-based community channels as we've created with the Commission's assistance, as well as to offer English and French language community channels in Moncton.
921 I don’t know where Francophones or for that matter Anglophones in Moncton would have that kind of a service if not for Rogers providing it.
922 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And if we were to no longer allow you to operate the two community stations and you could only do one -- not suggesting that that is the direction we'll go in -- but can you paint a picture for me of what would actually happen? Would you close one and just operate an English or a French station, or would it be a bilingual station?
923 MS. HENSON: It's -- it would be a struggle to make it work. Just doing some napkin math here, we're funding our stations in Moncton and Ottawa on 2 plus 2 until next spring where that would change to 1.5 plus 1.5.
924 But going from the current 4 percent to a single contribution of 1.5, that would represent a 62 and a half percent reduction, so 62.5 percent cuts to our budgets. So inevitably, we would have to re-evaluate how to make that work and how to continue to offer the valuable service in those communities. We would likely have to consider merging onto a single channel.
925 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And would it be fair to assume that because of the, I think you said, 62 percent reduction that you would expect that there would be no alternative quality would suffer?
926 MS. HENSON: I'm not sure that quality would suffer, Commissioner MacDonald. I think quantity would suffer. There wouldn't be -- we wouldn't have enough staff to receive and convert the access requests. I think that in a situation like that the French language programming especially would suffer because of the sizes of the populations, the French channel -- the French community being smaller, their portion of a smaller budget would get even smaller. So I think French language communities would suffer a big hit in that scenario.
927 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. To jump over to the other side of the province of New Brunswick, the St. Andrew's community channel is appearing later on in the hearing. And in your opening remarks you, I think, correctly note that you are constantly looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage. Given that this community channel offers local information, do you carry that on your ---
928 MS. HENSON: We're talking about the low-power television station?
929 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Yes, the St. Andrews community channel. It's CHCO TV in St. Andrews.
930 MS. HENSON: Yeah, it's just a matter of language. But it is -- it's licenced as a low-power television station as opposed to a community channel. And because of that we do carry it because it's a requirement in our exempt St. Andrews system. So that is where we're required to carry it, that TV station, and we carry that TV station there.
931 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Is that just in St. Andrews or would that be for the entire zone that encompasses Saint Andrews.
932 MS. DINSMORE: Just for Saint Andrews.
933 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay.
934 MS. DINSMORE: Because that's where we have the requirement to carry it.
935 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Is that a technical limitation or I'm just -- I would think it would be more difficult to parse out a partial zone than just carry it through the full I assume St. John zone.
936 MS. DINSMORE: No, we carry it -- it's because of the signal contour and where the signal contour hits our system, so that's how we measure our requirements and that's where we have required carriage and we're able to carry it only in Saint Andrews where it is required carriage.
937 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. And is there any interest to perhaps expanding that in the future?
938 MS. DINSMORE: No, not at present.
939 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay.
940 MS. DINSMORE: Yeah.
941 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Thank you for that. Now we'll leave Atlantic Canada for a while and discuss set-top boxes.
942 So as you know, coming out of Let's Talk TV, we established that the audience measurement system should be structured with five goals in mind permitting broadcasters to make informed programming selections and scheduling decisions, provide broadcasters with new opportunities to monetize advertisement, place BDUs in a better position to tailor the services offered and content of packages, plan to -- plan the -- sorry, place the Canadian broadcast industry on more formal and equal footing with international and online markets, and ensure that privacy of individuals is protected.
943 Do you think those goals and objectives are still appropriate given that two-and-a-half years has passed or should additional objectives be added or removed?
944 MS. DINSMORE: I certainly don't -- we certainly don't think that additional objectives should be added or removed. I have to say this: I think we've learned a lot since that decision came out. There wasn't a lot on the record when the Commission made those determinations. And we have had the opportunity as part of the working group to spend now a lot of time around the table looking at what is the art of the possible, and what this set-top box audience measurement system may or may not actually be able to accomplish.
945 So, in terms of those five objectives, a couple things, for us as a BDU, we don't believe that the system will actually be entirely useful in terms of our packaging structures, et cetera. We do those without that information. We'll continue to do that in the future. So a set-top box measurement system with aggregated data is not going to be particularly helpful to us in that exercise.
946 I think where this set-top box measurement system will have the most benefit will be in terms of helping out broadcasters in the advertising realm and to better monetize the ad spots they have on their channels.
947 In terms of whether or not it will help in programming negotiations, that is not something necessarily that an aggregated system is going to help. I think there it's more likely that what is helpful is when there are ongoing negotiations that, you know, BDUs provide programmers with access to the same information they're looking at when they're looking at viewership for that particular service. But that kind of per BDU data is not going to be available once you aggregate it into a system.
948 So I think we've learned a lot of these things in the ensuing couple years, which may mean that perhaps the objectives are overbroad. As Videotron said, we are the first country in the world to walk down this path. So the notion that we're making ourselves comparable on the international sphere to other countries, we're going to be the first. I guess others will catch up if we pull it off.
949 So that's really, you know, our sense at this point in terms of those objectives.
950 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: And, you know, depending on your vantage point, some might say that progress has been too slow, others might say it's been actually progressing quite well, that can sometimes be the unintended consequence when Canada is being first and starting with a blank page.
951 What do you use your set-top box data for internally?
952 MR. MEDLINE: Sure, from a programming standpoint, from a BDU content standpoint, we use the set-top box data to help us package our services, to help us price the services, and to a lesser degree but more frequently now, to help promote certain services and certain packages.
953 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: In -- and I'm going to read the transcript from "Let's Talk TV" and it was an exchange between David Purdy and the Commission, the Chairman at the time. And the Chair asked a similar question and the response was:
954 "We currently pull information from literally hundreds of thousands of set-top boxes on an aggregated basis and we use it for two main purposes right now. One, when we decide which network to broadcast, i.e. distribute to every home, and which network to distribute via a technology we call "switched digitial video", which is effectively streaming on-demand channels. This allows us -- this allows for us to better manage the spectrum requirements of our television service. We use that set-top box data to help us decide which channels to stream and which channels to broadcast." (As read)
955 It then continues that -- sorry, there's a -- while I look, would you still stand by those statements that those are the uses or has your business evolved in the last two-and-a-half years?
956 MR. MEDLINE: Yeah, I'd say it's -- I understand what Dave Purdy was saying at the time. I think it's evolved a little bit. So the discussions inside Rogers on whether a channel should be what we call "broadcast" -- it has a different meaning than what we'd normally associate with broadcast. "Broadcast" in this sense means dedicated spectrum through the pipe versus switched digital, which is sort of a one-to-one relationship when a customer presses the button. So it's a way of managing your network. So it's more of an -- what Mr. Purdy was talking about then was more of a network management approach to it. And we certainly have, you know, hundreds of engineers that do look at that.
957 From a content though, a programming standpoint, his first part of which services to launch, I would say that has evolved more in the past two or three years than most other things that Mr. Purdy would have said.
958 So we're -- launching channels is getting much rare. And frankly, using set-top box data for a channel that you don't have on your set-top box is -- I think what he was looking for is -- what he was talking about is proxies. You know, what kinds of services are doing well. Let's look into the world or look into Canada and see if there's anything else that we could put in there.
959 Now we're using it more though to say, okay, now that we've got all these channels, which ones are working? Which ones are not? Which ones are appealing? Which ones are appealing to a certain niche? And then which ones are simply just not performing very well at all? And removing services.
960 So it's -- we would look at data not just to launch now but which ones should stay on and perhaps to be replaced.
961 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Does that flow into your contract negotiations with providers? If you're pulling that set-top box data so you know, you know, what the viewership of a particular service is, does that feed into your contract negotiations?
962 MR. MEDLINE: Sure. But it's not just that data source. So when we use our set-top box data for a given service or a given group of services, we'll also use Numeris data to confirm. So we'll -- which is a -- sort of a public currency so that both parties always have access to that dataset. When we're negotiating though, we do -- if we're using set-top box data, there's a good reason we're using set-top box data in a negotiation. In most cases that will show a decline of the viewership of the service.
963 We're more than happy to share in a negotiation, or a dispute for that matter, the numbers that we're looking at to base our positions or our decisions.
964 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: That was consistent with the second passage I found for Mr. Purdy so that's good.
965 MR. MEDLINE: Thank god.
966 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: In the same hearing in a conversation with Lee Bragg of Eastlink, Mr. Bragg sort of alluded to the fact that perhaps the need for that set-top box data was no longer going to be required in a pick-and-pay world because subscribers were going to have the ability to go in and pick exactly which services they want and you would -- BDUs would already have access to those records and that information.
967 Is the idea of an audience management system based on set-top box data no longer required in a pick-and-pay world?
968 MR. WATT: So I think what Mr. Bragg was saying was that he would have actual proof as to what channels people wanted to take because they could take them on an individual basis and, therefore, you didn't need a proxy in terms of knowing what people were going to take. And I think that's -- that's absolutely true, that no one -- when services are in a bundle -- bundle. Bad word. In a tier, in a grouping, you're not really sure just from that simple observation which are the popular ones and which are not, at which point you would want viewing information to tell you that.
969 But when you go to an open a la carte system and the person has -- you know exactly the value of each individual channel based on the number of people who subscribe to it. You don't have to use a proxy.
970 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you for that clarification.
971 The Commission received the latest update from the set top box working group on September the 20th, and it included a schedule of activities from mid-September until September of next year.
972 Did all the members of the working group, Rogers included, sign off on that timetable?
973 MR. WATT: Yes, we did.
974 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And because some of the dates have passed as recently as this weekend, have you been successful in signing your letter of intent with Numeris?
975 MR. WATT: We're in the process. We've agreed on the wording with ---
976 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay.
977 MR. WATT: --- Numeris on the letter of intent and associated NDA.
978 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So you would expect that to be in place in a few days, a few weeks?
979 MR. WATT: By the end of the month, I think.
980 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Perfect.
981 I'm asking you to look in the crystal ball a little bit, but how confident are you in the dates that have been set out in the most recent update? Because we've seen dates in the past, but the yardstick hasn't necessarily been moved forward.
982 MS. DINSMORE: We're very confident in the timetable. We're very confident that we'll meet the dates that are set out there. But as you heard from Videotron, whether or not, at the end of the day, is there actually a set top box measurement system in this country is going to be a function of whether or not there is a business case.
983 And the reason that it made a lot of sense to choose Numeris as the one who would sort this out is because, as we've already spoken about or as Videotron mentioned, they are the currency here in Canada.
984 So they're already going down a path of looking at other platforms to bolster that currency. This would be another platform that would be added in to that mix.
985 And the business case will determine whether or not the gains that can be made for advertisers for the benefit of having that additional set top box information can be offset by the costs of providing that information.
986 So that is a determination that has to be made, and that's part of the discussion. And I think it's important the Commission understand that because there won't be an audience measurement system if there is ultimately no business purpose for it.
987 If it doesn't make sense from a cost perspective, it probably won't happen and there probably won't be an alternative.
988 We will have given it our best shot. Everybody's going to respect the timetable. The Commission's going to get regular reports. We're going to have two check-ins with the -- with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to make sure that there are no privacy concerns, but I think it's important that we all understand that, at the end of the day, there has to be a business case for this set top box measurement system.
989 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: As you move down through the time line that was laid out and, you know, there are some decision points there, is it your impression that the group will be trying to advance on more than one front at the same time while technical issues are being resolved?
990 Is someone going to be sitting with the Privacy Commissioner? Is a governance structure going to be developed?
991 MR. KOVACS: Very much the timelines outline, it -- a lot of this work is going to be in parallel.
992 As Pam had mentioned, there are privacy assessments that will be taking place at the end of the design phase and as we move toward the end of the proof of concept if it's determined to be viable to ensure, you know, any gaps are identified and addressed.
993 At the same time, I know that Numeris is working on preliminary business plan validation during the design which will continue to then in this year, and then there will be further refinements on costing as we move through the proof of concept and we actually get our hands dirty and start supplying data and work through obstacles to ensure that BDUs are able to supply the data as required.
994 So very much in parallel. It's not going to be linear.
995 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, perfect. Thank you for that.
996 Just to switch gears -- we'll come back to set top boxes in a moment.
997 You've recently announced that you were partnering with Comcast in the United States on your new IPTV platform. Do you have an estimate as to when Rogers subscribers will be able to avail of that service?
998 MR. WATT: We expect to launch the service in a phased basis early in 2008 -- '18.
999 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You might be anticipating my next -- 2018?
1000 I was going to say, you're late.
1001 MR. WATT: Well, it's coming close to lunch time here. I'm doing my best.
1002 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: This is true, and I always ---
1003 MR. WATT: My apologies, 2018.
1004 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: --- feel that when I'm standing between people in the food court.
1005 What do you mean by "phased approach"? Is it like picking particular regions or particular undertakings to launch?
1006 MR. WATT: We're taking a particular customer subset. This is -- we're going with the full IP-based Comcast solution, so this is not a hybrid with a mix of the traditional dedicated channel technology and IP. We're going with the full IP-based solution which they are currently in the process of launching in the States.
1007 So this is now talking back to a first attempt at the set top box issue, but we do -- we will be launching to a subset of customers till we make sure that it works and the platform and everything is stabilized.
1008 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: At some point will it be available to all customers?
1009 MR. WATT: Absolutely, yes. And we hope that is in 2018.
1010 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. If one of your subscribers wants to avail of that platform, will they also have to choose to buy their internet services from Rogers?
1011 MR. WATT: At launch, yes, for that subset we will require them to have internet service from Rogers. Of course, customers will be able to obtain starter through our existing platform and will be able to take starter without any requirement to take an internet service.
1012 And the starter service on our existing platform will be identical to the starter service on our IP platform.
1013 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. I mean, obviously with any project of this size, there's a lot of moving parts and a lot of work that needs to happen.
1014 Where is the division of responsibilities? Because I assume some of that work will be required of Rogers and some of the work may perhaps be done by Comcast.
1015 So who's doing what in that relationship? Because I assume it involves more than you just writing out a very large cheque.
1016 MR. WATT: It would take several hours to describe the breakdown as to who is doing what.
1017 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: I'm happy with the Cole's Notes.
1018 MR. WATT: And the short answer is that we have -- and I'll turn you over to Jon here in a second -- complete control over the programming, the content, et cetera. We -- in assigning the agreement, it took a little bit of discussion, but it -- the applicable regulations and laws are the regulation and laws of Canada that we'll be operating under and, to the extent that anything in the technical workings of the Comcast system that we require needs to be modified to comply to conform with those regulations and laws if that's what's going to happen.
1020 MR. MEDLINE: Yeah, just put a fine point on that.
1021 So we negotiate, Rogers negotiates, all their content deals -- all of our content deals. We control the packaging, we control the pricing. We follow all the rules that we have to follow, as David said.
1022 So from a content standpoint, we control it from beginning to end.
1023 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: With the day-to-day operation going forward and storage of client information, things of that nature, will that information reside on your servers here in Canada or will that be managed out of the U.S.? Understanding that you'll comply with all applicable laws.
1024 MR. WATT: The customer information, the personal information will reside, to my understanding -- and I can confirm -- we'll provide an undertaking if I find out to the contrary, but my understanding is the personal information resides in Canada.
1025 We are making use of, as I understand it, some servers in the United States principally for -- Jon can expand -- simulcast purposes or -- Sim Cell, rather. Sorry.
1026 MR. MEDLINE: Yeah. So there'll be -- there's be technical -- there will technical flows of information on the programming side between -- between Comcast and between Rogers -- with Rogers to make sure that everything -- that everything works along the way.
1027 It's a -- it's a syndication relationship at the technology level, and that's what we'll be putting in place next year.
1028 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. And just to confirm, you said that 100 percent of all content decisions are going to be made by Rogers, not Comcast.
1029 MR. MEDLINE: That's correct.
1030 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Perfect.
1031 IDG has suggested that the Commissioner should perhaps establish a condition of licence on BDUs to implement the set top box audience management system.
1032 Would you care to comment on that proposal?
1033 MS. DINSMORE: I think that Peggy made a great point for Videotron on this subject matter, and we completely agree.
1034 We're going as fast as we can. Everybody's on board. Everyone's got the same desire to see this to the end. But you know, there may be things that cause us to miss some time lines. It make take longer than we thought. The business plan may -- the business plan may result in us actually not launching a set top box management system.
1035 If there was COL that said we had to, we would be setting ourselves up, all of us, for failure.
1036 So I recognize that it's been a couple of years but, again, it goes back to there being no precedent in the world for this.
1037 Everyone's got the best intentions, and I think that, with that -- and with the fact that the programmer signed off on the timeframe after they had -- like long after they had made this plea in this proceeding they may, too, feel now that things are on the rails, on the right track. We're all, you know, moving together to get to the end.
1038 MR. KOVACS: And I would just add that we're on Numeris' very strict product development road map. We can take some comfort in being guided by the industry experts, the kind of sole trusted source in developing an audience measurement solution that would be trusted by advertisers.
1039 That's the reason why the working group ultimately concluded we needed to work with Numeris on this project. And you know, they -- as Jon had mentioned before, they operate the single currency in Canada today, and it's important to protect that.
1040 And whatever they built together with the working group for a set top box-based solution, it has to be based on a standardized technical methodologically sound basis that is transparent and fully verifiable by advertisers, much like the current system is today.
1041 And because of that, that's why we have this very defined roadmap. And I think there -- we need to rely on their guidance here.
1042 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: I believe it was Shaw who first raised a question around the Commission's ability to enforce a condition of licence on the BDUs for the development of this system.
1043 What is Rogers' viewpoint on the Commission's ability to enforce such a COL?
1044 MS. DINSMORE: I wasn't aware of Shaw's questioning of that ability, so I have to ---
1045 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: I guess the rationale was that because BDUs need to contract with a third party, i.e. Numeris, and much of the work required is within that organization, not the BDU, that a condition of licence imposed on the BDU could potentially be problematic.
1046 MS. DINSMORE: I would agree with that.
1047 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. I am circling the runway, I promise.
1048 IPG has also suggested that BDUs should provide all programming services, access to the same set top box data that they have within their organizations, and they've suggested that we impose that as a condition of licence.
1049 What are your thoughts on such a measure?
1050 MR. MEDLINE: I'm happy to address that.
1051 The -- first off, on an ad hoc basis, we have provided set box data to Canadian broadcasters to help them with their programming line-ups and their strategies on content acquisition or production, so we have done that on an ad hoc basis.
1052 I would just say that if we go down that path of making something mandatory like that that it would be for Canadian services, it would be on an ad hoc basis, not on a regular basis, which require tremendous resources, and it would be on a cost recovery basis.
1053 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Do we need to put some more parameters around such a rule? I'm thinking -- you know, you said ad hoc basis. Should it be -- you know, you don't have to respond to a request any more than quarterly or once a year from a particular service?
1054 MR. MEDLINE: I mean, I don't -- I wouldn't -- I wouldn't recommend that you put too many parameters around it even though certain parameters could help, I guess.
1055 I just -- one of the problems that we've seen in real life dealing with this issue is that sometimes we get requests for data and when we are happy to provide the data, all of a sudden we end up with a "Please don't provide us the data".
1056 So be careful what you ask for, kind of stuff.
1057 So -- but -- and when it comes to -- so that's why we pretty much narrow it to the ad hoc, like what are you using the data for, what do you need specifically to help you program or promote your channel that we can help with?
1058 If it's too regular or if it's regular every quarter or every year, what -- what are we providing it for? What is the specific use?
1059 I think if we do it on occasions, then we can specify which occasions and what it's for.
1060 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You mentioned it should be done on a cost recovery basis. I don't think people would object to that.
1061 But can you put some context around that for me? Is it bigger than a breadbox but smaller than a car? Because I don't know what you physically have to do and the resources that are required to run such a report.
1062 MR. MEDLINE: It can be both a breadbox and a car. It is -- it depends on what the ask is.
1063 If it's a specific show, how's it doing, how's it trending during these periods, we put something in place. We want to see if it's working over a certain period of time.
1064 That can be done relatively quickly.
1065 When I was listening to Videotron earlier today, one thing I just want to make sure that we're clear, it's not just pulling the data; it's organizing the data.
1066 That's where a lot of the work comes in. We've got reams of data, but nobody can read them. We need to put them in a form not just for the programmers, the third party programmers, but also for ourselves to understand what that data is doing.
1067 We need to put them into charts. We need to label those charts.
1068 So something on an individual show basis can be relatively straightforward, but if we're looking at trending data over many years across many channels for all time periods or trying to get into some kind of demographic breakdown, which is very difficult for us to do, now we're talking just a much different kind of exercise.
1069 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And just one final question, and then my colleagues may have some additional follow-ups.
1070 Do you ever proactively provide that information to any services? I'm thinking, okay, you're doing a scrub of the data anyway here. Choose a member of your working group, here Pelmorex or here Holly Suites, we have this data, here you go.
1071 MR. MEDLINE: Traditionally we've waited for the question to come. We use the data for our own purposes for the packaging and pricing and promotions on our own behalf, so traditionally we wait for the information to come in.
1072 It's rare that I would say that we look at the data and we go, you know, we better pick up the phone and call these guys because we need to know what the specific issue is.
1073 We know what the issue is for us. I don’t presume to know what the issue is for the programmer.
1074 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you very much. Those are all my questions.
1075 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: So to be consistent, the same questions I asked to Videotron. So do Rogers or its affiliates have any interest in one of the major junior hockey teams?
1076 MR. WATT: No, we do not.
1077 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay. And do you generate any revenue from the broadcasting of those matches?
1078 MR. WATT: Julie can speak further.
1079 We broadcast -- we receive very limited revenue. It's simply things such as this interview brought to you by Pinty's, that type of arrangement. And you can ---
1080 MS. HENSON: That's correct, Dave.
1081 There is some sponsorship revenue generated from the broadcasts of OHL hockey. To my knowledge, we haven't sold any of the QMJHL hockey sponsorships.
1082 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Good. Thank you very much.
1083 MR. WATT: And then just to be clear, part of the requirement on sponsorship revenue with the community channel is that it be reinvested back in the community channel.
1084 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you.
1085 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'll ask legal counsel in one second if they have any questions. One quick clarification question from me. Mr. Watt, earlier you mentioned that when -- doing your numerical analysis of the savings from the community channel -- from the movement of funds from the community channel, you talked about some 3 million in depreciation. Is that one time or is that on an ongoing basis?
1086 MR. WATT: That is an ongoing basis. It -- effective, I'd have to get the lies, but basically we have probably 7-year life, about $50 million of investment built up and we put that money each year -- it is -- the mobiles are very expensive. The cameras are expensive. Yeah, so pretty much, to my understanding, the annual depreciation is roughly matched again then through incremental capital acquisition.
1087 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
1088 Legal counsel?
1089 MR. GAGNON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a few follow-up questions. Just going back to the Moncton and Ottawa community channels, how is the reporting done for these channels for the contributions?
1090 MS. HENSON: In Moncton and Ottawa we submit to the Commission a single set of reporting requirements. I don't know if Dave wants to ---
1091 MR. WATT: Yeah, the form. So for each community licensed area we submit a 10/20 form, 11/70 form. So on the ones in Moncton and Ottawa, right, lines 2, 3 and 4 it asks you how many community channels you provide in that area and we put 1 and 1. We have the two. And so the information is combined for the two on those forms.
1092 MR. GAGNON: Would it be possible to break that down for us as an undertaking?
1093 MR. WATT: Yes, we can do that.
1094 MR. GAGNON: I'm guessing it would be, you know, per language or per channel?
1095 MR. WATT: Yes, we can do that.
1097 MR. GAGNON: Okay. My other question has got to do with the annual reporting and the monitoring. We're trying to facilitate monitoring of non-compliance or just compliance in general with regards to community channels. And an idea that was discussed with Videotron was to standardize or have a standard form in the annual reports to facilitate the monitoring. Would you have any thoughts on that?
1098 MS. HENSON: We support that idea of standardization. It just gives us clarity of what specifically you're looking for and then you'll be able to examine that across the industry.
1099 MR. GAGNON: We've had the -- we requested from Videotron maybe a template or a model form as an undertaking. Could Rogers do that as well?
1100 MR. WATT: Yes, we'll give it some thought. I can't picture in my mind exactly what it looks like as I sit here but, yes, we will provide you what we come up with.
1101 MR. GAGNON: All right. Perfect. Thank you.
1102 MR. KOVACS: May I just -- if I could just maybe ask for clarification, like are you envisioning in terms of like what was done with the audits of the program logs previously and then of last year those types of formats that the CRTC had used?
1103 MR. GAGNON: It could be that type of format. I mean, we're really open to discussion here as to what would be reasonable for Rogers.
1104 MR. KOVACS: Yeah.
1105 MR. GAGNON: And as you know, the undertakings are due by 27 of October as per the dash.
1106 MR. WATT: Okay. So it really is the logs and the programming that you're looking for? Not financial information in terms of this template or?
1107 MS. HENSON: Is it more on the qualitative side to capture the names of the access producers, those types of requirements?
1108 MR. GAGNON: It would be actually any information that will help monitor the compliance, so it could be financial, it could be administrative, it could be -- is that helpful?
1109 MR. WATT: Yes.
1111 MR. GAGNON: Thank you. That is all, Mr. Chairman.
1112 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you then. We'll recess for lunch, return at 10 after 2:00. Thank you.
1113 MR. WATT: Thank you.
--- L’audience est suspendue à 13h05
--- L’audience est reprise à 14h10
1114 THE SECRETARY: Mr Chairman, we are now ready to hear item 3 of the agenda, which is Shaw Cable System Limited and StarChoice. Please introduce yourself first for the record. You have 20 minutes.
1115 MR. JOHNSON: Thank you.
1116 Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and Commissioners. My name is Peter Johnson, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer of Shaw Communications. I am joined by Sanae Takahashi, Senior Vice President, Product and Analytics; Katherine Emberly, Senior Vice President, Marketing; Dean Shaikh, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs; Cynthia Wallace, Regulatory Counsel; and Chris Smallwood, Manager, Product Analysis and Planning.
1117 This license renewal hearing is important to Shaw for several reasons. First, it provides us with an opportunity to welcome our new Chair and Vice-Chair of Broadcasting. Félicitations.
1118 Mr. Chair, we share your observations that our industry is in a state of constant transformation. In today’s environment of intense and dynamic competition from licensed and unlicensed, Canadian and non-Canadian platforms, we recognize your challenge in achieving the correct balance between regulatory solutions and reliance on market-based investment and innovation. As you fulfill your mandate, Shaw will continue to work collaboratively with the Commission, so that, together, we continue to build and support a world-class broadcasting system that achieves the objectives of the Act and serves the public interest.
1119 This hearing also provides Shaw with an opportunity to thank the overwhelming number of interveners who supported our application. Provincial and municipal governments, charitable organizations and individuals confirmed Shaw’s critical ongoing contributions to the Canadian broadcasting system. In the written phase of this proceeding, there has been a clear recognition of Shaw’s commitment to investment and innovation, maximizing customer choice and value, and compliance with both the letter and spirit of the Commission’s policies and regulations.
1120 Later, Sanae will describe our recent video innovations, which underscore our continued focus on maximizing choice and value for our cable customers. First, I would like to provide a brief overview of Shaw’s evolution over the last license term, which demonstrates our overall focus on customers and connectivity. To build a world-class converged network, since 2010, Shaw has invested approximately $6 billion in our network and spectrum. And through a series of strategic and bold steps, Shaw undertook transformative growth.
1121 In 2016, the sale of Shaw Media to Corus and the acquisition of what is now Freedom Mobile, each marked important milestones, positioning Shaw as a pure-play connectivity provider with a vehicle to enter the wireless market.
1122 In July 2016, after years of extensive investments in our ultra-broadband network, Shaw launched WideOpen Internet 150, our top-tier internet plan. Internet 150 offers our fastest speeds at very affordable prices, available to over 99 percent of Shaw’s cable footprint. And, in August 2017, we introduced Internet 150 with unlimited data, giving customers -- Shaw customers the ability to use the network without worry of data overages.
1123 With our continuous investment in our wireline network, we are on track to complete the latest upgrade that will bring the next wave of Internet technology, DOCSIS 3.1, by the end of 2017.
1124 ViaWest was our wholly-owned cloud and data centre business. Through its recent sale to a U.S. data operator, we have repatriated capital into Canada, in support of investment and enhanced service for our customers.
1125 Throughout 2016 to 2017, we launched powerful new LTE wireless networks across our service areas in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. And, in June 2017, we acquired spectrum from Quebecor, which will further enhance our ability to offer high quality wireless experiences, and choice, to more Canadians.
1126 Shaw is also very proud of our carrier-grade Shaw Go Wi-Fi network, available to Shaw internet and Freedom customers. Today, with over 85,000 hotspots across our cable footprint, Shaw Go Wi-Fi is Canada’s largest Wi-Fi network. By extending customers’ broadband experience beyond the home, Shaw Go Wi-Fi saves thousands of Shaw internet customers an average of six gigabytes of cellular data each month.
1127 These efforts demonstrate our clear commitment to innovating and investing in our wireline and wireless networks to respond to the evolving demands of our customers and to bring leading-edge content experiences and connectivity to Canadians.
1128 This leads to our final, and candidly, our most important objective in this proceeding. Shaw is seeking a full-term, seven-year renewal. Regulatory certainty is necessary to support Shaw’s capital-intensive investments over the upcoming term. At the same time, a full-term renewal will not limit the Commission’s ability to respond to the rapidly-evolving distribution environment. Therefore, a seven-year renewal term strikes the right balance and is in the public interest.
1129 MS. TAKAHASHI: As explained by Peter, Shaw has a clear and consistent focus on maximizing customer choice and value through market-based investment and innovation, while respecting and complying with the regulatory framework. This has been demonstrated by our efforts to fully embrace the Choice Policy and the Commission’s Best Practices.
1130 The success and high penetration of Shaw’s basic service, small packages, pick-and-pay, reflect both the appeal of and Shaw’s commitment to the Commission’s framework. For customers on all our video platforms, we have maximized flexibility beyond the minimum requirements of the Choice Policy.
1131 In April of 2017, we launched Small, Medium, and Large TV. Each package is composed of a number of theme-packs, enabling another level of customization in the selection of a television package through the ability to swap any or all of the included theme-packs. We continue to offer full pick and pay as well as Shaw’s “Pick 10” to build-your-own pack option.
1132 Customers’ video packages can also be bundled with internet and home phone. And we provide our customers with a variety of methods to manage their television services, including Shaw’s online Plan Builder. Shaw also recently brought world-class innovation to Canada through a strategic partnership.
1133 In 2016, Shaw launched FreeRange TV, our breakthrough mobile viewing experience, allowing authenticated customers to stream their favourite TV shows and movies anytime, anywhere, at no additional cost.
1134 And in January of 2017, Shaw introduced BlueSky TV, a revolutionary TV experience powered by Comcast’s X1 platform.
1135 BlueSky TV brings together a customer’s content all in one place, combining traditional video services, customized apps, and social media features to deliver a personalized and dynamic viewing experience. The platform includes intelligent searching capability and custom recommendations; sophisticated parental guidance and controls; integration of Netflix and other apps delivered Over-The-Top via BlueSky’s internet-connected set-top box; and a new voice remote that revolutionizes the experience of all customers, including customers with accessibility needs.
1136 Innovations like BlueSky are critical to providing customers with a level of choice, flexibility, personalization, and control that is the same as or even better than that which exists outside the licensed system. Shaw is proud to pioneer this ground-breaking technology in Canada.
1137 Today’s intensely competitive communications environment has driven continual innovation and investment by companies like Shaw. Over the next licence term, market dynamics as well as the Commission’s existing comprehensive regulatory framework, including the Choice Policy, Best Practices, and the Wholesale Code, will ensure programming diversity and access, as well as customer choice and value.
1138 MS. EMBERLY: The record of this proceeding should provide full confidence to the Commission that throughout the past licence term Shaw has achieved the objectives of the Commission’s policy framework for community television.
1139 Specifically: Shaw TV’s flexible and dynamic approach to airing locally relevant and locally reflective programming is meeting the needs of both access producers and audiences; there is no merit to the complaints filed against Shaw TV, which should be clearly dismissed; and as the Commission has consistently recognized, BDUs are and should remain the stewards of community channels.
1140 The vast majority of the interveners have confirmed that Shaw is best positioned to balance the needs of viewers, volunteers, access producers, while ensuring compliance with applicable laws, policies, and regulations.
1141 Notably, over the last licence term Shaw steadily and significantly increased reliance on and support for access content. We are committed to fostering a diversity of voices and reflecting a range of ideas and viewpoints for every segment of our communities. This includes new Canadians, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic minorities, Indigenous peoples, young people including at-risk youth, seniors, and individuals with accessibility needs.
1142 We employed a strategic blend of airing both hyper-local programming and programming locally relevant to multiple communities of interest in Shaw’s systems. One intervener described the impact of Shaw TV as “the sharing of diverse and local opinions, experiences, and ideas and knowledge” which “enhances the understanding we have of our neighbors and strengthens our community’s bonds.”
1143 And we continue to offer a supportive and inclusive environment for volunteers and access producers. Several interveners praised Shaw for providing invaluable experience, mentorship, and skills training. Shaw provides the level of support that is appropriate for our individual producer partners. This ranges from simply airing a pre-produced program or loaning equipment to helping an access producer bring their idea to life.
1144 As one intervener explained, “I was given the keys to produce my own show” but the “best part was being able to ask questions and always get help.”
1145 Our model is continuing to evolve as we remain dedicated to preserving community coverage while responding to the changing needs of our customers and the new regulatory framework. As the Commission is aware, Shaw TV will no longer operate in the metropolitan markets of Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton, consistent with the flexibility granted to BDUs by the CRTC.
1146 Although difficult, this was the right choice. By redirecting approximately 10 million annually to Global News, we have provided a critical life-line that will support Corus’ ongoing ability to provide relevant and locally-focused community news and grassroots stories.
1147 Going forward, Shaw TV will continue to navigate the changing landscape and the challenges facing community television at large through innovative operational efficiencies. In the next licence term, there will be an even greater emphasis on access and hyper-local content.
1148 We are phasing out the Shaw Go! magazine format. Although Shaw Go! included both original and access content, the mix was not always clear to our audiences and access groups.
1149 We are also producing less of our own community channel programming and instead focusing on increasing community awareness of and support for access content. To this end, employees have traded their specialized TV production role for a generalized role of “Community Access Producer”. Shaw TV’s Community Access Producers now spend approximately 80 percent of their time facilitating community-led access projects and content production through outreach, workshops, and one-on-one training.
1150 New models will be explored, including partnerships with videographers and independent producers and an emphasis on multi-platform digital content.
1151 Finally, operations have been decentralized, with each system operating more independently. As a result, programming will become even more localized.
1152 To meet the new reporting obligations, Shaw TV has recently introduced software that gathers the metadata attached to a program when it is inputted into Shaw’s system prior to the broadcast. Shaw intends to work closely with the Commission staff to ensure accurate and thorough reporting, while seeking to reduce the administrative burden imposed on our community channels.
1153 We are also continuing to investigate the most efficient means by which to achieve thorough and accurate closed captioning. At the same time, we want to ensure that the requirements do not result in a significant decrease in original access programming and a corresponding increase in repeats. Accordingly, we recommend consideration of an expectation rather than a requirement that BDUs caption 100 percent of original content; and an encouragement rather than an expectation that BDUs caption 100 percent of access content.
1154 Shaw shares the Commission’s objective of improving accessibility of community television. Additional flexibility will allow us to increase the accessibility of Shaw TV over the next licence term in a manner that benefits access producers, customers, and viewers in the communities we serve.
1155 MR. SHAIKH: The next area of focus is the progress of the Set-Top Box Data Working Group. In the Create Policy, the Commission required the industry –- not just BDUs -- to cooperatively develop a national set-top box-based audience measurement system. Development of such a system is a complex undertaking in a nascent field, with novel legal, regulatory, technical, and business issues. Despite these challenges, the beginnings of a framework are starting to emerge, and Shaw remains committed to this collaborative approach.
1156 Shaw and other BDUs are now in the process of signing letters of intent with Numeris to develop a Proof of Concept, which is the most tangible step toward development of an audience measurement system, and clear evidence of our ongoing commitment. Numeris has also cooperated with the Working Group to develop an action plan with reasonable timelines.
1157 Shaw believes that this prudent, collective, and cooperative process among industry stakeholders continues to be preferable. We hope the Commission shares this preference and we strongly submit that proposals by certain interveners to govern the use and sharing of set-top box data through conditions of licence should be strongly rejected for several reasons.
1158 First, they are clearly unnecessary. BDUs like Shaw have been and continue to be the driving force behind the Working Group’s cooperative achievements to date. This progress should not be undermined or complicated by a more adversarial approach.
1159 Second, the proposed COLs would be ineffective. Much of the work ahead depends on Numeris’ best efforts as it tests the feasibility of the system under development. While broadcasters and BDUs’ continued cooperation will be important, Numeris’ work is largely beyond the control of either the Commission or any individual BDU.
1160 Third, the proposed COLs would be inequitable, as they would only to BDUs in this proceeding. Presumably, they would not apply to other BDUs and broadcasters unless the Commission were to initiate additional proceedings, which we are not recommending.
1161 Finally, the proposed COLs are over-reaching. Certain interveners are proposing COLs that require BDUs to provide STB Data directly to broadcasters. Shaw is not opposed to entering into commercial agreements with broadcasters. However, these demands are beyond the scope of the Commission’s expectations outlined in the Create Policy.
1162 We submit that the Commission should clarify that the mandate of the Working Group is to consider the feasibility of a national audience measurement system. Other uses of set top box data, which require significant research and testing, should be governed by future innovation and commercial agreements.
1164 Our last issue in this proceeding is Shaw’s proposed use of local availabilities to air Public Service Announcements, which received overwhelming support and no opposition. Shaw requested the ability to insert Canadian PSAs within any unsold inventory of the 75 percent of local avails that are made available to Canadian broadcasters.
1165 Community groups, charities and other BDUs all agree that authorizing PSAs will help to achieve the objectives of the Act without any harm to broadcasters. Accordingly, rather than making the change by COL, Shaw submits that the Commission should simply reinstate the General Authorization to air PSAs, which can be done simply and expeditiously in advance of a determination on these licence renewals.
1166 MR. JOHNSON: Bringing choice and innovation to Canadians is part of Shaw’s DNA starting in 1971 with the connection of our first cable customer in Sherwood Park, Alberta.
1167 J.R. Shaw built this company based on a relentless focus on our customers, entrepreneurial risk, private investment and innovation. That approach continues under Brad Shaw’s leadership and vision, with Shaw’s transformation to the pure-play connectivity company that we are today. By combining our unique portfolio of wire line and wireless assets with our spirit of innovation, Shaw is making new content experiences possible and finding new ways to deliver on our promise to customers that “they won’t miss a thing”.
1168 We hope that we have demonstrated, not just today but throughout our past licence term, that Shaw is committed to customer choice, investment, innovation and regulatory compliance.
1169 While we favour market-based outcomes in today’s intensely competitive communications environment, we respect the Commission’s role in balancing a range of interests to achieve the cultural objectives of the Broadcasting Act.
1170 As we have outlined today, Shaw has implemented the basic service, small packages and pick-and-pay in a manner that delivers customer choice and value.
1171 BDUs are the proper stewards of the community channel, and we are committed to advancing the new policy framework for local and community television.
1172 The Commission should confirm the sufficiency of the progress of the set top box working group as well as limit the scope of the project to the audience measurement system currently under development by Numeris.
1173 And finally, a seven-year renewal term is appropriate and in the public interest. This regulatory certainty will support Shaw’s continued ability to innovate and invest to the benefit of consumers, broadcasters, and the future of the Canadian broadcasting system.
1174 Thank you. We look forward to answering your questions.
1175 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Good afternoon. I will start us off today.
1176 Over the last couple of years, CACTUS has submitted a number of complaints and concerns with respect to the services that you offer. And I'd just like to give you a chance to start off by addressing those complaints that are -- that are on file.
1177 MR. SHAIKH: I'll start and I'll ask Katherine to jump in and provide some more colour.
1178 You know, CACTUS has an objective, I think, in this proceeding. They've had that objective in a number of recent proceedings that's inconsistent, I think, with the Commission's policies and its view that BDUs should remain the stewards of the community channel.
1179 As others have said, there are a number of errors in the evidence they presented. I think there are two key areas of errors that I was focusing on.
1180 One, if they couldn't easily and immediately develop -- identify a program as access, in their evidence they just discounted it as non-access. And for us, that eliminated a lot of the Shaw GO programming.
1181 And as we said today, we're eliminating that magazine format. Even though we think it was a good format and it was a mix of our own content and access content, it was not always easy to discern that content. Sometimes it was a five-minute Shaw segment, then a 15-minute access segment. So now we're introducing a new format that makes it clear and easy to identify magazine formats where the content is access.
1182 The other thing that's critical is the way they defined "local". And for them, local was based on a very rigid interpretation of local programming that was produced within the individual system where the community channel was which, in our case, eliminated a lot of locally reflective and locally relevant programming in markets like Vancouver Island and areas like Vancouver Island where you had, you know, shows like "Two Men and a Fishing Rod", which focused on, you know, travelling across Vancouver Island. It was relevant to many systems.
1183 And in Vancouver, "Sustainable Region" was a great program that talked about the environment and sustainability across the Greater Vancouver Area, so that was clearly locally relevant, locally reflective programming for many systems, but it was excluded in CACTUS' calculations.
1184 MS. EMBERLY: You know, I think it's our full intent to not only meet the CRTC requirements, but exceed them, and so it really comes down to a difference in interpretation.
1185 We would very much like to sit down and talk about those so that it's clear. We are always wanting to abide by those interpretations, but we do have a bit of a difference there.
1186 Another great example of a program that Dean's referring to is one that we just introduced last year called "Indigenous Voices". And this is made up of 20 Coast Salish tribes across Vancouver Island.
1187 And so although that content is produced -- shot in a studio in Victoria, it is very locally relevant to communities across the Island, so it comes down to that. And it could be a case in their defence of not having enough data to properly define each program.
1188 To that end, we have put in a new system where we'll automatically update data, and we're very open and willing to share information so that they can correctly classify it.
1189 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Just so I have an idea, what additional information will you be able to provide thanks to the new system that you've implemented? Because you're correct; disagreement can occur when there's differences in how an organization interprets data, but also a lot of issues can be created by individuals or organizations having access to incorrect information.
1190 MS. EMBERLY: Yeah. So the new system will have quite extensive data right down to the location of where that access producer lives in the community, a full description of the program, not necessarily just a title, which is what some of their original were done on.
1191 However, you know, we probably still need to do some definitions together so that we're both clearly seeing and defining things in a similar way.
1192 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Are there particular measures that perhaps the Commission needs to put in place to ensure more accuracy of information or interpretation?
1193 MR. SHAIKH: Well, we were listening to the discussion earlier about logging, reporting, and we're very sensitive to a couple of things.
1194 We want to make sure that there's a level of transparency. We want to make sure that our clear commitment is evident not just to the Commission, but other stakeholders.
1195 We also want to balance the administrative burden imposed on our licensees because reporting -- and even the reporting and logging forms as they're actually proposed now creates some burden.
1196 So we'd like -- as discussed earlier, we'd like the opportunity not just to -- I'm not sure we want to be among several BDUs submitting forms with the expectation that the Commission looks at those forms and comes back with a new form. We'd actually like it to be a little bit more constructive and collaborative where we have an opportunity to sit down and make sure that the form works for all BDUs.
1197 But most of the -- I mean, most of the information that has been identified in terms of clearly identifying something as access, local, original is in the forms now. We just want to make sure it's -- we create forms in a way where it's easy for our systems to actually implement it.
1198 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And did you say the new system has already been implemented?
1199 MR. SHAIKH: Sorry. The new reporting obligations have been spelled out in regulations. The new system of gathering meta data is in the process of being implemented by Shaw to better inform us.
1200 The mirroring of the two hasn't happened yet where we actually kind of take the data that we're gathering and putting it into forms so it's useable for the Commission.
1201 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: What's the approximate ETA for having that system in place?
1202 MR. SHAIKH: Well, we're currently gathering data to fill out the forms for the last broadcast year. I've actually been in contact with Commission staff to let them know that that's a challenge because, as you know, we've closed some systems.
1203 So for systems over the last year, we're actually doing a lot of things manually.
1204 So our focus with our teams right now is kind of getting up -- you know, updating those forms with a lot of manual work.
1205 Going forward in terms of ETA, we expect to be able to be in full range to comply with the next annual return.
1206 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. And you're of the opinion that this new system will fully address issues that you faced in the past with respect to be able -- to being able to meet your obligation of providing those records to the Commission when we request them?
1207 MR. SHAIKH: We're hopeful and I want to be clear, there's -- and you know, I talk to the systems regularly and there are some challenges. So we're hoping -- and that's why we'd like to kind of have a -- as I said, a dialogue about making sure these forms are produced in a way that makes sense to each individual media to make sure it's the right amount of data delivered in the right way that's usable for Commission staff and then can be, I think, aggregated in a way that's -- creates transparency for others.
1208 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: What was the actual root cause of the problem why you weren't able to provide all of the information we requested?
1209 MR. SHAIKH: So you have to be very specific about which information. We did provide -- we did answer all of the deficiencies during this process with some exceptions based on time and volume.
1210 In terms -- there's one issue that was identified earlier by Rogers which is we've always filed programming as original hours. I think there's a new definition of original hours that identifies repeats as not being counted. We were counting that programming as if it's original produced by a licensee so original access was all original.
1211 Now I think the Commission wants a distinction between original and repeats so we're going back and doing a lot of manual -- manually looking at some of that stuff to reproduce those forms.
1212 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, perfect. Thank you. That's helpful.
1213 The Commission has defined what community access television programming should be, programming produced by an individual group or a community television corporation residing within the licenced area of a cable distribution undertaking. You noted that perhaps your interpretation of that is somewhat more broad than how Cactus would interpret that language. Do we need to look at changing that language or definition in any way?
1214 MR. SHAIKH: No. I think actually you provided a very useful definition in local community policy about programming that's locally relevant. And that means any program that's locally relevant to the market in which it's broadcast.
1215 And I think with that definition, if that clarity is provided going forward, we're confident that our model -- which quite frankly we think is the best model because it -- instead of it -- you know, not to criticize Rogers because Rogers had a terrific model.
1216 But instead of having a community channel that covers a large territory or a community channel that just covers the individual licence system, with our model, we get you the best mix, so we get to have hyper-local programming in each system. We get to put in city council meetings and local sports events. And we absolutely want to have as much local -- pure hyper-local programming as possible but we also want to bring in that stuff that, you know, we mentioned from places like across the Vancouver Island that's still as locally reflected in Parksville as it is in Nanaimo or Victoria.
1217 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And how do you make those decisions? If I use the Greater Vancouver area as the example -- large population, large number of individual municipalities -- how do you make the decision about what's relevant in New Westminster versus downtown Toronto? I'm sorry, downtown Vancouver.
1218 MR. SHAIKH: Well, I mean, in most cases it's fairly obvious. And then with the examples we've cited you have individuals, individual access producers who are travelling across say, Vancouver Island to produce programming even though they may come from one system. You have programming that talks about the environment or Indigenous peoples across a wider territory than just a system.
1219 So it's normally, to us, clear that that programming is locally relevant to viewers in multiple systems. And it's also -- I mean, it's -- we have -- not to say that it's market governed but there is an incentive to broadcasters approving this programming that's most relevant, most attractive to viewers in each system.
1220 MS. EMBERLY: And I would also say that we are -- we try to be geographically relevant. So we wouldn't take a program -- it would very rare that we would take one from another province and put it in something else unless it was a widespread issue that was being covered. So it's generally -- so you might have something, you know, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat if there was an agricultural program that was locally relevant to both. But it tends to be geographic.
1221 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So there wouldn't be instances where you would take a -- one of your programs like "Around Town" which you shoot in metro Vancouver -- you wouldn't see a scenario whereby you would be trying to broadcast that program in Lethbridge, just an example?
1222 MS. EMBERLY: No, I think we would hear from viewers fairly quickly if they felt it was not relevant. We do want the programming to be great so yes, it's usually geographical.
1223 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: What about where a large number of municipalities can be centred within a relatively small geographic area? Like, would you count -- if you're broadcasting a local council meeting would you only make the decision to showcase that within that individual community or would it go out to a wider area?
1224 MS. EMBERLY: That would be just that individual community. So on Vancouver Island for example, we have eight different feeds that would go in and so local council coverage or something, a local event, would only go to that audience.
1225 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you.
1226 In your submission you indicated that you consider local programming to include content, as we've been discussing, produced in municipalities that intercept with those serving areas and in some cases content that serves a community of interest.
1227 How did you come to that interpretation?
1228 MR. SHAIKH: Well, the community of interest language makes sense. It comes from the BDU exemption where it talks about how you produce programming for exempt systems. So we're not relying sort of on that definition in support of how we produce program for both licenced and exempt systems.
1229 But it's -- it goes to our point about local reflected and locally relevant programming often reflecting a community interest that's broader than just the individual licenced system.
1230 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: If we were to take a stricter view of that as suggested by Cactus and others, how difficult would it be for you to maintain compliance for all of your systems?
1231 MR. SHAIKH: Well, I mean, we could both jump in. It's going to -- it would hurt the community channel. I think what you'd find is that we'd be doing far less programming and a lot of repeats. So I mean, we'd bang the doors as we are now, doing as much outreach as possible to get as much programming from producers within each individual system.
1232 For a lot of systems they're small, even some of the licenced systems. You're never going to fill the 24 hour 7 day a week schedule with enough programming to make that channel attractive to viewers or to really satisfy the needs of access producers because access producers also want to have as wide an audience as possible. That's why the model actually works.
1233 So we would strongly resist that model because although we might comply with Cactus' definition of what local is we would actually be producing a community channel that hurts our viewers, our customers, and access producers who would lose an audience.
1234 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So just because -- I mean, we've been talking about, you know, Vancouver, Vancouver Island, would I be correct in my assumption that you employ a similar thought process across all of your undertakings with respect to programming?
1235 MR. SHAIKH: Yes, and we've cited as examples communities of interest that actually are, you know, more clear and more easily identifiable because of their geography like Vancouver Island. And I think Vancouver Island currently and the Greater Vancouver area previously are the best examples of that approach.
1236 MS. EMBERLY: I would say it's less relevant as you go outside to the very small markets. You might have say a Prince George and Quesnel sharing some content but there's two different feeds there as well. The ones that are geographically close together where they do share some common issues, there would be some sharing but not a lot. Once you get outside let's say lower mainland in the island there's some very unique things about both where there's a lot of interesting collective content. Once you get outside you are much more just geographically remote.
1237 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, thank you.
1238 It wasn’t all that long ago that we were all sitting in this room discussing community television and in the decision that flowed from that we granted greater flexibility than had existed in the past. And the result of that in your case is closing three of your community stations.
1239 What are you showcasing in those communities now? Are you pulling in any content from other regions or it's totally shut down?
1240 MS. EMBERLY: Those three have been totally shut down.
1241 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. M'hm.
1242 MR. SHAIKH: And sorry, we should probably clarify for the record that a number of systems were involved so we have several systems that were captured by the definition of the census metropolitan area for the purpose of Vancouver. So just for the record, we closed Calgary, two systems in Edmonton, and then in the Vancouver area for a list of licenced systems it impacted Coquitlam, New Westminster, Vancouver North and West, Vancouver Richmond, and White Rock.
1243 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You anticipated my next question because I was going to ask you to provide us with a list.
1244 What are your overall strategic plans for community television, going forward? Do you anticipate additional closures in the future?
1245 MS. EMBERLY: You know, as we said in the hearing, we really do see a role for community programming in communities without broadcasters across the country. When you go to those small communities this may be the only thing that's locally relevant to them. So it actually increases in value and we see a lot of value and have great relationships out in those smaller communities. The changes that we have made since the hearing that we talked about in the opening remarks were very much a focus on access. The teams have worked extremely hard. You cannot just sit and wait for the phone to ring. You need to actually go out and cultivate that diversity of voices. We held over 1,000 public outreach events, be it going out and speaking at schools, open houses, holding forum for digital YouTube content producers and a number of others. Focussing on digital has been big. We spoke about that in the hearing as well and we strongly believe that community television content should be shared on digital. We had over six million views of our content on YouTube last year and we know that that's how lots of the community wants to connect with that content in addition to the linear channel.
1246 We did change the roles of all of our folks to be focused on access and then we really distributed -- we had a centralized system and it's now very local. They report into local leadership and their sole role is to connect with the community and fulfil the CRTC mandate.
1247 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: We sometimes hear the BDUs have challenges in that regard, engaging with the community, getting enough access content to meet, you know, the obligations that are in place. Do you find that to be a significant challenge in your case?
1248 MS. EMBERLY: You have to work hard at it and I think in 2017 you need to think about it very differently. You know, we encouraged our team to get online and look at who in your community was already creating great content and distributing it in digital and what can we learn and share and do together. So I think the team has been very creative and, as a result, we've seen some pretty innovative ways of connecting.
1249 That being said, you know, there's many ways that producers can distribute their content today. And so the role of community television is shifting and changing. However, that basic training of how to tell a great story, how to get an audience for your material, those are really valuable skills, whether you choose to distribute content on Shaw TV or in any other medium.
1250 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Do you show any junior hockey league games on your community channel?
1251 MS. EMBERLY: We did have a longstanding partnership with the WHL. And unfortunately, as a result of our closures, we have decided to end that partnership. As well, some of the financial shifts in budget from 2 to 1.5, that was a very expensive production and so, as a result, we've let go of that.
1252 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: It may not be an issue going forward, but looking in the rear-view mirror, how did you categorize that type of programming? Was it access? Was it local?
1253 MS. EMBERLY: So it was quite interesting. So it's different depending on the market. So the home team it was local. We did have volunteers and access producers helping; however, we did not classify it as access because it wasn't 100 percent access driven. So in the city where it was being broadcasting, it was Class A I believe, and then in the away team it would be Class D.
1254 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: And how did the relationships work with respect to that type of programming? Did -- was it a commercial relationship? Did money change hands?
1255 MS. EMBERLY: There was some sponsorship of the WHL. However, as per the guidelines of the CRTC, 100 percent of those go back in for capital expenditures for Shaw TV, so that's -- there was no profit from it. And those were -- they're very high production events that are challenging to put on.
1256 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. You noted in your oral comments that you're phasing out Shaw Go. That was another format that Cactus took exception too. Are you just replacing that with another magazine format program?
1257 MS. EMBERLY: Yes, we -- there -- we have a lot of time and Shaw Go was a great program and we stand by it. I think the classification was difficult.
1258 When new producers are coming to the table, they're not necessarily ready to sign up to do a half an hour or an hour program right out of the gate. And so what Shaw Go allowed them to do was get their feet wet and try a three-minute segment, tell a short story and not necessarily make a large commitment. When you look at what's being produced in digital, there's all kinds of links of content from, you know, a few seconds to hours. And so we like the ability for producers to come together. So we have a new format called Community Producers, which is very clearly 100 percent access, but what it allows is for people to commit to a short piece of content and then we group those together.
1259 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: So Shaw Go and your replacement product, how did you define those programs for reporting purposes? Were they 100 percent access? Was it a mix?
1260 MR. SHAIKH: It was a mix and it was a challenge in two ways. It was a challenge because of, I think in Cactus' evidence, they just perceived all of it to be non-access, which was not the case.
1261 The other significant challenge that we encountered, especially over the past year, was in reporting by segment. It was a significant challenge to -- as Katherine says, sometimes it's a 3-minute segment that's access, followed by a 5-segment that's not access, followed by a 20-minute access segment. So, both because it's consistent with our focus on access, it's more transparently access, and because it's easy to report, we made the decision to change formats.
1262 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Switching gears to flexible packaging, with the new rules that are in place and the choice that is currently being offered to Canadians, has that impacted your negotiations and how discretionary services are priced?
1263 MS. TAKAHASHI: So we do continue to see the change in price of content, content production continues to -- price of content production continues to increase in the industry. However, specifically as it relates to the commercial agreements, and I think our friends at Rogers pointed out the similar challenges that we have in our -- typically in our commercial arrangements, there are typically rates that are different by pick-and-pay, where there's more of a revenue share type arrangement in place versus a volume-based pricing that's in place for some other -- some of our other content.
1264 And so, yes, it does put pressure, depending on the choice in selection that we provide to our customers. But we are still saying that it's pretty much early days. We do continue to see a very shifting dynamic in terms of not just the segments of our customers that are making these selections, but also the types of selections that they're making.
1265 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Does it put any pressure or complicate any of your agreements that you negotiate with other BDUs?
1266 MS. TAKAHASHI: I wouldn't characterize it as a complication; however, it does require us to continue to navigate in a very dynamic environment of changing customer selection while at the same time managing the -- what we would like to put forward as the most flexibility in choice for our customers. So we always want to be able to provide both the customer selection of choice for our content as well as platform, and so balancing those two is what we do every day.
1267 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. With respect to your proposal around local avails, do you have any idea what the actual percentage is that is used by Canadian broadcasters to promote their own programming?
1268 MR. SHAIKH: We do. I've been given that number. I don't want to irresponsibly quote it but it's in the neighbour -- it's a low enough number that justified us coming back to the Commission and asking us to -- asking for that general authorization to be changed. It's well less than 50 percent of the inventory that's sold to broadcasters.
1269 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. And have you -- since the changes came into place, have you had to say no to a significant number of community organizations that -- or other groups that wanted to come in and do public service announcements?
1270 MR. SHAIKH: We've had to say no to all of them. So, I mean, this is why we've asked for the change because this was a great vehicle for those charity groups to reach Canadians through PSAs rather than paid advertisements on other vehicles. And we've ceased that practice except on the community channel where we can still offer PSAs. So we moved some of it to the community channel but there's a great amount of unused space that should actually be used by those charity groups through PSAs on local avails.
1271 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: So I get that it was all, but what about frequency? Does that mean you're saying no once a week? Once a month?
1272 MR. SHAIKH: Well, we've educated most of those partners over the course of the past year or two since the policy was put in place about the change in policy. So they, I think, now understand that we can't air PSAs. So early on we were explaining the change in policy and we ceased ---
1273 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay.
1274 MR. SHAIKH: --- that practice. Now I think they're -- they all understood it. But I think you can gather from the number of interventions that we received in support of the change from charity groups that a large number of them are anxious to see that policy changed back.
1275 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Do you distribute all of your services in HD?
1276 MS. TAKAHASHI: We do not. Of course we strive to provide as much as we can in terms of content, both variety as well as in the various formats. But we are governed by the combination of capacity availability as well as the content type. Some of the content is just not available on HD. Multicultural is cited as a very good example.
1277 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: What percentage would that be? Would it...
1278 MS. TAKAHASHI: I don't know if I can quote that right off the top of -- because it varies quite a bit across the various systems. Anywhere from -- I'm going to say -- I need help with this.
1279 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: If you want to take that away and just ---
1280 MS. TAKAHASHI: I was going to say maybe -- yeah, as ---
1281 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: --- respond as an undertaking.
1282 MS. TAKAHASHI: I'm not sure what the exact percentages are.
1283 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Not a problem. Deadline for undertakings is October the 27th.
1284 MS. TAKAHASHI: Thank you.
1286 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Philosophically, how do you decide which services get showcased in HD and which don't? How do you pick the winners and the losers?
1287 MS. TAKAHASHI: We would start primarily with customer demand and the popularity of the channels in our packages and the take rates certainly that we're seeing through both the flexibility of pick-and-pay and our theme packs. And then again, there is a balance of making sure that we're meeting the regulatory requirements of the available channels while picking the ones that are available on HD.
1288 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Perfect. Thank you.
1289 With respect to TFO, the French language educational service, in your submission you indicated that you would agree to meet with them to discuss plans for distribution. What was the result of that meeting or has it happened yet?
1290 MR. SHAIKH: They reached out to us after filing their intervention. We've exchanged letters. We haven't met with them yet but, you know, we proposed discussions about explaining their carriage. But it's like -- I mean, we don't want to over-promise here, it's like everything else in terms of the services that you expect or hope for carriage is a product of balancing market demand and capacity constraints.
1291 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Are there any issues that would prevent you from distributing that service? Would it just come down to capacity constraints?
1292 MR. SHAIKH: Well, I mean, Group TFO, they've had an interesting history. They've been here before, as you know, and they've asked for 9-1-H status, which would give them carriage across Canada on the basic service, or at least as -- or I think they've asked for at least a must offer if not on the basic service.
1293 You know, TFO is an Ontario-based educational channel, so we have to, of course, balance whether or not we have the capacity to support the addition of a range of new channels with whether or not we can support that decision based on demand for those channels. And I can only speak generally because I don't want to speak specifically to that service or any service. It's a product of balancing those two objectives.
1294 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: How would it work, if there is a capacity reason that would lead you to decide not to distribute that service, would that apply to all of your undertakings or just specific regions of the country?
1295 MR. SHAIKH: We've been on the record with the Commission about Shaw's capacity constraints. We actually sought and received relief on an application on the one-to-one role for affiliate services because of exactly that. So we're in a situation where we're already challenged with capacity that, to answer your question, impacts all our systems. And our primary focus right now is on selecting the service and putting a plan in place to be in compliance with one-to-one across our systems. And those capacity concerns do exist across all our systems.
1296 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. We're investing a significant amount of money in your network. Will some of that money at some point perhaps find its way to addressing the capacity concerns that -- capacity constraints?
1297 MR. SHAIKH: And we discussed this, you know, in anticipation of this question because we did focus a lot on investment. There are some very specific things about Shaw's architecture and its capacity and the type of capacity that supports new channel launches that we've filed confidentially in support of our one-to-one relief application. And because of the highly sensitive commercial nature of that discussion we'd prefer to discuss those capacity issues only confidentially. We could take an undertaking, if necessary ---
1298 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay.
1299 MR. SHAIKH: --- to repeat those ---
1300 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: That's fine. Yeah, if you could do that, that would be helpful.
1302 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Out of curiosity, do you distribute TFO like services to the French speaking population in your service area? Not from TFO, but a similar type of service that your subscribers can avail of?
1303 MR. SHAIKH: Well, we have a mix of French language services that include programming for kids and we carry French language services based on customer demand and the 10 to 1 rule and we also have English language kid's program bringing educational programming.
1304 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Thank you.
1305 Over to set-top boxes now. Thank you for your comments in your oral submission. Flowing out of Let's Talk TV we established five basic objectives for audience measurement in the country. I've read them into the record twice today so I won't if you remember what they are.
1306 MR. SHAIKH: I know them by heart.
1307 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Perfect. Do you think, given that two, two-and-a-half years has now passed, that those objectives should remain as is or do we need to have another look at augmenting or reducing the scope?
1308 MR. SHAIKH: No, I think the objectives are fine. There needs to be discussion around the objectives in the sense that what we're undertaking to do with Numeris in terms of building a set-top box audience measurement system, or at least develop a proof of concept to determine whether or not that's feasible, is in service of those objectives. And I think there may still be some concern among working group members or an expectation that there's still other things that are going to be done or that the Commission is responsible for doing everything it can to achieve each of those objectives. I'm happy with those objectives. And I think through Numeris we're going to try to develop an audience measurement system that achieves those objectives.
1309 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: When Shaw was questioned during Let's Talk about the timing for such a system, the response was it would anticipate that we'd be moving the ball significantly forward in 12 to 18 months. We're significantly beyond that now. In your mind, has the ball moved significantly forward or was the 12 to 18 months just because at the time we didn't know what we didn't know because this is the first time anyone has tried to develop this particular type of system.
1310 MR. SHAIKH: I actually think we did really well at the start and got moving very quickly. Shaw especially was a leader in drafting the RF we sent to a number of potential providers, in selecting ultimately Numeris. And then relatively quickly Numeris was already doing a phase one test project in eastern Canada. I think that was a pretty impressive 12 to 18-month effort from the outset.
1311 And then it did slow down. I mean, candidly, it did slow down. But it did not slow down irresponsibly. It slowed down because there was still competing interest. There was still discussions of -- surprisingly, there was still discussions by some of it whether or not it's Numeris or should it be someone else, whether we need a single currency or multiple currencies. So there were these other discussions that slowed things down. As well as the fact that, as Videotron said this morning, as Rogers repeated, this is tough stuff. This is new territory. And we're, as Canada, developing potentially an industry-wide audience measurement system, that's a significant effort that I think demands time and a very prudent, thoughtful approach.
1312 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: So you think the reason it's taking so long is just because it's so complex. It's not organizations dragging their feet or lack of meetings or coordination, having too many people around the table, not enough people around the table?
1313 MR. SHAIKH: No, it's not that case. And I resist any suggestion that it was BDUs dragging their feet because it was actually BDUs that were the driving force of everything that was done. I -- you know, I really commend the companies in eastern Canada who actually put together a phase one test project. So it was BDUs who were the driving force between moving along with the initiative.
1314 It did slow with Numeris. And I think we are sort of waiting to see whether -- once Numeris did its phase one whether it was going to come back with a business plan and what that business plan could be. It was very difficult to discuss things like governance and cost recovery for a system that hadn't yet been developed and a system that was still so vague.
1315 So I think Numeris at that time was acting responsibly because they represent advertisers and broadcasters to figure out exactly what it could propose to the industry. And now we're at that stage.
1316 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. We mentioned set-top boxes in the last version of our three-year plan. And what we said seems to largely align with the schedule of activities that we received from the set-top box working group last month. How confident are you in this new revised timeline?
1317 MR. SHAIKH: Optimistic is a good word. And we sat down with Numeris and finally had detailed a set of objectives with detailed timelines. They were set very ambitiously. And I think we can all collectively give a best faith, good faith effort to achieve those timelines and develop a proof of concept that lets us sit down and decide whether or not after having conducted a cost benefit analysis it's worth proceeding.
1318 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: If there is a gotcha moment in the proposed schedule of activities that could have the potential to delay or derail the project, what would that -- what do you think that problem would be. Is it the business case, is it a technical issue?
1319 MR. SHAIKH: You know, I wouldn't want to just single out one because there could be still -- and I want to actually give this caution -- several things that could get in the way of the agreement on what the system should look like, agreement on incremental costs versus the incremental benefits, agreement on governance.
1320 I think the one thing that needs to be achieved is to make sure that this can technically be done with a sizeable enough sample of set-top boxes that actually provide some incremental benefit. I think that's what we really need to see whether or not the project itself is too ambitious in scope. We want to actually see whether or not there is an incremental benefit, whether the set-top box audience measuring system justifies the investment by everyone concerned.
1321 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Some of the deadlines have already passed in the schedule of activity. To the best of your knowledge, have -- are there checks next to -- check marks next to all of those action items that were to be addressed by mid-October?
1322 MR. SHAIKH: We've returned the draft LOI that we received from Numeris with some proposed changes. We had the little problem of going to a licence general hearing in between actually and negotiating the LOI and next steps. But we've had recent communication with Numeris about sitting down to further negotiate the LOI. We anticipate hopefully that it can be signed and things can proceed fairly quickly after that.
1323 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Sorry, that it can be signed by when?
1324 MR. SHAIKH: We hope to sign it soon. Rogers said I think this morning hopefully by the end of the month.
1325 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: M'hm.
1326 MR. SHAIKH: I think we'd like to sign it hopefully by the end of the month or sooner.
1327 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Perfect, thank you.
1328 With respect to the significant flow of work that still needs to happen to develop the system, is your thought and belief that it's going to proceed along a parallel course while technical issues are being resolved, privacy issues will be being addressed at the same time that governance structures will be worked out or does it have to happen in a linear pattern?
1329 MR. SHAIKH: No. In fact, I think that was the mistake of previous timelines that we applied to the Commission where we said we'd do, you know, governance here, privacy here, something else here. Really, we need to know what the project was and we need to -- and now that it's clear that Numeris is developing it and developing the proof of concept, I think in parallel with discussions about privacy we'll also be discussing cost recovery and governance. And so everything needs to happen at the same time.
1330 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you. Shaw has been very active in this group and I think you noted that Shaw was heavily involved with the original writing of the RFI. Are there any additional measures or resources, be they people or financial or skillset that you'd be willing to contribute to the project?
1331 MR. SHAIKH: Well, certainly, you know, I'm an active participant on the working group. There's actually been discussion about whether it's time for Telus -- Telus has been chaired and (inaudible) has chaired the working group for a long time. She's done a terrific job. Natalie Doral (phonetic) did a terrific job before that. I think BDU should remain chair of the working group. Shaw would be willing to relieve Anne of that tremendous burden, maybe take on the role of chair of the working group going forward. I think that, we'd be committed to advancing progress of the working group if that were the case.
1332 And certainly, as we're developing the working group I'm often talking about it to our technical people about technical issues. I don't think they belong in the working group but it's helpful to be able to reach out to them.
1333 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Why do you think someone from a BDU should chair the group?
1334 MR. SHAIKH: Well, it is our property and I think ultimately BDUs are best positioned to understand how -- the specific issues with the use of the set-top box data. And I think we're best positioned to protect our customers' interests, especially when it's issues like privacy.
1335 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. As you know, IBG has suggested that BDUs would carry a condition of licence with respect to implementing this system. I know you're against that. Does a condition of licence have the potential to harm the development process or is your objection just simply that companies don’t like to have conditions of licence?
1336 MR. SHAIKH: Well, I think it could. I think -- like we said in our submission this morning, this needs to still be a prudent collaborative approach. And if we're actually going to have good faith negotiations with Numeris and broadcasters about how to move this forward I think there has to be some room for discussion, negotiation, and I don’t think it's appropriate to compel one party to participate.
1337 I think that changes the dynamics of those conversations of that negotiation and as I said, creates a more adversarial approach. And I think conditions of licence would give us a little bit of potentially disincentive to not just participating as actively but actually developing for the used of set-top box data. I'm not saying that's the case because we're currently committed to doing so.
1338 And the one thing I'd be concerned with, said earlier, September 2018, we're going to see a proof of concept. It's absolutely critical at that stage that every party has the right to say, "I don't like the proof of concept. I don't see the benefits. I don’t see there being any incremental benefits seeing this going forward that outweigh the significant costs."
1339 Therefore, there shouldn't be a condition of licence that compels us to participate at that point. If it -- if the proof of concept actually suggests something that makes sense to all of us absolutely in good faith, we'd be committed to continue with the projects.
1340 Another part is Numeris could decide on the broadcasters, advertisers, that it doesn’t want to move forward or anyone could, you know, decide that. Then you have this strange condition of licence compelling participation in something that no longer exists.
1341 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: If we didn’t heed your advice and we did go down the condition of licence route, do you have any thoughts on to who that should and should not apply? Should it just be to the larger BDUs, all BDUs, only BDUs that currently access and utilize their set-top box data? Do you have any thoughts on that?
1342 MR. SHAIKH: Our position is that you should not impose any conditions of licence in any respect governance (inaudible) set-top box data. And that applies to all BDUs.
1343 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. You’ve partnered with Comcast and have introduced IPTV. Does that apply to all of your undertakings or have you just launched in specific regions at this point?
1344 MR. SHAIKH: I'll let Sanae take the lead on some of these questions.
1345 To be clear, we've launched a -- it's not quite a full IPTV platform. Rogers discussed its partnership with Comcast and they deliver a feature-full IPTV solution.
1346 Right now, BlueSky is a BlueSky internet product but it's offered on a traditional cable platform.
1347 MS. TAKAHASHI: It's what could be characterized as a hybrid platform.
1348 So yes, we have introduced BlueSky TV in Canada. We're very pleased to bring Comcast technology to Canadians in our serving area. We're proud to offer what we think of as an exceptional full-home experience that brings together the best of our internet services with our wide-open internet 150 as well as BlueSky television. And so that's the standard offer that you'll see in the marketplace that we like to bring to -- bring the attention of our subscribers to.
1349 However, we do offer a rather large selection of tiers, both on the internet side as well as video on alternate platforms that are available with the exact same packaging and same flexibility across pick and pay and trace packages.
1350 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. What benefits can subscribers actually realize? Is it all about look and feel, is it access to more content, is it ease of interaction with Shaw? What actual benefits does a home subscriber receive from your investment in this?
1351 MS. TAKAHASHI: I would characterize it as a little bit of each of those brought together provides a pretty special experience for the Shaw home. And so the combination of what we bring to market with our internet 150 backing up the free range experience and delivery of the VOD side of our BlueSky set-top box which is why we call it sort of a hybrid experience certainly brings together all of the content in one place.
1352 And so when you think about search and discovery it is certainly an exceptional experience. So it's not just easy to access because of the voice remote but because it brings together content like your Netflix library and blends it into the library that you have based on the television packaging that you’ve selected with us.
1353 And so really, discovery becomes a whole new experience across platforms and all curated for you in one place.
1354 MR. JOHNSON: Just to add to that, it's a very fluid experience for the customer because of the user interface, because of bringing the content all together in one place whether it's Netflix or otherwise. So it's very easy for the customer to basically access the content.
1355 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Would it also bring more ease to subscribers with disabilities as well?
1356 MR. SHAIKH: We're very proud of the voice remote that, you know, we've actually demonstrated the voice remote to a number of groups with visual impairments who were excited by the product.
1357 To be clear, our other cable platforms also provide accessibility to individual groups with disabilities, you know, primary means to provide access to the visually impaired as to described video, which our platforms do.
1358 In the case of Blue Sky, the voice remote is one more added feature.
1359 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: What was the benefit for Shaw making this significant investment? Was it to retain customers, attract Cord Nevers, update your own internal processes to reduce costs, all of the above?
1360 MS. TAKAHASHI: I was going to say, I think you've hit on most of the -- most of the above.
1361 Certainly this -- I mean, it's a very competitive environment that we're in. Our customers' behaviours and preferences are changing, you know, daily, monthly. We're seeing such a dramatic shift in not just the kind of content that each of our consumers are consuming, but how they go about and how they choose to view that content.
1362 And so, you know, you can describe them as millenials, you can describe them as Cord Nevers. The reality is, we, as service providers, need to stay on top of the latest technology and availability to try to figure out creative ways of bringing content to our customers in the way that they want to be able to consume it, so we absolutely view it as an investment in our future.
1363 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Does a subscriber need to also purchase Shaw internet to be able to purchase this product?
1364 MS. TAKAHASHI: So today with Blue Sky TV, it is paired together and packaged with our internet 150 or internet 75 products. Again, we believe that the combined experience on both the internet and video side with these two products that's paired together provides and guarantees the best experience in the home, so that is the way we've brought it to market today.
1365 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you.
1366 What role do you play versus what role does Comcast play with respect to rolling out the service? Where -- who's responsible for what?
1367 MR. SHAIKH: Well, we're responsible for rolling out the service.
1368 To be clear, Comcast is our technology partner and it's no different from other partnerships we enter with other providers and other providers of equipment.
1369 In terms of the key questions of who makes content decisions and anything that is in the hands of the licensed BDU, that's with Shaw.
1370 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So 100 percent of content decisions are with Shaw.
1371 MR. SHAIKH: Absolutely. And also, to be clear, we've had lengthy -- well, not we, but my colleagues had lengthy discussions with people at Comcast about the regulatory obligations and making clear to them the responsibilities that we have under the Broadcasting Act and related regulations about things like emergency alerts and described video and closed captioning. And that's a product of lengthy discussions that have led to Comcast understanding what the product needs to look like and be like to meet regulatory requirements.
1372 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So what was built with an eye towards meeting all regulatory requirements and abiding by any laws that exist within the country.
1373 MR. SHAIKH: That's correct.
1374 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: How does it technically work? Do you -- are you using Comcast servers sitting in the United States somewhere? Where's the information housed?
1375 Can you -- at a very high level, can you shed some light on that?
1376 MR. SHAIKH: At a high level, I want to -- I don't want to -- you know, Comcast is a partner. We don't want to talk about anything that's sensitive to their commercial product.
1377 It is a Cloud-based product in some respects, so there is some aspects of the product are Cloud-based. Some data, especially the key data, is still housed by Shaw.
1378 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And what would be a definition of key data? Subscriber information, anything of a personal nature, viewing preferences?
1379 MR. JOHNSON: All of the customer data is housed at Shaw, in Shaw territory with Shaw equipment.
1380 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Going back to set top boxes and conditions of licences for a second, IPG also suggested that BDUs should provide all programming service, access to -- of set top box data that they, themselves, use to other -- provide that data to other programming services.
1381 What are your thoughts on that proposal?
1382 MR. SHAIKH: To date, we haven't been approached by any member of IPG requesting access to set top box data. We'd be happy to enter into negotiations around a commercial agreement involving the sharing of that data.
1383 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. So strategically, you have no problem with sharing that data.
1384 MR. SHAIKH: Subject to commercial negotiation, and certainly not subject to a COL, which was suggested by IPG.
1385 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: If we did go with a condition of licence, do you think any parameters should be put around how that information can be requested of the BDUs?
1386 I'm thinking frequency of receiving the request, cost recovery measures to ensure that Shaw and other BDUs aren't being penalized in any way.
1387 MR. SHAIKH: So to be clear, we believe that all those things should be and can be addressed through commercial negotiation. There should not be a COL. And if there -- and I don't think there are parameters that could capture everything that goes into a potential negotiation that would actually, in a way, make that COL useable.
1388 And it's -- we heard from Rogers today about something that they can produce and have produced that they shared with others.
1389 We don't have those types of reports where we can actually share a report with another broadcaster. In our case, all we would potentially be sharing is very, very raw data. And it's very important to understand that our agreement would be to share that raw data and most of the work, and it's extensive work, to actually make that data useable for any purposes, all that work would have to be done by the broadcaster who acquired that data.
1390 We would not -- we don't have reports that we hand over to people that tells them something about their channel, which is something I think Rogers said they have. We don't have those types of reports.
1391 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You don't scrub that data internally before you would hand it over. It would just be the raw ---
1392 MR. SHAIKH: It's very raw data.
1393 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you very much. Those are my questions.
1394 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I have one very brief follow-up question.
1395 This morning -- I'm not sure if you were in the room when Rogers appeared before us. Mr. Watt was giving us a quick breakdown of the monies that were made available to support local news and mentioned, for example, that of the -- in their case, of the, I think it was, 10 million approximately, there was re-directed about -- three million of that went to depreciation of some of the equipment.
1396 Is that the case for yourselves as well?
1397 MR. SHAIKH: I'll say a couple things.
1398 So there's no depreciation after the money has been given to, in our case, CORUS. So we've made a re-direction based on the overall percentages and how much we were able to allocate to CORUS for each of those systems. We didn't make any kind of depreciation adjustment. We gave them, and I think we were public, that they received $10 million following -- or they received $10 million annually following the closures.
1399 Depreciation as a separate conversation is an important conversation for us because we need some clarity about whether depreciation's considered a direct or indirect expense.
1400 I'm mentioning that because it's historically been treated as a direct expense which, as you can imagine, is important to us going forward given our obligations to march up the amount we spend on direct.
1401 We received our reports, those 1020 forms that people have been referring to, that actually put depreciation in direct basket.
1402 We're going to refile those reports to make sure it's clearly understood that depreciation is a direct expense.
1403 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1404 Commission counsel?
1405 MR. BALKOVEC: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I have a few questions.
1406 To begin with, you stated in your opening remarks that you've sort of changed your position with respect to a proposed closed captioning condition of licence. You no longer support that proposal and you would, instead, prefer that it be an expectation.
1407 Can you say a bit more about what motivated that change?
1408 MR. SHAIKH: We'd be happy to. And to be clear, we're absolutely committed to and our intention is to caption as close to 100 percent of both original and access programming as possible.
1409 We did have in mind a centralized facility that was going to be in Calgary, and I think we filed that as one our undertakings where we could do closed captioning. That's no longer an initiative that's in place.
1410 So it's going to be decentralized and it's going to be -- I don't want to call it a burden, but it's going to be an obligation imposed on each individual system.
1411 We still think where you can caption 100 percent of original programming. There may be challenges with live programming, which is something that Videotron raised.
1412 We are concerned with access programming. So it's not significant relief that we're asking for but because it is a condition of licence there's an expectation on our part that we might not get to 100 percent original. It would probably be something if it's lower than 100 percent it won't be much lower. So that's why we'd ask for it to be an expectation rather than a requirement and access is going to be again, more challenging which is was why we'd ask for it to be an encouragement.
1413 But to be clear, we're committed to best efforts to caption as much as possible and hopefully we'll be able to caption 100 percent.
1414 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay, and now this might be something you might want to take as an undertaking but can you give us a bit of a sense of what the consequences would be if it were to be imposed as a condition of licence on your programming?
1415 MR. SHAIKH: And we've had these discussions and the concern is -- and we mentioned this concern a little bit this morning because we had discussions with our systems and we have kind of flagged this with Commission staff as well. If we do run into challenges we're worried that we'll make a sacrifice and instead of doing lots and lots of really great access content and lots and lots of really great original content, we'll be forced into a situation doing repeats.
1416 So to make sure that we comply with the requirement we might actually be in a position where we'll just repeat the content that's already been captioned instead of risking airing a programming that any kind of content if it's just came into us, this really good access content but we can't get it captioned we might be forced to make a decision not to air it.
1417 So the real incentive there is to make sure that we've got as close to possible 100 percent caption content but at much content as possible that meets the local and access obligations and we're not forced into making a choice that involves us ultimately deciding to air a lot repeats.
1418 MR. BALKOVEC: And in your view would it be the live programming that would be the first to go or -- like, what would be the most likely outcome? What would have to be sacrificed if something were to be sacrificed?
1419 MR. SHAIKH: I don't think we'd quite approach it that way of deciding first to go. I think it would be individual circumstances and individual systems where maybe we're confronted with a situation where we wanted to do a live broadcast but we couldn't get captioning in place and then we decide not to air it.
1420 Again, the hope/expectation -- and we're determined to make sure that those cases don’t arise and we actually do caption 100 percent, but there will be circumstances where we might have to make a decision not to air live programming (inaudible) air repeats.
1421 MS. EMBERLY: And just to add to that, I think -- we just want to remind you there's thousands of hours of content and some of our stations might only have one person from Shaw TV. So it's how do they quickly turn it around and what's realistic for that team to do?
1422 MR. SHAIKH: Yeah, that's a very good point. And just with -- you know, it's a very different obligation imposed on BDUs and the community channels when you're talking about a group of limited resources, declining resources, fewer bodies trying to caption tons of channels and lots, lots of content versus a linear network space or (inaudible) that has one linear service that just captions that one service with lots of resources and lots of people.
1423 MR. BALKOVEC: Were you in the room earlier when Videotron was discussing its alternative proposal on the closed captioning front? Do you have any views on if that would be a feasible proposal?
1424 MR. SHAIKH: I think their proposal is very specific to them. We see no problems with Videotron's proposal as it applies to them. It's not something that we've suggested for us.
1425 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay. To change tack a little bit but still on the subject of accessibility, when it comes to set-top boxes, some of the BDUs on the record have said that subscribers need to be subscribed to something other than the basic package in order to have access to their most accessible set-top box. So if for instance Shaw offers more than one type of set-top box and one is more accessible than another kind, do you need to be subscribed to a particular type of television package to be able to get that set-top box?
1426 MR. SHAIKH: No, it doesn’t -- it -- there's no distinctions made based on package. There are some differences in terms of the boxes and their box capabilities. All pass through the described video and closed captioning and there's some differences with the amount of clicks. It can vary between two and unfortunately up to five for some older boxes to actually turn on or off close captioning/described video.
1427 MR. BALKOVEC: And in terms of the subscribers who have those older boxes, is that just ones who haven't changed their package in a while or ---
1428 MR. SHAIKH: There's any number of reasons why customers have older boxes.
1429 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay. So but the newer customers will all be getting the newer boxes that have the greater accessibility; is that -- would that be true?
1430 MR. SHAIKH: Yeah, and I don’t think -- I mean, there's not a big leap between older boxes and newer boxes into how accessible they are. I think most of the boxes have very usable accessibility features.
1431 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay, to move on to your request with respect to the local availabilities, you've now suggested that a more expedient way to effect that change would be to amend the general authorizations. So can I understand then that you'd be in favour of simply returning to the language that was in those authorizations in the 2011-522 decision? That's the one that was amended in 2015.
1432 MR. SHAIKH: Yes, and I think it's worth pointing out that there were a few changes made. It wasn’t just eliminating the PSAs. I think one of the significant changes we made -- the Commission made was that PSAs generated by broadcasters to -- could promote Canadian shows rather than Canadian services, which I think was a big difference that actually has -- that cut down the inventory that's been made available to us. I think probably other broadcaster support changing that language back.
1433 Just to make sure you understand it for the record in terms of the changes that were made, the key change that we're asking for in the context of this proceeding is to make the change regarding local (inaudible) and PSAs.
1434 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay, and now you've suggested that that would be a more expedient way to do it. So is it your position then that this is something that the Commission can do without any kind of additional process?
1435 MR. SHAIKH: And the reason we're saying that is because you changed it without a process and that's kind of -- that was our message in our -- in I think in some of our submissions that we were all, as an industry, surprised by the change to the general authorization which was made without any kind of public consultation at which point we would have said, "Hold on a second. PSAs are important and we're not going to be able to fill this inventory."
1436 So that's why -- and that's why I say you can do it without making a final decision on any of these licence renewal hearings. You could do it next week.
1437 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay. Moving on from that, I think we may already have this on the record but just to be very clear about it. For the set-top boxes for the Star Choice/Shaw Direct undertaking, are they able to collect data for an aggregation system?
1438 MR. SHAIKH: As we filed, there's no return path datas. We call set-top boxes a return path data. It's has to be the satellite technology which is, you know, the return path from satellite is different from the terrestrial platform. We did file on the record that there's some potential ability to capture the (inaudible) usage when the set-top box is internet connected. We're not doing any of that, but that's where there's some very limited potential for Star Choice.
1439 MR. BALKOVEC: And so can I assume from that that your position that no COLs are necessary would apply to those undertakings as well?
1440 MR. SHAIKH: And it's a good point that COLs should if it's something like the (inaudible) set-top box then it would be applied uniformly to all BDUs but you'd be in a situation where you might be imposing a COL upon BDU that couldn't actually comply with that obligation. So there's -- you know, there's various capabilities across different systems and BDUs; therefore, that's one more reason not to impose a COL.
1441 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay, and I have just one final question. We've spoken with the licensees this morning about a potential condition of licence that has to do with the reporting of community channel information. I think there has perhaps been a small measure of confusion about what we're asking. So if I can attempt to clarify that I would like to do so.
1442 MR. SHAIKH: I was in great measure confused.
1443 MR. BALKOVEC: So we're talking about a condition of licence that would require BDUs to file for each community channel with their annual returns, a breakdown of community channel program expenses by programming source, and original -- hours of original programming, at programming source.
1444 Now, when we talk about programming source we're talking about the categories that are listed in the appendix of the most recent community television policy. And this information actually is already supposed to be filed as part of the form 1020. It's just that there has been a lack of consistency in terms of how various BDUs have gone about filing it.
1445 So the purpose of such a potential COL would just be to ensure uniformity, to ensure that we had the information for each community channel broken down by programming source as set out in the policy, if that makes it any clearer.
1446 MR. SHAIKH: That makes it clearer and it goes to the conversation we had earlier. And I think what we really need is to have an opportunity to comment on what that form looks like and what's expected of individual systems because, as I've said, we're having challenges. We had challenges throughout the deficiencies process, and you've encountered this obviously and all your staff has, because of the difficulty being able to provide the information in the way that you wanted, in the way that you could make transparent.
1447 I'd like to be able to say that it'd possible to prepare those returns on a disaggregated basis. I think if they're made public, they have to be made public only on an aggregated basis because there's too much information in those disaggregated forms about the system and the revenue that's generated in those systems.
1448 I don't think it should be imposed by COL -- not just that we, you know, resist COLs at all costs, it's -- I think a COL would be too narrow in terms of the discussion that needs to be had between the Commission staff and all the BDUs and our people in our systems to make sure that we're giving you the information that you need in the way that you want it. I'm not suggesting you need a working group on this but I think we need to have some conversation about how best to get that data to you.
1449 I mean, certainly we have to file aggregate returns, so you don't need to impose that by COL. We already have to file our returns in a 10/20. Let's have a conversation about whether we can do those 10/20 forms by a system and if they can be possibly narrowed in scope to give you only what you need for those individual systems.
1450 MR. BALKOVEC: Well, by all means, if you would like to get that conversation started in your final written comments, feel free to do so.
1451 Those are all my questions, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
1452 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We'll recess now for 10 minutes, returning at 3:50. Thank you.
--- L’audience est suspendue à 15h37
--- L’audience est reprise à 15h48
1453 THE SECRETARY: Mr. Chairman, we will now hear Item 4, K-Right Communications Limited and Persona Communications Inc. Please go ahead. You have 20 minutes.
1454 MS. MacDONALD: Okay. Good afternoon, Chairman, Commissioners, Commission Staff. I'm Nathalie MacDonald, VP Regulatory and with me today is Kimberly Hays, our Manager of Broadcasting Regulatory.
1455 At this time I would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Chair and Vice-Chair on your appointments.
1456 We are also pleased to be here today on this issue of our license renewals concerning EastLink's BDU licenses for Halifax, Nova Scotia and Sudbury, Ontario.
1457 Eastlink is a family-owned private communications company with a deeply rooted focus on bringing high quality products and services to small towns and communities in Canada. We started with a single cable system in Amherst, Nova Scotia in 1971 and today we provide a suite of communications services to hundreds of small, rural towns and communities in 7 Canadian provinces, focusing on many of the smaller rural areas where operators other than the incumbents have typically not chosen to build. Communities in Newfoundland and Labrador from Ship Harbour, Winterland and St. David's; communities in Northern Ontario like Kapuskasing, Cochrane and Kirkland Lake; Three Hills, Mayerthorpe and Fox Creek, Alberta and Oliver and Osoyoos, BC.
1458 In addition to providing telephone, high speed internet and TV services, Eastlink is also making substantial investments into our mobile wireless LTE network in many of these smaller serving areas. We currently offer wireless services throughout Nova Scotia, PEI, southeastern New Brunswick, as well as in parts of Newfoundland and Northern Ontario, and we continue to invest and expand these services with several market launches planned for the next year.
1459 As a result of investments into our fibre network Eastlink has not only brought some of the fastest internet speeds (up to 1Gig) offered in the largest urban centres to our smaller communities, but we have also invested heavily into providing these communities with access to hundreds of high definition TV services, video on demand, TV streaming apps like Eastlink Stream and innovative, consumer-friendly TV options like TV Channel Exchange.
1460 Eastlink's approach to consumer friendly TV options, like Personal Picks, began well before the Commission mandated some of these requirements through the Let's Talk TV decisions. Eastlink's TV Channel Exchange is part of our Value Pack II which provides our customers with 50 pre-selected channels; under the channel exchange option, customers are able to replace any of those pre-selected channels with others from a list of over 140.
1461 And we continue to improve our services in order to respond to what our customers are looking for in a service provider. For instance, we are in the process of revamping our website, to make it more consumer-friendly, to improve clarity about our products and services and to ensure it is more accessible for all consumers. In fact, through this process, we discovered that our Eastlink logo and brand colours were not as easy to see from an accessibility standpoint, and so we have decided to improve upon that by adding additional colour to our Eastlink branding which will improve accessibility.
1462 Our customers are able to go online to their My Account webpage and manage their account on their own, or make changes and order services. We also provide options for our customers to engage with us through our customer care lines, retail stores and website chat.
1463 Our focus is on continuous improvement, with ongoing measures to improve response times for our customers, short appointment windows, clarity in our service descriptions and terms, as well as providing clear information about the services our customers have ordered. To help our customers fully understand how to get the most value from their services, we have also created how-to videos for a number of our products and services. In fact, over the past year we launched a short video for our customers explaining our bills, to which we have received a very positive response. Eastlink's focus on our customer has and continues to be an ongoing part of our business, and customer feedback or concerns are directed straight to our President, who makes herself aware of all complaints or concerns received, which most often results in a weekly discussion around process and how we can improve it.
1464 It is notable that while we pride ourselves in our innovation, investment in the state of the art facilities and the ongoing drive to compete and to improve our services, our company is significantly smaller in comparison to the other companies with whom we are often grouped. Eastlink is only a fraction of the size of the larger BDUs in Canada, with a TV subscriber base of just shy of 285,000, while our largest competitor has a subscriber base of over 3 million. Given that we are a very small competitor, Eastlink has to take a very practical approach to our business, but we also believe this serves our customers well. A need to be as practical and efficient as we can means choosing to focus our efforts and our investments on improving our services.
1465 We take pride in our services and in the fact that with fewer resources we have been able to grow into a service provider whose network and services can stand proud against our much larger competitors. In fact, we believe we have been the impetus for positive change for some of these larger competitors who, because of our presence, have stepped up to improve the services they offer in our communities. We also make every effort to ensure we fully comply with the obligations and expectations placed on our business, which brings us to the issues we are here before you to discuss: our license renewals.
1466 Eastlink only has two licensed cable systems: Halifax, NS and Sudbury, Ontario. We have hundreds of exempt systems most of which are extremely small, serving fewer than 2,000 customers. We operate community channels, known as Eastlink Community TV, in 29 systems, and we also make the content available on VOD so customers have access to our programs regardless of where they are from, and on their own schedule.
1467 Eastlink Community TV has a staff of only 61 and yet, with contributions from over 4,500 volunteers over the course of the year, together with access programmers we produced over 7,500 original hours of programming across our community channels over the past year.
1468 Through our community channel, we share stories reflecting the lives and interests of people across various cultural and linguistic communities, and we cover a diverse range of content from documentaries, school sports, political issues and events, unique interest pieces, parades, festivals and telethons.
1469 Our channel also provides a direct venue for local access producers and content providers to create and share their stories, while East [sic] staff and volunteers also provide support and training to encourage students and other community members to develop an interest and talent in content production. Eastlink encourages an environment for access producers to contribute to our channel in a number of ways, aside from providing a distribution platform for access producers, we are also here to provide resources, training and assistance to access producers who wish to get involved but cannot do so without assistance.
1470 We take pride in providing these avenues to assist and educate future players in the broadcasting and content industry. We also note that many of the comments filed in support of Eastlink Community TV illustrate the value that our community channel provides to our communities.
1471 But rather than just talk about what we do, let's show you a small clip to illustrate our presence in the communities we serve, the diverse nature of the content we provide and the value that our programming brings to our communities.
1472 --- PRÉSENTATION VIDÉO
1473 MS. MacDONALD: At Eastlink, we work hard every day to improve our network and our services in order to meaningfully connect with our customers and to provide them with connectivity to all their information and entertainment needs. We are here to request renewal of our BDU licenses for Halifax, NS and Sudbury Ontario. Our application sets out our specific requests for changes to our conditions of license, many of which are to remove conditions that are no longer necessary. The information on file also addresses other issues or questions raised during the course of this process.
1474 We are pleased to be here today before you to answer any questions you may have for us in this regard. Thank you.
1475 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Ms. MacDonald. Welcome.
1476 Let me start -- well, one, I should comment on your video. It was very enjoyable, although I'm sure Commissioner Macdonald will agree that the water looked cold.
1477 I might start -- usually we go from the general to the specific but given that Commission counsel just so eloquently explained and addressed the clarification around the questions regarding programming source, I wonder if we might just start there and then, if you can, comment on the possibility that the Commission might impose a condition of license related to programming source, reach community and by hours, pardon me, and a breakdown by community channel.
1478 MS. MacDONALD: Sure. And we were actually discussing the questions asked during the day. We do understand that the 10/20 forms request information and certainly throughout this process it's become evident that not only ourselves but others may have had some confusion around interpreting some of what was required. So I do think it's probably a good opportunity to clarify what the Commission may be looking for on those forms and making sure all the BDUs are on the same page in terms of what is provided and how it's interpreted.
1479 I'm not necessarily sure that it needs to be done by a condition of license because, you know, we do have obligations to provide annual reporting to the Commission and I understand the Commission has the right to request information from licensees from time to time. So I'm not sure completely but I would say that it might be worth investigating whether it really needs to be by form of condition of license.
1480 The one, I guess, qualification I would make is the extent to which the Commission may intend to place it on the public record. And from our perspective, we would want to certainly have a sense of what specifically would be proposed, if there was anything to be proposed on the public record, given that expense related information, as we know, it's fairly easy to calculate a percent programming directed to the community channels is based on our revenues. So we would have concerns if there was some easily accessible public means to determine our revenues on the public record. So that would be an issue we would want to certainly weigh in on as well.
1481 And also, for us, any additional reporting requirements. While we're always certainly willing to provide reporting as required by the Commission, we're always very careful to also want to be practical. So certainly if there's a need for it and there's a way to get to it in an efficient way and a meaningful way, we'd be supportive of that.
1482 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for that.
1483 So you describe in your opening comments quite accurately that you are different than some of the larger BDUs and you characterize some of the challenges. But in general, perhaps you can elaborate a little bit about what challenge -- challenges Eastlink faces in meeting their local and access requirements.
1484 MS. MacDONALD: I think, for us, we don't like to describe ourselves as challenged because we like to think we're a fairly mighty innovative competitor. But it -- you know, it's very relevant, and we talked about our subscriber numbers, and, you know, subscribers equate to revenue which equates to staffing and what you can do and how well you can do it or how quickly you can do it. It also makes a difference in negotiating, whether it be for equipment, having leverage with suppliers, that sort of thing. So I won't go down that road, but all of those things have meaning when we're talking about any obligations, how quickly we can be involved, how engaged we can be, what makes sense.
1485 But in light of that, for access and local, we think that a lot of the flexibility that has been granted over the years to licensees, and one of the big areas is the Commission's move to increase exemption -- exempt systems for smaller operators, that's been an excellent move to allow us the flexibility to manage better. All of those things have enabled us to have a little bit more flexibility.
1486 For us with challenges, it's -- we want to provide good quality programming. And we want to provide relevant programming and ideally less repeat programming. So when we talk about challenges as between local and access, I think the important thing to really note, the current rules if you're licensed require that 60 percent of the programming you produce is local and 50 percent of it be access programming. And we have worked hard to -- within those roles. There's been a couple of exceptions, you know, that there may be a challenge with, but what happens is if you produce other really great quality local programming but it's outside of the licensed area and you can't count it as local within the licensed area, then when you -- the more local programming you produce, sorry, the more access you have to produce because it's the access percentage is a percentage of your total. So anytime we want to add local programming, we have to then ensure that we are able to pull in more access program and encourage access producers.
1487 Now, we do all kinds of things to encourage access producers where we're very connected to the communities, but it still at times can remain a challenge. So some of what we have asked for in this license renewal process is a little bit more flexibility around how the Commission will allow us to treat local and access programming. In particular, we've asked for that in relation to our Halifax system, which is a licensed system but it shares a common municipality with two unlicensed exempt systems. And we have asked the Commission that we be able to treat all programming between those systems as local and access as well, the reason being that they're part of a common municipality. And strangely, before we lost the subscribers in those systems which made them exempt, they were allowed to be treated as local under the rules because of the language of the provision and the definition of local, which is defined by based on a licensed area but it doesn't allow for an exempt system to share.
1488 So, for us, that's just a practical request and it allows everyone in the municipality to share in the creation or in the observation and the arena of that -- the programs we create among the systems in the municipality. So that's one example.
1489 So that, I hope, describes a little bit of the challenges. But it's really about wanting to limit repeat programming and to be able to really benefit by distributing more of our local and access programming when we produce it.
1490 THE CHAIRPERSON: But perhaps you've answered it in part but I should ask, nevertheless, what are your overall plans and in the future with respect to community access?
1491 MS. MacDONALD: Well, we have an on ---
1492 THE CHAIRPERSON: How do you see it evolving?
1493 MS. MacDONALD: Pardon me?
1494 THE CHAIRPERSON: How do you see it evolving?
1495 MS. MacDONALD: How do we see it evolving?
1496 We -- during the last proceeding when the Commission was reviewing local programming including community programming, we felt there was a focus on access but in our view it seemed like the focus seemed to be about access producers solely creating and producing their programming and bringing it to the community channels. And the concern we were left with leaving that process was there seemed to be an assumption that access producers are waiting with a fully created program ready for distribution, which we would be more than happy to distribute, but there seemed to be an assumption that community programmings were able to readily move away from the support and training and resources that they provide; not only in their own local productions, but in assisting access producers. And so we take a really -- I would say a very involved approach within our communities of being there to help with access when asked for. We certainly welcome any fully produced program.
1497 So in terms of the future, in line with our culture and our focus on the customer and constant improvement, we're simply always looking for ways to improve, whether it's expanding -- you know, we do all kinds of things in the community to connect with the community. I would describe our company and our community programming folks not as people that are located in an office where you bring content or where we produce within that -- in that space. You know, our people, our staff and our volunteers are in the communities and they're dealing with people every day.
1498 We have community staff members that go into the schools and speak to the students, and we have cooperative arrangements for some courses where students can come and spend time and learn within our community production facility. So that's the kind of thing I think we will continue to do and just find broader and increase the ways that we can do it better.
1499 You know, I noted some of the questions that came in today to some of the other BDUs about the major junior hockey, and we do distribute major junior hockey. It's very -- you know, a topic of interest and it's a sport of interest. Certainly, you know, we show the Sudbury Wolves, also we show the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, and the Halifax Mooseheads, and also in Prince Edward Island we show the team.
1500 So but what we find is that over the years of producing those programs we produce double in terms of sports content for schools, school sports. And we use the training and learning and experience with the major junior hockey to really improve our skillsets on the football field in the schools and, you know, the soccer fields. And it also -- it provides an opportunity for us to cross-promote to those -- to the viewers to watch those other programs as well.
1501 So those are the kinds of things our staff and our volunteers are constantly engaging in the community. So I would just say it's an ongoing evolution of improvement and continuous improvement.
1502 Certainly, technologies change and then that sort of thing and we always will be aware of how to improve upon that and to move ahead with the times. I mean, we were, I think, one of the first community channels in the country that had a high definition production vehicle. And not only did we use it to travel around to create high quality community sports programming and other events, but we also provided opportunities for local community members to tour the vehicle and really get engaged in the process.
1503 THE CHAIRPERSON: You're queuing up all my other questions.
1504 While we're on the subject of junior hockey or major junior hockey, how do you define that programming in terms of local or access? What's your approach?
1505 MS. MacDONALD: We do define that as local programming.
1506 THE CHAIRPERSON: And any other considerations or other variations?
1507 MS. MacDONALD: I believe -- and I will confirm if I'm mistaken but I'm pretty sure that it's been treated as local across all of the -- local to the area where it's -- where it is local. But we don't describe it as or define it as access programming.
1508 It may have been, and I would have to check, that many years ago perhaps when we first engaged in the productions it might have come to us as a request and it was an idea, but we've been doing it for some time. But certainly, at this point in time, it's categorized as local.
1509 THE CHAIRPERSON: And as was asked earlier today of a number of parties, do you have a commercial interest in any of those teams?
1510 MS. MacDONALD: No, I think similar to what some other parties have said, you know, if there is a sponsor during the program that sponsors the program, then that would become -- you know, any sponsorship revenue that we would receive associated with that would go back into the community channel.
1511 THE CHAIRPERSON: And no ownership?
1512 MS. MacDONALD: Pardon me?
1513 THE CHAIRPERSON: No ownership in the teams?
1514 MS. MacDONALD: No, no.
1515 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1516 We'll go back to -- we'll come back to the high definition question in a moment.
1517 You did mention a few minutes ago that you'd like to see a degree of further liberalization, if you will, of some of the conditions of license and you reference the fact that there have been substances of -- around compliance. The other approach obviously is to enhance or to pay more careful attention to compliance. And I guess I just wanted to ask generally how you prepare your staff, how you educate your staff in relations to compliance measures.
1518 MS. MacDONALD: Sure. Well, certainly, I think it's safe to say that, I mean, our staff is very connected from department to department, a relatively small staff. We engage very regularly with the community channel, those responsible for the community channels. At any time that there's something new and a new question pops up, for sure, you know, we're engaged with reviewing it and investigating it.
1519 Any time there is an issue that comes up, but certainly during this process as well, we would have opportunities to review with the community channel staff the requirements and ensure that if there are any areas where clarification is needed we would be providing it on a regular basis, as well as in the reporting.
1520 Like, I think one of the examples of an issue that had come up is in relation to just an interpretation in the reporting from one of the other departments. And so from those types of questions, we certainly have engaged with those groups to sit down and say, let's, you know, really sit down and go through and make sure we're fully versed in this -- in the requirements and that those we're working with, the channel, are also fully versed in the interpretations and the requirements as well.
1521 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do you find it, you know, uniquely difficult just because of the nature of, you know, a large number of small systems dispersed across Canada? Is it -- does it have -- is it a factor in terms of maintaining compliance?
1522 MS. MacDONALD: I don't think so. You know, when we were looking at this, certainly when you're in this process and you get questions and you think, oh shoot, like this is an issue that -- where we -- you know, there was an interpretation issue, and there was a couple of those that I would describe more as not intentional by any means, but more a -- kind of an error in interpretation or a miss. But when I really think about it, we've been 10 to 11 years out -- and I say 10 to 11 because each license was issued at a different year -- since the last full license renewal in that when the 7-year licenses came up for renewal in around 2013, we had 1-year renewals after that.
1523 And so when I think about how much has happened over the last 10 to 11 years in this industry and how many changes we've had to deal with in terms of approaches to the channel and access and local and, you know, all of the different changes that we've made, I feel that we're doing pretty good in terms of compliance when you really look at, you know, the measurement of 10 to 11 years out. And really, when we look at what's here, there's really nothing that jumps out at me as a serious major miss.
1524 You know, when we look at the outcome of what we've been producing and providing, it's very much what our customers are looking for. And that also provides a bit of a gauge of, you know, there may be a question in a certain way something is reported, but let's look at what our community members and our customers are really receiving.
1525 And so I don't have any concerns. Certainly, with people spread out, you know, there may be challenges but we've certainly had other areas where we need to stay on board, privacy is a big one. You know, Canada's anti-spam legislation is another and we manage quite well with making sure everyone is well versed in what they can and cannot do or should and should not be doing, and we try to work very diligently to stay on track of the requirements so.
1526 THE CHAIRPERSON: Understood. Thank you.
1527 Now speaking of sort of interpretation, so you're aware that Cactus questioned a number of programs as to whether they qualified as access or local, some of them Grow Works and This Old Guitar, for example, was submitted that they shouldn't have been considered access or local in Charlottetown since they originated from Newfoundland. Just wonder if you can address that a little bit.
1528 MS. MacDONALD: I'm not going to go back and look at my notes on (inaudible) works and this old guitar, I don’t want to take your time up by ---
1529 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not so much the specific program but ---
1530 MS. MacDONALD: I think the issue was well stated by a couple of the previous BDUs who were up before us but it really does, I think, reflect perhaps a misunderstanding of the approach to our smaller exempt systems where we applied a zoned approach to the programming and therefore, you know, within the zone unlike in our licenced systems there's the ability to share programming, local and access programming within the zone. And that's the answer for the Prince Edward Island communities you described.
1531 THE CHAIRPERSON: So how do you establish the zone? What areas are included in the zone?
1532 MS. MacDONALD: So what we did is -- and I notice that they are slightly different. It seems to be a different approach to perhaps what some of the other BDUs can do or have done in how they develop their licence, whether it's a regional zone licence which might be defined in one way. And then there's -- there was one of the other parties that earlier today -- it may have been Rogers who said that they have some licenced and exempt systems within a zone. So we're not quite sure how that works.
1533 For us, we have two licenced systems, so we have Sudbury and Halifax. So for example, in Halifax we have a licence system. We used to have additional ones but due to subscribers dropping below the threshold they became exempt.
1534 And when the Commission allowed for more flexibility for the treatment of zones we looked at our systems in the smaller communities and we were looking at okay well, what can we do with our local and access programming in a way to maximize the quality of the programming, the amount of original programming, and be responsive to those communities?
1535 And when we really looked at the Atlantic provinces as an example we felt that -- and keep in mind that New Brunswick, we don’t really have systems in New Brunswick other than a couple so they weren't part of this, so there's three provinces we're talking about for the Atlantic -- that those remaining exempt systems really could appropriately represent a zoned approach for us to maximize the efficiency but also provide high value relevant local and community programming to the communities served in those areas.
1536 The other thing that we did or do that is perhaps different is we don’t just take one community channel for all of that area and just create something and put it out there. We actually insert hyper-local content within all of the communities served in that area. And therefore, we actually do have originally-produced programming in each of those areas.
1537 But where the quality or the content of the program is relevant to the community and meets the definitions of local and access we would consider it local and access across the zone.
1538 So it's a combination. It's sort of a hybrid in that you know, each of the different communities may have council meetings, they may have their own bingos, they may have certain segments of programs that tell stories about some of their local members. But rather than just take that and keep repeating it and creating maybe, you know, an extra program or so we've been able to enjoy the flexibility of the zoned approach so that there's less repeat programming and we can share programs of interest and relevance that are created in other nearby communities with those communities.
1539 THE CHAIRPERSON: In your view, there -- but there is a sufficient community of interest in the zone? For example, programming originating in Newfoundland being of interest to islanders in Charlottetown?
1540 MS. MacDONALD: We really do. Now, obviously if there was something that, you know, appeared to be completely unusual and unique we would probably think twice about you know, that, and we might count it as other programming. But yes, we do actually.
1541 And you know, one of the things we look at is in the Commission's decisions and in the framework, large urban centres, for example Toronto, might have a licenced system. Now we know that there's been some changes recently planned for that system but that system would have millions of subscribers. And within that system it would have a representation of multiple different communities of interest.
1542 And so a licensee of the Toronto system would be responsible within that one licence to show reflective communities of interest.
1543 You know, for us across the communities we serve, for example in our Atlantic zone we would have programming very responsible to all the communities of interest whether it be a fishing program or something about something that is happening in the local community in relation to economic interests. There -- you know, there may also be a cooking -- we have some cooking shows that are very popular actually. They're local but you know, across the communities.
1544 But in addition, we -- I was just going to have -- I think I lost the thought on that one ---
1545 THE CHAIRPERSON: You got stuck on the cooking shows.
1546 MS. MacDONALD: Oh yes, multicultural, very much multicultural content in everything. Like, an example of it is, you know, we've got all kinds of programming that addresses the interests of similar groups within each of those communities that tells unique and special stories that are relevant to all of those communities. And so we make strides to ensure that all of those communities get to see those stories and get to hear those stories because they are -- there is a shared interest in them.
1547 And so you know, that's what I was going with. You know, I would say that we do a really good job of making sure that those programs are of interest and relevant and local to those people in all of those communities served.
1548 I would also note we've had quite a few support letters for what we're doing on the channel and I went through them on the weekend. And you know, I would have liked to have been, you know, quoted from some of them but I think they really do reflect the sense of value that people are getting from the content that we're providing.
1549 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. So continuing with some of the questions raised by Cactus, there was also an issue around the designation of Podium TV as access programming. And I just wonder if you can explain a little bit more about the types of access projects that Eastlink generally includes in Podium.
1550 MS. MacDONALD: Well, we did provide some explanation in some of the questions that the Commission had asked. And so we looked at, you know, we had -- basically what we had described is that Podium TV, we often will get people who want to provide -- someone is doing a -- like, a local talk in a local community. It could be educational, it could be on a political issue, or it could be -- you know, any number of interest areas, health issues, what have you. There could be a special local speaker in the community and the community is interested in hearing from.
1551 And we've had different occasions where people have approached us with access ideas saying, "Oh, we'd like you to cover this and cover that." And what we felt was that a lot of the times many of these people with this idea that want to be involved and they engage the speaker and they make the arrangements to have the show broadcast on the community channel, they aren't necessarily interested in doing the full suite of activity around creating the full program. They have the idea, they want to be involved and direct sort of -- you know, they may even be involved in bringing that speaker to the community.
1552 But we would create what we describe as the envelope, so just the intro, you know, the kind of the envelope that the program is in. And then that actually provides avenues for anyone else who's interested in doing something similar to bring it to us without having to do that to create the full package, to present a full program.
1553 Certainly, as we mentioned in our answers to the Commission, if someone came and wanted to do something completely on their own we certainly wouldn't force it into this format that we've created. It was really in response to what we felt was becoming a common request. And so now we've created that envelope for that type of interest in access programming.
1554 And again, you know, once you have something like that there's other access producers or community members that would want and think about, "Oh, I'd like to do that in this community." And so it actually creates an opportunity for others to share what's going on in their communities through that venue.
1555 Now, we also have Eastlink Magazine which is more of a magazine show. And that will include stories that are local and inserted from, you know, all of our systems. There's always interest pieces and stories that are able -- enable us to very efficiently bring local direct community stories to the individuals. But we treat that as local because we are producing that.
1556 So that would be where we would make the distinction. It's really who's bringing it to us, where is this idea coming from, who’s involved in it, who's arranging it, you know, that kind of thing. And so for Eastlink Magazine we are producing it and we are creating it although it's very, very relevant and responsive to the stories of the communities we serve.
1557 THE CHAIRPERSON: Again, thank you. So changing gears a little bit, for small basic service and packaging options, perhaps can just start at the most general level and ask you how your offerings align with the best practices outlined by the Commission last year.
1558 MS. MacDONALD: Yes, so we say that, you know, we are -- we believe we're fully compliant with the best practices in that we have a skinny basic, we have -- we call a "skinny basic" I think or what's -- these are -- basically it's the small package that we offer. We have grandfathered what used to be our basic and we provide that small basic now. It's our standard offering, which means that customers who have it can receive any other services as, you know, a basic customer would have years ago. So we're certainly fully compliant with that aspect of it. We are fully compliant with, you know, providing bundled discounts to the customers who take the skinny basic package as well.
1559 Yeah, so with regard to -- yeah, there is no concern or issue about customers switching to a lower priced practice. I mean, there's not anything -- we've been working toward making our offers more simple and transparent. We've been doing that, of course, through our improvements with the TV service provider code requirements as well, but we have a constant -- I mean, there's staff that -- I mean, we, in our group, if we see something even on the website in -- or in a written format that's going out we sometimes question does that make sense and, you know, is it clear enough. So there's certainly an ongoing movement to continue to provide clarity of our offers as well. We don't require or tie internet as well. So we're basically compliant with everything that we see there.
1560 I know number eight the Commission has referenced offering consumers various options. So we don't do a purchase of the set-top box, but that's, for us, very practical reasons. We have a rental model. Many years ago we did sell set-top boxes and we found it was a real challenge because what would happen is, you know, customers who would purchase the box, constant changing technology and improvements, if it had limited capacity they -- you know, it would be very difficult for them to want to move away from the box which would, in their mind, alter their perception of the service they're getting if it was going to impact service. If there were errors or if the box was broken, they would want it fixed. And, of course, having bought it, there would be issues around that.
1561 So we made a decision that it was actually better service for our customer to maintain a rental model and we roll a truck. We don’t charge them if they have to replace a box. If we need to upgrade it to improve upon our services, we do that. And so that's the one area where if you were going to look at that list, we've -- you know, we felt it was more consumer friendly to maintain and to provide high quality services to maintain the approach we've taken with that.
1562 THE CHAIRPERSON: And how, generally speaking, have -- has this processes impacted your negotiations with programming services?
1563 MS. MacDONALD: I would say being the size we are, I wouldn't describe our negotiations with programming services as always the smoothest anyway. They're not always -- you know, from our perspective, we would always be open to ways to improve upon our ability to negotiate rates. Certainly there, you know, with providing customers with more flexibility, standalone, when we -- I described the channel exchange we have, customers are free to go in and swap out at any time. And so we have to be prepared when we create a service like that that we aren't really sure where it's going to go in terms of the decisions customers make from time-to-time.
1564 So certainly, programmers who in the legacy world of being assured revenues from services that were all on basic or in the next highest tier, are going to be doing what they can to push hard that as the subscribers drop the rates go up so that they have a limited impact. And so that makes it challenging at times, but certainly it's the reality of where we are today so we do our best to work through it.
1565 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Just a couple of more questions and then I'll turn it over to Commissioner Macdonald to talk to you about set-top boxes.
1566 But just generally on the issue of accessibility and closed captioning, you've heard some of our questions today. How do you -- how's your company treating requests for more accessible set-top boxes, particularly in light of the fact that they're all provided by you around the rental basis?
1567 MS. MacDONALD: Yes, so we would say that in terms of -- first of all, the Commission's requirements are -- in the regulations I believe that we are to make available, to the extent there are more accessible set-top box technology available in the market for us and compatible with our systems, we are to provide and make it available to our customers. So we certainly are aware of that and we'll abide by that.
1568 We will say that when it comes to the availability of technology we certainly are not the drivers of that because we don't have the leverage to, you know, to drive the development. But certainly, when those accessible boxes are available or, you know, whatever advancements are available to improve access for customers, we will abide by the requirements to have them available in the market. We have various boxes in the market and we continue to improve upon as we build out networks or upgrade or improve upon our services or make changes, we typically move out the, you know, the newer boxes as well. So that's just an ongoing part of the advancement and evolution of our services.
1569 THE CHAIRPERSON: And just following on questions from earlier today, how many -- what do you consider to be a reasonable number of clicks?
1570 MS. MacDONALD: Yes, so ---
1571 THE CHAIRPERSON: To offer to turn on described video, for example.
1572 MS. MacDONALD: Sure. Well, for the described video, we actually have it set up where there's a one button on the guide that allows the describe video function to work. We do have other set-top boxes, some that vary in terms of the captioning, but we do have boxes available that allow three clicks to get the customer to closed captioning. And as some of the other BDUs have mentioned earlier today, once you actually set that up, it's -- it can stay that way so the customer isn't always going back in and having to click through.
1573 The other thing that we do is when our technicians are at the home and in providing the service they will actually do that for the customer as well if the customer is interested in it.
1574 THE CHAIRPERSON: And is there any -- in terms of the availability of the boxes, is it attached to any particular level of commitment to programming? You know, the newer boxes versus older boxes?
1575 MS. MacDONALD: Yeah, just one second. So the one button remote for the described video works with, to my understanding, all of the boxes available. And in terms of the captioning three click, I would have to confirm, but I believe that might be on the higher-priced box. But certainly, if we ran into -- I mean, we're responsive to our customers. If we ran into specific issues where there was an ongoing challenge, we would address it for the customer where there was a need.
1576 THE CHAIRPERSON: So perhaps just for the record you can undertake to clarify what the policy is?
1577 MS. MacDONALD: Okay. Okay. Sure.
1578 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1580 THE CHAIRPERSON: Last question before I turn it over to Chris. I promised to return to high definition. We mention -- you mentioned earlier that you were providing some of the access and broadcasting HD. Do you distribute all your services in HD? And if not, why I think?
1581 MS. MacDONALD: Sure.
1582 THE CHAIRPERSON: If you can expand.
1583 MS. MacDONALD: I will want to clarify for the very tiny percent of systems that may -- but I would say for the vast majority of our systems, and I'm talking in the high 90s, I'm pretty confident to say that we're providing HD. In fact, we have been also moving some of our systems to only HD systems where possible, both to improve the service but also to free up capacity to provide, you know, other value to the customers as well and improve our services.
1584 In terms of the actual channels, where they're available in HD we provide them in HD, which is I think also again for the vast majority. There may be the odd exception here or there but.
1585 THE CHAIRPERSON: And in the cases where you have a mix, how do you decide which services, if it's available in HD it's on in HD? Is that ---
1586 MS. MacDONALD: I ---
1587 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- as simple as that?
1588 MS. MacDONALD: Yes, I think -- I don't think we make a decision on the channel. I think if we've got HD, everyone -- everything that is available in HD is provided and it's -- you know, historically we would duplicate, so a customer who may not have an HD TV might be watching the SD version but we have the full suite duplicated in HD for those who have HD TVs.
1589 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
1590 Commissioner Macdonald?
1591 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Hello, and welcome.
1592 I have a few questions on set-top box and audience measurement and I know you're the Eastlink representative on the working group so it's excellent that you're here. Am I correct in my understanding that Eastlink currently has various different types and generations of set-top boxes currently deployed to your subscribers, some of which have capability of returning data and others that don’t?
1593 MS. MacDONALD: Yeah, so I'll try to clarify that. We did file information in the response to one of the questions. Some of it was filed confidentially mainly because it -- by disclosing the number of customers taking a certain box it would also reveal to our competitors what sort of -- you know, what likely services were attributed to those boxes and we're very sensitive about competitive information on the public record.
1594 So but yeah, so we have two types -- basically two types of versions of boxes or that have different functionalities. So the one that, you know, more customers have is not -- there's no -- the functionally to gather that data, we don’t have access to it from the supplier so the vast majority of the boxes do not currently collect any such data. We do have other boxes in the market that there is functionality although we don’t have the full functionality available to us either.
1595 So as we had described in some of the submissions and also during the working group processes, we're really very nominally involved in any degree of collecting set-top box data or using set-top box data.
1596 So you know, that may be reflective of just our size as well as, you know, we've not, at least to date, I mean, to get that functionality there would be -- my understanding is that there would be other costs involved et cetera. And you know, when we're making decisions about what we do, we've been making other decisions as to where to allocate based on the need. And it hasn’t really been in gathering that kind of data ---
1597 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay.
1598 MS. MacDONALD: --- the way some other companies have been.
1599 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: For the -- I'll stay away from numbers. For the boxes that you have deployed that do have the ability to return that data, when you were here for "Let's Talk TV", you stated that we are not accessing that information right now. And I was just wondering, is that still the case? Do you use set-top box data for anything or for decisions now?
1600 MS. MacDONALD: The only -- we would have described this as well in the response but it would be -- for the number that are capable there's just a small amount of information that's in an aggregated format that we would use just to provide -- make decisions a little bit on like, packaging and that sort of thing. But that would be the extent of it.
1601 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: To the best of your knowledge, have you ever received any requests from other parties for that information?
1602 MS. MacDONALD: I'm not aware that we have. I would have to check on that but I'm not aware that we have ever received requests, no. And to be completely frank, given the allocation of the data we're getting given the boxes that do and do not provide anything, I would be inclined to say that it's of debatable value to anyone at this point to use in terms of -- for any kind of determinations on programming and the value of the programming.
1603 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. I asked other providers today -- and I won't read them again unless you want me to -- but following "Let's Talk TV" we set out five objectives for an audience measurement system. And I just wanted to get your thoughts in working with the working group whether those objectives continue to be appropriate or whether we need to look at revisiting them to broaden or narrow the scope?
1604 MS. MacDONALD: I did hear you ask that question and because of where we -- sort of where we fit in the bigger scheme of, you know, the working group -- I mean, we are certainly involved in that. We are participating. When there's something relevant that we can provide we do. I don't have any strong view either way on the objectives. Perhaps that comes from a place where we're really not using the data in a way nor are we sure whether there would be a future value to.
1605 So the approach that we're taking in the working group is we're participating, we're hearing what is going on, we're following it. We do realize there are a lot of issues to be addressed, and you know, certainly because of what I expect will also be costs associated with getting ourselves in a situation where we could actually even gather the kind of data that's being discussed in the working group, we would have some questions around, you know, what is the value of that and is there really value in it for the other parties as well? I'm not sure. I guess that's what the working group will be working out.
1606 So no, I don’t have a strong opinion on the objectives but I just wanted to kind of set the context of sort of where we see ourselves within that group. And we're sort of more of a participant/follower as to what's going on, just to make sure we're aware of it.
1607 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: I had asked this of others too. You know, there was conversations around this; it’s a very complex project. It's never been done in this manner elsewhere in the world. So of course it's going to take a long time. Are there other factors at play that you’ve had witness to to indicate that the length of time is due to something other than just the complexity of the project?
1608 MS. MacDONALD: I don't think so, based on my, you know, observations. You know, what I can say is there are definitely a lot of issues at play that need to be worked out and of course, privacy as well being one of them depending on how, you know, the data will eventually be used if available and used at all.
1609 I will say that in light of all of the other initiatives ongoing and parallel there are other working groups. Like, we're -- we -- you know, we deal with issues on all sides of the business. I would say that if there was, I think it seems at a very reasonable pace in light of the issues. You know, if it was sped up in any way I don't know what that would do to other projects or other parallel issues as well. So I just think it seems to be a reasonable pace given the extent of issues that are being addressed.
1610 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. As a member of the group, when internal conversations are happening within the working group about what's going to be provided to the Commission in the way of updates and schedule of activities as an example, do all members of the group have to fully sign on and agree with the content of whatever we receive?
1611 MS. MacDONALD: I would say yes. I mean, there's definitely a shared -- this is, you know, to my knowledge this is the -- you know, we've got to file this report, here's the draft of the report, and I think the working group has been very good at being transparent about all of those issues for sure.
1612 You know, I know that because of where we stand in terms of the information we have, like, nominal information, it may be that we wouldn't be as involved in trials and tests and that sort of thing because we simply don’t have anything to add value to that process.
1613 So for example, there were some questions around Numeris beginning other tasks. Well, it would be of no value to Numeris so we haven't been as engaged in that part but certainly we're participating and aware of what's going on.
1614 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You haven't witnessed, I guess, perhaps in your recent conversations any red flags in the schedule of activities that was just sent to us last month to say okay, this is an unrealistic timeline that we're -- that you're currently presenting to the Commission?
1615 MS. MacDONALD: Nothing -- no, I -- certainly nothing jumped out to me as a major concern or a red flag, no.
1616 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Knowing that you're in a bit of a different situation than some of the other BDUs, I'm just curious, have you been able to execute on the letter of intent with Numeris yet?
1617 MS. MacDONALD: Well, so that's actually what I was referring to when I had just indicated that I heard different participants this morning and licensees speaking about a letter of intent. And it isn't something that we at least to date have received. But I believe it's indicative of the fact that there wouldn't be really any significant value in maybe testing, given where we stand in terms of the data that's coming from, you know, to us.
1618 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Do you have any specific thoughts on the two proposals that were put forward by IBG with respect to the Commission electing to mandate by condition of licence the implementation of the system or mandate by condition of licence the -- that BDUs must share that set-top box information when requested?
1619 MS. MacDONALD: I do tend to agree with some of the responses I heard this morning which is that it would be a concern to us for sure if there was a mandate under condition of licence for us to do something given where we stand, and because at this point I think, from my perspective, it would be more appropriate to await the review of the working group to see what the conclusions.
1620 And as well, I also acknowledge that because the requirement to provide some of that data would be subject to a third party, Numeris, that becomes a relevant question about whether a licensee is able to provide certain data.
1621 So I just think that there's still so many unanswered questions about what data and how much and how will it be provided and will everyone have, you know, a confidence that, you know, we're -- you know, that the issues of privacy that have been raised have been addressed properly which, of course, we all want to ensure we're compliant with.
1622 So I just think that, at this point in time, it might be better to await the working group's activities and see what comes from that.
1623 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Based on the conversations you've had with the working group, is it your understanding that the schedule of activities that was just provided to us, the intent isn't for it to roll out in a linear fashion, that you can be conducting activities in multiple swim lanes all at the same time?
1624 MS. MacDONALD: It would be my assumption that, yes -- so it would be my assumption that if there are technical aspects being dealt with that the other matters could also be reviewed at -- you know, around the same time. I don't think it would have to happen in a linear fashion, no.
1625 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay.
1626 MS. MacDONALD: So example, the privacy question, as an example.
1627 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Are there any -- and I know you're in a unique situation within the group and your size relative to other BDUs needs to be taken into consideration. But are there any specific activities of the working group that Eastlink would hope to become more involved in or pick up a specific ball and take a leadership role on?
1628 MS. MacDONALD: I would hesitate to answer in that I sound like I'm not interested in participating and, you know, taking the ball. And I certainly would see us doing that maybe in a situation where we really were in the -- kind of in the lead on issues and -- or equally involved in certain issues.
1629 On this particular one, I'm not sure where we could provide that value in taking the leadership to run with it, you know, simply because of we're actually at the trailing end of having that data and using it or even today having found it really relevant for us to make the investments to gather the kind of data that some of the other larger companies are gathering.
1630 So I don't -- I don't know what value we could provide to the process if we were leading it simply because of where we stand in that particular group.
1631 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. And just one final question with respect to leadership of the group.
1632 In the exchange we just had a short time ago with Shaw, they were of the opinion that the chair of the group should always come from within the BDU community.
1633 Would you agree with that viewpoint?
1634 MS. MacDONALD: I think, actually, that -- I think it was Dean Shaikh who had made that comment, and I actually think it makes a lot of sense given the situation, which is we have a direct relationship with our subscribers, and so anything that we do that creates a question about access to data, particularly if it's not aggregated and it's identifiable in any way, we need to address those issues and we need to be responsible to our customer for that. So just even from a pure privacy issue, I think that it makes sense, but -- you know, and then again, what is the data?
1635 We're the ones that have the relationship with the customer and we're providing those set top boxes, so I just think it's a logical approach to see that a BDU might lead it.
1636 It made sense to me, so that would be my thoughts on his response.
1637 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Perfect. Thank you very much. Those are all my questions.
1638 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1639 Does Commission counsel have any questions?
1640 MR. GAGNON: Just a quick reminder, Mr. Chairman. I have noted one undertaking and, of course, these are due by October 27th. That's all.
1641 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1642 THE SECRETARY: C'est terminer pour audjourd'hui. We will resume tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.
1643 THE CHAIRPERSON: Have a great afternoon, everyone.
--- La séance est ajournée à 16h52
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