ARCHIVÉ - Transcription, Audience du 12 février 2020
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Volume : 1
Endroit : Montréal (Québec)
Date : 12 février 2020
© Droits réservés
Exceptionnellement, une traduction partielle en langue anglaise des transcriptions est rendu disponible compte tenu des problèmes techniques encourus lors de la première partie de l’audience du 12 février 2020. Aucune traduction ne sera rendue disponible pour les transcriptions ultérieures à la résolution des problèmes techniques.
Les participants et l'endroit
Tenue à :
Palais des congrès de Montréal
1001, place Jean-Paul-Riopelle
- Présidente: Caroline J. Simard
- Vice-présidente, Télécommunications: Christianne Laizner
- Conseillère: Alicia Barin
- Conseillère Juridique: Christina Maheux
- Secrétaire: Lynda Roy
- Gérant de l’audience: François Yannick Vézina
--- Upon commencing on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 9:46 a.m./ L’audience débute mercredi, le 12 février 2020 à 9h46
1 CHAIRPERSON: So, good morning and welcome to this public hearing. First of all, before we begin, I would like to share our apologies for the technical problems; it's quite involuntary and the audio feed should be up and running soon.
2 Also, before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered here today on the traditional territory of First Nations. I would like to thank them and pay tribute to their elders.
3 At this hearing, we will consider three non-severable applications. The first is an application by Bell to change the ownership and effective control of V Interaction. V Interaction is the licensee of a French-language television network called V and of five French-language general-interest television stations operating in the Montréal, Québec, Saguenay, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières markets.
4 This application also seeks to integrate the stations of V into Bell Media Group. In fact, Bell is asking to amend certain conditions of licence, including those related to programming of national interest, for Bell Media Group services and those it wishes to acquire.
5 For its part, V Media Group, the seller of the stations of V Interactions, has filed an application for approval to change the ownership of Musique Plus. This transaction constitutes a corporate reorganization to allow for the acquisition of Groupe V Media without the discretionary services ELLE Fictions and MAX.
6 Groupe V Média is also asking that the conditions of licence of ELLE Fictions and MAX be amended to reflect the new group to which it would belong if the Commission were to approve Bell's application.
7 Throughout this hearing, we will first seek from the parties all of the information necessary to determine whether this transaction is in the public interest. Specifically, the Panel will raise the following issues with the parties:
8 The impact of the transaction on the development of the V stations, including the number of hours of news broadcast in the markets they serve;
9 The expenditure requirements relating to programming of national interest and Canadian programming;
10 The impact of the transaction on the diversity of voices; and
11 The impact of the transaction on the broadcasting system as a whole.
12 As with all applications involving the acquisition of broadcasting undertakings, the Commission will consider the intangible benefits that would result from this transaction, as well as the tangible benefits that would be generated for the broadcasting system.
13 Let us be clear: the Commission is well aware of the particular context of the applications before us today. We will pay particular attention to the potential impact of this transaction on the French-language television landscape.
14 Last, I want to make it clear to all parties that these applications will be assessed on their own merit. As always, the Commission will base its decision on the evidence on the public record and presented at this hearing.
15 Before I begin, allow me to introduce my colleagues. The hearing panel will consists of Christiane Laizner, Vice-Chairperson, Telecommunications, Alicia Barin, Commissioner, representing the Quebec region, and myself, Caroline Simard, Vice-Chairperson, Broadcasting.
16 Commission staff supporting us include the following: François Vézina, Senior Corporate Analyst and Hearing Manager, Christina Maheux, Legal Counsel, and Lynda Roy, Hearing Secretary.
17 I now invite Ms. Roy to explain the procedure we will follow during this hearing. Madam Secretary?
18 SECRETARY ROY: Thank you, Madam Chairperson. Good morning, everyone.
19 Before I begin, I would like to point out a few housekeeping items to ensure that this public hearing runs smoothly.
20 First, when you are at the presentation table, we ask you to please turn off your telephones, given the risk of interference with the equipment used by our interpreters and stenographers.
21 Simultaneous interpretation in both official languages is available throughout this hearing. We would like to remind participants to allow a reasonable amount of time for translation during their oral presentation, while respecting the time allotted for their presentation.
22 [English spoken] Interpretation services will be available in both official languages throughout the duration of the hearing. You can obtain an interpretation receiver from the technician at the back of the room.
23 Throughout the hearing, you will be able to view the documents that form part of the public record for this hearing in the Examination Room, located in room 513-D. A transcript of the presentations will be published daily in the (inaudible) portion of this hearing on the Commission's website on each business day following the day of the hearing.
24 We would like to remind you that, pursuant to section 41 of the CRTC Rules of Practice and Procedure, the only evidence admissible at the hearing is that which supports allegations already on the public record. If you wish to present new evidence, as an exception to this rule, you must obtain the permission of the Hearing Panel before you can do so.
25 Please also note that all documents will be available on Twitter, on the Commission's account, at @CRTChearings, hashtag #CRTC.
26 Please note that if the parties undertake to file information with the Commission in response to questions posed by the Hearing Panel, these undertakings will be confirmed in the hearing transcript. If necessary, the parties may also approach the Commission's legal counsel at a break following their presentation in order to confirm such undertaking.
27 And now, Madam Chairperson, we will begin with phase 1 of the hearing, in which we will hear a joint presentation of items 1 and 2 on the agenda.
28 Item 1 consists of an application filed by Bell Canada on behalf of V Interactions for authority to change the ownership and effective control of V. V is the holder of a French-language radio/television licence named V and of the five French-language television stations CFAPDT Québec, CFGPDT Montréal, CFRSDT Saguenay, CFKSDT Sherbrooke and CFKMDT Trois-Rivières.
29 Item 2 consists of two applications filed by Groupe V Média inc. on behalf of Musique Plus: one seeking authorization to change the ownership of Musique Plus, which owns the French-language discretionary services ELLE Fictions and MAX. The second is an application to amend the conditions of licence for its services to reflect the new group to which ELLE Fictions and MAX would belong should the Commission approve Bell's section 1 application.
30 So ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this hearing. First, please introduce yourselves for the record, and you have 25 minutes for your presentation.
PRESENTATION / PRÉSENTATION
31 Ms. KARINE MOSES: Thank you very much.
32 Good morning, Vice-Chairpersons, Commissioner and Commission staff. My name is Karine Moses and I am President of Bell’s Quebec Division and President of Bell Media Quebec.
33 Let me begin by introducing the members of the team with me today. On my right, Suzanne Landry, Vice-President, French-language content development and programming, and Alexandre Lauzon, Chief Sales Officer. On my left, Alain Strati, Associate General Counsel, Regulatory Affairs, Maxime Rémillard, President and Founder of Groupe V Média, and Dimitri Gourdin, Executive Vice-President and Chief Corporate Strategy Officer of Groupe V Média.
34 In the second row, starting on my right, Nancy Martel, General Manager, ENERGY and Rouge Drumondville; Jed Kahane, News Director; Erasmo Tiseo, Vice-President of Finance; Serge Bellerose, President of Bellerose média-conseil inc.; and Éric Marceau, Executive Vice-President, Chief Executive and Financial Officer of Groupe V Media.
35 We are pleased to be here today with you to discuss our application to acquire the V stations.
36 So, Bell Media is a Canadian industry leader that has a long and successful history of investing in quality content in both official languages.
37 In Québec, we have major assets in television, radio, digital media and out-of-home advertising. Bell Media has over 10 French-language specialty channels, over 40 digital properties, 25 radio stations in 14 regions, and CTV Montréal.
38 Our activity in the French-language broadcasting sector has grown significantly since our beginnings with RDS over 30 years ago. Throughout all these years, our goal has always been to provide viewers with quality programming and the best possible experience. This is also what we intend to do with the conventional V television stations.
39 Today, the Quebec and Canadian broadcasting industry is facing unprecedented competition. Content distribution has been transformed and existing models have been completely overturned. We are now talking about the consumption of non-linear programming, direct-to-consumer distribution, and fierce new foreign digital competitors.
40 Language continues to be a competitive advantage in the Quebec market. The top-rated programs are almost all original Quebec productions. Viewers prefer to watch programs in French, and services like ours remain among their favourite television destinations.
41 The success of our services is based first and foremost on original programming. This is the fundamental axis of each of our services. With programs such as Madame Lebrun, Vie de chantier and Clash, Bell Media aired over 75 programs last year, totalling 387 hours of French-language programming. Our original productions received 62 nominations at the 34th edition of the Gemini Awards and won six awards at last September's Gala.
42 Bell Media consistently contributes to the growth of a high-performing, high-quality Canadian broadcasting system. We're excited to have the V stations join our group.
43 Bell Media is the best destination for the V stations because the addition of conventional television complements our existing services perfectly. We will have access to the large audiences of conventional television, and Bell Media will be able to support V financially, strategically and operationally.
44 With this acquisition, we will create another strong and diverse French-language broadcaster capable of contributing to the vitality of Quebec's television landscape. We want to bring another voice and a different perspective to the table, and strengthen our ability to deliver high-quality programming on multiple platforms.
45 This reach and scope are necessary to enable us to improve our competitiveness, not only with respect to TVA and Radio-Canada, but also in the face of the growing number of large U.S. companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Disney and Apple, which are increasingly targeting the French-language market.
46 MR. MAXIME RÉMILLARD: Good morning, Vice-Chairpersons, Commissioner and Commission staff. Allow me to say a few words today.
47 The decision to sell our V general-interest stations to Bell Media is primarily for the purpose of ensuring the sustainability of the network and its stations.
48 We are proud of what we have accomplished in 12 years. In 2008, we acquired a company on the verge of bankruptcy. Even then, the Commission's pragmatism enabled us to make decisions that were both courageous and crucial to saving the company.
49 Thus, we relaunched a network in the midst of a recession, when conventional television stations were already facing a drop in revenues. We reviewed the business model, modernized the on-air product, rejuvenated the audience and invested over $370 million in Canadian programming.
50 This significant contribution to the broadcasting system has created or safeguarded hundreds of jobs in the independent production sector.
51 But the competitive environment has changed and we have to face the facts: it will be even more difficult, if not impossible, for an integrated group like ours to operate a general-interest channel profitably.
52 Unlike our two discretionary services, MAX and ELLE Fictions, our conventional television stations have been experiencing significant losses since the beginning, and particularly in the last three years.
53 For us, these losses will only increase if these stations cannot benefit from the synergies and support of an integrated group.
54 That is why we are once again before you today to ask you to ratify a lucid and logical transaction.
55 I am convinced that the decision we have made is the only one possible under the circumstances, to allow V to continue to offer varied and attractive programming that will reach a wide audience.
56 For our industry, this is also a unique opportunity to strengthen the vitality of the Quebec system in a context of resistance.
57 Ms. MOSES: So, for us at Bell Media, our plan for the V stations centres on three main actions: developing a renewed approach to original and Canadian French-language programming; offering a revamped local news service; and taking advantage of available programming and operational synergies.
58 Bell Media is committed to investing in original French-language production. Currently, our contribution in this area is limited by the nature of our broadcast services. Without a conventional French-language station, we don't have access to their large audience, nor do we have the opportunity to develop these flagship programs that have a positive and uplifting impact on the rest of the content.
59 By combining our respective strengths, Bell Media and V will be able to boost the production and promotion of original French-language productions. The V stations will give us access to the general public of conventional television. In return, we will provide them with the resources, experience and scope to invest in large-scale productions.
60 The news programming currently offered at V is quite limited. All news production activities are outsourced to a third party; there is no internal news team.
61 That's going to change. We are committed to in-house news production and to creating new and improved newscasts.
62 Producing credible and interesting news requires a lot of investment and experience. Bell Media has long been recognized as Canada's trusted news leader. We look forward to meeting this challenge and offering the francophone public a new editorial voice.
63 Our information strategy centres primarily on the presence of journalists in each market. You have to be present in the field. It is the key to producing and programming credible news and news of interest to the public. Gathering local news is our priority.
64 Operating conventional television stations will not be easy over the next few years. But one of the opportunities created by this transaction is the opportunity for Bell Media and the V stations to maximize programming, sales and promotional synergies by combining the strengths of both groups.
65 Bell Media has a range of services that already invests heavily in original French-language programming, in the acquisition of foreign programs, and in news production.
66 We have a sales force in Quebec that is active with national and local advertisers.
67 We operate various media platforms, capable of supporting large-scale promotion and branding campaigns.
68 With the V stations, we will now have access to the reach and wide audience of conventional television.
69 We are convinced that our forces combined with those of V will offer a new opportunity, efficiency gains and advantages not available to separate groups.
70 Ms. LANDRY: Bell Media has chosen to invest in the development of original programming as one of its key strategic priorities. And to date, we have aired many high-quality original programs that have made each of our discretionary services stand out in the industry.
71 It is through original and innovative projects that stimulate the discovery of television programming that Canal D has become a key player in documentary, that Super Écran and VRAK have presented audacious fiction series, and that Canal Vie has become the reference for women in Quebec.
72 Our channels' original productions are regularly among the most successful programs in the specialty television market. Last year, for example, of the top ten original productions watched on all entertainment specialty channels, six were Bell Media programs, including La Famille Groulx, Mais Pourquoi, and Le Chalet.
73 Bell Media's strength also lies in its ability to promote content to maximize its reach and success with audiences. We are very proud to contribute to the development of local productions and talent.
74 Program quality is a key element of our strategy in an area of growing on-demand consumption and a proliferation of broadcasting platforms; our channels must continue to stand out and meet viewer demand.
75 Moreover, V's clientele is younger than that of TVA and Radio-Canada. It is important to offer them quality content that appeals to them in order to keep them in the world of French-language television.
76 V has had some success, but not enough to establish itself and find its niche. So our priority is to invest in strong, diversified programming that reflects the varied interests of Quebecers. Distinct programming that draws on the creativity of local talent and producers.
77 So our commitment and our passion for original content will actively contribute to the success of the network and the visibility of our culture.
78 Mr. STRATI: In our application, we have proposed to keep the existing requirements for the V stations. We are prepared to satisfy them in a context in which we will try to maintain their operation and restore their profitability.
79 We have proposed a CPE threshold of 35%, since Bell Media Group and the V stations are already at that percentage.
80 We have proposed a combined PNI expenditure threshold of 16.5%, calculated on the basis of expenditures and revenues when services are combined into a new group.
81 We applied the current V station requirements for news and local programming. At least 5% of the group's revenues will be dedicated to local news, and each of the stations will broadcast at least five hours per week, including at least two hours and 30 minutes of news offering local reflection.
82 The context, here, is essential. The current requirements were imposed only two years ago.
83 So we don't think this is the time to impose additional restrictions on them at this operational crossroads.
84 Given the circumstances and history of the V stations, we believe that our approach is responsible and balanced. Maintaining the current requirements will ensure their significant contribution to the development, production, and promotion of Canadian programming, while giving us the flexibility to implement our programming strategies.
85 In addition, since the licence term for the V stations ends in 2022, the Commission will soon have an opportunity to assess their performance. At that time, the Commission will be in a better position to examine issues surrounding our contributions to Canadian programming and local news.
86 Ms. MOSES: The French-language television market is truly unique in its composition, with TVA, a leader and an integrated player in the industry, and Radio-Canada, a public broadcaster that operates with financial stability from parliamentary appropriations.
87 The most popular programs in Quebec are almost all original productions by conventional television stations. TVA and Radio-Canada dominate the top 30 programs, and their top-rated programs reach over a million viewers a week.
88 The TVA and Radio-Canada stations thus control almost all of the “must-have” content; they are able to accumulate a disproportionate share of the audience.
89 For all conventional, specialty and pay television, TVA Group continues to dominate, with an audience share of over 38%. TVA's conventional stations alone have a share of almost 24%, while Radio-Canada has a share of almost 13%. Other services, including V’s stations, have shares of less than 6%.
90 Now, looking at the audience shares of conventional television more specifically, we see that TVA’s stations are at 48%, and Radio-Canada’s stations at 27%. The share of V’s stations is only 11%.
91 For conventional television news programs, TVA once again dominates, with close to 70% of audience shares, followed by Radio-Canada, with close to 30%. V is far behind with less than 1%.
92 The V stations are experiencing financial difficulties, and these are likely to continue in the coming years. They will continue to face strong competition from existing broadcasters and from U.S. bypass television services.
93 While significant challenges will continue to exist, we believe that Bell Media has the size and scope to foster competition in the French-language television market. We believe that Bell Media is the best option for the V stations, if not the only and last chance for success.
94 The transaction before you will allow for the establishment of another broadcaster in Quebec, capable of bringing another editorial voice and a different point of view from those of TVA and Radio-Canada.
95 The transaction will strengthen the French-language market as a whole. It is in the interest of the Canadian broadcasting system. With V, Bell Media will increase its capacity to support Canadian producers and creators. It will provide French-speaking viewers across Quebec with diverse, high-quality, original French-language programming and credible news.
96 To conclude, we present a short video that shows the pride we take in our channels' programming and our desire to welcome the V stations into our family.
97 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
98 Ms. MOSES: Thank you. We are now ready to answer your questions.
99 CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation. This morning, of course, we will discuss the ins and outs of this proposal. We will discuss various topics, such as your business plan, the various potential impacts on the broadcasting ecosystem, as well as, of course, regulatory requirements.
100 So, before I go into more detail about that business plan, I'd like you to tell us briefly at this point about your vision for, the vision of this proposal, please.
101 Ms. MOSES: Yes, certainly. Good morning. So perhaps before I answer the question about the vision, I'd like to come back a little bit to why it's important to us at HTV.
102 As was mentioned, conventional television is the most promising asset in the ecosystem here in Quebec. It is a mass medium that still reaches many Quebecers; 95% of French-speaking Quebecers still watch 28 hours of prime time television per week.
103 So television is still an important medium, and it's an asset that was missing from our portfolio, which will help us bring more of the content that Bell Media produces in collaboration with Canadian creators.
104 So our vision is not complicated: our goal is really to offer rich and diversified programming, particularly in original productions, to Quebecers. And to offer new programming.
105 As I mentioned today, news is made on the outside, so what we're really proposing is to bring news back to Bell Media. And then, of course, making the most of synergies with respect to programming in terms of promotion, sales and the multiple platforms available to us.
106 CHAIRPERSON: All right. In terms of transition, how do you see that?
107 Ms. MOSES: You mean at the time of acquisition, for example?
108 CHAIRPERSON: Yes, as applicable, yes.
109 Ms. MOSES: Yes, well, in fact, for sure, I would say that when we get the good news that you've agreed to go ahead with the transaction, at the beginning there won't be a lot of changes; there's a transition that has to take place.
110 But we're counting on it, we're really excited to get started, we can't wait to get started. There are a lot of producers already knocking on our doors. So, we intend to offer something that is already a little renewed starting in the fall, the coming fall.
111 CHAIRPERSON: All right. That leads me to ask you a question about the intention to create closer ties with independent producers here.
112 How would all this work in practice? Are there any specific objectives, for example, that have been set, or that could be set in relation to that?
113 Ms. LANDRY: Actually, maybe… well, good morning, Madam Vice-Chairperson. To answer your question, perhaps I can start by giving you the vision at the programming level, and that will also answer your question.
114 What we want to do with V is we really want V to find its niche, but a solid niche as a general-interest channel. So, to achieve this, obviously, we're going to develop diversified programming.
115 So, when we say “diverse,” what do we mean? So we want to explore different genres, we want to explore the genre such as fiction, variety, talk-show, docu-reality, so that's one way to respond to the varied interests of viewers, to respond to their concerns.
116 And our goal, and this is really our focus, is to concentrate on original production. So, of course, if we are talking about original production, we want to work with the various independent producers, obviously, in Quebec, and perhaps even outside, but in any case, in Quebec for sure.
117 So the idea is to develop original content with producers, to develop distinct content as well, I would say, because we want to offer an alternative to the content that already exists.
118 What is also important to know, and this is part of our thinking, is that V's clientele is younger than others. When you look at the figures from last fall, so it's very, very recent, the average age of V, is still eight years younger than Radio-Canada and TVA. So, V is at 47, Radio-Canada and TVA is at 55.
119 What that means is that we, at our average, at the average of 47 years, it means that we also reach many, many more 20- and 30-year-olds than the other networks. So what we want to do is to keep them, obviously—keep these viewers in the world of French-language television. So, developing programs to reach them, and of course working with producers. That's our primary programming goal.
120 And I would say that our second objective is obviously when we, if our viewers have an average age of 47, we also, obviously, reach the 40-and-over age group. And for us, it is important to continue to target them, but [also] to increase their number.
121 Because what we want to do with the V network, we want it to be a channel that becomes a solid, unifying general-interest channel, and we think that it is possible to reconcile audiences of different generations, primarily, precisely, by also focusing our programs on original production and working with independent producers.
122 CHAIRPERSON: When we were talking about the transition a few minutes ago, how long do you think it will take to get there?
123 Ms. LANDRY: Well, I would say that depending on the individuals, there are some who develop faster than others. So depending on when you give us the news, obviously we'll be able to start working more actively.
124 So that's it. Some people develop more quickly, but for us, our objective is to have a solid program in the fall, obviously, and in the winter of '20-21, I would say to be even more solid because some people take a little more time to develop.
125 So it all depends on how fast we can work, of course, but as Karine pointed out, there are already a lot of producers who are very, very enthusiastic about the... that possibility. So there are a lot of producers who have already started knocking on our door. So I'll tell you that we're waiting… we’re just waiting for your permission now.
126 CHAIRPERSON: All right. So to come back to the question of how this would be articulated at the operational level, that is to say the link with independent producers, do you intend to establish more precise objectives in terms of, I don't know, meetings to ensure that you are accessible to these producers, [and] also perhaps more precise objectives in terms of projects carried out perhaps annually?
127 Ms. MOSES: It is certain that with the acquisition of V, we will work even more with local producers. We already have many, many relationships with these producers. Bell Media produces a lot of original content through our specialty channels.
128 So obviously our objective, the primary focus, is on original production, so certainly all of this will generate more content.
129 CHAIRPERSON: All right. So this team, your team, is located in Quebec, in Montréal. So there have been intervenors who have expressed some concerns about keeping that team in place, and then I'll come back to the issue of accessibility.
130 Could you elaborate on, or indeed address, that concern?
131 Ms. MOSES: In fact, certainly. I can certainly reassure people that the teams in place are here in Quebec. We have a dedicated team here in Montréal that reports directly to Suzanne here. And then the V teams are going to integrate with our Bell Media teams.
132 Our goal is to create a family, to create synergies between these people, to use talent as effectively as possible, and I think that together, as I mentioned, we're going to be even stronger. There's a lot of talent both at V and at Bell Media, and that team is here in Quebec and....
133 CHAIRPERSON: All right, thank you.
134 You alluded to this integration, so could you be a little more specific about the corporate structure? Would the intention be to take the V stations and integrate them, I would say fully into Bell Media, or perhaps another model would be to split news and programming and then maybe incorporate them into CTV for the, maybe, news part, or the rest? So I'd like some clarification on that, please.
135 Ms. MOSES: There's no intention... on the news side, there's no intention to integrate V news with CTV. It will be two separate teams. As far as programming is concerned, we obviously have programming teams. V has programming teams. So we're going to combine these two teams to be even better.
136 But the idea is to get all of these people under one roof under my leadership. I am President of Bell Media Quebec, so these teams will be under my direct supervision.
137 CHAIRPERSON: All right. Then in terms of your level of autonomy, could you shed some light on that? Autonomy in making... so at the decision-making level, in terms of both programming and acquisitions, please?
138 Ms. MOSES: Yes, we have complete autonomy. All decisions regarding what is done in Quebec are made in Quebec, and I would even say that, in some respects, we also have an influence on the rest of Canada.
139 CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
140 Then it will be all me for this first part of, let's say, more general questions. Before continuing, I would like to check with my colleagues to see if they have any broader issues at this point.
141 No. And I'm going to check with staff: do you have any more questions before we move on to the next chapter?
142 Ms. MAHEUX: I would like to check with you certain points regarding the management autonomy that has just been mentioned. I wanted to check with you: you just told us that these were autonomous decisions. So I wanted to check whether certain decisions had to be endorsed by Bell Media or had to be ratified in order to be enforceable?
143 Ms. MOSES: No.
144 Ms. MAHEUX: All right. Similarly, I would like to check with you whether you can comment on the relevance of imposing a condition of licence to maintain a place of business for the management team located in Montréal.
145 Ms. MOSES: In fact, I don't know if your question is legal, but what I can tell you is that we have offices here in Montréal on Papineau Street/René-Lévesque. All of the Bell Media teams are there—radio, television, RDS. So we already have locations here. We have studios, and we also have other offices in Montréal.
146 Ms. MAHEUX: In previous transactions in the past, the Commission had imposed, not as a condition of licence but as a commitment, a commitment by certain licensees, to maintain places of business. So that was also kind of the way I wanted to approach the question.
147 Ms. MOSES: As I say, it won't be a problem. We already have offices in Montréal.
148 Ms. MAHEUX: So, if I understand correctly, if a commitment were to be imposed by the Commission, you would have no problem with that?
149 Ms. MOSES: No.
150 Ms. MAHEUX: Thank you.
151 CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
152 I will now turn the floor over to my colleague from Quebec, Ms. Barin, for the rest.
153 COMMISIONER BARIN: Thank you. Hello, Ms. Moses. Good morning to your team. Thank you for your overall vision for the acquisition.
154 I'm going to follow up with a few more detailed questions about your business plan. To begin with, you say you believe this transaction will provide the V stations with greater stability and longer-term success and viability.
155 However, the French-language generalist market is competitive and revenues are declining. Radio-Canada and Québecor reap the majority of audience shares and revenues in the French-language market.
156 You'll have an opportunity to discuss your business plan in greater detail in the next few minutes, but for now, in broad strokes, could you briefly explain how you're going to ensure the viability of the V stations in this economic and competitive environment?
157 Ms. MOSES: Yes, certainly. That’s a good question because, of course, as we know, the industry is undergoing incredible change. So for us, it's all about the content and the dynamics between the different platforms.
158 So as Suzanne mentioned, we have a very clear vision of original content development. As we mentioned at the opening, original productions from here are the content that Quebecers watch the most.
159 As I mentioned, 28 hours of TV viewing per week on average is still a lot. It’s more than in the rest of Canada.
160 So for us, putting the right content that people want to see and using the various platforms we have, including digital, is going to bring in more audiences, and with audiences, well, we can make money, and with money, we can make more content.
161 So it's a turning wheel and then it's kind of the vision we have. So everything goes through the programming schedule.
162 COMMISSIONER BARIN: Thank you.
163 More specifically, in terms of revenues, total revenues for Network V have been between $45 million and $67 million over the last five years. However, you project total revenues of only $40 million for the 2022 broadcast year.
164 Can you talk about the factors that were considered in determining the projected revenues for the V stations, and how these factors may prevent a vertically integrated company such as Bell from increasing revenues for those stations?
165 Ms. MOSES: In fact, the assumptions we made to project revenues were based on audience potential, and then we also looked at how we could optimize our teams, because we have sales teams in radio and television.
166 We have assets that are already present in the market, and we know today that often when advertisers come to us, we are missing something, namely conventional TV, to complete our portfolio of assets and to allow them to promote their products and have a greater presence in the market.
167 So these are some of the assumptions we took into account in developing our revenue forecasts.
168 COMMISSIONER BARIN: Okay, thank you.
169 Now to touch a little bit on programming costs, in your supplementary brief, you state that because of resource constraints, programming for the V stations has suffered and that adding these stations to the Bell group would boost programming budgets.
170 However, in your financial projections, we see that the V stations have budgets that are lower than those reported by V Media between 2014 and 2018.
171 Can you tell us about the programming budget?
172 Ms. MOSES: For programming budgets, in fact programming budgets also come with the financial performance of the company. So the better we perform, the more dollars we're going to have to spend on programming.
173 So it's still kind of from that viewpoint. For us it's really... it's really the triangle. For success, it's really the content, the audiences that are going to bring in revenue, that are going to give us back even more spending so that we can invest more in programming.
174 Mr. STRATI: And Madam Commissioner, we agree that when we look back, we can see V’s Canadian expenditures. However, when we look forward, the projections that were tabled by V and ours, we see that there is a real increase in revenues, but also an increase in Canadian expenditures.
175 So when we look to the future of the coming years and not the past years, we see that we hope there will be more revenues, but also more Canadian expenditures that V has planned for the coming years.
176 COMISSIONER BARIN: But also because I see that in your overall strategy, you are planning...you are focusing a lot on original French-language programming. So it's a bit like seeing how reduced program budgets will support such a strategy.
177 Ms. MOSES: In fact, if I may, perhaps add to that, you're giving an additional element; Suzanne could also explain the content dynamics between the different platforms.
178 Ms. LANDRY: Actually, yes. So in terms of original productions, the way we want to work, it's clear that on V we're going to have distinct content, obviously. It was mentioned—so, separate original content.
179 But the group approach will also allow us, in some cases for larger projects, to perhaps work with two platforms, i.e. to take a specialty channel and V to start a project. And at that point, yes, the project could have a life on a specialty channel, and then make it to the V channel.
180 What's interesting about this is that, in fact, it allows us, in the group approach, to undertake interesting, large-scale, quality projects and, at the same time, it allows us to keep this original production, which was developed by local producers, alive for a longer period of time. So it also brings talent to different platforms that have different behaviors.
181 So that's how we want to build programming in terms of original productions; but I maintain that in the programming budget, there will be productions that will be distinct from V of course.
182 Mr. STRATI: And just to add to Suzanne's comments, it's also when we talk about the budget, it's also the Commission's policy for the group. So for us, when we look at budget issues, when we look at programming issues, it's a bit like the all-or-nothing budget. So we're looking at Bell Media revenues including the V stations and also the total programming budget.
183 So that gives us an advantage, and that is indeed one of the things that the Commission establishes with the group's policy.
184 Ms. MOSES: I think this is the best example to demonstrate the strength of a group versus a company that is separate. It's really the strength of the group that will help us improve the programming.
185 COMMISSIONER BARIN: So if I go back to your triangle example, do you think that with a programming strategy where you perhaps share the programs...the programs in the different stations or specialty services, that you're going to achieve your ratings goals and finally get the revenue you want?
186 Ms. MOSES: Yes, we are extremely confident because not all content will travel. There will be some exclusives, some... some will travel, some won't. So, yes.
187 COMMISSIONER BARIN: Thank you.
188 So I'm going to follow up with... Well, actually, do you have more accurate audience share projections?
189 Ms. MOSES: We don't... actually, we've made assessments of where we'd like to be. However, it is difficult to give you precise figures. Also, we wouldn't want to reveal all the grid strategies we have, but it's clear that we have major ambitions, but we have a lot of work to do.
190 COMMISSIONER BARIN: That's fine, thank you.
191 So we've touched upon overall revenues. Now I'd like to discuss your fiscal forecast in a bit more detail: you've indicated that other revenues are going to decline slightly.
192 Can you specify what is represented by other revenues?
193 Ms. MOSES: In other revenues, there are elements of production rentals, if I'm not mistaken. So it's those elements that we're going to look at differently. So I know that V got revenue from renting locations for production or post-production, things like that.
194 So these are things that we have to rethink and review in the future.
195 Mr. STRATI: Yes. One of V's responses to the Commission had details of other revenues. The only difference, as Karine mentioned, is that there are elements that are there for V that will not be there for us. So that's the drop and even the drop for the V stations; I think last year was down to four million, I think, maybe three million; but there are elements, for example, of copyright that are payments and other revenues that are, like us, as being...having the copyright and not really the broadcast.
196 So that's kind of the difference between V’s management and us.
197 COMMISIONER BARIN: Perfect, thank you.
198 So I note, and in fact you also note, that you're going to lose $3 million in revenue that comes or came from the Independent Local News Fund, the FNLI.
199 So I note that Bell is allowed to redirect a portion of the local expression contribution from these BDUs to the production of local news.
200 Currently, these funds are directed to CTV stations. Is that...in fact, if the Commission were to authorize the transaction, is Bell going to redirect some of that money to the production of local news for the V stations? And if so, to what extent? Or if not, why not?
201 Ms. MOSES: Yes. Yes, so I'll confirm yes. To what extent?
202 Mr. STRATI: It is to be decided, but it is certainly an important subject and we realize that with the V stations, we are losing access to the Independent Local News Fund. However, as you mentioned, the opportunity is there as well, and the fact is that there are BDU revenues that are already established that could be redirected to the V stations.
203 COMMISSIONER BARIN: Thank you.
204 So if I go back to your fiscal projections, are those funds in "other revenues"?
205 Mr. STRATI: No, they weren't included.
206 COMMISSIONER BARIN: So does that mean it's a source of funds additional to what you've put in your fiscal projections?
207 Ms. MOSES: Yes.
208 STRATI: Yes.
209 COMMISSIONER BARIN: Thank you.
210 So to continue with your financial projections, you expect to reach near profitability by the end of 2022. If you don't achieve this goal, what is your plan, and in particular do you plan to close any of the V stations in the less profitable markets?
211 Ms. MOSES: No, not at all, we don't plan to close regional stations, and our objective... and we're going to put a plan in place to do everything we can to meet our objectives.
212 For me, not meeting that goal is not an option. So we're going to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, that's for sure.
213 COMMISSIONER BARIN: Would you be prepared to make a commitment not to close the V stations currently in operation? And if so, for how long?
214 Mr. STRATI: Just to mention what Karine also mentioned herself, we are investing in the Quebec market. We started with RDS 30 years ago and we continue to invest, and there is no loss of service stations, so we continue to expand and invest in the Quebec market. Of what the...
215 Station closures, if I remember correctly, there is already in the Commission's policy, I think, evidence of local reflection, or there's a condition that [sic] access to something, or if we don't close our stations. So, we have no intention of closing any stations.
216 I think that the Commission already has an element, I can find it later, that is like an incentive for us not to close our stations, so I think that this is already part of the Commission's policy. So we could do it, but that's certainly not our intention.
217 Ms. KARINE MOSES: But for us, just to come back to that point, it's an asset for us to have television stations in those areas. We have radio stations, so for us, we close the loop by adding this asset.
218 COMMISSIONER BARIN: So the answer is yes, you're willing to make a commitment not to close the stations, and would you even be willing to have a condition of licence to that effect?
219 Ms. KARINE MOSES: Yes.
220 COMMISSIONER BARIN: Thank you. We note that you are proposing significant reductions in the categories "Administration and General." And also in sales and promotional expenses. I heard you say in your oral presentation that you're going to have, or are looking at, synergies with other Bell properties. So are the reductions we see in the financial projections coming from synergies with other Bell services? Can you clarify?
221 MS KARINE MOSES: Can you repeat the question? Excuse me, the end of the question.
222 COMMISSIONER BARIN: Whether the reductions we see in the financial projections in the administration and general expenses and sales and production expenses categories come from synergies.
223 Ms. MOSES: Among other things, yes. It's a part of the synergies. In fact, I would tell you that every time we bring entities together, two companies together, there are definitely synergies in terms of certain costs. So that's the starting point, of course, and then the pooling of a lot of assets creates operating synergies.
224 COMMISSIONER BARIN: Thank you. I'm now going to turn the floor over to the Vice-Chairperson of Broadcasting, Ms. Simard.
225 CHAIRPERSON SIMARD: So just a clarification in the discussion about audience shares. I understand that this is confidential information, but are you prepared, by undertaking, to provide us with that information?
226 Ms. KARINE MOSES: Our own projection for audience shares?
227 CHAIRPERSON SIMARD: Yes.
228 Ms. KARINE MOSES: Uh...
229 MR. ALAIN STRATI: We could get back to you. The only difficulty is that it's still a qu... It's not just us. It becomes a hypothetical question, because it's really something that.... The other broadcasters and also new services coming into the market, so it's hard to establish. But we could, if the Commission were interested, we could provide you with information. Of course we'd like to keep it confidential.
230 CHAIRPERSON SIMARD: All right, if it's possible to do it before Thursday, February 20, please?
231 MR. ALAIN STRATI: Perfect.
232 ENGAGEMENT / UNDERTAKING
233 CHAIRPERSON SIMARD: Thank you. So that brings us now to questions for Mr. Rémillard. So we addressed this at the outset; in fact we described the V stations. I think you are the best person in the room to tell us what the V stations represent for viewers, for the world of the French-language television market. 234. MR. MAXIME RÉMILLARD: Yes, absolutely, Madam Vice-Chairperson, but before answering your question, I would like to apologize to you, Madam Vice-Chairperson and Madam Commissioner, and to staff, for the delay earlier. There was some confusion about the resumption time, so I want to apologize for that on behalf of myself and my colleagues.
235 To answer your question, Madam Vice-Chairperson, that is an excellent question, because I have been managing and operating a general-interest television station in Quebec for 12 years now, and it is a major player in the French-language television industry in Quebec.
236 Free general-interest terrestrial television makes it possible to reach a large audience. It also allows for local content, news in some cases. So it's an important player, it's a very important and vital local content aggregator for the Canadian and Quebec industry. It is a major investor in Quebec production. So for me it's important to ensure the sustainability of this company and that's why I'm here today, to defend the transaction with Bell Media.
237 Mr. DIMITRI GOURDIN: If I may add, Madam Chairperson, to what Maxime has just said, it is that V's place is indeed unique in the market. As you all know, as we all know in this room, television viewing is aging and V has a special place in the market, because it still manages to attract young people to conventional television.
238 So, as Ms. Moses pointed out, the average age of V's viewers is the lowest, and therefore the youngest, in the francophone market. It's a considerable asset. Another aspect that must also be taken into account is that, in order to talk to many advertisers all day long, advertisers do not want to live in a TVA and Radio-Canada duopoly in Quebec. So V's place is absolutely preponderant to allow a diversification of the media location and, in particular, to succeed in reaching a particularly enviable target which is precisely a younger audience target.
239 V's place is therefore absolutely fundamental, as much for the viewers who do us the honour of watching us as for the advertisers who give us their dollars to reach their consumers.
240 CHAIRPERSON SIMARD: Thank you. My question, in fact, is this: From the viewer's point of view, what is... What do the V stations mean to them, to the general public?
241 MR. DIMITRI GOURDIN: I think that the best summary, you know in the psyche of Quebecers, V is a special place. There are players that are very established, that are known to be more powerful, and V is a bit of a hindrance. This is what we call an "underdog."
242 It's a generalist channel that isn’t like the others, and in fact it has even become the heart of the channel's programming. At prime time, when other major general-interest networks usually program fiction, drama or news, V always tries to offer what we call "counter-programming," always offering a variety of content that is ultimately an alternative for viewers.
243 For viewers who do not want to watch heavy dramatic fiction, or who do not want to watch news, well V offers them a third way. We often talk about a third way in politics; I would say that in general-interest television in Quebec, V is the third way.
244 CHAIRPERSON SIMARD: Thank you. The decline in the V stations’ revenues over the years was briefly discussed—specifically, the information I have, 2016-2017. What explains this decline?
245 MR. MAXIME RÉMILLARD: There are several factors, Madam Chairperson, that explain the decline in revenues. We've been talking for years now about the coming of course of digital players and all that. Particularly in Quebec, in the French-language television ecosystem, there has been significant consolidation over the years.
246 We're dealing with players who are integrated, who hold several assets. So a global advertising offer that is very, very competitive and very appealing for many Quebec advertisers. We have also seen, and this is a phenomenon that I see, an erosion of advertising revenues in the regions, which has directly affected us. Regions or markets outside of Montréal.
247 So there are several factors that mean that today an independent group like ours is facing economic pressure on several fronts. I'm trying to condense the answer, but there are several factors in recent years that have accelerated the erosion of advertising revenues. Whether it's increased competition from the public broadcaster, from integrated groups, the erosion of advertising revenues to digital, so it's, excuse the Anglicism, but it's like a "perfect storm" that's been happening in our market and obviously hitting independent players, or the smallest players in the ecosystem. And that's kind of one of the... Or let's say it's one of the reasons that has accelerated the decline in revenues for our general-interest stations.
248 CHAIRPERSON SIMARD: Thank you. If the Commission were to deny Bell's application, what other options would you have?
249 MR. MAXIME RÉMILLARD: Well, as I mentioned in my text, Madam Vice-Chairperson, I think it was the best solution. Not only for the survival of V, but also for the television industry in Quebec. I don't have many other options for ensuring sustainability in my arsenal.
250 Unfortunately, we're facing a highly consolidated industry; there aren't many buyers for conventional television assets. The conventional television stations in this country, most of them, are in deficit, so it's a very specific asset class where there aren't a lot of buyers, so my options are limited.
251 MR. DIMITRI GOURDIN: I will also add that you understand that we are very optimistic here, that we do not envisage that this transaction could be denied. Because it has been explained to you, it has become impossible to operate a general-interest station on Quebec territory as an independent and non-integrated group.
252 It must also be understood that among the other possible consequences of a denial on your part, it would also weaken not only V, of course, but the entire V Media group, including our two specialty channels, our two discretionary services. So I think that's something to be taken into account, but indeed, as Maxime mentioned, the options are short-sighted and in any case, there are very few options to ensure the sustainability of the network. That's why we've once again seized this opportunity and we think we've chosen the best solution to ensure V's sustainability.
253 CHAIRPERSON SIMARD: Do you think that could mean, you mentioned revenue erosion for regional stations. Would there be a possibility of closing stations in the regions?
254 Mr. DIMITRI GOURDIN: That is indeed always a possibility, but one that we are not considering. That is why we are before you, to ask you once again to take, it seems to us, an extremely pragmatic, extremely lucid and above all very logical decision. In order—our objective is singular—to absolutely ensure the sustainability and survival of the V network, it is the best solution we have and that we present to you.
255 CHAIRPERSON SIMARD: Thank you. Before we move on to another portion of our questions, I will check with my colleagues to see whether there are any other questions before we continue. And with staff as well.
256 Ms. CHRISTINA MAHEUX: Yes, I'd like to confirm one point. Earlier we talked about providing projections in terms of audience shares. So I wanted to make it clear that the commitment would be for a three-year period, for the next three years. And I'd like to talk about your long-term goals for audience shares as well. And the commitment must be completed by the end of February.
257 And I also wanted to say, I'm sorry, I'll just go get the decision. As regards the possible condition of licence not to close the stations, V's current licence did contain such a condition of licence. So we understand that, until the end of the current licence term, permission should be sought from the Commission, in this regard, in order to be able to do so. So my question is this: Would you accept that in the event that the Group V stations were integrated within the Bell Group, that such a condition be maintained and... Quite simply?
258 Ms. KARINE MOSES: Yes.
259 ENGAGEMENT / UNDERTAKING
260 Ms. CHRISTINA MAHEUX: Thank you very much.
261 CHAIRPERSON SIMARD: Then we'll go to another portion of questions. I now give the floor to Vice-Chairperson Laizner.
262 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Good morning Ms. Moses and Mr. Rémillard and members of your teams. First of all, I'd like to thank you for your presentation this morning. I'm going to ask you a few questions about the general impact of this action on other broadcasters and also your strategic plans in terms of advertising.
263 So I am thinking first of all of Quebecor's intervention, which argues that the Commission must assess the transaction by analyzing its impact on the national broadcasting system. Then I'd like to know what your position is on that statement.
264 Ms. KARINE MOSES: Are you talking generally, the impact in general in the industry?
265 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: No...
266 Ms. KARINE MOSES: Or on advertising?
267 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Analyzing the transaction using the domestic market as a reference point.
268 Ms. KARINE MOSES: Ah, O.K.
269 COMMISSIONer LAIZNER: Instead of general market.
270 Ms. KARINE MOSES: I understand, thank you, I understand your question. So hello, actually..... Honestly, the national scope doesn't really matter in the discussion today, because it's really the presence of the assets here in Quebec that needs to be considered.
271 In fact, with the addition of V to Bell Media, Bell Media's market share will rise to 22%, versus TVA, TVA Group, which is at 37% in Quebec. So the dominance I don't think is on Bell Media's side. The top 30 most-watched programs in Quebec all belong to Radio-Canada and TVA.
272 So for us, this is really the complement we needed, to be able to compete on equal terms with the two major players in the industry here in Quebec. And the national scope does not matter because that is not how the system works. Our goal is to focus on original Quebec productions in French.
273 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So you don't think it's important to look at the power of Bell at the national level if Bell, if we accept this transaction at the national asset level?
274 Ms. KARINE MOSES: No, I don't think it has an impact on the industry here in Quebec, since they are two separate entities. As I mentioned, Quebec's decisions are made here in Quebec. The commitments to producers here are made here, by the team here in Quebec. And there is no national power that will have an impact on the broadcasting system here in Quebec.
275 LAIZNER ADVISOR: So can you clarify for us, in your opinion, the differences between the English- and French-language markets in terms of programming and advertising revenue strategies?
276 Ms. KARINE MOSES: Yes. The programming strategies are obvious, because it's two different ecosystems, it's two different viewer entities. Suzanne can give you some examples.
277 Ms. SUZANNE LANDRY: When we talk, obviously, about the French-speaking Quebec market and then English Canada, obviously they are two very different markets in terms of content, in terms of viewing, in terms of viewing habits.
278 But I can actually give you an example—in fact I could give you several. I'll start with one. But if we take, for example... Because often we're going to talk about American series, of course we tell ourselves we're going to buy American series. But buying American series doesn't always work in Quebec, and the example is that CTV bought "This is us." Great show, it was in the top 10, so great success for CTV. Radio-Canada bought exactly the same series—obviously they presented it in French—and it ended up in 80th place.
279 So to think that we're going to buy American series to put a lot of them on V, that's not part of our... It's not part of our strategy at all. Because we want to give the network growth and we know very well that growth comes through original productions. Then you could say: Yes, that's just an example. What I can tell you is that there are many examples, and if you look at the top 20, just from last year, the top 20 last year in the French-speaking Quebec market, 100% of the programs were original productions.
280 And if I look at the same top 20 of last year in English Canada, 85% were American shows. So you'll understand that we don't program in the same way at all when the time comes to talk about French-language television in Quebec, as opposed to television in English Canada, obviously. Because Quebecers want to have content where they are able to identify themselves and where they are able to have a certain cultural proximity, so we don't necessarily recognize ourselves in this type of series.
281 Ms. MOSES: As for the advertising side as well, I know that there are many perceptions regarding the pan-Canadian grouping, but we also have examples that we can give you regarding advertisers.
282 MR. LAUZON: Good morning, Madam Chairperson.
283 Indeed, the uniqueness of the market is not only at the level of viewing programming, but also at the level of consumption. The Quebec market is completely different from that of the rest of Canada. The market is adapting; advertisers need to adapt to be able to target customers. Concrete examples I can give you: on TSN, we broadcast the Canadian Football League games; we have the same game on RDS; and advertisers, such as Nissan, which is a partner of the Canadian League…
284 CHAIRPERSON: Just a moment.
285 MR. LAUZON: Ah, I can't be heard! Thank you. Thank you.
286 Do you want me to do it again or...
287 CHAIRPERSON: Uh... do you need...? No.
288 MR. LAUZON: No? Well, good.
289 CHAIRPERSON: I heard you, but... I paid a lot of attention.
290 MR. LAUZON: Ah, thank you. Thank you for your attention.
291 So, I was saying that when it comes to broadcasting sports games on TSN, I was taking the example of the Canadian Football League, where we see Nissan, which has been a partner with the Canadian Football League and TSN for many years, not investing on RDS because for the RDS market, Nissan is not a (inaudible) market.
292 Everybody knows that there's an incredible craze for the Raptors and the NBA; well, the same NBA game that's simulcast on RDS and on TSN, on TSN we're going to find sponsors like Kijiji, Google, (inaudible), Burger King, and I don't have those sponsors on RDS because their target is not the same.
293 And the last thing that might help me debunk the myth here...
294 CHAIRPERSON: Just a moment, sir. Apparently the sound isn’t coming out of the microphone. Can you hear it? No.
295 So, can we switch mics?
296 UNIDENTIFIED PERSON (female): Change the mic.
297 MR. LAUZON: And now, is that better? Ah, I think that's better. Well, now I can go on, okay.
298 CHAIRPERSON: Just a moment, please.
299 MR. LAUZON: Yes, we're going to wait a tiny second, I guess.
300 CHAIRPERSON: We'll check where you're supposed to pick up from.
301 MR. BASTIEN-MARCIL: It's okay, I have a microphone here. Okay.
302 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Have you...
303 MR. LAUZON: Yes. The last point on which I would like to demystify the myth and the urban legend is that there are advertising agencies working, and advertising agencies, their role, is to find the best advertising campaign, to find the best partner to be able to provide the client with the best campaign and the best return on investment.
304 So, on a daily basis, advertising agencies across Canada are working on commercial market share. Since the beginning of the morning, we've been talking about audience shares; but a commercial market share in Quebec, if we combine B and V together, we're talking about 18.2%. If we add Radio-Canada, Radio-Canada makes 20.2%, and if we talk about TVA, we're talking about 43.9%. Therefore, to think that advertising agencies will find added value by offering only platforms that belong to Bell would be to misunderstand the Quebec market. Therefore, the influence comes more from commercial market shares and customers' desire for performance.
305 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So can I understand that your position is that there wouldn't be any advantage to the V stations being owned by Bell, which has a lot of English-language television assets? Wouldn't there be any advantages or benefits?
306 MR. LAUZON: Well, yes, there would be advantages because....
307 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Yes.
308 Mr. LAUZON: ...whether we like it or not, the market, as my colleagues from V were saying, the market is changing, transforming itself. A few years ago, GAFA were not present. GAFA are [now] increasingly present...
309 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay.
310 Mr. LAUZON: ...data takes an important place, and all of these are things that, the day the stations are incorporated into the Bell Media Quebec team, they will all be able to benefit from. The strength of our 360 is going to help the channels in the regions, will benefit from the presence of the radio, and they are all common strengths, but in terms of volume and decisions, it has no impact. There are advertisers who advertise, as I said earlier, only in English Canada, who have strategies for English Canada, and there are clients who have completely different and specific strategies for Quebec.
311 Ms. MOSES: The advantage and the strength is mainly in the group here in Quebec. It is the group of assets we have here in Quebec that gives us strength and then gives us a little more scope....
312 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Mm-hm.
313 Ms. MOSES: ...and that will help push V more than the fact that we're a Canada-wide company.
314 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So can you tell us a little bit about your advertising strategy, given that if the transaction is approved, you're going to own conventional television stations and also specialty services in both markets, English and French.
315 Ms. MOSES: Yes. I'm just going to ask Alexandre to give you...to give you more information, but just to go back a little bit to what I explained a bit earlier, it's certain that by adding conventional television, there are significant audiences and reach; for us, it really complements our portfolio of assets in television, radio, out-of-home advertising and digital, so it's definitely a nice 360 for an advertiser who wants to reach viewers or potential clients throughout the ecosystem.
316 Mr. LAUZON: Indeed, there are already hyper-competent people at V in the markets, in sales. We don't presume to arrive tomorrow morning and reinvent the wheel; however, Bell Media will certainly bring the colour, expertise and know-how that has made our television channels successful in terms of sales in recent years.
317 We have four strategic pillars that we really... we really want to move forward on. The first is media diversity (phon.), our 360, it's a strength we want to deploy; customer service; the quality of our on-air performances, and the delivery [?]... the promise of delivery we owe our customers; and, the last point is innovation in research. We think of those four points. Combined with the experience and passion we already have internally, we are convinced that we will be successful with advertisers. And that's already sort of what advertisers are looking for in the market, and are trying to meet their needs to a certain extent at present through our multi 360 platform window, and we've had to call on partners like Radio-Canada and V in recent months precisely to be able to develop campaigns made possible by conventional.
318 Let me give you two examples. Desjardins' member dividends campaigns in 2019: we had the ecosystem, we had the platforms for a 360 campaign. However, we lacked the reach that conventional broadcasting could provide and the integration in a daily program. So, at that time, we entered into a partnership with Radio-Canada at the request of clients, and at this time, the same thing is happening with the people at V regarding the corporation... the Société des casinos du Québec and a campaign promoting their establishments. So, once again, the campaigns are here in Quebec, and there is a conventional counterpart, and integration and contest with the show La semaine des 4 Julie.
319 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So that's going to give you a competitive advantage over other operators for advertising in the French-language conventional television market as well, huh?
320 Ms. MOSES: Not necessarily.
321 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: No?
322 Ms. MOSES: I think what it does is bring us to the same level. Because today, Radio-Canada and TVA have conventional television stations, specialty services, radio clubs, newspapers, I think we’re becoming a player... a third strong player that will be able to compete. We'll be creating honest competition.
323 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Okay. And if we think now of English- and French-language radio stations in the Montréal and Ottawa markets, how does having English- and French-language radio stations in the market...in those two markets affect your advertising strategy?
324 Ms. MOSES: Actually, it's an advantage, it's an asset for us, because, as was often mentioned, advertisers want to have more reach. Today, we are unable to offer anything other than radio in these regions. But we're also very close to the business community in those areas through our relationship with the radio stations, so for us it's definitely a plus and a complement. 325. COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: So, are you going to offer cross-promotions in these two markets, TV and radio and...
326 Ms. MOSES: These are elements that we will definitely look at, things that already exist in the industry to bundle offers for advertisers, so our objective is to ensure that the advertiser gets the maximum return on its investment when it invests with us at Bell Media, and then we deliver on our promise.
327 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And when we look at the interventions in the file, there are some stakeholders who are concerned about the impact of the transaction on advertising revenues, fearing in particular a significant drop in rates. So, I would like to know, and have your clarification on, how the acquisition of the V stations would impact your sales strategy in relation to rates in the French-language market.
328 Ms. MOSES: Yes. Alexandre will be able to give you more information, but the rates are related to audience shares, so he'll be able to explain that a little more in detail. 329. COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Thank you.
330 Mr. LAUZON: Yes, rates are related to viewing shares, and one of the very important points is that the inventory is limited in television, right? I think everybody knows that, so to assume that there's going to be dumping or anything to lower prices with limited inventory, I've never seen that practice yet, no matter what the trade.
331 Secondly, you yourself pointed out that, in recent years, TV viewing has been declining. So it creates pressure on the inventory, so fewer viewers, lower estimates, so again we're limiting advertising capacity because there are fewer... fewer impressions, fewer viewers.
332 At Bell Media, we've made it a point of honour for almost three years to deliver on our audience promises, so customers pays the right price for what they have to have, so it has an impact on our performance indicators. And I'm very, very proud to tell you that our power ratios are increasing, are on the rise, so we are getting more [in proportion to] our market share, so we are indexing slightly higher than we should be. So the argument that we are lowering rates to benefit the rest of Canada is completely false.
333 Also, if I may add, Bell's Tele-Franco revenues represent only about 7% of Bell Media's total TV revenues in Canada. So, again, I think the number is very, very small to say that you can have an influence.
334 And the last point, Madam Vice-Chairperson: I challenge you to find a single one of our customers at Bell Media who, over the past few years, has not had, or received, a rate increase for French-language television. I know it's a tedious job, but I'm willing to take the time with you and show you that everyone is paying the right price and that there are rate increases with us.
335 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Thank you. You state that Québecor has an advantageous position in the French-language market. So, could you elaborate on the advantage this gives him on his advertising rates?
336 Ms. MOSES: Actually, it's difficult to comment on Quebecor's specific strategy, I must say, because I don't know their sales strategy; but all I can tell you and affirm is that the strength of a group creates enhanced opportunities for advertisers. This means that, in some ways, they have a portfolio of assets that is significant, so they are able to offer advertisers considerable reach, and that is what we will be able to do now with the addition of conventional television.
337 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Thank you. And if I think about the intervention of Leclerc Communication and Cogeco, they are concerned that the transaction will have a negative impact on advertising revenues also for radio station owners because of the synergies that Bell will be able to exploit between its generalist stations and its radio stations. So, what do you think of that? Do you have anything else to add?
338 Ms. MOSES: Well, actually, for radio it's the same principle. Radio sales are based on audience shares, so it's the same thing. If Leclerc has a good audience share, it will continue to sell advertising. Advertisers today are looking for a return on investment; that is what they want. They want reach—they want to reach as many potential customers as possible. So, there is room for all of those players in Quebec.
339 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: And can I go into a little bit more detail with your answer in terms of the fact that you have FM stations in each of the five markets in question, so how would Bell benefit from its unique situation of having a conventional station and its two FM stations in each of the five markets?
340 Ms. MOSES: Yes. For us, this is definitely an advantage for our business plan. With our radio stations in these markets, over the years we have managed to connect with the community, to create a local link, and this will become more and more important when we embark on the development of local news, for example, in the sense that we already have this connection with the community. And it's an addition; we're going to give what's going on in those areas even more exposure. Radio is present in all the events, and everything that happens in these regions will become another way on television, which is also an advantage for the citizens of these regions.
341 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: But will there be an impact on advertising rates?
342 Ms. MOSES: No.
343 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: No? Okay. And will the synergies be more pronounced in certain markets?
344 Ms. MOSES: Not necessarily. It depends on what the client wants. This is always the starting point, depending on what the objective of the client's campaign is. As far as prices are concerned, we are a company that holds its prices very well, even though sometimes we are told that we are a bit expensive, I must tell you; so there is no fear of mass price reductions and discount packages, that is not in our DNA, that is not how we do things, and that will not happen with the regions either.
345 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Thank you. And now, moving on to Telus' intervention, Telus has indicated that it is concerned about the trend towards media concentration in the broadcasting system, and it believes that particular attention should be paid to the undue preference, according to Telus, that Bell may be giving its companies in accessing advertising on the V stations. I have noticed that Telus is therefore proposing that the Commission add the following condition of licence - I will read it to you - to their intervention:
346 " The licensee shall provide commercially reasonable access to advertising availabilities to unrelated operators of broadcasting undertakings and telecommunications service providers." 347. Are you prepared to accept such a condition of licence?
348 Ms. MOSES: But, actually, I don't understand why it should be a condition of licence, because Telus buys advertising with Bell Media, and we've always bought, and I hope they're going to continue to buy. It's the same thing; Videotron buys advertising with Bell Media.
349 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Yes. I think their concern is that with Bell’s power, if the transaction is approved, there would not be reasonable rates.
350 Ms. MOSES: It goes back to what we discussed a few moments ago. It's the same... it's the same dynamics in the market, so there's no different prices for different players, so they're going to continue to be... to be treated and served the way they are today, and we really hope to continue to do business with them.
351 COMMISSIONER LAIZNER: Thank you.
352 CHAIRPERSON: So just for the record, would you or would you not accept a condition of licence to that effect?
353 Mr. STRATI: No. We've talked about that already in the licence renewal period, we've.... Yes, we've talked about the unfounded allegations of what Telus provided with their Cossette report at that time. So, for us, honestly, it's not a necessary condition, it's an allegation that has already been made and it's unfounded.
354 CHAIRPERSON: All right. Thank you.
355 I turn to my colleague, Ms. Barin.
356 Do you have any other questions about advertising? No.
357 And staff, do you have any questions on this particular advertising theme?
358 Ms. MAHEUX: No, no questions.
359 CHAIRPERSON: All right.
360 So that brings us to the next theme, which is the diversity of voices and new local programming, and we'll take a break after that theme.
361 So, to begin with, perhaps to set the stage, we're talking about diversity of voices in general, or editorial voices. I understand that in your request you confirmed that there were no issues here necessarily in terms of the thresholds set out in the Diversity of Voices Policy. So my question is: from another... I would say, from another angle, and more generally, do you think that this diversity of voices would be the same, higher, or lower, compared with what is currently offered with the V stations?
362 Ms. MOSES: Can you clarify what exactly you mean by "diversity of voices," just to make sure I understand?
363 CHAIRPERSON: It's general at this point, but we're going to go a little bit further in the discussion with respect to news, all of that. At this point, generally speaking, do you think the situation would indeed be the same, or perhaps even enhanced? I'm guessing you're not going to say that it would be lesser than the current situation; but if you're telling me that you think the diversity of voices would be increased with this transaction, I'm curious to hear why.
364 Ms. MOSES: In fact, what I could tell you is that through the change in programming that we would like to make, necessarily, there will be more diversity in terms of what we will offer viewers. So it's definitely going to offer a greater diversity of voices by adding more fiction, adding more variety, documentaries. So yes, there will be more diversity on the screen in the coming years.
365 CHAIRPERSON: This whole issue of transition was addressed at the very beginning and I'm just bringing it up again to.... In fact, if there's any clarification to be made, I understand that as early as September, you're prepared to, let’s say, increase this offer, and even more so in January 2021, right?
366 Ms. MOSES: Exactly. We start with the fall, which is the first important schedule for us, and the rest will follow from there. Our target for Bell Media’s internal news is January 2021, it's good.
367 CHAIRPERSON: If, precisely, we go a little bit more... more specifically, if we discuss the issue of information more specifically, here, I'm going to focus on the text that I have in front of me because it refers specifically to a reply that you made to the intervenors. So you're indicating that Bell is a news leader in English Canada and that you're looking to apply that expertise to the V stations and further develop it independently and specifically.
368 So, on the one hand, what I take from this is that you wish to refer to this expertise developed in the English market, but on the other hand, at the same time, I also understand that you wish to develop this expertise, but in an independent and specific way. At first glance, there may be a certain contradiction when these two statements are juxtaposed. So, could you explain a little bit more about how this is going to work in practice?
369 Ms. MOSES: Yes, and then I'll ask Jed to continue, but what I can tell you is that in terms of news, as you say, yes, we do have a lot of experience with CTV in terms of all the information gathering. The news, it starts with real news, gathering real news in all the regions.
370 So what we are proposing to do is really to have separate journalists who will work on the news, who will get the news, who will make separate editorial choices, and then we will find a format to deliver it to viewers as well. But CTV's expertise is still important, and Jed could tell you a little more about it.
371 MR. KAHANE: Thank you very much, good morning Madam Vice-Chairperson. Certainly CTV's contribution, to answer your question directly, would be to build on the experience of our stations and our expertise in local journalism, to build a team and to put the systems in place. But what's going to change is that V is going to have its own independent and dedicated news service. Of course there will be collaboration with CTV and other Bell Media platforms and their expertise.
372 You spoke earlier about diversity—we all want it—about the diversity of voices in journalism, particularly in the regions. We are experiencing a media crisis—I don’t need to explain it to you—voices that are lost. And to talk about the diversity of local reflection, we can look at the current situation; as you certainly know, V does business with a third party that is not internal and in the regions; this third party does business with Capitales Médias. And with all due respect for their journalistic work, it means that when you open a V station in the regions, what you see is exactly the same thing that was filmed by the photographers of Capitales Médias.
373 We want to diversify our information content by putting in each market journalists who will go out to meet citizens to reflect their local reality, with relevant topics and choices that are unique to V. So instead of having one actor who is on two platforms, say, on Capitales Médias and on V right now, you're going to have another completely different voice to better reflect the regions of Quebec.
374 CHAIRPERSON: So, you're talking about hiring journalists for Montréal, Québec, Saguenay, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières? Do I understand you correctly?
375 MR. KAHANE: Absolutely. I would say that this is the backbone of our project, to put journalists in the field in all these markets.
376 CHAIRPERSON: Where is the editorial decision made? In fact, decisions? I hear it's pretty decentralized; is that the case? Is there a centralized part, for example, or one that would be centralized in Montréal and another regional part? Could you enlighten me on that, please?
377 MR. KAHANE: Yes. In terms of decision making, it would be made entirely by V, by a V news director who reports to V’s management—to my colleagues here. That's the gist of it. Montréal, of course, as with all the major broadcasters, would be the centre of V's information system with its own newsroom, with editors, with the entire team that is needed to make a quality product and to help the regions and the larger Montréal and Québec markets receive information that is credible, as Bell Media already knows how to do very well.
378 CHAIRPERSON: We understood from this morning's discussions, therefore, that this team of journalists under station V would be separate from CTV’s team of journalists. I also understand that there would be collaboration. If we look at it a bit more granularly, does that mean that for the same news, in fact - well, there's sharing in the news - is it... but we're not talking about translation and all that, I mean? We're talking about original content on both sides, aren't we—French-language market, English-language market?
379 MR. KAHANE: Yes, it's production for each entity, particularly the editorial choices. CTV in Montréal has a great team, but serving first and foremost the English-speaking community, the choices are not at all the same in terms of day-to-day news. So V will have its editorial teams of journalists who will go out and pick the stories that matter to their audiences in the major regions and in the other markets.
380 Of course, with the infrastructure that already exists in Bell Media, whether it is CTV or other platforms, the studios, the production houses, we do not necessarily have to rebuild them to do what we need to do. And that, of course, means that a news service that has less than 1%, as Karine told you, of the news ratings can survive and can be built in an intelligent way.
381 CHAIRPERSON: So the synergy could be in the equipment, the camera operators, all that, right?
382 MR. KAHANE: Not necessarily at the level of the cameramen, but the physical facilities that already exist in our company could be used for V. We haven't focused on exactly how it's going to be done. The other thing that needs to be said is that V currently has no formal partner do news outside of Quebec.
383 That means that the interests of Quebecers don’t end at the border, whether national or international, and CTV has a huge team, with our 26 stations, our foreign correspondents, all the relationships we have. When we see firefighters going to Australia, for example, who came from Quebec—there are some who come from the Quebec regions, and CTV was there—we are not necessarily going to send a V reporter to Australia; but on this kind of subject—Prime Minister Legault in Washington last weekend—that affects the Saguenay, where we are talking about aluminum rates, etc. So CTV is going to be able to provide assistance to V in our existing productions to ensure that Quebecers will have a greater news offering. I think that's important to say.
384 And just to finish off, CTV, as I said, serves mainly the English-speaking community in Montréal, and we don't have large teams in the regions. With V reporters gathering information and material in the field, all of this information and video will be available to other Bell Media properties, including CTV, to give French-speaking Quebec much greater exposure in the rest of Canada than it currently has.
385 CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Do you also anticipate synergies with, for example, radio journalists and, as applicable, do you anticipate a synergy, once again, French-English, or all of it blended? And what about platforms that are also digital?
386 Mr. KAHANE: For radio, just to start—I will leave it to others for digital—our radio journalists in the regions are a great team, but not that great, and they are already very focused on their obligations in relation to radio. We're thinking about how we can make their journalism an asset to Bell Media's overall news ecosystem, but are they going to grab a camera and run out to the field? I don't think that's in our plans right now.
387 Ms. MOSES: And, if I may add, with respect to digital, this is certainly something that is extremely important to us. As I mentioned at the beginning, a lot of thought is being given to the format we will use to deliver news gathering and information to viewers, and digital platforms will definitely play an important role in this dynamic. We know that today, especially for the younger generation, that is where they consume most of their news, so we will try to put together a nice grouping of these platforms to keep Quebecers informed.
388 CHAIRPERSON: We'll now turn to the number of hours of news that you're proposing. We touched on that question earlier, but as a precautionary measure, I would like to ask you the question I have in front of me. So could you shed some light on how Bell would improve local news content—including increasing the number of hours produced, as they say, internally—and how it would do that without increasing expenditures?
389 So, we addressed this issue earlier with expenditures, and what we have in terms of forecasts, it remained... that is, even a reduction or stable, I can clarify, but it is just that general logic to say: expenditures remain stable or even decrease, but on the other hand, we are proposing to increase content in terms of... first internally, but also, potentially, in terms of number of hours of news.
390 Ms. MOSES: Yes, obviously with the existing facilities, already there, we have good synergies, therefore costs saved just with logistics and infrastructure. In terms of expenditures, as Jed mentioned, we certainly have some hiring to do in terms of building that newsroom. And then it's also all about how to manage that newsroom to try to gain efficiencies; but it's really about making the most of what already exists. And that way, we'll be able to increase somewhat the hours of news we propose.
391 CHAIRPERSON: We will now turn to the redesigned newscasts. You alluded to that earlier, so the redesigned newscasts. First, in terms of content, what would it look like?
392 Ms. MOSES: Actually, that's a good question. I think that's a discussion that needs to take place in a lot of broadcasting companies these days. As we know, the new generation is much more difficult when it comes to news delivery, so for us, it's really thinking about the delivery format, including digital, perhaps rethinking the way in which we will deliver that news, with perhaps people on screen who will be a little different, with diversity and perhaps younger people to bring a different aspect to it. So it's in that vein, but it's a lot of thinking, we still have a lot of work to do, but we really intend to try to deliver newscasts that are, I would say, different.
393 CHAIRPERSON: Perhaps again, just to clarify for the public record, what portion of the newscasts would be done in Montréal and Québec in comparison with the regions?
394 Mr. KAHANE: Our promise would be to fulfil the obligations in terms of reflecting the local reality with 50% content that would be shot in the regions, that would be produced in the regions—in the markets, I should say.
395 CHAIRPERSON: So, we're going to delve a bit deeper into that. Earlier, I was announcing the number of hours, I veered off a bit, I apologize; so we’ll look more closely at the matter of the number of hours. In your application, you referred to that 50%.
396 Perhaps if we start from the beginning, I understand that the current situation for Bell is the same—we're talking about five hours of local programming, including a minimum of two and a half hours of news with a local reflection. This is the current situation, subject to a condition of licence stipulating an expenditure level of 5%. I understand that in your proposal, you propose to comply with this.
397 You go a little further by saying that in the form of a commitment, you would be prepared to go from five hours to eight and a half hours of programming. I also understand—so, you mentioned 90 minutes of news, Monday to Friday, 30 minutes on weekends, and in the Saguenay, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières regions, it would be 60 minutes, 30 minutes for the weekend. And so, that’s your proposal.
398 We also understand that the situation currently prevailing for V was, if you will, the result of the last renewal, where the company was in a peculiar financial situation and there was a reduction in the measures imposed. At the time, it was 15 hours of local programming for Montréal and 10 hours for Québec.
399 Last, if we paint a full picture, there is also, therefore, if we make a comparison with TVA, we are talking about 25 hours of local programming for Montréal and Québec—they have made a condition of licence that applies. I'll spare you those details, it would be a bit much.
400 Can I understand, first of all, that in your proposal for the eight-and-a-half-hour commitment, when you talk about 50% local reflection, what you're saying is that the eight and a half hours—so we're talking about four and a quarter hours—would be news with local reflection, and the other half would be more relevant to the market? Did I understand you correctly?
401 MR. KAHANE: I would like to refer to my colleague from regulatory, who has the specifics.
402 MR STRATI: Yes, and Jed was talking more about the news, the substance of the news, but for us it's more about the Commission’s policy. So the Commission has local relevance, which would be the program—so it's not necessarily that there's a 30-minute local reflection program and local relevance.
403 What happens is that in a program, a newscast, there will be elements of local reflection in that program. So there will be, for example, if we take an hour, it could be between 4 and 8 minutes, or 12 to 14 minutes and 18 to 24 minutes... So we add and we tell you that in the newscast, in the program itself, there will always be an element of local relevance because it is a local newscast-whether it is in Saguenay, whether it is in Trois-Rivières, it is important for the community.
404 However, there will also be, as the Commission has set out in the policy, a commitment that more than that, more than local relevance, there must also be local reflection. There will therefore be, in this program, many elements of local reflection, which we have been doing since the renewal and of the stations, we have reports to the Commission, so the Commission knows very well that this is the element of both things with the Commission. Not only the program or the total programming, but it's also that within that you have to have a local reflection niche.
405 CHAIRPERSON: So if I summarize, can I understand that when you say "50%, then, of that local programming," there is at least 50% local reflection, so news with local reflection?
406 Mr. STRATI: Yes.
407 CHAIRPERSON: And maybe even more, if I understand correctly?
408 Mr. STRATI: Yes.
409 CHAIRPERSON: Perfect, excellent. Thank you. So if we continue, therefore with respect to the conditions of licence currently applicable to V, the one that prevailed before this renewal.
410 Now, your proposal, you make it in the form of a commitment. Did you do it in light of what was required of V before? And also, I’ll go as far as to ask you in relation to what is being done at TVA, have you looked at these different realities?
411 Ms. MOSES: Yes, we've definitely looked at all that. Our commitment, in fact, is based on the fact that at the moment there is no news that is being done internally, so everything has to be built.
412 So, you have to start walking before you run, so you have to put that in place, develop the team, develop the newsroom to be able to produce these new newscasts.
413 So for us, given the current situation and the context, the conditions of licence that were established were based on a financial situation that still exists today. So, based on that, what we want to do is to commit to being able to increase these news hours to 8.5 hours, for example, in Montréal, I give that as an example.
414 However, there are two years left on the licence, so in 2022, we will be able to discuss again what these new thresholds will be for Bell Media.
415 Mr. STRATI: And just to add, Madam Chairperson, also, when we look back to V, to their previous licence, in 2011-2012, we also see that the newscasts, excuse me, and the local reflection in the newscasts, are at much lower levels than we proposed.
416 In 2017, the Commission established a new policy, the Policy framework for local and community television, and in addition to that, local reflection. So it was much higher commitments, much more specific than it was with local programming in 2011. So we've built on that, that's what V has started to do, certainly in 2017, and we're building from there.
417 CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. So, to clarify also for the public record, I understand that it would be in the form of undertakings.
418 Do I take it that you're not prepared to go with, in fact, to be subject to, a condition of licence for the proposal of eight and a half hours?
419 Ms. MOSES: We would prefer to discuss the thresholds again when the licence is renewed in 2022, but we are committed to delivering news as proposed in our proposal.
420 CHAIRPERSON: All right. I alluded to the Québec market and the condition of licence that applies to TVA. So, originally, it was in a very specific context, the context of the airwaves being shown, and so that condition was imposed on CTV.
421 We are talking about 18 hours of local programming, at least five and a half hours of newscasts produced in Québec, including two newscasts on weekends, at least three and a half hours of other programs that specifically reflect the Québec region, which can be broadcast on TVA.
422 Would you, in fact, be willing to make a similar undertaking or with a similar number of hours, a different number of hours for Québec, for Québec or Québec’s national capital region?
423 Ms. MOSES: If you don't mind, maybe we could come back for our right of reply?
424 CHAIRPERSON: All right, that's fine.
425 Ms. MOSES: Thank you.
426 CHAIRPERSON: Once again, for the sake of clarity in terms of the public record, I know that this particular news production, Montréal, Quebec, and journalists in the regions, was discussed. But are you in a position to tell us the proportion of news that would be produced specifically in the regions compared to what could be produced in Montréal and Québec?
427 Ms. MOSES: Yes.
428 Mr. KAHANE: I think these are discussions that are going to take place between here and when we're going to put this on the air, if the transaction is approved.
429 There's V’s entire schedule that still has to be created, and we haven't focused on the specific production model yet.
430 CHAIRPERSON: It looks like there will be a 30-minute newscast on weekends in Montréal, Québec and in the three regions we identified.
431 Can we understand that those 30 minutes would be original news, not reruns, and that they would be broadcast during prime time?
432 Ms. MOSES: The objective is indeed to make live bulletins, not live, but from the day itself, not "reheated," as they say. Also, in terms of prime time, as Jed mentioned, we haven't yet determined how our programming schedules are going to be built. These are things we'll definitely look at.
433 CHAIRPERSON: Good, thank you. Earlier, reference was made to the production, excuse me, of local programming. So what would that local programming, other than news, consist of that local programming that would be broadcast on each station if the transaction were approved?
434 Ms. MOSES: In fact, there's no doubt that in the short term, local programming is going to be on the news. So it's our primary goal to try to build that, to create even more of that connection with the community. Then, over time, we will be able to develop more specific projects in terms of local programming.
435 But for the moment, as I was saying, we're still a long way off, there's a lot of work to be done. There's only one share, 1% market share, so we have to pull it all together, but it's something we have in mind for the future.
436 CHAIRPERSON: So, for me, that's all the questions I had for you on this issue of diversity of voices, news, local programming. I'll look to my colleagues if they have any further questions. Yes, Ms. Barin has some questions for you.
437 COMMISSIONER BARIN: Thank you. I just wanted clarification on a term you used in your supplementary submission, which refers to redesigned news bulletins. Can you clarify what you mean?
438 Ms. MOSES: Actually, what we mean is really in terms of the news delivery format. So it's more in that aspect.
439 If you look at the big players in the market, they have a rather traditional way of delivering the news, so we want to think of a new way to deliver that news.
440 The news, it doesn't matter, the news is still the news, but the way it's presented, that's where we want to think more about trying to offer something different.
441 That's fine, thank you.
442 CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I now ask staff, do you have any more questions on that?
443 Ms. MAHEUX: No further questions.
444 CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. So we'll take a 15-minute break, and then we'll resume the proceedings after that. Thank you.
445 Ms. MOSES: Thank you.
446 --- The hearing is suspended at 12:02 p.m.
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