TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
FOR THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND
TRANSCRIPTION DES AUDIENCES DU
CONSEIL DE LA RADIODIFFUSION
ET DES TÉLÉCOMMUNICATIONS CANADIENNES
SUBJECT / SUJET:
CBC LICENCE RENEWALS /
RENOUVELLEMENTS DE LICENCES DE LA SRC
HELD AT: TENUE À:
Place du Portage Place du Portage
Conference Centre Centre de conférence
Outaouais Room Salle Outaouais
Hull, Quebec Hull (Québec)
June 8, 1999 Le 8 juin 1999
In order to meet the requirements of the Official Languages Act, transcripts of proceedings before the Commission will be bilingual as to their covers, the listing of the CRTC members and staff attending the public hearings, and the Table of Contents.
However, the aforementioned publication is the recorded verbatim transcript and, as such, is taped and transcribed in either of the official languages, depending on the language spoken by the participant at the public hearing.
Afin de rencontrer les exigences de la Loi sur les langues officielles, les procès-verbaux pour le Conseil seront bilingues en ce qui a trait à la page couverture, la liste des membres et du personnel du CRTC participant à l'audience publique ainsi que la table des matières.
Toutefois, la publication susmentionnée est un compte rendu textuel des délibérations et, en tant que tel, est enregistrée et transcrite dans l'une ou l'autre des deux langues officielles, compte tenu de la langue utilisée par le participant à l'audience publique.
Canadian Radio-television and
Conseil de la radiodiffusion et des
Transcript / Transcription
Public Hearing / Audience publique
CBC LICENCE RENEWALS /
RENOUVELLEMENTS DE LICENCES DE LA SRC
BEFORE / DEVANT:
Françoise Bertrand Chairperson of the
Commission, Chairperson /
Présidente du Conseil,
Andrée Wylie Commissioner / Conseillère
David Colville Commissioner / Conseiller
Barbara Cram Commissioner / Conseillère
James Langford Commissioner / Conseiller
Cindy Grauer Commissioner / Conseillère
Joan Pennefather Commissioner / Conseillère
ALSO PRESENT / AUSSI PRÉSENTS:
Nick Ketchum Hearing Manager /
Gérant de l'audience
Carolyn Pinsky Legal Counsel /
Alastair Stewart Conseillers juridiques
Carol Bénard Secretary / Secrétaire
HELD AT: TENUE À:
Place du Portage Place du Portage
Conference Centre Centre de conférence
Outaouais Room Salle Outaouais
Hull, Quebec Hull (Québec)
June 8, 1999 Le 8 juin 1999
- ii -
TABLE OF CONTENTS / TABLE DES MATIÈRES
Intervention by / Intervention par:
Hon. William G. Davis 3456
Canadian Association of Broadcasters 3481
Patrick Watson 3533
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting 3573
Conseil mondial pour la radio et la télévision 3602
Archie Robertson 3640
Delmar Mackenzie 3655
Chris Patterson 3662
Eastern Front Theatre Company 3672
Salter Street Films 3681
Great North Communications 3697
Shaftesbury Films 3721
Norflicks Productions 3737
Wendy Lill 3753
C.E. Babb 3766
Canadian Media Guild 3771
Barna-Alper Productions 3801
Hull, Quebec / Hull (Québec)
--- Upon resuming on Tuesday, June 8, 1999 at 0903 /
L'audience reprend le mardi 8 juin 1999, à 0903
17317 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning.
17318 Could you, Madam Bénard, introduce the first intervenor of the day, please?
17319 MS BÉNARD: Thank you, Madam Chair.
17320 I would invite the Honourable William Davis to come forward and make his presentation.
17321 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning and welcome.
17322 HON. W. DAVIS: Madam Chair and Members of the Commission, it's a pleasure, I think, to be here.
17323 THE CHAIRPERSON: You think?
17324 HON. W. DAVIS: I told these very delightful ladies earlier that I didn't have a written submission, which will ease their responsibilities and perhaps enhance those of the translators.
17325 I would say to you, Madam Chair, that I do apologize that my presentation will be in only one of the two official languages.
17326 I say that with some regret. I can recall a few years ago when there was a consultation in our sister Province of Quebec as to their future, and I had the temerity to travel to that province to deliver what I thought was an excellent address. My French was better than that of John George Diefenbaker's, I can say that with some comfort, and the next day I received a telephone call from Mr. Lévesque saying, "Bill, it was a great speech you made last night. Would you please come back again? We were up two points in the polls." That sort of discouraged me from trying again.
17327 I have your list here today, Members of the Commission, and you have some 20 groups and individuals who wish to make presentations. I can only congratulate you on your patience and tolerance.
17328 The third gentleman to make a presentation today is an old friend of mine who I had great difficulty with as an undergraduate, and that hasn't altered over the years, and I may use less time so he will use up the extra. That has been his history, as I recall it, for generations.
17329 I should also point out this is my second appearance before the CRTC. All of you are too young to remember my first very successful appearance, when I believe Mr. Juneau was Chairman, and we successfully persuaded the Commission there was some relevance in educational television and it was the beginning of what is now known as TVO. It had a different name in those days, opposed by Elwy Yost who became a bit of a positive figure on TVO because he was then head of METO, which was the Metropolitan Toronto, and didn't want his empire encroached upon by some provincial agency.
17330 So this is the second time I have been here, and I am sure that when I'm finished you will feel that my views are totally appropriate, as Mr. Juneau and the Commission did then.
17331 I am here, Madam Chair and Members of the Commission, really in a very unabashed way in support of "public broadcasting". I will not presume to suggest to you that I am totally knowledgeable as to the changes that have taken place, particularly in television, the technology, the growing influence of television on our day-to-day lives, et cetera.
17332 I think it is fair to state that my views are somewhat instinctive. I confess that to you. They are not predicated necessarily on total knowledge. But, at the same time, having been involved in public life in this country for a fairly lengthy period of time, and having some sense of the diversity and the regional nature of Canada, I look back historically, and I think I say this quite objectively, that the CBC has been an instrument or an institution that has made an effort, not always successful, in endeavouring to give some Canadian feeling to the various parts of this country.
17333 I know there are some people in public life, and some in the party with which I'm associated, who have had some very critical comments to make about the CBC in a sense that perhaps in their news broadcasts they weren't totally objective.
17334 Madam Chair, I can tell you I dealt with the news people from the CBC for some close to 25 and-a-half years. I understood them. They were not always friendly towards the then Premier and Minister of Education, but they were no more difficult, no more, shall we say -- well, they were never prejudiced -- less objective than those representing the private networks or the private broadcasters.
17335 I always say to people in public life that if they wish to single out the CBC to be critical of it as it relates to what they perceive as perhaps some underlying political philosophy, I really think that on occasion people in public life use that as an excuse to explain either their own shortcomings or the deficiency in their own approach to public policy. I say that with some degree of confidence.
17336 While I have had my differences with people of the CBC in the news portions, I say categorically that they have served the national interest over a period of time I think very well.
17337 I also must say that I am not here today to suggest to you what the future structure or the focus of the CBC should be. I am here to acknowledge what the penetration has been, and I say this in a very constructive way, of the private broadcasters.
17338 You will be hearing from them very shortly. I find it interesting that I am getting off, and the private broadcasters are next, and then Patrick Watson will try to rationalize everybody's point of view in a way that only he will understand.
17339 Is he still smiling, Madam Chair?
--- Laughter / Rires
17340 HON. W. DAVIS: I must also tell you I am here with the support of my wife. That may come as a shock to some here, but she is very supportive of the CBC, I would say not in a particular way but very supportive of CBC Radio in that she would argue that extensively that there is nothing really in the private sector that is close to what the CBC offers in radio to the people of Canada.
17341 I would be one who would argue that a way should be found to maintain the non-commercial nature of the CBC.
17342 I also say to those of you on the Commission who had some reservation about the CBC's interest in a part of Canadian culture which I think is relevant, because I think culture has a very broad definition, and that is sports. I don't know which Member of the Commission had some observations.
17343 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: I don't mind being embarrassed.
17344 HON. W. DAVIS: Sir, I know exactly who it was. I didn't want to embarrass you.
17345 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: (Off microphone).
--- Laughter / Rires
17346 HON. W. DAVIS: No, well, I didn't mind either. I couldn't have survived.
17347 I would only say to you, sir, that I understand that point of view.
17348 But I can tell you with some knowledge, I used to be Chairman of that great Canadian cultural institution called the Canadian Football League.
17349 Now, to those of you in some parts of Canada, it's not too relevant -- if you happen to be from Regina, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Hamilton and Toronto, all the less so because of the penetration of American media -- the CFL historically has a relevance.
17350 My recollection is that historically Canadian viewers tended to watch the Grey Cup with even greater enthusiasm than that great commercial operation called the Superbowl offers to people around the world. I can say very honestly that if it hadn't been for the support of the CBC for a number of years, and last year I think there was a potential of a change when one of the private broadcasters I think became somewhat interested in the CFL. Without that, and I have confirmed that with the present Chairman, the CFL might not be with us.
17351 Now, there are some here who might say "I won't shed a tear". I can only say for some groups in society who think that is a part of Canadian culture, as is hockey and other sports, it is relevant.
17352 I would also point out that perhaps part of the focus for the CBC would be some greater emphasis on amateur sport, intercollegiate sport, et cetera, which in the U.S. of A. is done by the private broadcasters because the economics are so rewarding, but where in this country it has not been possible to develop that sort of a rationale.
17353 I am not here to suggest to you what the future of the CBC should be in any definitive way. I recognize the very onerous responsibility, Madam Chair, that you and other Members of the Commission have. It's not a watershed. I don't mean to exaggerate what your decisions will mean, but there is no question that you are involved in a process that will assess for the people of Canada the future of one of our national institutions.
17354 I happen to believe there is something that you can call the Canadian culture or identity. Please don't ask me to define it. I have been asked by others many, many times. The only thing I can say to you, and I say this as one who is a very committed Canadian, I think there is such a thing as a Canadian identity or a Canadian culture.
17355 If I am right in this -- and that represents a recognition that there is diversity, there is a regional nature to this country, but if I am right in this, it has been the CBC that has been helpful, if not in developing, and I think they have, at least in recognizing it and I think to an extent maintaining it.
17356 I have written what I thought was not a bad letter for me, it really sort of captures my overall thoughts on this subject. I could get into other examples. People have spoken to me, et cetera, they knew I was coming, they were surprised.
17357 My letter might have sufficed, but I learned this in my former life, Madam Chair, that you can write all of the letters in the world, but if you don't follow them up in some rather tangible way, perhaps -- and I say not in the case of the Commission, of course, but other agencies that I have dealt with -- the letter might have been filed saying "Thank you very much", maybe read, maybe not.
17358 So I am here today to say very simply the views I expressed in my letter are those I believe very strongly. They are personal, but I like to think they reflect some degree of experience in public life and public policy of this country.
17359 I have probably exceeded the time I have been allocated, but it will not be the first time that has happened, Madam Chair. I apologize.
17360 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Davis.
17361 I was asking my colleague here, because I am not too familiar with the way we do it in English, whether I should call you "Monsieur" or "Honourable", and she said, I think `Monsieur', but he is still having the title of `Honourable'.
17362 I want you to know that every written intervention is important to us, but the fact that you took the time to come and meet us this morning, we are very honoured.
17363 Thank you very much.
17364 We will take this opportunity to kind of push on some elements that you are bringing in your letter as much as your intervention this morning, if you will allow me.
17365 I would first like to know, you talk about the fact in your letter that somehow you kind of support the view of the Juneau Report in terms of the dependence of the CBC vis-à-vis the audience reach and the need for more and more commercial time in order to be able to find the proper financing for their venture.
17366 Where do you see that a better balance could be reached? In your view, do you have any suggestions to bring to the table in terms of what would be a better balance in terms of indeed concern to reach Canadians, and that audiences are important and it conveys financial means, but at the same time, are there programs that would be better achieved if there wasn't that search for revenues?
17367 HON. W. DAVIS: I think this is one of the very difficult issues that faces the Commission and it would be very easy for me to say that a partial solution would be for -- as a matter of government policy, I'm not referring to the present government, I am referring to governments generally -- that would define in their own minds the position of the CBC, its future, and have a financing mechanism without getting into whether it's too much, too little, et cetera, but where there is, I think, some stability and some certainty over a period of time.
17368 I am not one of those who would advocate, if there were other choices, any further commercialization of CBC. I would like to see less. But I think if you see less, then I think the public sector, which is government -- after all, it is our institution as Canadians -- I think a case could be made for some greater measure of support.
17369 I have debated this. I have stayed out of public debate, Madam Chair, in my own province for the last number of years. I don't believe in being a Monday morning quarterback. But at the same time, for those of you who have followed some of the discussions in Ontario, I did on two or three occasions make some observations about TVO, because I happen to believe that in its present form it is providing a useful service to the public of Ontario. In fact, it goes beyond the Province of Ontario.
17370 There was a feeling on the part of the government that with privatization they could accomplish the same thing.
17371 I would say to you, as I said publicly in Ontario, that in my view privatization of TVO would in fact diminish, if not eliminate, that aspect of TVO which I say, with great respect, through the private broadcasters, they wouldn't do. I mean, are the private broadcasters going to get into the business of classroom instruction and so on, the potential that is involved for the post-secondary community, et cetera.
17372 I can't speak for the government of Canada. I never presumed to do so. I wouldn't now. But I think that is one of the problems facing the CBC, is facing the Commission and the Canadian public.
17373 The part of Mr. Juneau's view which I do support is that if you were to determine the future of the CBC or the funding, predicated on, shall we say, the Nielsen ratings or whatever rating process, I think you would be limiting very definitely the CBC. I think the responsibility of the CBC is to inform, to a certain extent to educate, to promote Canadian identity, culture, the regional nature of this country in a way that I don't think the private sector can do.
17374 I am not being negative about the private sector, I am a great believer in what they have accomplished, but I also recognize that this country is very vulnerable to the private sector broadcasters from south of the parallel. I would hate to tell you the amount of television that is perhaps viewed that comes from ABC, CBS, you name it, and where as Canadians we are somewhat vulnerable.
17375 I would say to the distinguished gentleman on your geographic left who has some reservations about the use of the sporting community on CBC, sir, I can tell you this: the NFL has become so popular in Toronto it is probably now the sixth largest community in North America when it comes to betting on the NFL. Why is that? Very simply, television.
17376 I don't want to give you a lecture on the Canadian Football League, but I tell you this, the skill level is different, the game is better, but we have had difficulty in communicating with that great giant, the NFL and television. It has been primarily television that has made people in the City of Toronto ready to shell out several hundred American dollars, millions, to get a franchise. I hope they don't succeed.
17377 I can't tell you, Madam Chair. I wish I could. If I could do that, I would probably lobby you to suggest quietly to the Prime Minister that I might be made head of the CBC. I mean, I would have to improve my French, et cetera.
--- Laughter / Rires
17378 HON. W. DAVIS: So I don't have that answer. But I do have a feeling that part of the assessment that the Commission must make to the Canadian public is the reach. I guess that is a very good word. It is not just the marketplace.
17379 I would be surprised if the private broadcasters wouldn't share that point of view as related to many aspects of what the CBC is doing. They will differ with some others.
17380 That is a very long answer to a question, and I think you may sense from that that I don't really have an answer. I have a feeling.
17381 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, that is often the start of the good answers.
17382 Tell me, you talk a lot about inform and educate and you see that dimension of the role of the CBC as being central and the support you have for public broadcasting.
17383 Are there areas -- if you were to hold our pen while we are writing the renewal of the licence -- because there is no doubt that we will be, and we are quite supportive of public broadcasting ourselves and you have to always be careful. It is not because the one that is asking questions is not always the one that has the strongest ideas of the items he is asking for sometimes. It is role playing in a sense.
17384 But if you were to hold our pen, in order to even enhance or improve that dimension of the role of the public broadcaster, the CBC, what would be the areas where you would like some more attention from the CBC in terms of informing and educating?
17385 HON. W. DAVIS: Well, I think on a regional basis, some greater coverage. It's not just because I spent most of my adult life there, but I think in terms of what is really relevant to the Canadian public, no matter what region they may be in, is the regional news service and political reporting -- and I don't say that in the narrow sense of the word -- on a national basis. I think the CBC has done this country a great service.
17386 Some of you may disagree as to what always appeared at the First Ministers meeting, but I can tell you a large number of the Canadian public were educated by the almost total coverage that was given by the CBC to the First Ministers conferences year after year.
17387 At the time of the constitutional discussions, no question that the CBC played an important role in terms of at least informing or giving the Canadian public an opportunity to hear the discussions and the differences that were debated around that table.
17388 I mean, it is a great vehicle for Canadian history. I would say that if there is something the CBC could do, with I think important returns, would be some more programming on Canadian history. I know it is difficult to get any sort of consensus.
17389 The former Minister of Education from Québec and myself, we actually were instrumental in forming the Council of Ministers of Education for Canada. It has played a useful role in terms of mobility of the profession, in terms of some aspects of curriculum.
17390 There has not been total unanimity as to the interpretation of some aspects of Canadian history. But that doesn't mean that Canadian history, which I think has been neglected, quite frankly, in many school systems, I say this in the Province of Ontario -- I think Canadian history has not been given the degree of priority that it should have been.
17391 I think I'm right in this. The CBC has developed a program for Canadian history. If there is anybody from the CBC, I don't think it's a secret. I have been trying to help one or two individuals, quite honestly, in seeing if there is some private sector support for this program when it becomes available, I think next year. Hopefully it will get out in the school systems.
17392 The only reason I became involved is because I am weak, and if it could be shown on the CBC with just one little line saying sort of "Compliments of Patrick Watson and others", it would be wonderful, rather than having to depend on a great deal of commercials. I am told that it could be one of the better things the CBC has done in terms of Canadian history.
17393 I would be in favour -- it may not be the most watched programming -- of more public affairs programming on CBC.
17394 I guess I look at television as being potentially still a great educational tool. It doesn't have to be full of violence and all the rest of it.
17395 If you want my views on that, Madam Chair, I am delighted to do it. I had the temerity -- and the private broadcaster representative here will take issue with me -- but I asked a very distinguished former federal minister of the Crown in the mid-1970s to do a report for the then Government of Ontario on violence on television, the media, et cetera, et cetera. It was sort of looked at with some degree of cynicism, and so on.
17396 Two years ago I was asked for a copy of Ms Labarge's report by certain members of the U.S. Congress. You could change the date on what she wrote then. It is as relevant today as it was when it was written. That is totally another issue.
17397 I mean, if you want me to say there should be less violence on television, I am quite prepared to say it.
17398 You see, I have 11 grandchildren. That is totally relevant either. But the fact is, their educational process starts the moment they turn on that set.
17399 THE CHAIRPERSON: Indeed.
17400 I guess in the examination we are doing right now it is not really a look at the past, it is really in terms of building for the future and really for the audiences of your grandchildren and the grandchildren of the country.
17401 A last question, Mr. Davis.
17402 You talk about being vigilant to augment the independence of the CBC. Of course, you know there are some references in your letter that is not of the authority of the Commission itself.
17403 I am wondering if you see, by mentioning this, ideas that we could pursue that would be of our jurisdiction. The question I was wondering while I was reading that is: Would more transparence on the part of the CBC and more accountability, public accountability, help?
17404 Do you see any tools or means or ideas that you can suggest to us that could help support that idea, given that it is not for us to decide? We are not the government and we don't pretend to be and we don't intend to be.
17405 HON. W. DAVIS: You are sure you are not ready to run for public office?
17406 THE CHAIRPERSON: No. So we understand very well our role, but certainly it is an idea that has been often said while we were doing our regional consultations in March. So I was wondering, as former politician -- can we be a former politician? I don't know.
17407 HON. W. DAVIS: Yes, I can be.
17408 THE CHAIRPERSON: But whether you have ideas to suggest to us that could kind of help support that idea.
17409 HON. W. DAVIS: Well, I think it is one of the crucial issues for the political leadership of Canada. I sometimes -- I know what goes on. I am somewhat disappointed when people sort of argue because the government of the day has the right for certain a point, et cetera, et cetera, that the CRTC, to a certain, extent must reflect government policy. I think that is wrong. I have never believed it. That doesn't mean that government doesn't have a role to play, don't misunderstand me. They do have a responsibility for public expenditures.
17410 When the CBC, as it has been and will continue to be, is dependent on government funding there obviously goes with it some responsibility.
17411 But, in my view, efforts should be made to have the public of Canada understand that while taxpayers' money is going into the CBC, it is divorced from any so-called political interference or direction. Not easy to do.
17412 I know first ministers of this country who have had some very unkind things to say about the CBC. I know some people in public life today, who are totally entitled to their opinion, who would "privatize" the CBC. The reality is, you cannot privatize the CBC. You in fact would have to say there will be no more CBC and the private sector will be responsible for "public broadcasting".
17413 I can't envisage a way the CBC could be privatized and discharge the functions that historically have been theirs.
17414 I don't have an answer to that. You ask me questions where I should have answers.
17415 We debated this with TVO, and part of the granting of the licence, if you look back historically, is that the Government of Ontario and the Ministry of Education were precluded from in any way interfering with the educational material developed by TVO.
17416 I can only tell you that historically there have been one or two occasions when I was Minister, only one I think, and once when I was Premier where I had some very serious reservations about a particular program. I communicated that to the then head of TVO and said "This is not interference. You go ahead, you run the programming, but as an individual citizen and a viewer I think the taste that you are demonstrating is very questionable." But that is the extent.
17417 That has been the policy, continues to be the policy, and I think it is very important that the public of Canada have a degree of confidence that the CBC is distinct, separate from government, and has in no way been influenced by government policy.
17418 There is no simple answer to that, Madam Chair. I am expressing a point of view which probably is a shade idealistic, may never come to pass in the minds of government or members of the public, but that to me would be the ideal nature.
17419 I don't know how else you could appoint the CRTC if not by government. Perhaps we could have an election for members of the CRTC.
17420 I will vote for the present. When I heard you say that the licence is going to be renewed, I will vote for you immediately.
17421 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, there was never any doubt here, frankly. That is why it is so important, that process, in order to really see what will the future entice for the CBC and the SRC for the coming years. It is really a pillar of the broadcasting system.
17422 HON. W. DAVIS: The other thing that I think the CBC may have done, but if they did it was so well done, so quietly done that I never knew they were doing it, I think the CBC could have, over the years, can still today, develop some sort of public communication within the regions, the odd sort of workshop.
17423 I can visualize the head of the CBC sort of taking three or four days in Toronto, not to discuss issues that relate to their licensing but getting some views from the public at some sort of open forum whereby the public can say and they can respond. It might be very instructional to the CBC to do something of this kind.
17424 In my former life we used to do this. I regretted it quite often the next day, but we kept on doing it and I found it was ,in the long run, helpful.
17425 Now, the CBC may have been doing this. I don't recall it.
17426 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, it is certainly very enlightening. We have done it on many topics, the last one being on the CBC when we toured 11 cities in the country about the CBC.
17427 HON. W. DAVIS: It was very helpful.
17428 THE CHAIRPERSON: We have learned, and we have tried also to line our questioning to the CBC during this hearing based on what we heard. So yes, it was very helpful. It is always refreshing as well, and that is certainly something.
17429 I think they have been doing some of that, but there is always place to do more.
17430 HON. W. DAVIS: Can I ask you a question? I'm just interested because I found this in my former life.
17431 Is sort of the support, understanding and enthusiasm for the CBC in direct proportion to the distance you are away from the main street of Toronto?
17432 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, frankly, we avoided Toronto and Montreal in our regional consultations --
17433 HON. W. DAVIS: That was best for everyone.
17434 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- because given that they were really there and theoretically, at least, accessible every day.
17435 HON. W. DAVIS: Yes.
17436 THE CHAIRPERSON: We went where it was a bit further. I would say the attachment is certainly there --
17437 HON. W. DAVIS: Yes.
17438 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- in all the cities we have been, and also a strong attachment to the radio.
17439 Thank you, Mr. Davis.
17440 HON. W. DAVIS: Well, I thank you very much, Madam Chair and Members of the Commission.
17441 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for taking the time to come this morning and to have participated.
17442 HON. W. DAVIS: Sir, please don't take offence.
17443 THE CHAIRPERSON: All the other sports, except the football, we understood that.
17444 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Mr. Davis, I have suggested to my colleagues when they come to the Commission that you have to have a pretty thick skin to do this job.
17445 HON. W. DAVIS: Sir, I can only tell you that I know one job where a thicker skin is necessary.
--- Laughter / Rires
17446 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Bénard, could you introduce the next presenter of the day, please?
17447 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be by the CAB, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters / l'Association canadienne des radiodiffuseurs.
17448 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning. La parole est à vous.
--- Off microphone / Sans microphone
17449 THE CHAIRPERSON: He left you with a lot of responsibilities. He sees that there is a specific role for private broadcasters, but that is a different one.
17450 MR. MacDONALD: Good morning, Madame la Présidente, and Commissioners, Commission staff.
17451 I am Jim MacDonald, President and CEO of WIC Television Limited, and Chair of the CAB Board of Directors.
17452 With me today are my colleagues, Michael McCabe, President and CEO of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters; Robert Scarth, Vice-President of Television; Sylvie Courtemanche, Senior Vice-President, Specialty and Regulatory Affairs; Jill Birch, Vice-President, Radio; and Jim MacLeod, President and General Manager of CKOC/CKLH-FM and Vice-Chair of the CAB Radio Board.
17453 Before beginning our formal remarks, Madam Chair, I would like to just tell you what a great honour it is to follow Bill Davis, the former Member from Brampton. No doubt he was down in Atlantic Canada celebrating the Tory win.
17454 But he had made an enormous contribution to Ontario, and in fact all of Canada, and it is reflective only of the kind of commitment that he made to the Province of Ontario that he took the time to come today. As I said, it is a real honour to follow him.
17455 I also comment and say that we would in fact agree with most of the comments, if not all of the comments, that he made in terms of the private broadcasters' views on the CBC.
17456 We greatly appreciate the opportunity to contribute to your deliberations on CBC Radio-Canada, its past performance, its future plans and its role in the system.
17457 To quote the Chair of the CBC, Madame Saucier, in her comments to a Senate Committee in 1997:
"The CBC will survive and prosper only if it can differentiate itself from other broadcasters. Our programming, therefore, must be both unique and marketable and complement that of the private broadcasters."
17458 We agree. Canadians want and need a strong and focused public broadcaster. The broadcasting environment of today bears very little resemblance to the environment out of which CBC took root as Canada's national public broadcaster.
17459 Canadians now have access to a multiplicity of video and audio services delivered to them in a variety of means. This expanded system provides Canadians with many more opportunities to see and hear the Canadian programming they want and it is reflected in the numbers.
17460 According to the CRTC's own analysis, some 70 per cent of all viewing to Canadian programming in English television and 66 per cent in French television are to private broadcasters.
17461 In radio, 85 per cent of all listening is to private stations.
17462 In terms of dollars spent on Canadian television programming, the CBC makes a significant contribution to Canadian programming at $365 million.
17463 However, the private broadcasters, on the other hand, spend $789 million which represent 65 per cent of all dollars spent.
17464 Each service within our expanding broadcasting system provides Canadian audio or video content and the idea that only public broadcasting can fulfil that public service mission is now completely gone.
17465 The CBC has put forward a strategic plan in this proceeding, its blueprint for what it intends to do in the future. While the CBC has set a number of goals for itself, many of which are laudable, we want to focus our oral remarks on its goal to build and expand its constellation of services, on its commercialization plans for radio, on CBC's ability to provide strong, core national services and on the need for a distinctive CBC.
17466 MR. McCABE: First, the CBC already has a considerable constellation of services: it has four radio networks, two television networks, one international radio service, a pay audio service, it is involved in two U.S.-based cable networks, it operates two specialty channels, and it is developing new media as the latest addition to its constellation.
17467 The CBC has stretched the resources at its disposal to the point that it is having some difficulty maintaining the level of its existing services. Canadians told us that in your cross-country consultations.
17468 That is why we are, as are many, surprised that the CBC has placed such a great deal of emphasis on further expanding its constellation of services.
17469 Its plans for two costly new radio networks, Youth Network and Info-Radio, would stretch its resources even thinner. They are a recipe for further reduction in the level of its existing radio services and would move CBC into areas that are already well served.
17470 Its plan to build up its stable of specialty services is misguided. The CBC, after 11 years in the specialty business with services that have some of the highest penetration levels and subscription fees are, on a combined basis, still losing money: $879,000 in 1998.
17471 What is even more disturbing is the comparison between the new basic rate sought by Newsworld, 63 cents, and the 8.5 cents basic rate of the comparable private specialty news service, CTVN1.
17472 CBC's specialty services are a drain on its core services. The delivery of new specialty services in a digital environment will be a very high-risk venture. Canadians will be better served by a CBC that is spending their money on revitalizing its core services, strengthening its core competency rather than on new services and new infrastructure.
17473 Second, the CBC's plan to commercialize its radio services is exactly what Canadians don't want. CBC's radio services have received some of the highest praise from Canadians. People are saying, "Why can't CBC Television be like CBC Radio?" And yet, CBC would jeopardize that public support by introducing sponsorship mentions on radio: commercials by another name.
17474 This proposal will make CBC's radio services less distinctive and more like private radio. Let's not create the kind of problems in CBC Radio that we now face in television.
17475 Third, Canadians are calling for a CBC that better reflects their regions, their issues and their lives. The message came through loud and clear in the Commission's public consultations process. We agree.
17476 To us, that means a CBC that is focused on delivering strong core TV and radio services across the country which draw programming heavily from the regions. It also means a CBC that doesn't waste scarce resources providing local news programming when private broadcasters are already there.
17477 Finally, we quoted the Chair of the CBC at the beginning of our remarks, who called for a CBC that was distinctive, complementary and competitive all at the same time. We think that is the right description.
17478 Ce que nous avons entendu pendant le processus de consultations publiques du CRTC, c'est que les Canadiens et les Canadiennes veulent une Radio-Canada qui constitue une option distinctive par rapport à la multitude de voix vidéo et audio déjà offerts.
17479 Cette différence existe déjà à la radio mais pas encore à la télé, et les téléspectateurs veulent une Radio-Canada quoi soit davantage le reflet de leurs vies et de leurs enjeux.
17480 Il nous semble que le public canadien s'attend à ce que Radio-Canada se concentre sur ces principaux services, télévisuels et radiophoniques, qu'elle s'attache davantage à refléter les enjeux régionaux, qu'elle soit populiste et non élitiste, mais sans avoir peur de se charger de diffuser le genre de programmation qu'un intervenant du secteur privé ne pourrait pas se permettre.
17481 Nous croyons que l'avenir de Radio-Canada dépend de son habileté à se différencier du marché plutôt qu'à simplement reproduire ce que le marché est en mesure d'offrir.
17482 MR. MacLEOD: The CBC appears to be operating on the assumption that its relevance in the marketplace and the growth of its resource base depend on an aggressive expansion strategy into the commercial arena. The CBC has justified this strategy largely as a response to the impact of the reduction in its parliamentary appropriation, which is down to $875 million from $1.1 billion five years ago.
17483 This proceeding has demonstrated that the CBC in its past licence term has not met a number of CRTC requirements and expectations.
17484 It begs the question: How can the Commission be expected to support or endorse CBC's strategic plan with this kind of approach if CBC can't even meet the obligations that are already set out for it?
17485 We believe the Commission has an opportunity in this proceeding to bring some focus and some clarity to what is expected and required of Canada's national broadcaster.
17486 The CRTC should use this proceeding to reiterate the principles that make public broadcasting unique. In our view, the fulfilment of CBC's mandate lies ultimately in a public broadcaster that is viewed and listened to because it offers a broad range of services in TV and radio that appeals to the programming tastes of all Canadians.
17487 Distinctive, because it provides programming that tells us about ourselves and that the marketplace does not otherwise provide.
17488 National in scope, so it provides a link across the country and an opportunity for Canadians in all parts of the country to see and hear themselves in both French and English.
17489 Contributes to the development of the entire system.
17490 Universal, which means it continues to be available free over the air to all Canadians.
17491 Stable, which means it has the government funding necessary to deliver its main TV and radio services.
17492 And focused on revitalizing its main services, not diverting scarce public resources into new niche services.
17493 The priority task is to revitalize the CBC's core services from within and for the CBC to focus its energies in those areas of support and strengthen those services.
17494 What should the CRTC do? Well, we believe that the CRTC should expect the CBC to concentrate its resources and its efforts on its core competencies. That means keeping CBC focused on revitalizing its main services and discouraging it from diverting finite resources into new radio and specialty TV services.
17495 Saying no to CBC's plan to commercialize its radio service; emphasizing the importance of strong national services that draw programming heavily from the regions, and setting out program obligations for CBC's core services that ensure it remains a distinctive and attractive choice for Canadians in the future.
17496 We thank you for your attention and we would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
17497 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
17498 I would ask Vice-Chair Wylie to ask the questions of the Commission.
17499 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Thank you, Madam Chair.
17500 Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
17501 You have a very comprehensive brief that touches on many subjects. I will not have questions on all of them, but on some of them, not because we are not interested in all of them.
17502 First, I would like some more enlightenment from you as to how you achieve this revitalization from within and its distinctiveness versus a more commercial approach.
17503 Many interveners, of course, have made similar comments, and if I refer to your written brief at the very beginning where you discussed how a changing competitive environment has changed public broadcasting, and you discuss of course the reduction in appropriations and therefore how -- at page 4 there are two strategies. One is to play the competition game by concentrating on distinctive popular programming and services or to adopt a more commercial stand aimed primarily at increasing revenues.
17504 Given the acknowledgement of the reduction in appropriation, the tendency to focus on commercialization and your desire for having a distinctive public broadcaster that is revitalized from within, what are the particular positive areas you feel could be pursued by the Commission to find that proper equilibrium, or balance?
17505 MR. McCABE: Commissioner Wylie, I think the start of that answer is with the funding of the CBC by the government. I think that it is essential that they have a stable level of funding and that they can count upon.
17506 The second step I think is that they do not divert dollars from the main services off onto adventures in specialty on the television side and news services and radio.
17507 It is quite clear that news specialty services are going to be a considerable investment for a long time to come. Some of the material we submitted, the studies we submitted in respect to the specialty framework I think indicated that.
17508 On the radio side, anybody in the radio business knows that the investment to make these new radio services that are suggested is going to be considerable, and it all takes money away from the core services.
17509 Again, I think the key suggestion is concentration of the resources in those core services.
17510 On top of that, it seems to me that the Canadianization of the television services, in English in particular, which is under way, is the right direction to go. That doesn't mean that there is some sort of pressure for unpopular programming. Programs like "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" or "Air Farce", or whatever, I think are important and popular programs in this country.
17511 Our suggestion again is that they be paying attention to those programs and I shouldn't be seeing one of my favourite movies, on the Saturday night movie, the Sunday night movie on CBC, "Kelly Heroes". I know it's one of Donald Sutherland's best performances, but I'm not sure that belongs there. I think that it ought to be focusing on Canadian, and I think it can be popular.
17512 On the French side, I think you have heard from our French language members on the French television side, and surely there is a clear commercial competition between the public broadcaster and the private broadcasters there with often very quite similar programming. I think that a genuine effort has to be made on the part of the public side too to differentiate.
17513 I don't think it makes a lot of sense for Radio-Canada to be airing "Forrest Gump", for example, and having bid up the price to levels that a private broadcaster would find difficulty recovering in a commercial market and they chose to run in a rating period without commercials.
17514 On the radio side, again I think we have there a service that is and has been traditionally very rich, both in the English and the French side. It's sad to see that given the $3 million shortfall they came upon there, it's sad to see the need to cut news bureaus, and so on.
17515 I think that rather than going off and seeing some of these other directions, that radio services should be enriched.
17516 There may be others that may want to add to this.
17517 MR. MacDONALD: Well, I would add, Commissioner Wylie, only the point that while we strongly advocate that radio does not get into the commercial business, we are not suggesting that television should get out of commercial business. Not that we wouldn't like it. We would like that a lot.
17518 But I think that also there is a practical recognition that that generates $300 million worth of additional funding to CBC.
17519 But notwithstanding the fact that they are in the commercial business and compete directly with us for advertising dollars, there are two things that are of concern.
17520 One is that the subsidy not be used to undermine the marketplace, which unfortunately in many cases it is.
17521 Second of all, that the programming that is offered to those clients is in fact different and distinct from what is offered by the private sector.
17522 Certainly, in the case of CBC English television there has been a significant change and Canadianization of the schedule which we see as very positive in terms of creating a distinction between what commercial television is offering and what public television is offering.
17523 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So I gather the three suggestions you have to make is better funding. There's not much we can do about that. It is appropriation.
17524 That there be no constellation so that there is more effort instead -- these are your own words -- on its main services, because that is what Canadians are looking to fund the CBC. So presumably, that would be something you have already put forward at the hearing of Info-Radio, and attached your presentation there to this intervention, and presumably that when such applications are heard you will make your voice heard again on that point.
17525 Now, with regard to television the only comment I hear is that it should be more Canadian and that it should be distinctive and different without losing its commercial appeal. Is that what I hear.
17526 So you don't have any particular suggestions to make as to how this revitalization is to be achieved. The Canadianization, we are already on our way. You don't think there should be any change to the commercial aspect of it.
17527 What would you suggest this Commission do? One is a simple"Ddon't say yes to any applications for further constellation", but the other is: How do you achieve the positive, that is the revitalization from within?
17528 MR. MacDONALD: Well, perhaps I would like to --
17529 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: On English television in particular.
17530 MR. MacDONALD: Well, as you know, Commissioner Wylie, I am an authority on the French side, but --
17531 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So I will ask you that next.
--- Laughter / Rires
17532 MR. MacDONALD: I would like to start actually attacking the question from the reverse, because while we are advocating strongly that the expansion plans not be approved, we are very solidly behind the CBC's plan on new media for a couple of reasons.
17533 First and foremost is they are talking about an investment of 2 per cent. New media is an area that we feel all broadcasters need to be involved in. It certainly is a very competitive opportunity.
17534 But what differentiates CBC from virtually all other broadcasters and why we feel that new media is such a critical factor for the CBC is that new media is all about content. CBC has traditionally had an involvement, either own the programming that they produce, have some kind of ownership interest in a lot of the programming that they produce.
17535 As a result of that, they can in fact use the Internet and the whole opportunity of new media to bring Canadian voices not just to Canada but literally to the world.
17536 Now, getting back to the question specifically about what they can do. On the English side we feel that the direction that they have taken over the last couple of years, the Canadianization of the schedule has been very, very positive and we would advocate that they would continue to develop that.
17537 Going back to the point that Mr. Davis made, and it is interesting because how do you describe the program? It really is more of a feel. There are programs that are part of the CBC schedule that you just think of as CBC programming.
17538 One of the reasons that WIC developed "Emily of New Moon" and then ultimately licenced it to CBC was because we felt that the show had such a much better opportunity to succeed within the broadcast environment.
17539 I don't know whether I'm answering the question or not, but there is a feel about certain programs that in fact, as Michael said, can still be very popular. "Air Farce" is very popular. "22 Minutes" is very popular. Other programs that have been in the CBC schedule that maybe haven't attracted the same audience, but they certainly were indigenous programs, like "Black Harbour" as an example. That should have been in the schedule, but it was not one of the commercial successes.
17540 MR. McCABE: Perhaps I could just add, and that is that I'm not sure that -- in a sense, your question is: What can we do? What can the Commission do.
17541 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Yes, because we have had for two and-a-half weeks now many wide-ranging comments about less commercial, more distinctive, do what the others don't, do it better, do it more Canadian. But we have had not quite as many particulars as to how one achieves that and how this revitalization is possible when what we hear from the CAB I gather this morning is stay the course. Further Canadianization. Don't get out of commercial. Do what you are doing now and try to do it better.
17542 Is that what I hear, or have you thought of new ways in which this so-called revitalization can occur?
17543 What you're quite particular about, or specific, is don't give them more licences for radio networks. Don't give them more licences for other services, and you have specific reasons why that shouldn't be. That's been heard from others as well.
17544 What we hear less about is what do you do to improve it and revitalize it? What kind of push can the Commission give the CBC towards that goal because otherwise, I would take it that other than not giving them more licences, and not allowing -- there are specifics that I will discuss with you later about sponsorship on radio, et cetera, a level of Canadian content -- but what are the specifics as to one of the very important core services, of course, is television. What should be done or should we just continue in the same vein that we have been in, and we will get revitalization?
17545 MR. McCABE: Well, it seems to me that it is important to not only characterize our proposals with respect to not granting them other licences in the negative. I mean, it's important because what we are saying is -- and what you can do is require that they concentrate their resources in those services.
17546 It is possible to characterize that in ways that which is don't give them licences, which can be seen to serve our interest. It is also possible to characterize it as a key strategy for in fact strengthening and revitalizing those services by saying concentrate the resources there.
17547 The other question in a sense is very difficult for you and for us, and that is every player in the English television marketplace is out there, trying to distinguish its service from the other players and highly-skilled programmers are doing that. I don't think it's within our powers or yours to in effect --
17548 We would not choose to, I think dare to try to sort of program the CBC in that way, but to suggest to them what kinds of programs. I think in some general areas, one can. One can say that they should be more Canadian. I think Canadian films, as the Minister of Heritage suggested, is an area which they could be seen to be different because many of these may not be suitable and generally, in the reports we have seen, are not suitable for broadcast on commercial channels.
17549 I think that in changing their emphasis in the sports area from as much professional sports to more amateur sports, as they have suggested, although they don't seem to be suggesting to cut down on the professional, merely add some amateur, that sort of thing starts to give them a distinctive look.
17550 It seems to me generally that if your commission to them is that they be distinctive in the marketplace, that they be a service that brings the programs to a wide range of tastes, but in fact is required to seek out and ensure that those tastes may not be met by private broadcasters are indeed met and served.
17551 I think some general sorts of guidelines can be given, but I think it's very hard to program in the sense that the networks themselves do.
17552 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Mr. McCabe, since you haven't made any particular suggestion as to what kind of regulatory push the CBC could be given from us, which you are very experienced at regulation and we are delighted with the help we can get from private broadcasters in how to manage their businesses, can I ask you then what's your reaction to some of the suggestions that have been made?
17553 I see you have already been critical of "Forrest Gump", being bid up in price, presumably by the CBC. Do you think there should be some reduction in the number of non-Canadian films aired on CBC?
17554 You have raised the issue of sports and the need for more amateur sports. Should the Commission require some? Should it require a reduction in professional sports as a result?
17555 Other suggestions have been made about whether the Commission could give some impetus to the reduction in commercialization which in broad philosophical terms you don't think is the right path. Or should we just--
17556 What are your responses to what kind of regulatory direction should be given to effective revitalization, reduce the commercialization and ensure that we have excellent core services since you're against enhancing them by other constellation process?
17557 On these particular issues that you have raised or other people have raised, American films, sports, the amount of commercials and in what kind of programming, what are the CAB's views?
17558 MR. McCABE: First again, I would like to suggest that the extension into the constellation of services will constitute a drain upon the resources available to in fact strengthen the main services rather than being enhancement to the services.
17559 But in the areas you have suggested, I think that you might well be saying to them that they should make a greater effort in the area of Canadian film -- I think that -- and expose more Canadian films. I think that's not out of order for the public broadcaster.
17560 I think it is also possible for you to, and desirable for you to suggest a reduced dependency upon, in the course of that, upon American film.
17561 I think of the sports area. I mean I think that what can be suggested by you is, one, that they do increase their emphasis on amateur sport. Again, these amateur sporting events need not be unpopular. I think there is an interest out there in the country and I think that you can in fact suggest this to the CBC.
17562 On the question of professional sport, or let me complete the amateur sport, if I could. That is the question of the Olympics. I think here is an excellent opportunity for you to be suggesting to them that, in expectation, or whatever, that they explore means with the other broadcasters of the system, in the system, of ensuring that, of sharing so that Canadians see in effect more of the Olympics than they would on a single broadcaster, number one.
17563 Number two, that they investigate ways with the private sector of ensuring that we, in this country, don't bid the cost of the televisions rights of those games up to the point where we as a country pay excessive amounts, that some form of alternation or some such arrangement could well be useful.
17564 On the question of professional sports, again we have two groups of members here. One of them are the major networks, as you're aware, and others are CBC affiliates, and there's no doubt that on this issue, our CBC affiliate members would very much like the professional sports to continue and there may be another view on the other side, so I will pass on that one.
17565 On the question of commercials again, we have not offered a view that they should become, that they should have fewer commercials. We merely said that in the marketplace, they should not be, because they don't have a bottom line, they should not be a force for driving the market down, and that they should be responsible players in that marketplace.
17566 I don't believe there is anything the Commission can do about that. I think that's a function of the marketplace and I think perhaps in one occasion with respect to Newfoundland Television, you have said something about that. But I'm not sure that that's an area in which you would want to pronounce.
17567 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: You are addressing here particularly the level of commercial, the amount of advertizing.
17568 MR. McCABE: Yes.
17569 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: That we should not get into this area.
17570 MR. McCABE: Yes, yes.
17571 CONSEILLÈRE WYLIE: En français, à la télévision encore une fois, vous avez préconisé une "télévision distinctive, qui constitue une option distinctive -- je lis maintenant de la page 5 de votre présentation -- par rapport à la multitude de choix vidéo et audio déjà offerts."
17572 Au Canada français, quand on considère la position dans le marché de la télévision de Radio-Canada, est-ce qu'il n'y aurait pas danger, surtout au Canada français, de marginaliser Radio-Canada et aussi de réduire le choix, la concurrence dans le marché s'il y avait pression sur Radio-Canada pour offrir des choix vidéo et audio qui ne sont pas offerts par d'autres?
17573 MR. McCABE: I don't see why that necessarily follows, given that there are two other major broadcasters, private broadcasters in the marketplace, and it seems to me that within the range of programming that's available, that there ought to be an opportunity for three of them to be quite distinct.
17574 Perhaps Sylvie might add.
17575 Mme COURTEMANCHE: Nous autres, on ne croit pas qu'une programmation distincte va marginaliser le service mais plutôt offrir un complément de services ou un complément d'offre de programmation qui va être divers et qui va mieux répondre aux besoins de la population.
17576 Je pense que c'est ce que les gens ont dit. On ne veut pas nécessairement une télé publique qui va reproduire ce que les deux autres concurrents dans le marché feraient puisqu'il y a des raisons commerciales de le faire.
17577 Mais à ce moment-là, est-ce qu'on les marginalise? Est-ce qu'on dit qu'on a une télé qui ne serait pas écoutée ou qui ne serait pas pertinente? Je ne pense pas. Je pense que les marchés francophones ont toujours aimé les genres d'émissions d'affaires publiques, de séries dramatiques qui seraient disons pas nécessairement très commerciales mais très pertinentes.
17578 Je pense que vu le fait qu'il y a des appropriations publiques justement pour financer ce genre d'émissions-là, je pense qu'il est important de se dire oui, c'est important qu'elles soient pertinentes, qu'elles soient vues, mais il est encore plus pertinent, vu les fonds publics, qu'elles comblent ces parties-là du marché qui ne seraient pas desservies autrement.
17579 Alors, et quand on veut une concurrence dans le marché, je pense qu'il existe déjà là. Si on avait peut-être juste une télé commerciale au Québec et on avait un radiodiffuseur public, peut-être que le Conseil devrait être concerné de cet aspect-là, mais vu qu'on a deux réseaux commerciaux et on a une télé publique, je ne sais pas si à ce moment-là, on doit élever le niveau de compétitivité également parmi les trois.
17580 Je pense qu'il va y avoir une concurrence qui va être saine lorsqu'on a deux joueurs privés. La télé publique, elle arrive et elle complémente le tout, mais elle ne serait pas marginalisée parce qu'on le sait qu'il y a des émissions qui sont très, très...
17581 L'émission la plus écoutée au Québec, c'est bien à Radio-Canada. Le lundi soir, c'est bien à Radio-Canada.
17582 CONSEILLÈRE WYLIE: Ah oui, mais c'est souvent justement des dramatiques qui attirent de grands auditoires, qui attirent les auditoires à Radio-Canada aussi et qui ne sont pas exactement une option distinctive par rapport à la multitude de choix vidéo et audio déjà offerts. Quand on sait que les plus grands auditoires sont justement dans certains créneaux...
17583 Mme COURTEMANCHE: Dans certains créneaux.
17584 CONSEILLÈRE WYLIE: ... et qu'il y a souvent un réseau qui à ce moment-là distribue ou diffuse des dramatiques qui sont très, très populaires pour le marché francophone, bien qu'elles soient canadiennes.
17585 Selon votre optique, est-ce qu'il faudrait que Radio-Canada n'en diffuse plus et diffuse autre chose? Est-ce que c'est... Comment on atteint l'équilibre?
17586 Dans les grandes phrase, c'est facile à faire, mais quand on commence à examiner la période disons de sept heures à onze heures, qu'est-ce qu'on devrait voir à Radio-Canada, au Québec, considérant l'offre qu'il y a déjà dans le marché, sans cantonner ou marginaliser Radio-Canada?
17587 Là, c'est plus difficile d'essayer d'examiner quel genre de grille horaire envisage-t-on pour atteindre...?
17588 Mme COURTEMANCHE: Comme l'a indiqué Michael plus tôt, on ne voudrait pas, nous autres, programmer Radio-Canada nécessairement. Je pense qu'on...
17589 CONSEILLÈRE WYLIE: Mais nous non plus, mais de façon à aider ou à donner des indices quelconques pour atteindre les buts qui nous sont présentés en principe qui sont moins faciles à mettre en oeuvre.
17590 Mme COURTEMANCHE: Bien, je pense qu'il y a bien des situations qui ont été faites sur la télé anglaise qui se reportent à la télé française, entre autres le cinéma américain au Québec, on ne voit pas la pertinence. On pense qu'il serait plus important d'avoir du cinéma canadien, québécois sur la télé publique. Je pense que c'est un endroit où on pense qu'on pourrait différencier.
17591 Maintenant, est-ce qu'on pense qu'une dramatique populaire ne devrait plus se faire sur Radio-Canada? Absolument pas. Mais il devrait y avoir une variété d'émissions. Il devrait y avoir un ensemble, une offre qui répond aux besoins de tous les gens, qui est davantage le reflet de leur vie.
17592 Alors, à ce moment-là, c'est vraiment un éventail d'émissions. Il y en a là-dedans qui peuvent être populaires. On n'a absolument rien contre ça. On trouve ça, c'est très bon, c'est sain pour le marché. Mais on ne devrait pas dire à Radio-Canada c'est plus important que vos émissions soient populaires. C'est mettre ça comme l'enjeu primordial.
17593 Nous autres, ce qu'on dit, l'enjeu primordial, c'est qu'il soit canadien et qu'il soit distinct dans le sens que c'est quelque chose qui reflète, qui est plus pertinent à la population francophone qu'elle le serait à n'importe quelle autre population.
17594 Si elle est populaire, tant mieux, puis on espère que ça va être le cas, mais que ce ne soit pas l'objectif premier. C'est ça où on se concerne. C'est de ne pas être populaire ou plutôt d'être canadien, d'être un reflet du marché.
17595 CONSEILLÈRE WYLIE: Oui, ce commentaire-là, évidemment, la télévision de CBC en anglais a une certaine pertinence parce qu'on peut avoir des dramatiques. Si elles sont à 90 pour cent canadiennes, ça va être différent, évidemment, de ce qu'on voit ailleurs où il y aura plus de programmation américaine.
17596 Mais au Québec, ce n'est pas le cas parce que la canadianisation est assez avancée dans les deux réseaux.
17597 Mme COURTEMANCHE: Absolument.
17598 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Mr. MacDonald, you told us you were an expert on French television, so let me ask you, do you see a difference in what's needed to revitalize French television and English television, and to make it more distinctive and less commercially competitive, and more complementary, given the market circumstances?
17599 MR. MacDONALD: Well, Commissioner Wylie, I can really only draw on what I have seen in English television and how the CBC have changed the English television service by comparison to our observation in the Montreal market specifically and because of our own station there, because of bilingual tuning and of course in sharing information with our colleagues regarding programming and what is happening in the acquisition of programming.
17600 I think that Michael spoke about certain issues that have always been of great concern to the Association, i.e., the acquisition of movies like "Forrest Gump".
17601 You don't buy individual movies. You buy huge packages. As you know, they will use one program to drive a number of movies, and so having the CBC, or I should say Radio-Canada as a direct competitor in that acquisition is not what we consider to be complementary.
17602 Now, in English Canada, what has been happening in terms of the Canadianization of the schedule has, in our view, continued to very clearly differentiate the programming.
17603 Now, you asked earlier what would you recommend in terms of specific regulation? Our view has always been the minimum regulation to achieve the objective because I think we all recognize we don't want to get into micro-management, but the fact of the matter is that the CBC has changed their English service dramatically and we think that while there are a number of programs that are in the Radio-Canada schedule that are Canadian and do very well, we don't believe that they should be competing directly in those areas that we talked about earlier.
17604 If they were to move away from that, we would think that the counterpoint would be more Canadian programming that would fill a slot.
17605 MR. MacLEOD: Commissioner Wylie, if I might add something. It's just a comment you made that we wanted to be less commercially competitive. I don't think we have said that and it's certainly not the CAB's position that we want the CBC in their television services to be less commercially competitive.
17606 We are quoting Chairman Saucier, and I know it's a fine balance you have to walk. You have to be complementary and competitive because the reality is they still have this commercial support on the television side.
17607 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: I thought I just heard Mr. MacDonald say that he had a problem with CBC being very competitive and bidding for sports programming, for movies.
17608 MR. MacDONALD: Yes, he did.
17609 MR. MacLEOD: But the issue there is really that they have a large measure of public support from their appropriation, and that public support should not then be used to be bidding up areas that other sectors of the system could achieve the goal.
17610 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: But if you were sitting here for three weeks, I'm sure you don't want to, and you wanted to achieve that goal, how would you go about it?
17611 MR. McCABE: As I think we have already suggested, I think that in the area of films, for example, you can in fact be suggesting to them that the focus should be on Canadian films and not on major U.S. films.
17612 The aim is not to make them uncompetitive for audiences and for the advertizing dollars they need. The question is how they compete.
17613 I think our suggestion is because they have the public funds as a central part of their funding, that there is a responsibility to compete in ways that in fact are not primarily aimed at dollar, at revenues but primarily aimed at providing to Canadian audiences something that is Canadian and popular.
17614 Now, the result of that obviously has to be, the commercial result of that has to be that they have enough from the advertizing market that they were able to supplement their parliamentary grant.
17615 It is a question of the focus of the programming and of the management of the organization and I'm not at all sure that there are, as Jim has suggested, there are specific regulatory steps you can take other than indicating your expectations of the CBC and of its various parts.
17616 MR. MacDONALD: Can we emphasize, though, one point because I didn't want you to be left with the confusion between myself and Jim. The fact is that we have not advocated again CBC English getting out of television advertizing, nor are we suggesting for a second that CBC should only run programming that hasn't a chance of getting a viewer.
17617 We simply think that the kind of programming that they should run is a different style of programming and is very capable of being popular at the same time. I just want to make sure that we're not at all advocating that CBC should run only that programming that can't possibly draw viewers and therefore be commercially successful.
17618 They have a number of programs that are commercially successful, and by that I'm saying that generate large audiences, and large audiences generate large advertizing revenue.
17619 Our biggest concern on the advertizing front is where there is the use of public funding, $875 million, to effectively undercut the market in terms of the advertizing side or, in the alternative, to bid against the private sector in terms of acquiring rights to very general programming.
17620 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: In the absence of specifics, let me ask you a question, for your comment on a very specific proposal that I'm sure will make you all sit up, which is why don't we -- and has tickled Commissioner Cram's fancy -- which is a fact that new commissioners have new ideas to keep us on our toes, which is...
17621 MR. MacDONALD: Did you say fancy or fantasy? I was wondering if you had said Commissioner Cram's fancy or fantasy.
17622 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Fancy. Or had interested her, or piqued her curiosity or interest. Is that good enough?
17623 MR. MacDONALD: That's good.
17624 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Which is the idea that the Commission should press the CBC very directly in reducing professional sport or perhaps American film and of course, that would benefit private broadcasters and they should compensate the CBC for getting out of those fields.
17625 That's been suggested by at least one intervenor. What would be your reaction as the representative of private broadcasters to this wonderful idea?
17626 MR. McCABE: As I suggested earlier, we, in the matter of professional sports, we do not have, we do not take the position that they should be getting out of or substantially reducing in this area because we have members who are CBC affiliates who believe that sort of programming is an essential part of the program stream they offer to their audiences.
17627 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Is the problem, of course, and is why the range in discussion is always that whether it's the CBC or Global or TVA, there are 24 hours in a day and some hours where people watch T.V. more than others and if you want to be distinctive, do things that others don't do. If you don't get out of some of them, there are no hours left to do something distinctive.
17628 That's why I say generally what you end up with quite easily is the status quo, not revitalization or distinctiveness because you can't air some of everything all of the time and also be distinctive.
17629 I know it's a question of balance, but we have to come to terms with what are the specifics that would take some steps towards this revitalization which you oppose, so to speak, to the constellation idea of increasing one's coverage and reach of Canadians via additional windows, so to speak.
17630 MR. MacDONALD: Well, if I could just comment there, our concern--
17631 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: You are going to comment about compensating the CBC for getting out of programming?
17632 MR. MacDONALD: Well, actually, I had moved on to constellations, but our objection is for the constellations is concerned is a serious concern for funding and where is the money coming from?
17633 I mean, it's very clear that the Commission provided the CBC with a tremendous opportunity with Newsworld and RDI and in that opportunity was seen a chance to build on core competency of news, to build on synergies and a very generous fee was attached to that in terms of subscriber fees.
17634 Anyway, as Michael said in the presentation, when you look at 11 years later, this is still an operation that's losing $875,000 a year. So our concern is not so much that they shouldn't be in these areas. It has everything to do with the fact that there is every indication that this is not going to make more money. It's only going to drive further losses and that those losses are going to come directly out of the core service.
17635 We are suggesting that the money should be directed at the core service.
17636 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So in other words, if there were appropriations, sufficient appropriations to expand as well as improve the core service, you wouldn't have a problem with the additional windows for the CBC? To you, it's a financial--
17637 MR. MacDONALD: Well, it's driven primarily by a financial, but I think that we would want to look at it from a bigger picture point of view because to the extent that there's funding available in the system, I think what we said in our presentation is we are not chopped liver when it comes to the amount of Canadian programming that we produce and what we contribute to the system. Private broadcasters don't have access to an infinite number of dollars to help cross-subsidize our projects.
17638 If you're saying that, if you're asking the philosophical question where there's not a budget involved, probably the answer would be yes.
17639 But I think that our great concern is that to maintain the funding that is currently in existence, ideally to increase and make those funds available on a permanent basis. So if I bring it back to the practical sense--
17640 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Yes, but Mr. MacDonald, if there was sufficient appropriations to fund constellation, the difficulty of subsidies being poured into these new services would still remain, and the competition which you would say is unfair would be even more so because perhaps you wouldn't even have to change for the service.
17641 MR. MacDONALD: Well, this is --
17642 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: I know this is philosophy because it would require a lot of appropriations, but I am trying to see whether you concern is financial, is subsidization.
17643 MR. MACDONALD: Well, it starts with the financial, but it doesn't just end there, because clearly, in our view, the services that are proposed are duplicative to ones that we already provide.
17644 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Yes. Subsidization as between services is one level of subsidization. The other would be from further appropriations or funds.
17645 MR. MACDONALD: Right.
17646 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: I will now move on from this philosophical discussion to a few of the areas that you touch, which are much more where you are, much more specific.
17647 RDI and Newsworld rate increases, you propose that Radio-Canada and CBC increase their ad revenues instead of relying on a rate increase. And as other intervenors have proposed, as well, or argued, that Newsworld's and RDI's forecast on the amount of ad revenues are conservative.
17648 I am curious to know on what basis you have arrived at this conclusion. And also, to get your comments on whether the idea -- I think you quote one of the Commission's decisions or refer to one where the Commission, I think in 1994 or thereabouts, that services -- specialty services should rely on advertising. And I am wondering to what extent, with the further fragmentation and the addition of new services, this still remains as easy to accomplish for specialty services.
17649 MS COURTEMANCHE: Yes, thank you.
17650 In looking at the issue of rate increases, what I did is I went back and I looked at every single decision that the Commission had published with respect to an application for a rate increase and under what circumstances it did think it was reasonable to approve the request made. And there were a couple of key indicators in those decisions and what the Commission looked at in those previous decisions is it reviewed the advertising revenues projected by the specialty service to see whether these were reasonable.
17651 So I think as a normal course, when you are looking at the rate increase being sought by both RDI and Newsworld, I think that is a reasonable thing to do. You know, you should look at and say, "Hey, do these advertising revenues projected look reasonable?" I don't think so.
17652 What would be your barometer? Well, I think you should look at what other services get typically in the industry. So, for instance, CAB has noted that approximately 22 per cent of Newsworld's overall revenues come from advertising. But if you look at an industry average, it is a lot higher. It is more towards the 26, 27 per cent rate. So if you look just from an average basis, there is room for manoeuvring just there.
17653 Now, the other -- and the other thing, of course, is the Commission asks itself or asked itself in each previous decision, is that, you know, on balance, what is the best way to fund this service? Is it, once you have decided that the projections are reasonable, you still had this other barometer.
17654 And the other barometer was whether the source of the increased revenues, meaning the subscriber, is that's not reasonable in the circumstances. That kind of activity or that kind of funding that they are wanting to do with the increase should really be paid through advertising revenues, as opposed to being borne by the subscriber.
17655 So that's the kind of analysis you did in the past and that's the kind of analysis we think is relevant in the case of these two applications.
17656 Now, some of the things that CBC or Newsworld, as well as RDI, have said, is they want to advance their programming. They want to better it. For instance, Newsworld wants to expand its reporting news capacity. It wants to create a Network of video journalists, it wants to buy some trucks and other things of that nature. It wants to create national internship programs and so on and so forth. And what we are saying at the CAB is that okay, once you have done this exercise and you decide that, yeah, you know, that's an important consideration and the other factor, excuse me.
17657 There was a third factor in those decisions that the Commission considered is whether the programming conforms to the services mandate at a satisfactory level of service. So then you say, "Okay. I've looked at whether the projections are reasonable. I'm looking at whether who should fund it, subscribers or advertising revenues. And then I would look at the programming in general". Are they performing at a satisfactory level and if they are not, well, maybe a wholesale rate increase is justified.
17658 Now, in the case of Newsworld, I think most people agree that it is performing a satisfactory level of service, but you may ask yourself as a Commission in this case, well, you know what, their objectives that they are looking at, you know, expanding capacity to report news through these trucks and the internship program and everything else they have proposed, maybe you say, that's valid and it should be paid by subscribers. Then, we would say, fine, that's okay.
17659 But if you do use that kind of analysis and that kind of a justification, then what we say is that that same kind of analysis and justification should be open to all other specialty services. At that point, everybody else should be able to say and come to you and say, "You know what? We want to increase or advance our level of service because we think we can do some good with youth programming" and so on and so forth, or news gathering or Canadian drama productions and so on and so forth. "And we think it is reasonable for the subscriber to bear those costs".
17660 So that, in essence, is what we have said.
17661 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: My question was far more specific than that. It was -- and the Commission has used these tests in the past and I can assure you it will continue to examine what the increase is for and it has asked for greater breakdowns, financial justification from both RDI and the CBC.
17662 What my question was, was as the CAB and having some specialty services and so on, is whether, on a going forward basis, the Commission can still rely on advertising revenues growth to the same extent as it had in the past. I just wanted some comment, intervenors have talked about the conservative nature of the growth in advertising revenue, as well as the growth in subscribers, both of RDI and Newsworld, which has, according to these intervenors, leads to their revenue projections being low and therefore the need for a rate increase to keep quality.
17663 My question was very specific. Do you think that there will be a difference going forward in the ability to raise funds via advertising at the same rate, to apply the same growth rate as we have seen in the past considering fragmentation?
17664 MR. MACDONALD: In terms of total advertising, the market is not growing in the 4, 5, 6 per cent range total advertising as we have seen in the past. But what is happening within television is that the fragmentation, as you have pointed out is leading to a redistribution of the advertising within the television market.
17665 Let me give you an example. There is a hierarchy that television advertising is usually bought, starting with the national networks. CTV used to be at the table looking for approximately $150 million in revenue. Well, now CTV are at the table looking for about $750 million worth of revenue and offering their advertising on a fully integrated basis. Good marketing, smart marketing. I have no problem with it. But you can see that there is a very different approach.
17666 So, to answer your question specifically, the market continues to grow, total advertising. Total television is up. We think that by the end of this year it will be up about maybe 3.5 per cent. But, conventional television is going to be down this year, specialty will be up we think significantly.
17667 So mostly it is a redistribution of the pie and it is the ability of those with specialty services to sell a vertically integrated model that has been fairly successful.
17668 So CBC -- well, if they follow the CTV model as an example, would be selling all of their services in conjunction.
17669 Does that answer the question?
17670 MS COURTEMANCHE: Plus, just as an addition, both RDI and Newsworld have exceeded in the past their own projections, so --
17671 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Yes. I was talking about the future.
17672 MS COURTEMANCHE: Yes. No, no, no. But I was just saying that, you know, I think it is reasonable to assume that the fragmentation will have an impact, but where you are a service that is a known entity and you have some of the highest penetrations in the market, you are in a better position, as opposed to a digital-type service that will get very low penetration. Your ability to increase your projections are more limited.
17673 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: And to keep a higher growth factor.
17674 Now, advertising on radio, I don't know how closely you followed the proceeding, but I know that you are very much against sponsorship and so are a number of intervenors.
17675 You are aware that the CBC altered fairly dramatically its proposal for sponsorship to the extent that it would be particularly -- not be in scheduled programming and that any funds would be given to third parties and not to the CBC and it would be in special programming.
17676 Are you aware of these changes and, if so, does it make any difference to your position?
17677 MR. McCABE: We are not aware of the changes in detail but I think the view is that this is a slippery slope. It is all very well at this stage to make adjustments of this sort, but once you get in that game, the pressure is to become more effective at it.
17678 The evidence, I think, is found in the U.S. with public broadcasting where there has been a general consensus that in fact programming is affected by the -- and certainly, our experience is the programming is affected by the people who are paying for it one way or another.
17679 So I think whatever changes they may have made, and as I say, we are not aware of detail, do not, I think, change our opposition. We would say that is the beginning of a slippery slope. That may be where we are today, but 10 years from now, it will have transmogrified itself into advertising as we know it and love it.
17680 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So it would be fair to say that your position is very much based on the thin edge of the wedge argument?
17681 MR. McCABE: Yes.
17682 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: And the possible impact on choices made as a result?
17683 MR. McCABE: Yes, that is the case.
17684 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: One last question. French language vocal music on radio: There has been a request for a reduction by Radio-Canada and the justification for the reduction would be to give them greater ability to play vocal music that is Canadian but in languages other than French and English.
17685 You have, at page 27, that you don't have a problem with it if the shortfall could be made up by playing international music. Do you actually mean non-Canadian or do you mean international in the sense of a language other than the official languages of Canada? It is at the top of page 27.
17686 MS COURTEMANCHE: I do see that and I believe what we meant to say is that it didn't necessarily have to be Canadian music, but rather it would be music that could come from any source basically.
17687 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So you don't -- as long as it were French?
17688 MS COURTEMANCHE: No, no, no, no, no. The weekly minimum level of French vocal music from category 2, popular music, right. We were supportive of the reduction from 95 to 85 per cent. We are just saying that that particular shortfall could be made up of other sources, sources that don't necessarily readily get on.
17689 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So you wouldn't mind what sources? The reason I ask is a number of intervenors have said: We support that as long as what is used instead to fill that 10 per cent is not English and is Canadian. In other words, it would be Spanish but Canadian; African languages, Canadian. So my understanding is you don't mind if it is not that way.
17690 MR. McCABE: I think we have not suggested that restriction and --
17691 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Okay. So I understood correctly that you don't have a problem with what it is filled with?
17692 MR. McCABE: That's right. I think as long as it is not filled with, again, American music.
17693 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So the international would take off -- the U.S. at least?
17694 MR. McCABE: Often, it is used that way in this country, yes.
17695 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Well, we have had very specific proposals from other intervenors as to how to put fences around this reduction, if it were allowed.
17696 I don't have any further questions unless you want to answer some I haven't asked.
--- Laughter / Rires
17697 MR. McCABE: I think we have answered a number you haven't asked.
--- Laughter / Rires
17698 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Thank you very much.
17699 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, mesdames, messieurs.
17700 We will take a pause and be back at 5 past 11:00. Thank you.
--- Short pause / Courte pause
--- Upon resuming at / Reprise à 1105
17701 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Alors, madame Bénard, je pense qu'avant de commencer nous avons un document à déposer sur le dossier public.
17702 Me STEWART: Merci, madame la présidente.
17703 Simplement pour informer les personnes que le Conseil a envoyé une lettre en date du 7 juin contenant des questions additionnelles sur RDI.
17704 Merci, madame la présidente.
17705 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Merci beaucoup.
17706 Madame Bénard.
17707 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be by Mr. Patrick Watson.
17708 MR. WATSON: Madame la présidente, conseillers de la Commission, merci beaucoup. Je voudrais souligner au début que je suis ici devant vous ce matin en tant que citoyen privé. Je ne représente aucune institution ou société, ni groupe, ni lobby.
17709 I am a citizen who considers himself to have his citizenship very largely formed by the CBC. Some of my first recollections of what Canada meant are connected to radio programs that I heard just before the Second World War and during the Second World War, programs about the development of agriculture on the Prairies, programs about our war effort, a drama series called "Alfred Lanky"(ph) about a Canadian air crew in a Lancaster bomber during the war.
17710 I remember the puzzlement with which I asked my father: What is that man saying at the end of the programs on the CBC when he says, "Ici Radio-Canada", "This is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation"?
17711 My father explained to me at that point and used as an instrument something about the cultural structure of this country. That was the first personal involvement with the CBC as a listener.
17712 My professional involvement began 56 years ago this fall as a radio actor in a full-time daily drama series and it was an enormously exciting and involving adventure for a 13-year-old kid to find himself going live on radio every day, learning the disciplines of broadcasting and beginning to learn some of the values behind the public service broadcasting that Canadian radio was at that time.
17713 When I walked into the television building on Jarvis Street in June of 1956 to sign my first contract as a television producer, I felt that I had come home, that I was where I belonged and where I wanted to be probably for the rest of my life.
17714 That changed a little bit for a number of reasons, but it was a great time, a time when we were still, we thought, inventing television and a time which was occupied with the concept of service, when television producers in, what was then called the public affairs service, would come with their lunches in brown paper bags and sit in the supervising producer's office for lunch and say, "How can we use this medium better to help Canadians understand Canada and the world and each other better?"
17715 That was what we were talking about all the time. It wasn't how to get audiences, it was how to serve them. We understood you couldn't serve an audience without getting it, but the primary concern was "how do we use this better?"
17716 My first great mentor, the late Ross McLean(ph), who invented so many forms in television and started the first ever Sunday night magazine program, "Close Up" in 1957, used to say to us, I was his -- they called me associate producer then, they call me the line producer, I guess, now. And there were a number of story producers and we would sit around and program meetings and present ideas with their budgets and their running time and what they would look like on the air.
17717 And there was always one final question and you better be prepared for that question and it was this: "How is this going to serve the audience", said Ross. And if you couldn't answer that question, you didn't get to do the piece.
17718 I am not here to reiterate what I have said in my written intervention, which, as you know calls for a radical change in CBC Television programming, both in French and English, but primarily focussed on the English programming service. I can't really say "return" to a form of public service that used to exist, because there have been too many changes to return to anything of 20 or 30 years ago. But a return to a concept of broadcasting which the overriding consideration is to serve the audience and which is not contaminated by a preoccupation as it now is, with commercial revenue.
17719 My purpose here is really to ask you to consider that in a way Bill Davis was wrong when he said it is not a watershed, I think we are at a watershed, or very close to it and that it could become a watershed and that the Commission and the at this time, are faced with the possibility of causing something to happen in public broadcasting in this country that the country very badly needs. And the risk that if something radical is not done, this great treasure that we have had, this great public broadcasting service, this experiment in making a contribution to the astonishing civil society that Canada has developed will slip through our fingers and vanish.
17720 La question la plus importante qui a été posée ce matin par les membres de la Commission était celle de madame Wylie quand elle a dit... elle a demandé au groupe qui m'a précédé: Quel genre de pression pourrait la Commission offrir à Radio-Canada? What sort of push, I think you said, Madame Wylie, can we give them? I think that's the key. It has to a shocking push.
17721 There has been a lot of polite exchange going on in this room. There hasn't been, to satisfy the emotional hunger of this Canadian, for an engagement with the process of renewing the CBC, nearly enough passion about the subject which I think we need to be passionate about. After all, it began as a dream on the part of some private citizens, like the late Graham Spry(ph), some people in government, nearly 60 years ago -- more than 60 years ago. A dream that we had to create something that belonged to the people, that was an instrument of Canadian self-understanding and self-recognition and self-expression.
17722 That was a bizarre dream. But it was pulled off and it has functioned enormously well. And it built, through the radio service a constituency that was loyal and passionate and quick to rise up to the barricades if there was any threat to that radio service. There is no such constituency for the television service now. I think there was 20 years ago, but there ain't now.
17723 So I think that the push that you can offer is to say to the CBC, without specifying how they do it, that's not your job, say to them, "We are going to give you a temporary licence renewal. We are going to ask the government to confirm that your licence be renewed for a short period of time", as you know in my intervention, I said six months, because I think if I were a programmer, that's what it would take me to come up with a credible strategy.
17724 "And during that period of time, your job is to come up with a strategy and convince us that you intend to follow it out, which will remove from your motivations the acquisition of commercial revenue, which will put service at the prime and which will say, We know how to do this. We know how to make the programs that will bring people to us. We know how to rebuild the constituency".
17725 You know, as well as I do, that there is almost no political will left in the Government of Canada to keep on dishing out hundreds of millions of dollars a year to a television service which Canadians find hard to distinguish from the private service. That will is eroded. Governments have seen the evidence that is absolutely unambiguous, that when the CBC's budget is cut and the cuts are taken out of the television service, the only people to complain with any kind of coherence are interested parties.
17726 The government can look at its financial requirements and say to itself, "You know, we could take a few hundred million and there will be no electoral risk, because the constituency is pretty well gone". So the strategic demand should be demonstrate, CBC, that you can make a television service that will rebuild the constituency. That means getting to audiences, that means being distinctive. That means constantly saying to audiences, if you don't know what we are doing, you don't know what's going on. You don't know your country, to the point where it becomes indispensable.
17727 If you let the opportunity slip through your fingers, I think you will have betrayed a trust.
17728 I am quite happy to answer questions.
17729 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Watson.
17730 Yes, indeed, your brief was brief but quite to the core of the questions and I would like to, maybe, with you this morning, try to get some more ideas of what could be, in your view, the push of the Commission.
17731 It could be, as you are proposing, a six-month renewal and kind of ask for a new strategy, but it requires parameters and in order to understand the impact of those parameters, certainly your experience of having been involved in television all your life and as Chair of the CBC for some years would be very helpful to us, if you would agree to pursue some ideas with us.
17732 I am first interested in your idea, given that you are talking about the fact that you recognize that the situation right now of the public support for the CBC is not to the level that would encourage a government to give new appropriations so that if ever we were to be in a situation where there would be less advertising, it is really on a short-term basis. It is certainly difficult to imagine that we would get more appropriation from the government.
17733 Given your experience, what do you see as feasible still reaching audiences and to bring that kind of service to citizens that you are talking about and that high quality of programs and distinctiveness. How do you see that possible and feasible?
17734 MR. WATSON: Well, there are some quite obvious technical devices available. A group of producers and executive producers at the CBC went to the present CEO shortly after he was appointed and said, "Here's a strategy for getting out of advertising". It has to do with an enormous increase in the amount of repeats that you run, particularly on major programming. Their particular strategy was also to shorten the broadcast day so that the daily expenditures are reduced just because the plant is operating less.
17735 Other strategies have to do with the reduction of bricks and mortar and hardware and the letting out of production services to the private sector, which hand in hand, all of these devices can make it possible to continue to put out a distinctive service within the Parliamentary allocation.
17736 You will find, if you go and canvass the people who are managing the specialty services, for example, like Bravo!, Discovery, History Television, Vision TV, et cetera, and you go to those managers and you say, "If you had the Parliamentary allocation but no advertising, could you create for us a distinctive service?" and they say, "Could we ever". And if I was 20 years younger, could I ever. It is a wonderful challenge.
17737 The whiners will say, "Oh, yeah, but we will be marginalized and we won't be able to attract audiences". Well, that is whining, that is wimpishness. Programmers who love to make programs -- and let me say, the programmers who love to make programs love to get people watching their programs, that's a prime motivation, you are not producing in a vacuum -- love a challenge. There are all kinds of programmers in the CBC whose management is not letting them rise to that challenge because the management is saying, it has got to be commercial revenue, it has got to be commercial revenue.
17738 As you know, there is no souplesse left in the schedule, because they are so locked in to the commitments to advertisers that the network can't respond to a national emergency or to a national event in which Canadians need to come bear.
17739 A small example, when that 13-year old boy in Saskatchewan, Gerald Duech, was told by the medical and judicial establishment that he was going to have his leg amputated, whether he wanted to or not and that he was not capable of making a decision about that, Canadians were really upset about that.
17740 I think we had a wonderful opportunity, at that point, to consider the nature of liberty in our civil society by having a huge discussion on national television. And I will bet there were programmers in the current affairs department who would have put together a national discussion that would have been electrifying.
17741 But there is really no way you can do that because you are committed to advertising. You can't respond. That is not expensive programming, madame la présidente. That is very inexpensive programming. It can take up important blocks of network time, but that is not my job and it is not your job to tell them how to program.
17742 Michael McCabe was right: We shouldn't, the intervenors or you, be programming the CBC. We should be putting to them the challenge: Can you do it? And if you can't do it, you better face the fact that your support in Parliament, your support at Cabinet, your support amongst the population is eroding and pretty soon you won't be there anymore. That is the shocking message, I think, you have to convey, if you agree.
17743 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the kind of flexibility and openness you are talking about, isn't it the one that the CBC has given itself through Newsworld and RDI?
17744 MR. WATSON: To some extent, yes. But they are cable services and, as yet, they are not universally available. Also, they are marginalized because they are specialty services. They are not the CBC's or the public of Canada's declaration that this is what we are primarily all about.
17745 The job for the CBC is to say: The programming we are putting out is what we perceive to be the concern, not just for serious subjects like the one I just mentioned, but for laughter, for satire, for music, for the enlightenment of the spirit. These are things that we, by our intellectual and emotional intercourse with the country, have determined can enrich our lives and conserve our audiences -- going on all the time.
17746 Flexibility of the schedule is a part of the technique of arriving there. It is not an objective. It is an important part of the technique.
17747 THE CHAIRPERSON: I would like to understand and I apologize if I push a bit here, but you know that the question of advertising has been raised over the hearing.
17748 It has been said mainly that the private broadcasters -- and when we were, even at the Commission, kind of raising that question, that we could be even in sympathy with that. I have said many times that it is not sympathy; it is just that we have concerns and we are trying to get really answers and an understanding about the situation.
17749 Given that you are not a private broadcaster, you cannot be accused of that. You have been within the CBC. I would like you to tell us how you see the impact of advertising kind of distorting the attention from serving the citizen to getting more commercial revenues, if I understand you correctly.
17750 MR. WATSON: The prime purpose of advertising -- it is a very important component of our society and when I talk about it, as I am going to, in a negative way, it doesn't mean that I hate advertising or wish it would vanish. The prime purpose is to press certain buttons on our psyche so we won't do certain things, i.e., buy stuff.
17751 Among its basic instruments are very subtle and brilliantly designed psychological devices that suggest to us pretty powerfully that we will be more sexually attractive, more successful, more happy if we buy stuff. That is how our society works and it has a very good side to it.
17752 Having travelled and worked and filmed in countries where advertising is forbidden, such as Moammar Gadhafy's Libya, I tell you it is a pretty bleak society and I would not want to live in it. One of the things that I would miss is advertising.
17753 However, advertising to a very large extent, and particularly on television where it is not simply a display of goods and services available with their prices attached and here is how you can get them, but rather the subtle, emotional manipulation of us and going at some of our less humane and less desirable and less refined instincts, the purpose is to manipulate us. That's fine. It has its place.
17754 The purpose of broadcasting in the private sector is primarily to provide, to deliver, meet in the forum of human beings in front of television sets in a condition of mind where they will be available to that kind of advertising message. It is a wonderful thing about broadcasters in the midst of that environment in the commercial broadcasting world. You find some superbly useful programming all the same. But ultimately, the function of the commercial program is to deliver audiences to advertisers. That is the function of it.
17755 There is another set of values in our society that we recognize in a number of institutions, such as our schools and our judiciary and our Parliament and the free associations of human beings across this continent which De Toqueville identified 150 years ago as being the bone and muscle of a real democracy, people coming together freely to discuss what really matters to them and to change their world and take command of it.
17756 Those values should be recognized constantly and be in the forefront of what the public broadcaster does, not the values of the advertiser. The values of the advertiser now dominate and that is a spiritual affront to a civil society trying to find its way into a better world.
17757 You have seen how governments in the Western world, for God's sake, are so preoccupied with financial concerns, with the bottom line, the fiscal probity, that you don't hear our political leaders saying anymore what they said when I was a boy in the midst of a fearful war: We can do things together. You hear governments saying: But we have to watch the bottom line. That is no way to unite a people in a common purpose.
17758 Pierre Chevalemen(ph), the Minister of the Interior of France, said to a group of journalists two years ago when they were asking him about immigrant labour and what should be the conditions under which an immigrant becomes a citizen of France:
"Perhaps it is time for us to discard the old concept of the old ethnic stock, la vieille souche, and to say to ourselves, the condition of citizenship, dorénavant, dans la France du nouveau siècle, serait le partage d'un projet commun."
17759 Five simple words that are just so -- almost banal, but think of what they mean. If we could say to ourselves: Our citizenship is the sharing in a common project, and if we could expand that notion of citizenship to world citizenship, well, we should be able to dream like that through our public broadcasting service and be dreaming like that all the time and making fun of ourselves for dreaming about it in a satirical way and singing about it and dancing about it.
17760 This is a forum -- I am asking that the public broadcaster become ultimately, first and foremost, a citizen -- not a vendor, not a marketer, not a procurer, but first and foremost, and in a sense, only and always: a citizen.
17761 Ask them to tell us how they are going to do it. But if you agree that this is a worthwhile objective, I think you will find that there are dozens, tens, hundreds, thousands of people who make and contribute to programming who will say: I know how to do that.
17762 I think you have to say to them: Hey, we are not telling you to go off and program for little slices of audience here and there. We are asking you to make programs that are so compelling that they become, as I said earlier, indispensable.
17763 We have done it. That is what the hell "This Hour Has 7 Days" was all about 35 years ago, where we said to the management of CBC: 14 and 15 per cent of audiences, and there were only two channels in those days, watched public affairs programs. That is a waste of public funds.
17764 We have to find a way to engage them, to make them care. So they have to be there in front of the screen. We did it. It wasn't all that hard. You just have to say: That is our objective.
17765 So I am not asking -- and this whining about being marginalized, for God's sake, when you are being asked to be special or adult or like a citizen, that is whining. That is wimpish. It makes me embarrassed to hear some of my former colleagues whining about being marginalized when they have an opportunity to rise above all that muck and turn the institution into something that will be a treasure for the world, as the radio service is.
17766 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Watson, you talk about the reorganization of -- what was the word that was used yesterday? There was a change of morphologie that one of the intervenors talked about.
17767 MR. WATSON: Is that an English word?
17768 THE CHAIRPERSON: I don't know. It is definitely a French one. If we forget that part, but knowing that there are choices that management can make -- and there are always choices -- do you think and do you see that the kind of CBC you are proposing or the kind of challenge you are proposing here has still a very strong component of in-house production or is it because I hear your comparison with the specialty channels?
17769 Of course, in the specialty world, in most of the cases, it relies heavily and with a lot of success on the independent production sector. Do you see that the CBC, in your vision, in what could be a new strategy, would have more collaboration?
17770 MR. WATSON: Well yes, the CBC strategically has moved in that direction radically, and by the way, not of its own initiative but under pressure from this Commission and governments who said: Look, you have to produce more in the private sector.
17771 Like the BBC, the CBC for a long time held the view that only it knew how to produce programs, and when independent people came and said we have a great idea, they said: Right, come and work for us, rather than we will contract with you. So more and more is being contracted out, and on the whole, it is working very well.
17772 As a producer of programs myself, I have a prejudice that says that if you are going to commission programs you ought to know how to make them. I would be very reluctant to see the CBC evacuate its production capacity totally. I think it is good to have some producers in the house, but the producers in the house should not be commissioning programs outside.
17773 The programs should be commissioned by program commissioners who go to an in-house producer because she is very good or they go to an "outhouse" producer -- an out-of-house producer because she is very good so that you don't have producers competing in an unfair way. There is a conflict of interest there.
17774 I believe that if you are in the business of manufacturing cars, you ought to know how to drive, so to speak, and you ought to know something about machinery, and some hands-on experience in the house will probably give a corporation a better capacity to judge costs, program quality, production values and all that kind of stuff.
17775 So I am not one -- as an independent producer, I am a little unpopular with some of my colleagues because I keep saying: Not all the programming should go outside. Most of it.
17776 That having been said, I don't see much value in having a lot of hardware, studios, cameras, et cetera, et cetera. As you know from my intervention, I have even questioned the continuance of terrestrial transmitters, but that is not something I am qualified to pronounce on. I think it is a question that has to be asked.
17777 So among the techniques for reducing costs, by the way, would be, I think, to free oneself of overheads in the form of real estate and equipment because the country has developed a terrific production capacity in the private sector and the CBC can hire that as needed. When you reduce the number of programs you are going to originate every year, increase their quality and broadcast them more frequently, it makes a lot of sense to go and find your facilities and probably a fair amount of your talent outside.
17778 That having been said, I think if you are going to have the network suppleness that I have talked about that allows the Corporation to respond, either dramatically or in terms of forums bringing citizens together with greater flexibility, you probably have to keep some in-house facility so that you can get it at the drop of a hat when you need it.
17779 THE CHAIRPERSON: Tell me: In your brief, you refer to that but more in articles that you have published recently, where you say that your perception is the CBC is trying to be something for everyone and you are critical of that. You say:
"It makes no sense for a broadcaster to try to be everything." (As read)
17780 Where there was a strong presentation from the CBC and the SRC and the fact that it is being a generalist and being a public broadcaster, it is very important that they do reach everybody, and you talk about serving the citizen. Can you tell us more what you mean there please?
17781 MR. WATSON: I think there is a certain disingenuous quality to the CBC's declaration that it wishes to be something for everybody. It does not wish to sell rhinestone trinkets. That is something that television does quite effectively and uses a lot of cable time to do. It does not wish to run meretricious game shows in which the prime interest for the viewer is vicarious satisfaction of greed. It doesn't do that.
17782 Thank God it doesn't do that. It has very, very strict and well policed policies about the portrayal of violence. It does not wish to serve those people who wish to sit and masturbate over a violent pornography presentation. They are part of the everybody.
17783 So it is not true that they wish to be something for everybody. They wish to be, when they are really talking about what we could only do if we really had the -- they really would like to be television for citizens the way radio is.
17784 Now, radio reaches an enormous wash of demographics across the country. The CBC Radio service gets into the little communities, brings farmers and intellectuals and ballplayers and musicians and jerks and -- all together. And we hear about them. We meet them and we develop -- if you listen to the radio, you develop a terrific affection for Canadians and an understanding of what it means to be a citizen and what Canadians worry about, what their ambitions are and what we can laugh about and what we sing about.
17785 That isn't necessarily something for everybody. Let me ask you a rhetorical question: Would it be a derogation of public responsibility to produce broadcasting for adults? It's a question I leave hanging in the air. I am not sure what the answer is, and I, myself, have said that in the new profile there should be more for children.
17786 But the children of the television age are very adult. I have had the experience of going around the country showing the Heritage Minutes that we make, now 66 of them. And screening them for and discussing them with people of all ages. I have often found kids much quicker to decode the very compressed, dramatic and narrative content of a Heritage Minute.
17787 Example, when I had in rough cut the Heritage Minute about Joseph Tyrrell walking through the Badlands in Alberta and stumbling across a row of oval teeth sticking up out of the shale, I was showing it to a lot of people, because in rough cut it was a bit cryptic. What the hell was going on here? We don't say very much. And about 22 seconds into the piece where we see Tyrrell out on geological survey looking for water tables and minerals and all that stuff as part of his job as a geological surveyor, he stops for lunch, he is munching on a sandwich and on his theodolite looking at him is a lizard.
17788 Now, that was very deliberately put in there as a foreshadowing. No adult I ever showed to it picked up on it. Kids said, "Hey, this is going to be about dinosaurs". That's simply by way of saying children raised in television age are audio/visually extremely smart, sometimes smarter than you and me.
17789 So I am not sure that a carefully designed program schedule intended for adults is going to miss children. Remember that adults have an enormous range of sensitivity and intelligence. Some of it not very highly developed, some of very highly developed.
17790 The television broadcaster is challenged to find a way of doing programs that can reach a large number of people and television broadcasters are very good at that.
17791 So I am kind of attracted to the idea of broadcasting for adults. And I think we ought to consider that. But that's not, perhaps, something you, as a Commission, can say. And I don't think that you, as a Commission, can say a whole lot more than that general proposition I have put out, you are not going to get a licence in perpetuity to keep on doing what you are doing, you have got a short period of time to come back to us and say, "Here's how we are going to become a public broadcaster unequivocally".
17792 THE CHAIRPERSON: I have a question about radio. You haven't talked much about it in your brief, but in one of the articles you put in as an Appendix to your brief, there was mention of the radio.
17793 You are saying about radio that you wish there would be more funds restored to the radio because it is really a truly recognized treasure and that it has still that kind of value and mission implication that you see serving the citizen.
17794 What are you thinking about in terms of, it is not only about dollars. What do you see that could be the developments to be restored in radio that are missing right now?
17795 MR. WATSON: Oh, it is just I am talking about the enrichment or the reversal of the -- is there a verb for "povertyizing"? The reversal of the trend to go punish radio when television is in a loss position. It just seems to me to be politically idiotic when you have a service that has a strong constituency to so erode it to the point where that constituency is beginning to get irritated.
17796 Rather than, when there is shortfall, take some of it away from radio, I think the corporation would be much more astute if it got into a heavier pattern, let us say, of repeats on television and make the compensation that way.
17797 A couple of years ago when the radio service discovered that through a management fault they had lost, what was it, $3 million, I forget exactly what the sum was. The head of English Radio at that point courageously said, "It is our mistake, we will swallow it". I don't think the corporation should have allowed him to swallow it. I think it should have said, "We have an obligation to the viewers, not to you as a failed manager or not to ourselves as accountants. We have an obligation to the viewers -- to the listeners to maintain this service" because it is a service that is continuing to hold its constituency.
17798 I mean, this whole thing is about constituency, madame la présidente. If the government can say to itself there is no constituency for the public television service, how can we blame it for weakening that service or for eliminating it? Why should it go on.
17799 I mean, as I said in my brief, part of the reason for the confusion of Canadians about the CBC and what they saw last night, a great Canadian program and where they saw it, part of the confusion comes from the fact that funding is going out to the private broadcasters to produce programs that look very much like programs that are seen on the CBC, and some of those programs are programs of very high quality, no question about it.
17800 I mean, my own personal eccentric view is that in an ideal world there would be no obligation on the private broadcasters for Canadian content whatsoever. The obligation would be entirely on the CBC and it would be funded appropriately. That is not the will of the public or governments at the moment, so we have got to make do with what we have.
17801 And as I said to you, I think in my brief, a conceivable strategy is to close down CBC television and put all of that function out to the privates, but in a way that gives you an identifiable time slot. You know, on CTV every Wednesday night is public broadcasting night, and on Global, every Saturday night, or whatever.
17802 It is not unlike the approach that has been taken in Britain with Channel 4 where an obligation has been put on the private broadcasters to produce programming of certain standards of excellence out of their revenues and put them in a particular place. In that case it is on a channel. And I think that is best.
17803 I mean, I think if you have a corporation that is composed of people who are passionate about the country and passionate about what they do and have no distractions about managing hardware or about producing revenue, you are going to have a better service.
17804 So I would really like to see the CBC, despite my mischievous suggestion in the MacLean's piece that it be closed down and we start again, I would like to see a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television service in English and French, but one that is radically revised.
17805 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are talking about innovation, as well. And you were talking about the passion in the years that you started with the CBC and reminiscing about "This Hour Has 7 Days". It kind of, is also when television was being created, it is not that many years ago, but still, it was about not only creating the CBC and answering to the citizen, it was also about inventing television altogether.
17806 When you talk about innovation in 1999, that we have the, some would say, the wide array and quality and others would say the plethora depends on different qualifications, but we are many years after, what do you think is innovation?
17807 MR. WATSON: Innovation is not technical so much, although there will be some technical innovation that is not unimportant. Innovation is responding imaginatively to the changing face of our country. The machine remains the same, we change. And the innovative programmer is like the pot. He finds new expression that electrifies you.
17808 So it just really the deployment of and the honouring of -- and incidently, amongst those honours, the paying of the imagination so that the programming comes from people who are out there risking their person, their reputation, their skills to do something that is a little bit different from what has been done before and raises the bar, pushes the project a little bit forward. That's what innovation is.
17809 It is not an old idea -- I mean, it is not a new idea, it is an old, old idea. It is honouring the imagination instead of what is the traditional television and cinematic version, which is to repeat what you have done before because it is profitable.
17810 So, as you know from my brief, I am urging that the CBC take a lot of risks in programming and be prepared to say to a producer, "We want you to design something that will do a whole new job here and we will take the risk that it doesn't work, but you better do your damnest to make it work in terms of getting people to watch it. But we will -- if it doesn't work, we will try something else. If it does work, it might not be a bad idea, once it is built to the level where it can reliably draw audiences, to put it up for sale to the private sector, get a little revenue back from program sale and go on and try something else nobody has tried before".
17811 What's wrong with that? That's a very good role, it seems to me, for a public broadcaster to do to take some of the risk that is inappropriate for the private sector who work on margins of profit that they have to be very careful about to satisfy their shareholders. What about the public broadcaster doing some of that risk taking?
17812 It is kind of interesting to put some experience like a National Research Council of the air.
17813 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's like doing the experimentation --
17814 MR. WATSON: Some of it, yes.
17815 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you are talking immediately after about incentives to be found for creators and producers so that they reach audiences. Isn't there a risk if, you know, every time they are very creative and although the corporation itself makes revenues on the sales, they are not in the capacity of hanging on to what they have created. You know, it is gone and they will have the gratification that it is somewhere, but they have lost the sense of the appropriateness and the belonging to it.
17816 Do you see --
17817 MR. WATSON: Look, if a producer consistently delivers -- and Madame Pennefather, as head of the National Film Board has had the experience of this with some producers who became so involved in the interior of their own heads that they lost -- and the CBC has had lots of experience, then you do not reward those producers. You say, "Well, your stuff may be very interesting to you, but it is not interesting audiences, so maybe you better look for another line of work, or maybe we better put you into a different harness here".
17818 I think that you have to do two things at once and it is difficult, but it is by no means impossible. That is, you encourage the risk and you encourage people who have a demonstrable capacity to do programs that people want to watch to risk a little more broadly. There is no contradiction there, it is happening in film all the time and people sometimes lose their shirts and then sometimes there is a blockbuster that is really new and innovative and it transforms the world.
17819 THE CHAIRPERSON: But there is more direct gratification. The filmmaker is more in direct line with le rayonnement de son film where, within the corporation like the CBC, aren't you at such a distance that it would be difficult to create that kind of a --
17820 MR. WATSON: I don't think there are very many producers of programs, writers of books, or directors or actors who want to perform in a vacuum. It is not difficult to find out how many people are watching you.
17821 One of the irritations I used to have as Chairman of the Board of the CBC came from members of the board of directors who somehow had the idea that the only way we will know whether our programs are working is whether advertisers are buying space on them. That's nonsense. There are all kinds of measurement devices out there to know if the programs are working.
17822 One of the important ones in the long-term is whether you have a constituency that will stand up for you when you are in difficulty. I mean, look, I know this is a bit self-indulgent, but when the then management of the CBC decided to cancel "This Hour Has 7 Days", that issue was on the front page of Canadian newspapers for six weeks in a row every single day of the week and it came out of citizen groups who said, "For God's sake, keep the program going". And there was a Parliamentary inquiry named by -- commissioned by Prime Minister Pearson to inquire into how the hell the CBC could have made up their mind to ditch a program that the citizens wanted.
17823 There are ways of finding out if you are being watched. And there are ways of rewarding producers whose programs demonstrably bring people in and I think the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has an enormous obligation to bring people in. But it also has an enormous obligation to dare, to, in some cases, serve specialized audiences who are not getting served other how, as is done through Channel 4 in Britain, which again entails some experimentation.
17824 These things can co-exist and they can contribute to building a constituency which will allow Canadian Citizens -- with a capital "C" -- Citizens who care about how the country works and want to get their fingers into the mechanism and the meat and the muscle and the grass and the turf and the forest and the rocks and the water of this country, to do that vicariously through broadcasting.
17825 It is a very important function for us to be able to feel our country through the broadcasting medium -- and by the way, don't let me give the impression that CBC doesn't do that. It does a lot of it. There are marvellous programs on the CBC. But too many of them are buried in this confusion that derives from the preoccupation of advertising revenue.
17826 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let me ask you a last question. You are proposing, for the CRTC to the CBC, a short renewal. We will agree on something: we are not here to manage, neither to program in place of, but we have conducted a long process where we have had many interventions and many ideas.
17827 The strategy that the CBC has prepared is this one here. It is a strategy. We may agree or not agree, but they have put a lot of imagination, work, effort.
17828 Aren't you afraid, with your approach and position, that if we were to say to the CBC, whether it is six months, four months, a year: Go back to the drawing board. They have given us what their vision is and their vision is this statement.
17829 MR. WATSON: I think your obligation is to say to them: It is a rotten vision. Go back to the drawing board. You are not doing it right. You are on the wrong track.
17830 That is what -- you are hearing a lot of that across the country from citizens.
17831 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, we are hearing all kinds of things, you know. We have been on the road for many months and to say that it is not right and what would be right and when will we -- if we were to go that route, at one point, we would have to say: Yes, this is the right one.
17832 What would be the right one then? You know, what would be the parameters to kind of circumscribe what would be, in your view or in your vision, what would be a good strategy, for instance?
17833 MR. WATSON: I could devise one if that were my job, but that is not your job. We have just agreed to that. Your job is to say to them: You are not building constituency. You are not manifestly doing what the public broadcaster -- come back with a strategy that satisfies us that you can do this. It is not beyond the realm of human imagination. If you want me to do it, I will do it, but I don't think it is my job.
17834 As you know from the paper I wrote when I was Chairman, "Distinction or Extinction", there is a very detailed elaboration of a programming strategy designed to build a constituency. That was an appropriate thing for me to do when I was inside the institution. But right now, the people who are to do it should be the people inside the institution.
17835 There is an awful lack of leadership and I greatly fear that when the government appoints a new CEO it will once again appoint a person who is comfortable with the government and may improve the image of the government but is not a person who is intended to give the institution strength and focus and leadership and direction. That is a terrible fear. You share it. I will bet you do.
17836 It is a helluva difficult job to fill and I don't know how many people would want to take it on right now, but I bet there are people out there who would take it on and would bring to it imagination and focus and commitment and the kind of active existential citizenship that could bring the place up out of the confusion that it is now in.
17837 "Confusion" is the big word. A lot of wonderful stuff but lost in the midst of a lot of confusion.
17838 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would I -- est-ce que je trahirais votre pensée, other than many ideas you have put on the table, if I was to draw from your intervention and the passion that animates you that you are very concerned and the worst concern you have is the loss of constituency from the CBC, at this point, that they have lost their constituents?
17839 MR. WATSON: I think it is largely lost. My great fear is that this entity which shaped my life and which I love profoundly, now more as an idea than as a reality, is going to vanish and vanishing will leave the country with a big black hole that will be very difficult to fill.
17840 THE CHAIRPERSON: But that is not the case of radio? You make the distinction in radio.
17841 From your knowledge, French and English, would it be the same kind of --
17842 MR. WATSON: I think the principles are the same. I think la concurrence, dont les intervenants avant moi parlaient ce matin, avec les diffuseurs privés dans le marché surtout de Montréal, est une situation très mauvaise.
17843 The idea that Radio-Canada should be out bidding against the privates for running a movie like the "Titanic" is, in my judgment, close to criminal, a criminal misappropriation of the energy of a public corporation. That is not their job and you know why they are doing it. It is spelled R-E-V-E-N-U-E.
17844 I cannot tell you how many times when I was Chairman I said to program managers: Here is a great idea. This is what we should be doing -- how many times they came back and said: Yes, you are absolutely right. But you know what? It would mean a loss of advertising revenue. Over and over again, that is the reason given. That is the great source of contamination.
17845 THE CHAIRPERSON: So maybe it is the advertising firms we should have here sometimes?
17846 MR. WATSON: Maybe -- well, no, no -- but then you open up the risk of telling advertisers what to do and I don't think you want to. You are not in that business.
17847 THE CHAIRPERSON: No.
17848 MR. WATSON: It is your basic levels of taste -- it would be very interesting to see a government agency trying to regulate honesty in advertising. We make some attempt at it but the real dishonesty in advertising is that which communicates to us that we will be sexually more successful if we buy the thing. This is a huge lie. A great deal of advertising does it.
17849 I don't think you can regulate that and I don't think you should. But you can talk about it and one of the values of a public broadcaster not in the prison of the advertising matrix is that it can say to people: Hey, look at what this advertising is doing. It is telling you that your penis is going to get bigger if you buy this car. What do you think about that? Who is doing that on television now? Why not? It is an important part of discourse.
17850 Television is telling us that a major genocide is going on in Yugoslavia right now. Why are we so preoccupied with white middle-class people in Yugoslavia when the continent of Africa is committing more genocide than has ever been committed in the world? Where do you see those pictures on television? What are our newspeople thinking about?
17851 I mean, look, there is just a whole lot of stuff that is not being conveyed now about the values of the civil society in our country and in the globe and the challenge of bringing the globe together as one collaborative world. That is the stuff we need to be doing. You do it partly through dance and music and drama. You do it through all kinds of ways but you do it all the time.
17852 The opportunity is fabulous but it won't get done if the guy -- here is what a senior Vice-President of the CBC said to me five weeks ago: You know what is wrong with the television service? The people running it are primarily motivated by wishing to play in the same sandbox as the guys from Hollywood and New York. Not a good reason for running a public broadcasting system in Canada.
17853 Cela suffit?
17854 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Cela suffit.
17855 M. WATSON: Merci.
17856 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Merci infiniment, monsieur Watson.
17857 Ms Bénard.
17858 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
17859 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, Mr. Morrison.
17860 MR. MORRISON: Good morning, Madam Chair. Patrick and I live on the same street but that is all we have in common.
--- Laughter / Rires
17861 THE CHAIRPERSON: All I have in common with private broadcasters is to raise some concerns that are similar. That doesn't mean I have the same opinion.
17862 MR. MORRISON: I will note that but I take your views into consideration.
--- Laughter / Rires
17863 MR. MORRISON: My Chair, Noreen Golfman, who is a Professor of Film Studies and English Literature at Memorial University, was to have been here with me, but with the change in schedule, she just couldn't be here and we apologize. This was not to be a one-man show.
17864 THE CHAIRPERSON: We apologize for having changed the schedule.
17865 MR. MORRISON: The FRIENDS would like to congratulate the Commission on the decision to undertake
"...a wide-ranging review of the role that the CBC should play in the Canadian broadcasting system."
We think your initiative is timely and appropriate.
17866 In this brief statement, we want to focus on five issues among the many that are before you and in fact the many that concern us.
17867 The first is regional expression; the second is commercial revenues and government grants; the third is programming independence; the fourth is around the CBC Board of Directors; and the fifth is on the issue of diversity.
17868 Another former provincial Premier, who is not appearing before you but who wrote you, Peter Lougheed, who is currently the Chancellor of Queen's University, we thought he had some fairly valuable advice in the intervention that he penned for you on the 4th of May. Just to quote, in brief, he said:
"Our CBC service has been essential over the years to keep in touch with developments everywhere in Canada, and here at home..."
"Our country's heterogeneity is its strength -- but also its vulnerability..."
"I urge you to place foremost in your priorities the importance of strengthening CBC's local and regional presence."
17869 No one who listened to members of the public speak out during your March outreach meetings could have any doubt how much CBC's audiences cares about CBC's capacity to:
"...reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions." [Broadcasting Act]
17870 The public has told you clearly that CBC management's recent cost-cutting strategy, coping with recent budget cuts by dismantling regional programming capacity, must be halted and reversed.
17871 Their message: The quality and quantity of regional programming on radio and television must be bolstered; and it is time to reinvest in CBC's regional capacity.
17872 FRIENDS is urging the Commission to impose conditions of licence to ensure that Section 3(1)(13)(ii) of the Broadcasting Act is fully respected by the Corporation during the ensuing licence period. I am referring to radio and television services here.
17873 In the words of Pierre Juneau's Mandate Review Committee:
"Our view is that the CBC will not be able to 'contribute to shared national consciousness and identity' if people from various parts of the country do not hear or see themselves on CBC. The CBC cannot be truly national if it is not strongly rooted in the regions. By that we mean not only that the regional radio and television stations of the CBC should be able to contribute to network programming, but also that they should program for the particular needs of their regions."
17874 FRIENDS urges the Commission to raise with the Corporation several specific recommendations of the Mandate Review Committee on regional program activities, including:
"The CBC should reallocate funds from non-programming sources to strengthen its regional program services."
"The CBC should give its local management far greater flexibility in developing programming suited to the needs of each particular region."
"The CBC should continue to provide a strong local news and current affairs service in each community, but should focus on being a clear alternative to the private sector."
17875 Our confidence in these recommendations has been reinforced by the results of a recent COMPAS poll which we commissioned. Last month, COMPAS asked a random sample of 1,000 Canadians:
"Some private broadcasters are urging the federal government to get the CBC out of making television news programs in your part of the country. Would you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose this idea?"
17876 The result was: 6 per cent strongly supported; 16 per cent somewhat supported; 29 per cent somewhat opposed; and 47 per cent strongly opposed the idea; 4 per cent had no opinion. In other words, 22 per cent supported; 76 per cent opposed.
17877 Obviously, regional programming costs money and when I think about the preposterous idea of extracting $200 million, for example, from the English Television Network, I ask: What about the priority of regional programming?
17878 On to the question of commercial revenues and government grants.
17879 First, a word on introducing commercial sponsorships on CBC Radio. I am conscious, Madam Vice-Chair Wylie, of your comment this morning about the changes to the CBC's proposal. But in the proposal as it was before the public at the time when COMPAS asked this survey, they found that 53 per cent of Canadians and 59 per cent of CBC Radio listeners believe that introducing commercial sponsorships would change the nature of CBC Radio programs. We agree with them.
17880 We also agree with Juneau's Committee, who told the government three years ago that:
"If the CBC must continue to rely on a high level of advertising revenue, it will never be really distinctive; it will not meet its obligations to provide a quality alternative to commercial broadcasting; and it will not contribute to 'shared national consciousness and identity.' It will continue to be torn between its cultural mandate and its commercial imperative."
17881 However, having witnessed the coordinated, self-serving and broadside attack on both CBC and SRC Television from the Aspers, les Péladeaus and the Lamarres of Canadian broadcasting in recent weeks, we want you to know that the Canadian public is not on side with their position, nor with our own.
17882 Attached to our statement is a new Compas Inc. report from last month's poll, and by the way, read it at your leisure, it also gives high marks to the work of the CRTC.
17883 But in that poll, Canadians reported their views on advertising on CBC Television. Compas asked:
"As you may know, CBC television gets about half of its revenues from government and about half from advertising. Which of the following two statements best represents your own opinion?"
17884 And the first was, and they rotated these for fairness:
"In order to fulfill (sic) its mandate as the national public broadcaster, CBC television should limit the amount of advertising it airs."
17885 And the second:
"In order to reduce its need for public funds from government, CBC television should try to maximize its revenues from advertising."
17886 You will see this reported on pages 6 and 7 of the attached Compas report.
17887 Thirty-eight per cent of Canadians opted for limiting the amount of advertising, while 58 per cent opted for maximizing revenues from advertising and only four had no opinion.
17888 FRIENDS points out that commercial revenues have been in the CBC's gas tank since day one. And as Perrin Beatty has told you, a recent survey of public broadcasters in 23 countries shows that 17 of them benefit from commercial revenues.
17889 Every year, the Treasury Board approves CBC's commercial estimates and includes them in the government's main estimates. These commercial revenues reflect longstanding government policy. Therefore, changing this dependency -- and we think it should be changed -- will require a change in Canadian public policy.
17890 As Michèle Fortin has ably pointed out, cutting CBC and SRC Television's access to commercial revenues without ensuring a net balance by increasing revenues from other sources is just another cut by another name. CBC's Chairperson has recently told the Reform caucus that CBC has no plans to ask the government for more funds in the coming years.
17891 Those of us who disagree with her position -- and we are not alone, Compas found that 38 per cent of Canadians would advise their MP to increase funding to the CBC from current levels -- we have an uphill task.
17892 Our key message to you is, don't interfere with CBC and SRC Television's access to commercial funds, unless and until you are prepared to phase in a reduction in advertising revenue after obtaining the government's agreement to increase CBC's operating grant to ensure a net balance of revenue. To do otherwise would be to compromise the corporation's capacity to invest in other priorities, principally, in our view -- and the most expensive -- strengthening regional expression in Canada.
17893 I would just add temporarily that I have noticed that the Commission has worked very hard and it is like pulling hen's teeth to extract more financial information from the CBC during the process of this hearing. The transparency that is required of the corporation in making the financial information available is more than we have seen so far and I congratulate you for your efforts and to an extent, the results.
17894 The third matter, programming independence. FRIENDS is concerned that recent changes in the procedures of the Canadian Television Fund, which have removed CBC's access to 50 per cent of that fund, violate sections 35(2) and 52(1) and (2) of the Broadcasting Act, two sections which guarantee CBC's arms' length control over programming.
17895 By putting the fund's decision makers in a position to make decisions as to what programs the CBC does and does not broadcast, the government has begun to influence programming decisions at the corporation in contravention of the Broadcasting Act's guarantees of CBC programming independence. We ask you to look into it.
17896 A brief word on the CBC Board of Directors. We are greatly disturbed by reliable reports that the current Board of Directors has overstepped the boundary which ought to separate governance and management. This concern was reinforced as we watched the CBC's Chairperson occupying a role that would have been more appropriately filled by management in taking most of the airtime responding to your opening questions on May 25.
17897 Compare for a moment her performance with that of the Chair of CTV when that organization has recently appeared before you. FRIENDS urges you to question the corporation's leadership as to appropriate boundaries between the governance and management functions.
17898 We also urge you to interest yourselves in the question of the CBC Board appointment process. Of course, it is beyond your jurisdiction. Are those people, who are appointed through the current method, the best and the brightest that Canada has to offer for the governance of its premier cultural institution? How does the partisan connection of the majority of its directors with the current government affect CBC's arms' length status as a national public broadcaster.
17899 We draw to your attention in this regard, the recommendations of the Mandate Review Committee which we have quoted on pages 15 and 16 of our May 5th submission. Pierre Juneau, who is here today, will note that somebody certainly reads reports that he writes. And we urge you to raise these questions with the government.
17900 Were the government motivated to reform the appointment process, in addition to the BBC model, we commend to their attention, the appointments process of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the CSIS Review Committee, the Quebec Human Rights Commission or the University of Toronto.
17901 And finally, diversity. While CBC may have a better record than most private broadcasters in reflecting diversity, FRIENDS believes that the corporation should be required to commit to a detailed plan of action which will ensure that the full range of its public services, programming and operation, reflects Canada's diverse cultural and racial nature, as well as Canada's Aboriginal reality.
17902 FRIENDS recommends that your Commission require of the CBC as a condition of licence, that they present a detailed plan for the Commission's approval by a specified deadline and to report annually on steps taken to attain the plan's goals.
17903 The Commission might well consider this type of process as a model in forthcoming licence renewal hearings for other broadcasting licensees.
17904 Thanks for the opportunity to put our views on your table.
17905 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
17906 I would ask Vice-Chair Colville to ask the questions.
17907 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Thank you very much.
17908 Good afternoon, Mr. Morrison, welcome to our proceeding.
17909 Just three issues I would like to pursue briefly with you. The first being the issue of commercial advertising, the second the regional issues that you raised initially in your brief today, but was in your written submission, as well. And finally, that last point you raised on cultural diversity.
17910 I guess this commercial issue is obviously a struggle for you now. I mean, I was struck by paragraph 28 of your written brief where you said:
Living under this commercial imperative, CBC television has largely abandoned whole domains of public service broadcasting territory, including children's programming, science, history, the performing arts, series, drama and thoughtful current affairs, discussion and analysis.
17911 And you went on to suggest that this is a topic we should focus on in our questioning. And then you have presented to us today the results of the survey that was conducted on your behalf by Compas and I presume it was the FRIENDS largely who framed the questions that would be posed?
17912 MR. MORRISON: We identified the issues that interested us and we took direction from the pros around how to frame them in a way that creates an answer that is credible.
17913 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: I guess I was struck -- I am looking page 7 of your oral presentation this afternoon, just now. The way the question was posed and I guess I am curious to know -- and I am thinking about Mr. Watson's comments about the constituency for the television service in particular.
17914 The question was posed, and I assume this is not paraphrasing, this is the way the question was posed:
"In order to reduce its need for public funds from government, CBC television should try to maximize its revenues from advertising."
17915 And 58 per cent opted for maximizing revenues from advertising. I guess my question, what does that tell you then about the public attitude towards the CBC as a public institution?
17916 MR. MORRISON: We are talking public attitude, so I will try to stick to the facts of the evidence here, rather than just Ian's opinion.
17917 First, I would like to point out to you that if you would just for a minute turn in this report that we tabled for you this morning, if you would turn to page 6 and if you would go above the question on advertising on CBC, Commissioner Colville, there is, at the top of that page, hopefully we are on the same page here --
17918 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Page 6.
17919 MR. MORRISON: -- at a section that says "CBC Resources".
17920 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Right.
17921 MR. MORRISON: Okay. And over the course of perhaps, I guess it is four years, on several occasions we have commissioned Compas to ask a question which gives you an objective measure of the opinion of Canadians about public funding for the CBC, it is reported at the top of that page.
17922 Over those years, it is a theoretical situation where your Member of Parliament taps you on the shoulder and says, "You know, there's a vote coming up in Parliament, I would like to know, do you think the CBC should have the same amount of money it has now? Should it have less money or should it have more money?" And that question has been tracked over a number of years.
17923 There is a marked change in the public response in 1999 where the number of people who say -- the per cent of people who say that CBC should have more money has risen up to 38 per cent. The number who say it should have less has gone down to just 8 per cent, the majority still favour the same amount.
17924 Compas framed that question, their evaluation is that the public mind is moving away from what Mr. Davis referred to this morning -- or was it some other witness -- around the preoccupation with reducing deficit, et cetera.
17925 So number one, the public favours strong public investment in the CBC according to these data.
17926 Then, number two, this question that you have referred to, I might have worded it a little differently. The professional people at Compas felt it was important to go out on the limb and make that statement in the way they did in order not to load the question. And what I take from it, generally, is read in the context of the preceding question that Canadians want their CBC funded adequately, they want it to receive public funds and if it needs private funds, as well, they are quite in favour of advertising as a way of funding it.
17927 Our steering committee is not in favour. We would like to reduce CBC's dependency on advertising and you have quoted from our brief which represents accurately our view. We are influenced in our statement this morning by the coordinated efforts of a number of private broadcasters to take a swing at the CBC in this regard.
17928 But I have just one more thing to tell you, which is factual, and this goes back to a survey we released two weeks ago. We have also tracked the level of support for CBC Television, and here I am in part, I suppose, contradicting Patrick Watson, I think there is a danger of saying CBC Television -- and I am speaking of the English side here -- CBC Television does not have a strong constituency of support. I think I am quoting him accurately and not distorting.
17929 We have found when we went to the people and posed a series of questions and I have got the material before me and I would be happy to share it with you, that when asked to choose which is the most important and makes the biggest contribution to Canadian culture and identity, consistently two-thirds of Canadians say television rather than radio. And I have before me the data which show, among Anglophones, 60 per cent say CBC Television, 30 per cent say CBC Radio. Among Francophones, 64 per cent SRC television and 22 SRC Radio.
17930 So I think there is a -- it is an element of a big lie, perhaps that is exaggeration, but it is an oft repeated statement that there is no support for CBC Television. It is not true, it is not visceral, it is not as strong. I think you are experts on it, because you held, in effect, focus groups around the country for a number of weeks. But it is there and it is important it is recognized, and we believe the public does support CBC Television. It is a little bit like President Truman who said, "Everyone is against me but the people".
17931 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: I take it that the FRIENDS view though, if I look at the position in your written brief, contrasted to the results of this survey where 58 per cent opted for maximizing revenues, I would take it your view is that the CBC should not take that approach to maximize revenues from advertising?
17932 MR. MORRISON: We would prefer that -- I think here Mr. Davis expressed this very well, and I would just say he represented our thinking.
17933 It would be appropriate for the Canadian Parliament to fund the national public broadcaster adequately and to reduce its dependency on commercial revenue. If the Canadian government chose to do that and thereby helped its friends in the private broadcasting industry, that would be fine.
17934 What we are concerned about is the preposterous idea that you could run either of the television networks without their commercial revenue and still do anything like the kind of service that the public expects.
17935 I draw to your particular attention the local and regional -- I'm almost finished -- the local and regional capacity. I noticed, in a great respect for Mr. Watson -- I don't want to get into criticizing you, it is just a different point of view -- I don't think he used the word "regional" once in his presentation to you, nor did I find it in his written remarks. It is not a priority in his -- I was going to say "firmament", but that would imply constellation. But it is a priority to a lot of Canadians and it needs money to fund it.
17936 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: You commented about getting out of advertising to help FRIENDS in private broadcasting. I take it, though, your position, FRIENDS' position, is that in principle, in an ideal world, the most appropriate situation for the public broadcaster would be to depend on public funds given your point about living under this commercial imperative?
17937 MR. MORRISON: Yes. But since you and I would probably agree that there will be no ideal world, we are living in this real world and we think that the movement should be away from the present degree of dependency on public funds which has been brought on by successive governmental cuts to the CBC, particularly under the current government in violation of a formal written election promise to the contrary.
17938 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: My last point on commercials.
17939 I take it with respect to radio, even with the new proposal that CBC came forward with, that your response would be to just say no?
17940 MR. MORRISON: Yes. But the slope has become so small that I'm not sure that anything would slip on it -- to play with the imagery that Commissioner Wylie was drawing from the CAB earlier. It has become less of an issue in view of the way they have defined it. After all this business about how sometime 10 years from now there will be nothing but selling soap on the CBC, your Commission stands between the status quo and the CBC's proposal and that undesirable final result.
17941 So we are still opposed to it but, understood, the way the CBC has redefined it, we are less vehemently opposed to it. It is no longer as high a priority for us in our use of your valuable airtime here today.
17942 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: But the CBC has asked us to amend the definition as it applies to that sort of sponsorship programming in order for them to be able to do more of -- you know, like the Saturday afternoon Texaco at the Opera.
17943 MR. MORRISON: Yes. To do something in a Canadian context would be similar.
17944 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: So we have to make a decision. We either make that amendment or we don't, based on the request --
17945 MR. MORRISON: Well, our advice is no, but we will be much less upset with you if you don't agree with us than we would have been before.
17946 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Okay. Let's look at regional for a minute.
17947 Again, in your brief, at paragraph 42, you talk about and you have mentioned this morning about regional programming. I guess we and the CBC have looked at this from two perspectives: one is programming from the regions that goes on the network, and programming within the region that reflects that region back to itself.
17948 You have suggested that we should place a high priority on this theme and to impose conditions of licence to ensure that this particular issue was addressed.
17949 You have gone on to say:
"The CBC should reallocate funds from non-programming sources to strengthen its regional program service."
17950 MR. MORRISON: If I'm correct, that was a quote from the mandate review.
17951 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: That's right. Yes, from the mandate review. But you picked up on that and I take it you are supporting that.
17952 Are you familiar with the particular proposal the CBC has put forward in order to begin to do more non-news regional programming?
17953 MR. MORRISON: I think I am. We think they are -- I mean, if it is in the material that the CBC submitted in their applications, we have, yes. If there has been something here at this hearing, I --
17954 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: No, no, no. I'm talking in particular of the approximately 22 to 24, depending on how you look at it, million dollar program over seven years to do, first, an initial half hour and then an additional half hour.
17955 MR. MORRISON: Yes. Yes. It's moving in the right direction.
17956 You heard, and you collectively heard -- I think it was either Commissioner Cram or Commissioner Wylie who was in Winnipeg and heard some very passionate statements from rural Manitobans who spent many hours driving in the cold of the month of March to talk about how they felt that they had lost quite a bit of Manitoba on CBC radio and television. That has been stated again and again.
17957 I think you will recall that this was one of our biggest preoccupations last year at your television policy hearings around the threat to regional broadcasting in this country.
17958 So I would like to say on behalf of FRIENDS as a group that we are delighted at the degree of attention you are addressing to this issue, that you have made it a priority question in announcing these hearings and you have provided a forum where a whole lot of Canadians have been able to tell you how important that is.
17959 We are pleased with the movement in the direction and, frankly, pleased with the movement within the senior leadership of the CBC who, after all, in the last few years essentially caused many of the problems that we are drawing to your attention by conserving resources and moving more towards, on the English side, a Toronto broadcasting corporation.
17960 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: I guess part of my question is: Do you think that is enough, when you referred to the mandate committee talking about reallocating funds from non-programming sources to strengthen its regional program service?
17961 We have talked about the new media initiative with the CBC and, as has been noted by a number of us, the CBC is proposing to spend as much on one year in new media as it would spend in seven years on this non-news regional initiative, and I guess with a lot of the issues that we are struggling with here -- I mean, I have been branded as the one who wants to get CBC out of sports. But it is a question of balance with a lot of these issues and I'm wondering whether you think that is an appropriate balance in dealing with those kinds of program expenditures.
17962 MR. MORRISON: It is a difficult choice because the villain here is the huge reduction in the resources of the corporation.
17963 As your Chairperson said in the opening press release, "We are aware of the resources of the CBC. What we want to talk about is other things." I'm aware that if I take that route I'm moving away from what your leader said the agenda was, so I won't do that.
17964 But it does strike me that if you had to ask, in our view, is it more important for the CBC to develop a vigorous, strong, internet portal or to be strong in its regional radio and television, we would put regional higher. But there was actually two or three things that the CAB said this morning that I found myself agreeing with and I don't think impoverishing the CBC's leadership in its internet portal is also a good thing.
17965 I recall once, I think it was at the new media hearing, that Chairperson Bertrand actually asked my view about this question of CBC internet and I guess I expressed the view which I -- unlike Mr. Watson, I can't just speak for myself. There is a constituency.
17966 Notwithstanding all our criticism of the CBC Board of Directors, Commissioner Colville, it is after all ultimately their call. We want them to be the strong, vigourous Board they ought to be, but it is their decision if they want to invest that 2 per cent in the internet.
17967 Therefore, what does the CRTC do to sort of answer the underlying question? We say push them hard: conditions of licence, establish benchmarks. Don't just bless what they say. Let them know that you, as the interpreter of broadcasting policy in Canada and the watchdog for Parliament on those goals in the Act, have to push them further into the regions than they have hitherto planned to go.
17968 So you should be influencing the magnetic field in which they take those decisions.
17969 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Okay. Last point.
17970 Many people have suggested to us over the last few weeks that all of Canadian television, including the CBC, probably doesn't reflect the face of Canada very well, and you have noted the issue of diversity, both in your written brief and your oral brief here today, and have suggested that we have, as a condition of licences, the CBC come back with a specific plan and then indeed we would perhaps use that model for all of the broadcasters.
17971 I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on what you think the key elements of that plan should be?
17972 MR. MORRISON: I would like to endorse -- I wasn't personally present, but I had a chance to read the comments of Daryl Duke who was here yesterday. Am I correct that you questioned him?
17973 He is very eloquent from his home town Vancouver on how the media in general, and CBC in particular, do not reflect in their programming the reality of the exciting multicultural community. He is speaking for a lot of us. In fact, he is a member of our steering committee. He is speaking for a lot of us when he makes that statement.
17974 If you are asking mechanics, it seems to me that I'm not able to get too technical, nor is it probably desirable to do so. I think that it should be a strong enough request of the corporation that there is not a lot of wiggle room for them and that they have to, in a specified time -- you and your staff would know better than us what is reasonable, perhaps you would even negotiate with them, but you would, in effect, by condition of licence, force them to come forward with a substantive strategy and then to report on it.
17975 That is the concept that we wanted to lay before you.
17976 I think it is not the first time I have told you that our particular group has a lot of trust in the Commission's judgment for the best way to do something, and we think that it probably is important that it be done well because it could apply to other elements of the industry. It is the principle behind it that we want to support.
17977 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: They have mentioned to us about -- I guess at the Banff festival, because a lot of the parties will be there -- I have forgotten the precise terms now, this terms of agreement or whatever it is they want to reach with the -- terms of trade -- thanks -- with the independent producers, do you think that should be an element of that sort of agreement that they have in terms of the kind of criteria that would be in place for productions that they would buy?
17978 MR. MORRISON: That's a very good idea. You should put it on the agenda for what is called the "CRTC Breakfast Banff Festival". Yes.
17979 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Okay. Those are all my questions. Thank you very much.
17980 Thank you, Mr. Morrison.
17981 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Morrison. Please give our salutation to your Chair who hasn't been able to make it today.
17982 Thank you.
17983 We will stop for lunch and we will be back at 2:00.
17984 Thank you.
--- Luncheon recess at / Suspension pour le déjeuner
--- Upon resuming at / Reprise à 1400
17985 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Bonjour, monsieur Juneau. Je m'excuse d'être en retard.
17987 MME BÉNARD: Merci, madame la présidente.
17988 La prochaine présentation sera celle du Conseil mondial pour la radio et la télévision.
17989 Monsieur Juneau.
17990 M. JUNEAU: Madame la présidente, je veux d'abord vous remercier, ainsi que vos collègues membres du Conseil, de m'avoir accordé une place dans cette importante audience et je devrais ajouter, avec une certaine pitié pour vous, cette longue audience. Je dois dire que malgré mes années dans le CRTC, on ne m'a jamais imposé la peine de tenir une audience de trois semaines.
17991 Je voudrais -- I will speak mainly in French but I think that there is an English copy of my remarks. I would also hasten to add that I am not going to read everything that you have. There are a number of cuts in the paper that may have been given to you.
17992 Madame la présidente, mesdames et messieurs, plusieurs intervenants qui ont comparu devant vous vous ont dit l'importance qu'ils attachent au rôle de Radio-Canada. Par conséquent, je n'ai pas l'intention de m'attarder trop longtemps à répéter ces choses très importantes par rapport au rôle que joue Radio-Canada dans notre pays.
17993 Je vais essayer d'insister sur un certain nombre d'autres points. D'ailleurs, à ce sujet-là, ce matin-même, l'Honorable Bill Davis a pris la peine de se déplacer jusqu'ici et je dirais de traverser la Rivière des Outaouais pour envahir un territoire dont il dit lui-même il ne maîtrise pas tout à fait la langue, mais pour venir, lui aussi, dire l'importance qu'il accorde à Radio-Canada.
17994 Je me souviens, quant à moi, quand j'étais au CRTC et où il était encore premier ministre de l'Ontario, cela m'est arrivé de le rencontrer quelques fois "privémment" et personnellement. J'avais été très impressionné, un jour, de l'entendre me dire sur un ton vraiment d'un père qui parle de ses enfants, l'inquiétude que lui causait pour l'éducation de ses enfants la pauvreté de la télévision commerciale américaine.
17995 C'était à l'époque où le Président de la Federal Communications Commission aux États-Unis, Newton Minnow, décrivait la télévision américaine qui le navrait, on le sait, et dont les programmes remplissaient nos propres écrans -- et ils le font encore dans une large mesure -- qui les décrivait donc comme a vast wasteland. On connaît tous cette expression-là.
17996 Mais ce qui est intéressant c'est de constater que, plus récemment, Newton Minnow est revenu à la pratique du droit. Mais ses préoccupations ne l'ayant pas quitté au sujet de la télévision commerciale des États-Unis particulièrement, il publiait, en 1995, un livre sur la télévision américaine, et les enfants particulièrement, qu'il a intitulé: "Lost in the Wasteland".
17997 Quant à Bill Davis, conséquent dans ses idées, il prit l'initiative, comme on sait, de faire naître, au milieu des années 60, TV Ontario qu'il ne cessa de soutenir. On l'entendait, ce matin, répéter à quel point il soutient TV Ontario et à quel point il espère qu'on ne transférera pas au secteur commercial cette remarquable institution, comme celle que vous avez présidé d'ailleurs, madame, au Québec.
17998 Quand je parle de service public, je ne parle pas uniquement de Radio-Canada, je parle aussi de toutes ces entreprises importantes de service public au Canada et ailleurs dans le monde. Je crois que le service public dans le monde est plus nécessaire que jamais et qu'il faut être intellectuellement engourdi par toute l'excitation autour des nouvelles technologies pour croire qu'elles rendront la télévision de service public moins nécessaire.
17999 Il faut voir aussi que si on laisse s'affaiblir le service public, ici et en Europe et dans d'autres pays où elle a fait sa marque, on risque de ruiner ses chances de réussir à s'implanter ou de progresser dans tous ces pays en voie de développement qui en ont un criant besoin.
18000 Quel modèle offrons-nous à ces régions du monde? Les pays du Nord, dont le nôtre, présentent-ils, à part de rares exceptions, l'exemple de vigoureux service public de télévision, des services qui peuvent servir à l'éducation, à la compréhension sociale, au développement et à la culture?
18001 Vous-même, je crois, avez accepté de prendre des responsabilités internationales. Comme présidente d'un forum sur la régulation, vous avez eu l'occasion souvent de vous en rendre compte.
18002 On peut revenir à Neil Postman qui a bien dramatisé ce qui menace ces diverses parties du monde. Si on se rappelle le titre de son livre, "Amusing Ourselves to Death", disait-il en 1985. Ce livre, aussi tant "Brave New World" de Huxley, il disait:
"People will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacity to think."
18003 La description la plus cynique de ce genre de télévision vient d'un ex-président de la Federal Communications Commission à Washington qui, pour contrer ceux qui l'embêtaient un peu en insistant sur le rôle social de la télévision, avait rétorqué:
"Television is only a toaster with images!"
18004 Les gouvernants, à l'origine, même aux États-Unis, ont dit que cet instrument de communication était trop important pour le laisser uniquement entre les mains du commerce et de l'industrie. Mais en fait, il faut constater que ce à quoi il voulait résister est peut-être en train de se produire. Le commerce en général et l'industrie du divertissement purement commercial a presque totalement co-opté les médias à travers le monde et on sait que dans toute l'Amérique du Sud, par exemple, il y a à peu près pas de télévision publique.
18005 On pourrait même dire que la télévision publique est une sorte de joyau rare dans quelques pays seulement dans le monde, en particulier, en Angleterre, en France, en Allemagne, au Canada, dans certains autres pays du Commonwealth, au Japon, mais qu'à part de ça, à part des tentatives dans les pays de l'Europe de l'Est, c'est vraiment l'exception dans le monde et il faut, je crois, s'en inquiéter, même quand on parle plus particulièrement de la situation canadienne.
18006 On s'accorde pour dire que malgré les problèmes inévitables, notre radio francophone et anglophone de service public se porte plutôt bien. Beaucoup de gens l'ont dit encore ce matin. Mais on ne cesse de discuter de la télévision. Les débats se sont intensifiés depuis 15 ans, au rythme des coupures budgétaires qui ont débuté en 1984: comité d'étude, éditoriaux, chroniques dans les journaux, audiences du CRTC, et caetera.
18007 Les opinions peuvent varier au sujet de la gravité des problèmes, mais ni à l'intérieur de Radio-Canada, ni à l'extérieur parle-t-on de la télévision comme d'une institution sur une pente ascendante. On peut admettre que ses dirigeants et ses artisans ont réussi à administrer des diminutions d'environ 400 millions $, et c'est seulement dans les dernières années parce qu'elles remontent à 1984, les réductions de budget.
18008 On réussit donc à administrer des diminutions de budget dans les subventions de l'État, tout en évitant les catastrophes. On a aussi réussi à augmenter considérablement la proportion de programmes canadiens. Convenons toutefois qu'on n'a pas assisté à une période de progrès généralisé et que les succès d'auditoires s'obtiennent quelques fois au prix de sacrifices pénibles quant aux niveaux de goût, même si on voit apparaître de temps à autre des manifestations de créativité qui suscitent l'espoir de meilleurs jours.
18009 Mais que de conversations attristantes et déprimantes avec les artisans de la télévision publique eux-mêmes et avec les plus ardents défenseurs de la télévision publique.
18010 Mes opinions personnelles n'ont pas changé depuis le rapport du "Comité des mandats" publié en janvier 1996. Je m'empresse de dire évidemment qu'aujourd'hui je ne parle pas au nom de mes deux collègues de l'époque. Je n'ai pas de raison de croire cependant qu'ils ont changé d'idée. Nous avons cru à l'époque, mes collègues et moi, qu'il ne fallait pas éviter de faire face au problème du financement de la Société Radio-Canada.
18011 Il y avait sans doute un certain mérite dans cette attitude et nous avons longuement hésité à prendre cette position. Mais la solution que nous proposions arrivait à un bien mauvais moment et cet aspect du rapport a malheureusement distrait l'attention de la question principale, à savoir l'orientation fondamentale de Radio-Canada mais surtout de la télévision de Radio-Canada.
18012 Ce qui donne lieu à l'affaiblissement de l'appui à la télévision de Radio-Canada c'est que souvent cette télévision doit mettre trop d'efforts à rechercher les cotes d'écoute qui permettent d'obtenir les recettes commerciales qui complètent ces budgets insuffisants. Cela n'est pas si étonnant si l'on considère que Radio-Canada doit recueillir, en recettes publicitaires, la moitié de ce que coûte sa télévision.
18013 Les recettes totales de Radio-Canada par rapport au budget total de Radio-Canada ne représentent pas la moitié. Mais si on regarde les recettes commerciales, c'est l'équivalent de la moitié du coût de la télévision française et anglaise. C'est énorme. C'est-à-dire que la télévision doit s'arranger pour aller chercher l'équivalent de la moitié de ses coûts en ayant par conséquent la programmation qu'il faut pour atteindre ce résultat.
18014 Mon successeur à la présidence de Radio-Canada, Gérard Veilleux, qui s'y connaissait, soi-dit en passant, en finances publiques -- il avait fait à peu près ça toute sa vie -- avait dit un jour dans une interview avec Peter Pearson(ph), qui a été reproduite à plusieurs endroits, dont "La Gazette de Montréal"... il avait donc dit un jour qu'on ne peut pas demander à quelqu'un de gérer un organisme de service public de télévision et de le financer à un tel degré par la publicité. C'est une citation à peu près mot à mot de ce que Gérard Veilleux avait dit.
18015 Pour apparaître de plus en plus indispensable dans le contexte actuel, il faudrait sans doute que la programmation de la télé de Radio-Canada soit plus nettement distincte de la programmation des chaînes commerciales. Ce n'est là rien de nouveau pour vous. En tout cas, vous savez que beaucoup de gens l'ont dit et ça été dit pendant 150 pages dans le rapport du Comité des mandats.
18016 Reconnaissons qu'elle l'est souvent, et beaucoup plus souvent que tente de le faire croire une campagne d'opinion encore plus ridicule que malhonnête. Mais dans l'ensemble, ce n'est pas assez évident, aux yeux de ses critiques, ni aux yeux de ceux qui décident de son sort.
18017 Le paradoxe c'est que ce sont les mêmes autorités gouvernementales qui, depuis des années d'ailleurs, ont établi la nécessité de recettes commerciales et qui, par ailleurs, déplorent le résultat inévitable de cette contrainte. On entend, vous le savez, des ministres qui disent que Radio-Canada n'est pas assez distincte, et c'est vrai... la télévision, c'est-à-dire. C'est donc un cercle vicieux dont il n'est pas facile de sortir, pour ne pas dire une spirale vicieuse qui va en s'envenimant.
18018 Sans un consensus dans l'opinion des milieux responsables englobant le CRTC, les autorités gouvernementales et bien sûr les autorités de Radio-Canada, la Société ne pourra pas sortir complètement de ce cercle vicieux, j'en suis absolument convaincu. Mais peut-être pourrait-on, ça je l'admets, opérer un plus grand nombre de brèches dans ce cercle vicieux, mais sans toutefois pouvoir en sortir complètement, qui illustrerait cependant une volonté claire et ferme de s'orienter dans une nouvelle direction.
18019 C'est peut-être que les gens de Radio-Canada sont tellement angoissés par cette situation dans laquelle ils se trouvent que cela les amène peut-être trop souvent à ne prendre qu'une position défensive. Mais il reste que cela s'explique assez facilement quand même.
18020 Le rapport de janvier 1996 suggérait aussi qu'on tente de s'inspirer du modèle de la radio pour réfléchir au virage à appliquer à la télévision. Il ne s'agit pas de copier bien sûr la radio. Constatons cependant que la radio de Radio-Canada tient sa place parmi les autres radios.
18021 En passant, quant à moi, je serait favorable au maintien des conditions de licence actuelles touchant la publicité commerciale à la radio de Radio-Canada. Si vous vouliez me poser des questions à ce sujet-là, on pourrait être peut-être un petit plus nuancé, mais en gros, c'est mon opinion.
18022 Nous n'avons pas proposé dans le rapport du Comité des mandats que la télévision publique canadienne abandonne toute publicité car le coût en serait probablement trop élevé, encore que ce serait souhaitable. Je constatais, dans la comparution de monsieur Beatty et de madame Saucier au Sénat qu'elle disait aussi que dans un monde idéal, elle préférerait que Radio-Canada n'ait pas à se financer par la publicité.
18023 Mais nous avons proposé une réduction graduelle et éventuellement très importante de la publicité et que cette publicité, ces recettes soient remplacées par des fonds public, comme c'est le cas en Angleterre, au Japon et dans de nombreux pays.
18024 Je crois qu'on continuera de tourner en rond et de reprendre continuellement les mêmes discussions sur la politique de télévision de Radio-Canada -- c'est ce qu'on fait d'ailleurs depuis longtemps -- tant qu'on n'aura pas fait face à ce problème et qu'on ne l'aura pas résolu. Il est inextricablement lié au problème de la qualité des programmes dont on parle avec raison.
18025 La qualité des programmes -- et ce n'est pas donc la répétition des arrêts de programmation par des messages publicitaires qui est le principal problème, c'est que le besoin d'aller chercher un si haut niveau de recettes publicitaires a un effet absolu -- bien, je ne dirais pas absolu; il n'y a pas de total bien sûr -- mais un effet énorme sur les programmes qu'on met à l'affiche. Je pourrais évidemment vous citer des exemples à ce sujet-là.
18026 La qualité des programmes bien sûr n'est pas uniquement une question de financement, mais il n'est ni réaliste ni intellectuellement honnête, à mon avis, d'ignorer les rapports entre le mode de financement et la qualité de la programmation et son caractère distinctif.
18027 La grande firme internationale McKinsey, basée principalement à New York mais vraiment internationalisée... ils ont leurs bureaux à Toronto, à Montréal, Londres, partout. C'est leur bureau de Londres, la firme elle-même et par l'intermédiaire de son bureau de Londres, qui a publié cette année une étude sur les divers systèmes de financement de la télévision de service public dans 20 pays, dont le Canada. L'étude démontre qu'il y a un rapport clair entre le système de financement d'une télévision publique et le caractère distinctif de sa programmation.
18028 Parmi les divers types de financement qu'elle décrit, elle conclut que le modèle actuel qu'on pratique au Canada est vraiment le moins bon et le moins susceptible de contribuer à une programmation distincte. Il y a donc un problème structurel et je vous avoue qu'ayant fait partie de discussions sur cette question-là depuis peut-être 30 ans au moins, le niveau de répétition devient un peu harassant.
18029 Il y a comme une inhibition à traiter de ce problème-là, ce problème structurel. Puis d'ailleurs, dans l'étude de McKinsey, j'ai pris le temps d'atteindre la maison McKinsey et l'auteur du rapport pour m'assurer que je ne faisais pas d'indiscrétion en le citant. On m'assure et j'en ai au moins une copie ici -- que voici -- c'est intitulé "Public Service Broadcasters Around the World". En fait, il s'agit de 20 pays. On m'assure qu'on peut l'utiliser à notre guise. Si vous voulez en prendre des copies, je mettrai cette copie volontiers à votre disposition.
18030 Elle démontre aussi que le financement public per capita de Radio-Canada, si l'on tient compte des deux langues officielles, ce que l'étude ne fait pas suffisamment, en passant... si on tient compte donc des langues officielles, des services aux populations autochtones et de la dimension géographique du pays qui augmente énormément le problème de la diffusion, donc...
18031 MME BÉNARD: Monsieur Juneau, est-ce qu'on pourrait vous demander de résumer? Vous avez dépassé par sept minutes le temps alloué.
18032 M. JUNEAU: Ah, oui!
18033 Donc, c'est aussi... j'ai dépassé par sept minutes. Oh! là-là.
--- Rires / Laughter
18034 M. JUNEAU: C'est donc aussi per capita... le financement de Radio-Canada est parmi les plus bas au monde. Là aussi, il y a des chiffres dans... il faut donc espérer que le CRTC, à la suite de ses audiences et dans ses conclusions, ne négligera pas de tenir compte de cette dimension de la problématique du service public au Canada.
18035 J'ajouterais juste, pour ne pas prendre encore plus de temps, que sur la question à plus courte échéance de réduire le temps de publicité ou le nombre de minutes de publicité à Radio-Canada ou de forcer Radio-Canada de sortir de certains secteurs de programmation, qui précisément rapportent de la publicité, il me semblerait une mauvaise mesure parce que je crois qu'elle accentuerait le processus de dégradation des programmes.
18036 C'est sûr qu'éventuellement il faudrait trouver... et c'est clair par les remarques que j'ai faites auparavant qu'éventuellement il faudrait arriver à un système qui permettrait de réduire considérablement la publicité à Radio-Canada et aussi qui permettrait à Radio-Canada d'être beaucoup plus sélectif dans sa programmation.
18037 Je pourrais là encore être plus précis en réponse à vos questions si vous en avez. Je vais donc m'arrêter ici. Merci.
18038 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Monsieur Juneau, je ne sais trop par quelle question commencer. J'en ai plusieurs.
18039 Je pense que je commencerais par demander, puisque vous nous l'offrez gentiment dans les faits déposés au dossier public, l'étude que vous avez, le résumé de l'étude de McKinsey, je pense que cela pourrait certainement enrichir la masse d'information. Mais s'il est vrai qu'on peut être inondé par l'information, il y a aussi dans cela, si on sait trouver son chemin, la voie des avenues de solutions aussi. Alors, merci pour nous offrir de partager cela avec nous.
18040 J'aimerais parler... parce que vous avez, plusieurs personnes qui viennent devant nous, du citoyen téléspectateur à monsieur Davis ce matin, des vastes expériences parmi les interventions. Mais vous vous avez été à la fois à la tête de CBC, à la fois à la tête du CRTC, à la fois le ministre des Communications, sans compter votre passion et votre vocation pour la télévision publique, pour votre implication depuis de nombreuses années, votre participation à ce fameux révision des mandats.
18041 Alors, si vous me le permettez, j'aimerais avoir de vous quelques suggestions qui, au-delà des principes, pourraient guider notre plume au moment de notre rédaction de décision.
18042 J'aimerais savoir comment vous entrevoyez les choses. Comme serait-il possible parce que d'une part, vous reconnaissez le besoin d'un financement adéquat pour Radio-Canada, et d'autre part, vous dites, en effet, la présence de la publicité crée une certaine distorsion dans les choix ou peut créer une distorsion, donc serait beaucoup mieux?
18043 Si vous étiez à notre place au moment de la décision et de la rédaction, comment voyez-vous que le Conseil en 1999, en regardant vers l'avenir, peut arriver à apporter dans son renouvellement pour la télévision une approche qui ne soit pas punitive mais bien créatrice d'un lendemain heureux.
18044 M. JUNEAU: Je pense que la position du Conseil est très difficile parce que certains intervenants ont raison de dire qu'il y a des choses à court terme... il y a toujours des choses qu'on peut améliorer à court terme. Il est possible qu'on ignore des gens de talents. Cela fait longtemps que je suis ce que dit Pat Watson. On se connaît depuis très, très longtemps. Mais la thèse que tout dépend du fait qu'on ignore des talents qui ne demanderaient pas mieux de s'exprimer à l'intérieur des contraintes actuelles, je pense que c'est une thèse qui ne tient pas. On sait qu'on n'est pas des anges.
18045 Alors, la position du Conseil est très, très difficile. Je pense qu'il pourrait quand même y avoir peut-être plus d'audace et je pense qu'il y a un sentiment de défense à Radio-Canada qui est tout à fait compréhensible. Cela doit devenir terriblement harassant d'être dirigeant de Radio-Canada à l'heure actuelle.
18046 Mais je crois vraiment que le système lui-même est fautif et que peut-être que tout ce que le CRTC peut faire... à mon avis, la meilleure contribution que le CRTC pourrait faire à l'heure actuelle c'est de bien analyser le problème. Il y a eu des périodes quand j'étais président, par exemple, le CRTC, dans ses décisions, exigeait des choses de Radio-Canada sans se préoccuper des moyens qu'avait Radio-Canada, mais vraiment pas tout à fait jusqu'à la fin, mais pour une bonne partie de mon mandat, je dois bien l'avouer, il y avait plus d'argent qu'on pensait qu'il y en avait.
18047 D'ailleurs, une chose qui nous a permis d'absorber les coupures, en 1984-1985, il y a eu un moment de coupures très important: 85 millions d'un seul coup. Une des choses qui nous a permis d'absorber ces coupures-là c'est qu'on avait déjà décidé qu'on couperait, nous, avant de savoir qu'il y aurait des coupures du gouvernement, qu'on couperait, nous, une cinquantaine de millions et on l'a trouvé sans trop de difficultés le 50 millions. Il y a eu probablement pendant une certaine... puis là, je pense que dans cette période-là, le CRTC pouvait ne pas se soucier, ne pas se mêler des questions de finances et dire: Écoutez, il faudrait que vous fassiez plus de ci, plus de ça, plus de programmes canadiens, plus d'efforts dans les régions, et caetera, et caetera. Cela pouvait peut-être nous irriter, mais c'était tout à fait normal.
18048 Mais je crois que maintenant la situation financière est devenue impossible. Elle n'est pas impossible pour survivre, mais elle ne permet pas, je crois, de remédier vraiment au problème de programmation, et du côté anglais et du côté français, qu'il faudrait faire à Radio-Canada.
18049 Vous avez posé à d'autres des questions sur ce qu'il faudrait faire. J'attends votre question.
18050 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Oui, mais je suis curieuse parce que le problème structurel, vous le savez bien, sur toute la question de la publicité, c'est une question qui nous a été adressée. On l'a soulevée d'ailleurs pendant l'audience avec les responsables de Radio-Canada parce que c'était une question réelle et qu'elle revient souvent, pas simplement par les radiodiffuseurs privés qui sont en concurrence par d'autres intervenants. Donc, c'est quelque chose qu'on peut ultimement questionner et diminuer son importance.
18051 Mais l'autre partie de la structure du financement, qui implique la décision gouvernementale des montants alloués annuellement sur une base aussi assez stable du financement de Radio-Canada, vous le savez bien, c'est une décision du Conseil des ministres et du Conseil du trésor.
18052 Quand vous avez fait votre rapport, quelle était... vous dites: Bon, c'est arrivé peut-être à un mauvais moment. Cela a été un peu, disons, mis de côté ou pas reçu de la façon qu'on aurait pu souhaiter. Mais quelle est la voie si nous nous n'avons pas la responsabilité... votre rapport, qui est assez clair, n'a pas su, par la "synchronicité", aller émouvoir les cordons du trésor. Que voyez-vous être la solution au problème structurel que vous posez?
18053 M. JUNEAU: Tout le monde parle du problème de la course aux recettes commerciales, de la concurrence que fait Radio-Canada en choisissant des programmes, soit dans le sport, soit dans la fiction, soit dans d'autres domaines qui sont là en grande partie, pas toujours dans le cas du sport par exemple, mais ils sont là très souvent plutôt pour augmenter l'auditoire que parce que c'est vraiment de la bonne programmation. C'est sûr ça.
18054 J'en ai des exemples quand j'étais président. Je me souviens d'un programme qui était vraiment, à mon avis, très moche et j'étais intervenu, ce que je faisais à peu près jamais, pour dire: Écoutez, est-ce qu'il faut vraiment garder ce programme-là? Puis, on m'avait dit: Cela nous rapporte un million et demi net par année. Alors, trouvez-nous un autre million et demi, puis on va l'enlever. Je pense qu'à ce moment-là j'aurais dû trouver le million et demi, mais je doute que maintenant ça soit si facile que ça.
18055 Alors, ce problème-là dont tout le monde parle, on ne peut pas le résoudre uniquement en disant à Radio-Canada: Diminuez votre publicité de 12 minutes par heure à peu près à 8 minutes par heure ou moins. On ne peut pas le résoudre non plus en disant... Moi, je trouve qu'il y a trop de hockey à Radio-Canada. Je suis absolument pour le sport. Je suis de l'avis de monsieur Davis parce que le sport fait vraiment partie de notre culture. Mais je trouve qu'il y en a trop. Mais le sport produit des revenus et pas de pertes. Donc, il ne coûte rien à Radio-Canada.
18056 Alors, si par exemple, le CRTC disait: Écoutez, diminuez le sport de moitié, ça veut sûrement dire que Radio-Canada a une perte de revenus. Où est-ce qu'ils les prennent ces revenus-là? Ils les prennent en coupant quelque chose.
18057 Alors, c'est vraiment... nous sommes, je crois, dans une impasse. Il vaudrait mieux peut-être que le CRTC dise: Nous sommes dans une impasse. De continuer d'ignorer cette question-là, il y a quelque chose de malsain là-dedans. Il y a quelque chose de masochiste ou de sadique, c'est-à-dire masochiste pour ceux qui s'en plaignent et sadique pour ceux qui critiquent Radio-Canada sans reconnaître qu'elle a un problème de fond.
18058 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Est-ce que je vous comprends. Si je décode ce que vous nous proposez, c'est de déclarer qu'on ne peut rien faire et qu'il y a impasse, pour créer une situation de choc, plutôt que d'aller vers... parce que quand vous dites, la question du sport en est une qui est profitable, nous avons des chiffres et je ne suis pas certaine que tous les sports soient profitables à Radio-Canada. Loin de là.
18059 Alors, il y a des choix qui sont à exercer à chaque moment du continuum. C'est assez étonnant lorsqu'on entend, avec fierté et dûment, lorsqu'on entend monsieur Beatty et monsieur Redekopp parlé que la Canadianisation de la télévision est venue avec les dernières coupures et que c'est avec des résultats plus intéressants qu'ils ne l'avaient anticipés, on peut se poser la question si certaines des directions qui seront proposées au cours de ce processus-là ne pourraient pas créer l'espèce de même choc sans aller vers l'espèce d'impasse que vous proposez.
18060 M. JUNEAU: Bien écoutez, comme je l'ai dit, il y a toujours des améliorations qu'on peut faire. Il y en a toujours. Si c'est vrai qu'il y a des sports qui ne produisent même pas de recettes, quand il n'y a pas cet alibi-là, bien alors, c'est peut-être puisque le CRTC a des informations que moi je n'ai pas, naturellement. Il y a peut-être des choses comme ça qu'il faut faire.
18061 Je ne suis pas sûr par exemple que certains programmes qui marchent assez bien du côté français -- j'aimerais mieux ne pas donner d'exemples, mais vous devez les avoir à l'esprit vous aussi -- qui marchent assez bien, des programmes d'interviews, par exemple, qui sont plutôt bons mais qui se passent toujours à Montréal. Bien, pourquoi ils ne voyageraient pas un peu à travers le pays avec la même structure de programme?
18062 Je vais en nommer un. Par exemple, une excellente vedette de Radio-Canada, Christiane Charette, qui voyage d'un café à un autre à Radio-Canada. Bien au lieu de voyager d'un café à un autre, elle pourrait peut-être voyager d'une ville à une autre, soit à l'intérieur du Québec, soit...
18063 Cela diminuerait probablement dans ce cas-là les recettes publicitaires, mais les recettes publicitaires ne doivent pas être énormes. Donc, il y a un certain nombre de choses comme ça qui pourraient peut-être être faites. Mais je ne pense pas.
18064 Si on diminuait considérablement le hockey, ce qui est mon avis, et qu'on le partageait plus avec des chaînes privées, d'abord cela atténuerait les griefs des chaînes privées, et ils n'ont pas là-dessus complètement tort. Ils ont tort parce qu'ils ne voient cela uniquement que comme un problème de concurrence.
18065 Ce que je leur reproche à ce sujet-là c'est de ne pas se préoccuper du bien public et de se préoccuper de leurs actionnaires et de leurs profits. Mais si on faisait cela, il faut voir combien cela représenterait de pertes de revenus et où Radio-Canada couperait pour retrouver ces pertes-là. Alors, là le CRTC a les chiffres sans doute.
18066 Ce que je dis c'est qu'il faut faire attention de ne pas créer une spirale qui ferait que Radio-Canada serait obligée de faire des coupures, qui créerait encore plus de critiques de Radio-Canada et qui amènerait encore Radio-Canada plus proche de sa perte éventuelle. C'est ce que j'appelle une spirale.
18067 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Oublions la question financière. Oublions la question de la structure, enfin, posée par la question du financement qui est évidemment l'oxygène de cette institution-là, mais parlons de son service. Parlons de la façon qu'elle aborde les choses.
18068 Il y a une nette distinction, à votre esprit, dans le commentaire que vous faites et qu'on a entendu à maintes reprises entre la perception, la réceptivité et l'appui que reçoit la radio d'une part et la télévision d'autre part. Beaucoup de cela peut être relié au genre-même, le médium comme tel, peut-être un peu aussi au fait que d'une part il y en a un qui n'a pas de publicité. Mais au-delà de cela, il y a la façon que le service est rendu.
18069 Supposons que l'argent est disponible, que verriez-vous qui devrait être ajouté aux palettes de couleurs de Radio-Canada et de CBC pour faire en sorte qu'il retrouve la ferveur, pas simplement la sienne mais la ferveur du public à son endroit?
18070 M. JUNEAU: Est-ce que je pourrais... je vais essayer de répondre. C'est une question difficile mais je pense que vous avez raison de la poser... si moi je ne peux pas essayer de répondre à ça.
18071 Mais je voudrais dire quelque chose au sujet de la radio. Il ne faut pas passer trop vite sur l'aspect structurel du succès de la radio. Il n'y a pas de publicité à la radio ou très, très peu. Cela veut dire que les dirigeants de la radio, avec leurs producteurs, réalisateurs, leur personnel, ne leur disent pas: Écoutez, ce programme-là vous ne pouvez pas le mettre à l'affiche parce que notre cote va baisser, nos recettes vont baisser, et puis, vous n'arriverez pas à atteindre l'objectif qu'on vous a fixé pour l'année parce que n'oubliez pas -- et je suppose que vous le savez, en tout cas -- c'était le système qui existant de mon temps.
18072 Il y avait une équipe ici à Ottawa qui disait au vice-président de la télévision à Toronto et au vice-président de la télévision à Montréal: Votre objectif de recettes publicitaires pour l'année c'est tant... Là, il y avait une période de négociations où les vice-présidents disaient: Écoutez, vous nous mettez notre objectif trop haut. On n'y arrivera pas. Ce n'est pas correct. Finalement, il y avait un compromis. Ils s'entendaient sur un niveau.
18073 Si le vice-président de la télévision n'atteignait pas son niveau de publicité ou si son chef des ventes n'arrivait pas à atteindre le niveau, on le remplaçait le chef des ventes. C'est aussi brutal que ça.
18074 À la radio, cela n'existe pas ça. On se soucie bien sûr d'atteindre un auditoire. On n'est pas insouciant au sujet de l'auditoire. Mais cela change tout. Pourvu qu'on atteigne un auditoire raisonnable, et l'auditoire de la radio est raisonnable. Ils sont à peu près au milieu de l'échelle. Ils ont une part d'à peu près 10-11 pour cent, les deux chaînes ensemble.
18075 Personne ne dit que la radio n'a pas un auditoire suffisant mais il reste quand même qu'ils ne sont pas forcés d'établir leurs grilles de programmation pour aller chercher tant de dizaines de millions par année. Cela change tout.
18076 Alors, revenons à... donc, là le problème structure est aussi très, très important et si vous regardez par exemple le cas de la France où la télévision française est critiquée à peu près autant que Radio-Canada, c'est le même problème. Au moins 50 pour cent des budgets totaux de la télévision française venait de la publicité. Comme vous savez, madame Trottman vient d'intervenir dans cette question-là. Mais elle, elle a dit que les recettes publicitaires qu'ils vont perdre vont être remplacées par une subvention adéquate du gouvernement, ce qu'on n'a jamais dit ici au Canada.
18077 Mais je m'excuse, je dois revenir à votre question. C'est à la fois très compliqué et je dirais, de façon peut-être présomptueuse, simple. On en a tellement parlé.
18078 C'est compliqué parce qu'en définitive, dans la programmation, il y a un art. Moi, je n'ai pas programmé Radio-Canada, mais j'ai programmé pendant une dizaine d'années un festival international de cinéma. C'est très compliqué d'établir jusqu'où on va montrer des films difficiles puis jusqu'où on va montrer un certain nombre de films bons mais plus accessibles au public, de façon à amener du public, leur montrer des choses... C'est un art. Donc, c'est un art de la part des programmateurs et c'est un art aussi de la part de ceux à qui on va demander des programmes. Alors, cela c'est très difficile.
18079 Ce qui est plus facile, enfin l'aspect de ma réponse qui est plus facile, c'est qu'il ne s'agit pas, comme on croit comprendre de la part des téléviseurs privés... je pense que leur pensée est plus subtile que cela. Mais on a l'impression des fois qu'ils voudraient sortir complètement Radio-Canada de certains secteurs de programmation. Je pense, en tout cas, qu'il y en a beaucoup parmi eux qui sont trop intelligents pour vouloir cela.
18080 Je pense qu'il ne s'agit pas de sortir Radio-Canada de certains secteurs de programmation. C'est donc pas, pour prendre une image un peu simpliste, une question qui se pose de façon verticale, mais elle se pose de façon horizontale. Si on applique cela aux sports, il s'agit de... c'est relativement simple: c'est de ne pas en avoir trop.
18081 Pour les Olympiques, les gens de la CAB, ce matin, je crois, avaient raison. Il y a eu des périodes où il y avait une formule d'échanges entre Radio-Canada et CTV. C'est un peu compliqué parce qu'il y a des questions de cartels et tout.
18082 Mais c'est une question de partage. C'est donc une question qui se règle plutôt par des mesures quantitatives et puis aussi, le partage entre le sport professionnel et le sport amateur. De vouloir cantonner Radio-Canada dans le sport amateur, à mon avis, ce n'est pas réaliste. Ce ne serait pas en rapport avec la culture canadienne.
18083 Dans la question de la fiction, à mon avis, là on a assez de succès du côté français, en tout cas, avec la fiction. Mais c'est sûr que cela prendrait des budgets plus importants pour permettre à Radio-Canada de ne pas tant se préoccuper du succès d'un télé-roman au point de vue des cotes d'écoute et se préoccuper plus de la signification d'un télé-roman au point de vue... j'hésite d'employer le mot "culturel" parce que cela a l'air élitiste, mais entendons-nous, on sait ce que ça veut dire.
18084 Donc, au point de vue des télé-romans, à mon avis, il y en a trop. Mais je sais pourquoi il y en a trop. C'est parce qu'en général, comme disait "Montréal Matin", cela ne coûte pas cher et cela rapporte bien. Il y en a qui sont plus exigeants mais ils rapportent bien eux aussi. Il y en a beaucoup qui ne sont pas très exigeants. Alors, là aussi, ce n'était pas une question de sortir du secteur, c'était une question d'élever le niveau et peut-être d'en faire moins.
18085 Les films américains: C'est simpliste ce qu'on dit au sujet des films américains. Les films américains ne sont pas rien que des films américains. Il y en a des remarquables. Il y en a des excellents. Il y en a des bons. Il y en a des pas bons. Puis il y en a des pourris.
18086 Il y en a qui coûtent très chers, qui ont beaucoup de succès, que Radio-Canada essaie peut-être d'acheter et qu'ils ne devraient pas acheter. Je ne dirais pas lesquels, mais c'est donc pas une question de films américains ou pas de films américains. C'est une question d'élever... c'est pas si facile que je le dis parce que comme on l'expliquait ce matin, cela se vend par sac et puis ce n'est pas si facile.
18087 Mais l'objectif devrait être d'essayer de trouver les meilleurs films américains, français, britanniques, que sais-je, et que Radio-Canada soit la place. Radio-Québec... actuellement, moi je regarde beaucoup les films à Radio-Québec parce que là je vois des films que je ne vois pas ailleurs... Télé-Québec, devrais-je dire.
18088 Donc, là aussi ce n'est pas... c'est simpliste de dire: Radio-Canada ne devrait pas concurrencer. S'il y a un très bon film américain qui a gagné des prix dans les festivals, ou qui n'en a pas gagnés mais qui est bon, bien je trouve que si Radio-Canada le veut, il devrait être prêt à payer pour ce film-là.
18089 De dire que Radio-Canada ne devrait pas concurrencer, c'est ridicule. On est dans un secteur... on veut des auditoires et donc il faut prendre les moyens pour avoir des auditoires. Mais ce n'est pas la principale considération.
18090 Donc ça pour les films américains, je ne sais pas quel autre... l'information, Radio-Canada en fait plus que tout le secteur privé mais peut-être que là aussi, là c'est un cas où des gens comme Pat Watson ont sûrement quelque chose à apporter parce que Pat a apporté dans sa contribution à la télévision canadienne d'excellentes idées. Je ne vois pas pourquoi on ne fait pas plus appel à lui. Je donnais l'exemple des programmes d'interviews qui pourraient sortir plus souvent de Montréal.
18091 Les régions... je pense que les budgets devraient permettre une plus grande activité de Radio-Canada dans les régions. Je pense que les gens qui ont critiqué la programmation nouvelle de Radio-Canada dans les régions en disant ils concurrencent trop le secteur commercial, probablement ils avaient en partie raison. Donc, ce n'est pas une question de sortir des régions. Encore une fois, ce n'est pas vertical mais c'est horizontal.
18092 Je ne sais pas si vous voulez me poser des questions.
18093 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Non, non, ça va. Vous touchez les grands enjeux de programmation dont on a parlé beaucoup.
18094 M. JUNEAU: Je pense qu'il faut rester dans les Olympiques. Mais là aussi, peut-être que c'est une question d'un meilleur partage de responsabilités entre Radio-Canada et le secteur privé.
18095 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Les enfants...
18096 M. JUNEAU: Les enfants?
18097 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Parlez-moi de votre perception sur leur implication dans le domaine du cinéma.
18098 M. JUNEAU: Je n'ai pas l'impression... il y a eu un temps où Radio-Canada avait un service remarquable en cinéma. C'était bien avant mon temps. Donc, je n'ai aucun mérite dans ce domaine-là. J'étais encore à l'Office du Film. Je regrette que tout à l'heure vous avez mentionné mes passages...
18099 LA PRÉSIDENTE: J'ai oublié l'Office, c'est vrai.
18100 M. JUNEAU: Mais vous avez oublié l'Office.
18101 LA PRÉSIDENTE: C'est vrai. C'est juste. Excusez-moi.
18102 M. JUNEAU: J'ai passé plus de temps là que n'importe où ailleurs et c'est là que j'ai beaucoup appris.
18103 Le cinéma: Je pense que probablement que Radio-Canada ne peut pas se permettre d'être aussi spécialisée que Télé-Québec dans ce domaine-là, que Télé-Québec est plus, disons, à la recherche de cinéma plus spécial. Mais quand même, je pense qu'il y a eu... j'allais citer la période où Réal Benoît dirigeait le service de cinéma de Radio-Canada. C'était un service absolument remarquable. Il n'y avait pas un film nouveau, intéressant, qui se pointait n'importe où dans le monde sans que Réal Benoît et son équipe le découvre, l'achète, le mette à l'affiche. C'était la...
18104 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Mais la place de Radio-Canada et de CBC dans l'appui au cinéma canadien...
18105 M. JUNEAU: Ah! excusez-moi.
18106 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Est-ce que vous voyez qu'il y a eu un engagement fait par les deux? Est-ce que vous trouvez que c'est une voie...
18107 M. JUNEAU: Oui. Oui, sûrement. Je ne connais pas les détails économiques de cette question-là.
18108 LA PRÉSIDENTE: D'accord.
18109 M. JUNEAU: Je sais qu'elle a été débattue. Radio-Canada, je crois, a récemment annoncé probablement durant les audiences qu'ils avaient décidé de mettre une somme précise dans ses investissements au cinéma. Mais je ne pourrais pas vous dire si c'est suffisant, si leur budget pourrait leur permettre de faire plus.
18110 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Mais l'idée comme telle vous apparaît...
18111 M. JUNEAU: Mais l'idée, oui, absolument. Absolument. Je pense que...
18112 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Alors, vous êtes fidèle à toutes vos...
18113 M. JUNEAU: Vous voyez... je parlais des télé-romans. On gave la grille de télé-romans alors que le cinéma est vraiment... on sent qu'il y a partout au Canada...
18114 Moi aussi, dans le temps du Comité des mandats, j'ai fait le tour du pays avec mes collègues, comme vous avez fait -- une remarquable initiative de votre part d'ailleurs -- et puis j'ai vu à quel point ça bouillonne le cinéma au Canada et au Canada français bien sûr également, peut-être plus même. Puis là, sans doute que les milieux de cinéma sentent... en tout cas, ils en expriment l'opinion que Radio-Canada n'est pas assez présent dans le domaine du cinéma.
18115 Mais encore là, quand on dit à Radio-Canada: Vous allez mettre tant de plus dans le cinéma et qu'on ne se pose pas du tout la question de savoir s'ils ont les budgets ou non, cela me met mal à l'aise. Il y a quelque chose d'un peu moralisateur là-dedans. Je ne me sens pas viser parce que cela fait déjà 10 ans que je suis parti de Radio-Canada. Cela fait 24 ans que je suis parti du CRTC.
18116 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Mais on parle encore de vous, hein? Les quotas, on s'en rappelle.
18117 M. JUNEAU: Oui, je suis d'accord. C'est sûrement un domaine... vous avez dit d'ailleurs, je pense, dans votre question: Si on se situe dans un cadre un peu idéal, ah bien, oui, Radio-Canada devrait être un des principaux appuis du cinéma. C'est un mode d'expression d'abord tellement important dans le monde. Dans tellement de pays du monde, y compris le Canada, il y a un espèce de fièvre au sujet du cinéma. Cela correspond à quelque chose. C'est sûr que Radio-Canada n'est pas un acteur assez important dans ce domaine-là.
18118 Donc, cela fait plusieurs domaines. C'est pour cela que je disais: C'est dans les détails que ça devient compliquer. Mais dans les grandes lignes-là, ce qu'il faudrait faire si on avait les moyens, ce n'est pas si compliqué. Ce n'est pas si compliqué, je crois.
18119 Mais dans les détails, c'est compliqué, oui. Ce n'est pas rien que compliqué au point de vue des fonds, mais c'est compliqué aussi parce que -- et ça, Pat Watson le disait aussi -- cela prend du talent, il disait, pour, comme on dit en anglais, commissionner des films.
18120 LA PRÉSIDENTE: M'hm.
18121 M. JUNEAU: Pour commander des films ou des programmes, il faut du talent, encore plus pour les faire peut-être. Alors, cela c'est compliqué.
18122 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Cela prend une combinaison de talents.
18123 M. JUNEAU: Cela prend une combinaison de talents.
18124 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Monsieur Juneau, je tiens à vous remercier d'avoir participé et même si vous n'avez pas eu le temps de lire complètement toute votre intervention, soyez assuré que nous en avons pris connaissance et elle fera partie de notre analyse et de nos discussions.
18125 M. JUNEAU: Vous avez été bien tolérant parce que j'ai connu des présidents du CRTC qui n'auraient pas toléré ce laxisme.
18126 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Merci beaucoup, monsieur Juneau.
18127 M. JUNEAU: Je prendrai contact avec la secrétaire pour ce document.
18128 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Merci mille fois.
18129 M. JUNEAU: J'ai parlé à McKinsey qui me disent qu'on n'a pas à être scrupuleux. Ils nous permettent de l'utiliser.
18130 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Merci. Vous les remercierez. C'est apprécié.
18131 MS BÉNARD: Before we invite the next intervenor, I would like to state for the record that the Canadian Ethnocultural Council has advised that they will no longer appear.
18132 Now I would invite Mr. Archie Robertson to come forward, please.
18133 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon, Mr. Robertson. La parole est à vous.
18134 MR. ROBERTSON: Commissioners, a fundamental requirement of a public broadcaster is to obey the law. And similarly for the regulator.
18135 In this case, the law is the Broadcasting Act that requires licensees to ensure that quote "programming be of a high standard" and requires that quote "the programming that -- the CBC should provide radio and television services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and entertains".
18136 Gages Senior Dictionary of Canadian English defines "enlightenment" thus:
verb. Give the light of truth and knowledge to; free from prejudice, ignorance, etc.
18137 Furthermore, the Radio and Television Regulations state that:
A licensee shall not broadcast any false or misleading news.
18138 At the public consultations leading up to these hearings, I alleged systemic bias over many years on the part of the CBC and its treatment of nuclear energy resulting in programming that was neither of a high standard nor enlightening. I further suggested that the bias against nuclear energy may be symptomatic of a more general bias against industry and technology.
18139 The supporting evidence was contained in the printed version of my submission to the public consultations, 24 pages plus 4 appendices, handed to the CRTC staff at that time.
18140 If my allegation is well founded, there is a prima facie case that the CBC is in violation of the Act and Regulations, as well as its own journalistic policy. The CBC responded to my submission in two letters from a Ms Lenny Morry(ph) dated April 16 and May 3, copies of both were -- and my responses were provided to the CRTC.
18141 In these, the CBC has finally admitted that it does not monitor for balance and has failed to produce any evidence of ever having monitored for balance. In response to the dozens of examples of anti-nuclear bias that I documented, it failed to cite any examples of pro-nuclear or even neutral programs.
18142 In citing instances when the CBC has broadcast material relevant to nuclear energy, Ms Morry relied on her personal recollections. It would surely have been simpler and more convincing to have produced the results of monitoring had this been done. This merely confirms what its President, the previous intervenor, admitted before independent witnesses in a 1988 meeting, but this was subsequently denied by a CBC spokesman saying, "Mr. Robertson misconstrued what was said".
18143 The CBC responses provided no denial of the alleged bias. The nearest one is the claim "CBC journalism strives to achieve the highest standards at all times and to do so without taking positions on issues or exhibiting biases". Good intentions do not prove good performance.
18144 Previously, another similarly ambiguously worded letter gave the CRTC to believe that it did indeed monitor, as had been required by the CRTC. See page 12 of my document for substantiation. The CRTC, on that occasion, accepted the CBC's assurances without investigating my claims.
18145 The most reprehensible example of the alleged bias is the CBC's employment of members of Energy Probe, the leading Canadian anti-nuclear organization, in the production and presentation of programs on nuclear energy, while concealing their affiliation. This abuse, which violates the CBC's own journalistic policy, has been occurring since at least 1986 for Max Allen(ph) and was brought to the attention of both the CBC and the CRTC in 1988 for David Suzuki.
18146 At that time, the CRTC stated, quote:
If it is true that Dr. Suzuki belongs to an anti-nuclear organization, the Commission expects that the CBC would be aware of this and will make every reasonable effort to ensure that the views presented by that individual are not biased or are balanced by alternative viewpoints on his or other programs.
As well, any bias must be clearly stated and truthfully presented. The Commission expects the CBC to monitor the views presented on this issue to ensure that fair treatment is given to each side of the nuclear debate and that balance is achieved in the overall programming presented by the CBC.
18147 Page 12 of my document.
18148 In 1984, an anti-nuclear activist was employed in the production of an anti-nuclear program, page 6. Obviously, I do not know how many other members of anti-nuclear organizations are employed by the CBC on programs on nuclear energy.
18149 It was not until 1998 that the CBC admitted this abuse and told Allen that he must sever his connections with Energy Probe if he were to produce further programs on nuclear energy. Suzuki, however, continues to present programs on or relevant to nuclear energy.
18150 This evidence suggests that not all the bias can be attributed to ignorance, i.e., lack of enlightenment. Some seems to be due to the deliberate action of CBC employees who exploit their privileged access to a very powerful medium to promote their own agenda in a manner that denies any opportunity for rebuttal or equal access.
18151 Ms Morry urged that allegations of bias be made one program at a time. This has proved futile and I provide many examples.
18152 For instance, in 1987, a CBC President, the same previous intervenor, admitted a serious failure to provide balance in a particular program and assured that another compensating program would be broadcast. Five months later, neither he nor his senior staff could identify any such program.
18153 The CRTC's failure to investigate allegations has already been mentioned. Furthermore, one cannot prove systemic bias by examining only individual examples. In biology, dissecting the organism destroys the life force that one might discover.
18154 You, Commissioners, may be tempted to dismiss this intervention as the ravings of a solitary nut. Well, I may be a nut, but I am not solitary. Since my oral presentation at Sudbury was published in our local paper and in the bulletin of the Canadian Nuclear Society under the title "To Air is to Err", I have had dozens of individuals tell me how glad they are that somebody is standing up to the CBC and wishing me luck for today.
18155 Well, I don't want luck, I want justice. For the CRTC to enforce its own Act and Regulations. This morning you pressed one of the intervenors to come up with specific suggestions as to how their wishes might be met, what the CRTC might do. I claim to have anticipated that question in the written version that you have in front of you today, with recommendations as to what you might require of the CBC and what you might require of yourselves.
18156 Thank you, Commissioners.
18157 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Robertson. I would ask Vice-Chair Wylie to ask the questions.
18158 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Good afternoon, Mr. Robertson.
18159 MR. ROBERTSON: Good afternoon.
18160 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Thank you for coming. You came from Sudbury or from Deep River?
18161 MR. ROBERTSON: No, Deep River.
18162 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: From Deep River, but appeared at our Sudbury consultation.
18163 As you have been told, no doubt, for better or for worse, our analysis of what we consider balance is obviously over a period of time, not over a program. And generally speaking, it varies depending on the circumstances and the issue that can last several months or perhaps a year, depending, if it is not an occasional occurrence that is covered.
18164 I am wondering if in the last -- I have your written presentation here, but not the document that you left with us in Sudbury.
18165 In the last year, have you, for example, filed complaints about a particular occurrence or lack of balance in the issue of nuclear energy?
18166 MR. ROBERTSON: In the last year, no. I would say that's primarily due to one fact that I have given up on getting any justice. That I have documented in 32 pages, the examples of where I and colleagues, other people, much more reputable than myself, perhaps, have failed to get any redress on the complaints that we have made. We have failed to get it from the CRTC when on one specific example, where the President of the CBC admitted to a serious error having been made. But the CRTC representative, when we complained, said that balance had been achieved in that program.
18167 Over the past year, no, but then, also I guess it was, I think February of last year, so it outside your one year, I did write to the new President, Mr. Perrin Beatty, and I didn't even get a response, an acknowledgement. So what is the use?
18168 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Was your letter with regard to past examples of the bias you allege in this particular area or about the broadcasting of a particular program or lack of balance over a reasonable period of time?
18169 MR. ROBERTSON: Both.
18170 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Both. It is not your view that the CBC no longer broadcasts any programs regarding energy?
18171 MR. ROBERTSON: No.
18172 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: No. And that the systemic bias remains?
18173 MR. ROBERTSON: And in one of my responses to Ms Morry, I cited the number of programs that -- there have been a number of biased programs on nuclear energy that there have been in this period, one to two years.
18174 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: In your recommendations, you have a problem with the hiring or retaining the services, by a broadcaster, of someone who is connected to a certain issue. Don't you think that it is natural that experts in a certain area may be perceived as having a particular view of its value. For example, if you had someone who is involved in the production or use of nuclear energy, you would find that person should be discounted as a participant in a program on nuclear energy.
18175 MR. ROBERTSON: I have no objection to opponents and proponents being interviewed on the program. What my objection is that they be in control of the production and presentation, particularly when they don't admit to and declare their bias.
18176 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So if the person, let's say is the President of a company involved in nuclear energy or of an organization, as long as they declare their -- well, it may not be bias, they may see the negative and the positive of it. They just know more about it. But you would be satisfied if there was a declaration of their connection.
18177 MR. ROBERTSON: I would not expect -- I have never heard of the President of a company or anyone on the pro-nuclear side being asked by the CBC to produce or to present a program. But that has frequently and is still happening, of declared anti-nuclear activists. They are in the production and presentation process.
18178 And on one occasion that I cited in the document that you haven't read is where a member of Energy Probe was the producer -- a member, at one time, of the Board of Directors of Energy Probe, was the producer of a program that was interviewing members of Energy Probe. Energy Probe was interviewing itself without declaring to the audience just how biased this was.
18179 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: You shouldn't assume that I haven't read it.
18180 MR. ROBERTSON: I thought you said, Madame, that you --
18181 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: It is that I don't have it in front of me.
18182 MR. ROBERTSON: I'm sorry. I withdraw then.
18183 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: I have in front of me your written submission, however.
18184 You also -- one more question about -- I am sure you realize the difficulty with this. There are a number of issues that are called issues of public concern, depending on one's interest and one's view of what is a public concern.
18185 You suggest that there should be monitoring for balance on issues of public concern. And I would like to understand a little more what it is that you would expect of broadcasters. Do you expect a list of issues that could be considered by someone of public concern and to have a logging of the views that are expressed? Is that the specificity of monitoring that you would advocate?
18186 MR. ROBERTSON: Let me first say that it is not just I who would like to see monitoring. It was a CRTC requirement. Your M. Fernand Bélisle, in one of the correspondences to the CRTC with a copy to me, said that the CRTC expected the CBC to monitor this issue.
18187 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: My question was more how one would interpret what that means, whether you expect a very specific monitoring that would be almost like a log, as opposed to -- monitoring can range from that all the way to if there are complaints or concerns, that CBC staff or supervisors or whoever is in charge, discusses whether or not they are achieving balance in a certain area.
18188 That was the level of my question, was what do you think would be necessary in the continuum from specific logging to the type of monitoring that I just expressed?
18189 MR. ROBERTSON: Well, if you were to accept my recommendation that there be an openly accessible log of complaints to the CBC of their programming bias. Then when the number of complaints on a certain issue exceeded some critical level, and I admit that would be arbitrary, then it would a licensing requirement that the CBC maintain a log of the balance on that particular issue --
18190 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: On that particular issue.
18191 MR. ROBERTSON: -- that would define the issue.
18192 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Yes. You realize that complaints are deposited on public files and at renewal are looked at. But I understand where on the continuum you would place this and it is true that the system works --
18193 MR. ROBERTSON: But, might I say that it is very difficult to gain access to that file for people living across Canada. Now we have the Internet, I think this is wonderful opportunity to use that --
18194 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: To post --
18195 MR. ROBERTSON: -- to make the system much more transparent.
18196 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: And I understand your point that it would also, even if the monitoring is at the other end of the spectrum from specific logging, it tends to keep you on your toes if there are complaints and they are made public and other people may join in and say, "I agree and I have other examples", so that balance can be achieved.
18197 MR. ROBERTSON: I have experience with another regulator, the Atomic Energy Control Board, and I find that they work, what I consider, a much better system where they require their licensees to report any abnormal behaviour.
18198 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Yes, I --
18199 MR. ROBERTSON: That is in the public domain and it is reported in both the utilities and the AECB's annual reports, how many of these complaints there are and they are analyzed by root cause.
18200 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Yes. I have had some experience with that, as well, in particular with the Atomic Energy Board. And of course, you would agree that it is a bit easier to monitor whether one behaves properly from an engineering or physics point of view than from whether you are expressing a bias and not a balanced view of an issue.
18201 Would you agree it is much more difficult? We understand complaints, et cetera, but it is more difficult to measure than emissions that shouldn't be there or be at a different level?
18202 MR. ROBERTSON: I don't necessarily agree, Madame. I think it --
18203 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Perhaps I don't know enough about atomic energy. I will have to watch the CBC more.
18204 MR. ROBERTSON: It is very easy to count the number of minutes accorded to each side of a debate.
18205 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Yes.
18206 MR. ROBERTSON: I have provided the evidence of that bias.
18207 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Well, we thank you very much for your participation and especially since you came from some distance. It has been a pleasure to have you before us twice.
18208 MR. ROBERTSON: I doubt it has been a pleasure, Madame, but thank you for your --
18209 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: It is always is, we are trying to look for more and better ways of doing what it is we are supposed to be doing.
18210 Thank you very much.
18211 MR. ROBERTSON: Thank you.
18212 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Robertson.
18213 Madame Bénard?
18214 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be by Mr. Delmar Mackenzie.
18215 MR. MACKENZIE: Hello. I am going to be pretty brief because you have just heard Patrick Watson and he has said just about everything there is to be said on this subject that I would like to support.
18216 I asked to come and speak to you because Perrin Beatty and Alex Frame were talking, they said, "We are going to bring commercial sponsorships back on radio" and I didn't think that was a good idea. These commercial interventions are pernicious and there is no way you can start them again on radio but what they will again become pervasive.
18217 I think if you take an example of what happens, how do you decide which sponsor you can put on which program without influencing that program? Let's say, for example, that you announce this afternoon on "The Arts This Week", our co-sponsor is the National Arts Centre and we will have a full and frank discussion of what is wrong with the management of the National Arts Centre. That is not likely to occur, is it?
18218 The very presence of the sponsor dictates what the program material can be. There used to be, as you know, when the CBC Board of Governors sits where you now do and was the boss of all radio and all broadcasting, that they had a regulation that there would be no advertising in the body of the newscasts. Well, there was a reason for that. It was because these adjacencies infect what is near them.
18219 If you have a picture of a woman trying to nurse a little pot-bellied baby in the desert, in the Sahal(ph), and the announcer says, "We will be back after this". And what "this" is is some advice to Mrs. Canada about how she can wash her dishes without getting her hands wrinkled. I think, if you are interested in eliminating obscenity from Canadian broadcasting, that kind of thing is a good place to start.
18220 These commercials, I don't know if anybody has harassed you on this point, but what they are is by and large untrue. They are trying to persuade of something that you wouldn't want to believe unless it was repeated to you over and over again.
18221 There used to be, again, in the same regulations passed pursuant to the Broadcast Act said that, that there will be -- no one can broadcast any false or deceptive advertising. Well, most advertising is, in some way, deceptive. That is what the merchants pay the advertising agencies to do, is create that deception. And if they didn't do it, the merchant would be knocking on the door for their money back.
18222 So the question is not whether we should stay in commercials, radio, I think they should get them to leave it alone the way it is, that's quite possible for you to do that. And what Pat says is perfectly correct, that is a jewel, an example of what public broadcasting can be without the restrictions that come to broadcasting with these commercial interventions, because they cause not only -- they dictate the structure of what is near them.
18223 On the newscast, for example, they say that -- the way around the regulation said no commercials are allowed on a newscast, was to say, "We will stop the newscast, have some commercials, then come back to the newscast". Like, don't drink and drive. Pull over, have a drink, then drive.
18224 The way out of this -- and there has to be a way out of it -- is to establish some way a coalition of interested people, and they include both the supporters of the CBC and the people who don't like the CBC very much. But in this particular issue they have an interest in common and one that they share, which is to get the CBC out of commercials.
18225 There has to be somebody -- I could suggest a name for you, but you probably won't have a problem with that; but some person who would put together that coalition, go to the people that took the $400 million away from the CBC and say: "I represent the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the CRTC, the CBC, Conrad Black and his lovely wife and every newspaper in Canada, and I am asking you to put that money back into the CBC, $400 million, specifically to get the CBC out of commercials."
18226 I think that that enables the CBC to be something really truly distinctive and different. The CBC now does distinctive stuff; but if you step in at the top of the clock, or at the bottom of the clock, or midway between, you are not going to know it, because they have commercials in there as tight as any private station has.
18227 Indeed, I used to run a local news show for a while, which was distinguished from the competitor precisely by the point that it had one more minute of commercials in the hour than they did.
18228 I thank you for your time.
18229 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. MacKenzie.
18230 I would ask Commissioner Langford to ask you questions.
18231 MR. MacKENZIE: Don't go away. "Don't touch that dial if you want to smile", they used to say.
18232 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: I remember when I first started doing criminal law about 22 years ago, a couple of my clients tried that defence. It didn't work. "I wasn't driving at the time, your honour; I was drinking."
18233 So I am familiar with that one and how difficult a case it is to make.
18234 One of the questions I would ask you is: Are you happier with the revised radio policy or proposed policy on sponsorship? They changed it at the CBC when they appeared and said that they wouldn't keep the money and they would give the money to the cultural groups, and they were simply going to use it as a way to get more cultural live coverage on radio.
18235 Does that strike you as a fair compromise or do you still see it as --
18236 MR. MacKENZIE: What they are going to do is say to somebody: "You sponsor this festival. We will carry it. We will mention that it is you that organized the festival." I think that is a lot better than a straight commercial sponsorship or even an arrangement in which the company puts up 10 per cent of the cost and then gets an advertisement as if the CBC had done the 10 per cent and they the majority of the stuff.
18237 It is delicate because of what I say. You don't know who your helper is. Is it du Maurier this year? Some of these people become very unpopular all of a sudden, and then what is your stance as a public broadcaster?
18238 May I just say this. I don't like advertising. There is a certain dishonesty about it wherever it appears. I don't think I have any right to say anything about that as far as the private broadcasters are concerned. I think I have a right to say something about it because the CBC belongs to me. I am a shareholder. I have that right to the extent that I don't have it with the private broadcasters.
18239 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: What about Newsworld? You spoke about the news and the good old days when there were no ads during the news, and they didn't pull over to take an advertorial break. Newsworld goes 24 hours a day and it has ads all the time, 12 minutes an hour.
18240 MR. MacKENZIE: Yes.
18241 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: Does that bother you?
18242 MR. MacKENZIE: Yes, it does.
18243 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: Or do you think it is a special case?
18244 MR. MacKENZIE: No, I don't think so at all. I think it is impossible to argue in exactly the way I mentioned, that those commercial interventions do not colour and cheapen the content that surrounds them. It gives Desert Storm the cachet of being only part of some kind of entertainment that can come and go, and we will throw these commercials in.
18245 Commercials make the news seem less important than it is, and I think they should be eliminated from newscasts.
18246 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: Thank you very much.
18247 MR. MacKENZIE: Thank you.
18248 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. MacKenzie.
18249 Madam Bénard.
18250 MS BÉNARD: Thank you, Madam Chair.
18251 I now invite Chris Patterson to come forward.
18252 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon.
18253 MR. PATTERSON: Hello. My name is Chris Patterson. I am a member of the folk comedy trio, The Arrogant Worms. As a member of an independent musical act, I felt that I should speak on the importance of CBC radio. I will try to be as brief as possible and express myself both as a touring musician and as a Canadian.
18254 I believe I can say without hesitation that I would not have a career were it not for CBC radio. What CBC has done for The Arrogant Worms and for other independent acts has been immeasurable so far.
18255 The CBC was the first to give us a national audience in 1991, with a program called The Radio Show in Winnipeg. This exposure led to other CBC shows requesting our material, and then the demand was created to tour the country.
18256 The national audience that the CBC created has meant that we can tour just about anywhere in our country. It meant that in March of this year we could take our first trip to the Yukon and have 300 people there waiting to watch our show.
18257 It means that we can go anywhere in Canada and chances are have an audience that has heard of us before, and we can count on making a couple of phone calls ahead of time to alert the local CBC stations of our arrival and chances are get invited to go on the air or at least have them mention our show that night.
18258 The CBC's commitment to Canadian music is tremendous, and the commitment is not based on format, record sales or marketability. Leave that to commercial radio, because they do it very well.
18259 The only common denominator with the CBC is the high quality of programming so that groups like ours can concentrate on writing good material and not on writing to fit in somewhere.
18260 CBC radio is also responsible for a roof over my head and food on my plate, both figuratively and literally. We have been billeted many times in this country by people who knew us from CBC radio and figure that we would make for decent house guests.
18261 They say any friend of Arthur Black must be all right; and if Gzowski likes them, what are they going to do to my house.
18262 During the public hearings in Moncton, the Panel heard from a woman named Nancy Pipes. She told the story of our appearance in Moncton last year. She had contacted us a couple of months before our appearance in Moncton and invited us to dinner, because she and her entire family had heard us many times on CBC and were great fans of our music.
18263 We of course gladly accepted this invitation and had a great dinner with Nancy, her husband and her kids. She told you at the public hearing how much fun she and her family had with us over for dinner that night and how they still often talk about it. She told you how nice it was to learn of a Canadian act on the CBC and then be able to invite them into her home, feeling that she knew them.
18264 The three of us often talk about that dinner too, and about how much it meant to have a home-cooked meal on the road with people who enjoyed our music. The experience was just as positive for us, and we thank CBC radio for seeing to it that we don't starve when we are on the road.
18265 I came here today from Lake Simcoe. Our group was lucky enough to be asked to participate in the Peter Gzowski concert at Red Barn. As we all know, Peter Gzowski is the man, and of course we went, and it was because of our exposure on CBC radio and his wanting to see us that we were invited.
18266 I did get a chance to fulfil a childhood dream of mine, and that was to meet Mr. Dress-up last night. If it wasn't for CBC radio, I wouldn't have met Mr. Dress-up and I would be even more tired than I am right now. As it turns out, I probably could have slept overnight and still made it on time.
18267 I venture to say that our limited exposure to commercial radio is also a result of the CBC. There have been many on-air personalities at commercial radio stations throughout the country who have heard The Arrogant Worms first on CBC radio. So let's not take away the only radio that they listen to, because wacky morning guys are people too.
18268 Many former CBC employees have moved on to other areas in broadcasting, and they have brought us along with them. Of the television appearances we have made, many of them were possible because of the producer or someone else who used to work for CBC radio. We have been able to cultivate lasting friendships with many producers, technicians and hosts over the past eight years, and we treasure and value those friendships.
18269 We also value and treasure the friendships we have made with our fans and supporters. We are fortunate to get feedback from our audience after the show. There is one line that we often hear, and it is: "We heard you first on CBC."
18270 They may have seen an ad in the paper or a story on the TV news about our show that night, but they first heard of us on CBC and that is why they came to the show. We hear that a lot.
18271 When we are driving across the country in our beat-up van, we listen to the CBC all the time. In many regions in Canada that is all we can get on the radio. I have heard people say that it is a soothing voice, and I feel that to be true. Wherever we go there is always CBC. It is our link to the outside world when we are travelling and feeling like we are in a media vacuum.
18272 We could find out what was going on in Kingston during the ice storm and know that our friends and family in eastern Ontario had been affected. We could listen to referendum votes come in while in northern British Columbia and essentially be plugged in to the rest of the country while we are so far away. I am not just speaking as a touring band guy now, but just as a Canadian.
18273 We have been able to meet many people who live in rural areas, and the CBC is their connection to their country. It's almost as if we are all members of the same family gathered around the radio to listen to the news. That's how it feels to us, to our fans and to the CBC listeners.
18274 We are not asking for much, I don't think, just Canadian culture.
18275 It would be wrong to think that CBC radio can be all things to all people, but it is the right thing for so many.
18276 I feel that my little bit here today might be getting a little bit selfish because I have mostly spoken about the CBC radio's impact on me and on The Arrogant Worms. It is an invaluable resource for so many other musicians as well. There are many other independent musicians out there who I have discovered through CBC radio, and there are many more waiting for the exposure they deserve.
18277 From time to time we will be approached by a group of young people who have a band and a demo tape. They ask us what to do and ask us how we got this far in a very fickle business. We tell them to send their tape to the CBC. That's what did it for us and for so many others. The CBC supports Canadian music, and if they think the audience will like it, they will play it.
18278 There are plenty of people at the CBC who think that The Arrogant Worms aren't that great, and that's fine. We really don't care about that. The audience is the ultimate program director. So if they think the audience will enjoy it, they will play it. And that doesn't happen everywhere.
18279 With that in mind, we know that we can put our new album out this summer and we can take 30 copies to the CBC library and it will get to the programs that can use it. At commercial radio it may become nothing more than a decorative coaster or a window holder-upper.
18280 Should the CBC programs not want to play our album, that's fine; we are used to rejection. We will know, however, that someone listened to it before making that decision, and we can't count on that everywhere.
18281 The CBC is responsible for my career and the careers of many other musicians, artists, speakers, writers, and Don Cherry. What would we do without it? I don't know.
18282 If there is one person on a farm in rural Saskatchewan who listens every day to stay current with the news and be entertained by music or drama, that should be enough to save it. We all know that may not be enough, but there are millions of other reasons coast to coast to coast. And it may be the only way to hear myself on the radio.
18283 Thank you for your time.
18284 THE CHAIRPERSON: We cannot hold that many hearings to have the pleasure of meeting you. So, indeed, we need to broadcast it.
18285 I would ask Commissioner Grauer to ask you questions.
18286 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: Thank you.
18287 And thank you for coming all this way to make your presentation today.
18288 MR. PATTERSON: It is a pleasure.
18289 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: I have two really quick questions, because there certainly isn't need for clarification about your position with respect to CBC radio. I think we will put you down as a supporter.
18290 MR. PATTERSON: Okay. That was clear?
18291 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: That was very clear.
18292 I jut wondered if you or your group had experienced any of the effects of the budget cutbacks to CBC radio.
18293 MR. PATTERSON: Yes, we have. When we are travelling across the country and we want to promote a show, nowadays it may be just a mention on the local CBC show that we are in town, whereas a few years ago even we could go there and perhaps perform live and get paid through the Musicians Union for a live performance on the air.
18294 With the budgets being cut back as they are, that is becoming less and less possible.
18295 So our albums will still get played but the live experience of us in the studio interacting with a host, that just doesn't happen as often any more and that is part of money being sucked away.
18296 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: Right. So revenues that you used to get for live performances you no longer --
18297 MR. PATTERSON: Right.
18298 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: Are you familiar with the CBC sponsorship proposal to us?
18299 MR. PATTERSON: I have heard a little bit about this, yes.
18300 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: Okay.
18301 Do you have any views on it?
18302 MR. PATTERSON: Well, the person I talked to about it sort of likened it to how PBS does their programs with a major sponsor for each half hour or hour or a portion thereof of the show, so it doesn't actually interrupt the flow of the show.
18303 I mean on PBS it is usually like mutual fund companies and things like that that will not present a bias to the show.
18304 In the case of our stuff, we would mostly be appearing on arts and culture shows and hopefully not the news, you know.
18305 But I haven't totally made up my mind about that. I think that if it is necessary to create enough support for people like us and for people waiting to take the next step and to get their stuff played on the radio, then I'm all for it. I think that musicians should be coddled in Canada before they leave.
18306 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: So there might be a place for it, then, sometimes?
18307 MR. PATTERSON: I believe so, yes.
18308 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: Thank you very much.
18309 MR. PATTERSON: Thank you.
18310 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: I appreciate you coming today.
18311 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
18312 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be by the Eastern Front Theatre Company.
18313 THE CHAIRPERSON: Bonjour.
18314 MS VINGOE: Bonjour.
18315 MS VINGOE: My name is Mary Vingoe and I'm the Artistic Director -- oh, the wrong one? Press the button. Thank you.
18316 Okay. I will try again.
18317 My name is Mary Vingoe and I'm the Artistic Director of the Eastern Front Theatre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
18318 I'm here to speak on behalf of the licence renewal for CBC Radio One and Two. I guess I'm part of the cheerleading, part of the afternoon here in support of CBC radio.
18319 As the Artistic Director of a professional theatre company whose mandate it is to produce Atlantic Canadian theatre for the world, I can't speak highly enough of the support which we get from CBC radio.
18320 I'm not just referring to the promotional support which we receive from them as a sponsor, a media sponsor of a company, but rather, much more critically, the support and development that CBC radio has played in the actual discovery and development of stories and writers from our region.
18321 One of the Eastern Front's most successful productions today was the Glace Bay Miners Museum by Wendy Lill, who is with us today, based on the short story by Sheldon Currie. This now famous story of courage and compassion in the Cape Breton coal mines was first produced by Eastern Front and Ships' Company Theatre in 1995, and then went on to main stage productions across the country, including the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Montreal Centaur(ph) and the Neptune Theatre Main Stage.
18322 The Glace Bay Miners Museum was originally commissioned as a radio drama back in 1991. It was CBC radio that took the chance and developed it as a radio drama and that radio drama then went on to become a stage play which was so successful, and also that radio drama contributed to the development of the film script "Margaret's Museum", which some of you may remember starred Helena Bonham-Carter, and went on to enrapture audiences with a similar version of the story around the world.
18323 In 1997, Eastern Front premiered another work by a prominent Nova Scotian, George Elliott Clark, and this was Whyla(ph) Falls, the story of a rural black community in the 1930s, a verse drama. It had a full jazz score by Joe Sealy(ph) and starred Jackie Richardson and Walter Borden. It was extremely successful and is going to be co-produced at the National Arts Centre this year as an Eastern Front-National Arts Centre co-production.
18324 This script as well was commissioned as a radio play before it became a stage play.
18325 So there are two major examples of what I consider, at least humbly perhaps, cultural landmarks from Atlantic Canada which would not exist had it not been for CBC radio, because they had the foresight to make the decision to provide critical and crucial support for the development process before the theatre, before the film, before anybody else, and that development made a big difference.
18326 The cutbacks that have affected CBC radio over the last 10 years or more have certainly had an effect. I worry. CBC drama has been cut drastically and I hope that some of these stories won't be lost because of those cuts. We are currently involved in co-producing a series called CBC Radio Waves, which we do with our "On the Waterfront Festival". That showcases young writers -- not necessarily young, but new writers from across Atlantic Canada, and they get a chance to have their work done before a live audience and for the airwaves. So it is a win-win situation for the audiences, the writers, the Eastern Front and the CBC.
18327 That kind of activity is threatened and like the speaker who came before me, I can't say really enough about how important it is to artists in our community that CBC radio not only continue to exist but be restored to somewhere near its former glory.
18328 That's about it.
18329 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
18330 I would ask Vice-Chair Colville to ask you our questions.
18331 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Thank you.
18332 Welcome, Ms Vingoe, to our proceeding and to Ottawa. I appreciate your coming here from Dartmouth to give us your views here today.
18333 I guess I was struck by the comments you made just now about the cuts and the fact that in your letter and in your presentation today you talked about the Glace Bay Miners Museum and the Whyla(ph) Falls program. I note that, I guess in one respect at least, they have been done fairly recently at a time when the CBC in fact had faced the budget cuts.
18334 I guess what struck me when I read your letter was: Is it your view that fundamentally the radio service right now, in terms of doing the sort of radio dramas that you have been involved in, is sort of operating pretty well and essentially your view is --
18335 MS VINGOE: No. I think it actually has -- I know CBC Radio Halifax has suffered additional cuts since Whyla(ph) Falls. The radio drama producer is no longer there. So I would say where it has continued to do good work it is definitely under very straitened circumstances, and the budget cuts to CBC radio drama, in particular, have had an effect in terms of the number of writers that get showcased, the number of actors that get hired.
18336 The slots have simply been reduced in terms of where the stuff can be heard. So that is a concern.
18337 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: So in the case then of radio and radio dramas, it is your view that CBC, in order to sustain this sort of initiative, should be redirecting more funds to do that sort of programming on a regional basis?
18338 MS VINGOE: Well, yes. I think that if more funding were available, I would like to see it restored to areas like radio drama.
18339 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: The second question I wanted to ask you was, I was also struck by the fact that, as you noted, the Glace Bay Miners Museum became Margaret's Museum, the film --
18340 MS VINGOE: Yes.
18341 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: -- and largely you are dealing with the visual medium, but your focus in your letter was largely on radio and not on television.
18342 I guess I was wondering, and I appreciate this may not be a focus of yours, but the CBC has proposed to us a new regional television initiative, I don't know whether you are familiar with that aspect of their strategy or their proposal -- originally it was eight regions, now nine including the north -- to put, in the first year of their licence renewal, $50,000 into sort of development but then each subsequent year $250,000 as seed money into developing regional non-news programming for the region. I'm wondering whether you have any views on that?
18343 MS VINGOE: You are right, it is not an area that I have had a great deal to do with. If this is new money, then I would say, yes, it sounds like a good thing.
18344 Certainly, there are those stories which can move from medium to medium. We have good writers, we have great writers, and we have proven already that they can do that. So any help to make them reach a wider audience I think would be enhancing the CBC's mandate, but not knowing the details of that program, that is all I could --
18345 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: But does your group, does Eastern Front, not have an interest in television simply because there hasn't been money there to do that sort of thing on a regional basis for the region, or just because you think for your particular type of programming radio is a better medium?
18346 MS VINGOE: No, I don't mean to imply that.
18347 What has happened is that radio, for whatever reason, has tended to seed and support projects that have become stage plays, whereas television I think is usually looking for something a little different. They are looking for the bottom line, they are looking for who it is going to be seen by, they are looking for the market. There is not, I don't think, perhaps as much ability just to go on the writing itself.
18348 I mean that is my sense of it. Someone else can get up here and say that I'm full of it, but I think radio has taken bigger risks.
18349 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Do you think that risk-taking is largely due to the difference in the fact that one is more commercial-driven than the other?
18350 MS VINGOE: Yes, I do, in a word.
18351 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: So then, let me ask you: What do you think of this proposal regarding sponsorship, then, in radio?
18352 MS VINGOE: Well, I know it has been diluted a great deal and the money is now not going directly to the CBC, and it doesn't sound like it could do too much harm. But it does worry me simply because in all my dealings or most of my dealings with sponsors, with banks or with mutual fund companies or with telephone companies, whoever is sponsoring it.
18353 In the theatre we do a great deal of seeking out sponsorship. They usually want something. I mean they want something that is going to reflect well on them. Therefore, it is always hardest to get the sponsors for the new work. It is always hardest to get the sponsors for the unknown writers. So it doesn't seem to me that if you put sponsorship into the equation, then it is not what will get done through sponsorship, it is what won't get done once the sponsor is --
18354 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Do you think we could get Devco to --
18355 MS VINGOE: Pardon?
18356 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Do you think we could get Devco to sponsor "Margaret's Museum"?
--- Laughter / Rires
18357 MS VINGOE: Yes. Well, it's possible.
18358 But do you see what I mean? I think there is a reverse psychology there that the sponsor always wants something, so you are going to get certain work that is going to be harder to find a sponsor for something else and that could have a negative effect, although the way they present it right now it is fairly minor, but I don't trust it.
18359 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Would you see your group taking advantage of it?
18360 MS VINGOE: Yes, we would. We would do whatever is necessary to survive. I mean, you know, it just worries me a little bit.
18361 It is nice to have some place to go that isn't driven by that advertiser, just once in our lives, so you can go somewhere that isn't driven by the advertiser. So I think it is a slippery slope.
18362 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: So, on balance, you are probably more against it than for it?
18363 MS VINGOE: I would have to say yes.
18364 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Okay. Thank you very much. Again, thanks for coming.
18365 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
18366 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be Salter Street Films.
18367 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon. Welcome.
18368 MR. DONOVAN: Good afternoon. Thank you.
18369 MR. DONOVAN: Madame la Présidente and Commissioners, my name is Michael Donovan and I'm Chairman and CEO of Salter Street Films. Appearing with me today is Kathleen McNair who joined us in May as our Vice-President/General Counsel.
18370 We are pleased to be appearing before you today in support of the CBC networks' licence renewal application.
18372 MS McNAIR: Salter Street Films is an integrated entertainment company that develops, produces and distributes original film and television programming.
18373 Our television programs include the award-winning comedy series "Codco" and "This Hour has 22 Minutes".
18374 We also produce the family drama series "Emily of New Moon", a co-production with Cinar(ph); "Made in Canada", another comedic series; a financial advisory program, "Canadian Investor"; and the science fiction series "LEX".
18375 Being based in Halifax, Salter Street has access to a very unique pool of talent which we believe has contributed to the production of a distinctive and diverse slate of Canadian programming.
18377 MR. DONOVAN: I am pleased to be able to say that over the years the CBC has been our broadcast partner on many of our most successful television productions.
18378 In our view, it is essential for producers from all regions of the country to have access to such national windows for their programs, showcasing productions from all regions that provides viewers with a diverse array of Canadian programming choices that reflect our culture and society. This, we believe, is the principal role of our national public broadcaster.
18379 The CBC plays a vital role in the preservation and development of Canadian culture. It allows Canadians to have their voices heard by one another. As the communications environment becomes increasingly global in scope, it is essential that a place be maintained for Canadians to hear and exchange Canadian stories. Therefore, we applaud the CBC's commitment to continue to Canadianize its prime time schedule.
18380 Perhaps the only certainty in the new and ever-changing communications environment is that the programming choices available to Canadians will continue to increase. We believe that as programming choices are expanded, it becomes increasingly important that local and regional programming be made available. It is local and regional programming that will differentiate a service from an array of accessible programming options. Furthermore, such programming will ensure that Canadians have access to high quality choices that reflect our society and distinct culture. We believe that the CBC is our national public broadcaster and must play a principal role in ensuring that such programming is featured within the Canadian broadcasting system. Therefore, we fully support the CBC's proposal to increase its local and regional entertainment programming initiatives. In fact, we are of the opinion that the CBC's originating stations should also increase the amount of local news and information programming being broadcast.
18381 We recognize that given the budgetary constraints facing the CBC, allocating additional resources to increase the level of local and regional programming may be difficult. To this end, we recommend that the CBC focus on the business of broadcasting. We believe that the CBC would achieve cost savings if it licensed all non-news programming from independent producers, as is outlined in the CFDPA's letter of intervention. Licence fees for independent productions on average represent 25 per cent of the total cost of production. Therefore, if the CBC licensed all its entertainment programming, it could achieve savings which, in turn, could be used to license more local and regional programming. This would fulfil a number of objectives.
18382 Parliament has established in respect of the CBC in the Broadcasting Act. It would ensure that the CBC's programming reflects Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions is predominantly and distinctively Canadian, actively contributes to the flow in exchange of cultural expression and also contributes to the shared national consciousness and identity.
18383 Additionally, we believe that the CBC focused on the business of broadcasting and licences entertainment programming from independent producers across the country, additional objectives outlined in the Broadcasting Act would be fulfilled. It would guarantee that the programming provided by the Canadian broadcasting system is varied and comprehensive, is drawn from local, regional, national and international sources and includes a significant contribution from the Canadian independent production sector.
18384 In conclusion, we wish to reiterate our support of the CBC's network renewal application. The CBC is an essential Canadian cultural institution. It must maintain and enhance its role as the principal outlet for Canadians to hear and exchange Canadian stories, particularly in the increasingly global communications environment.
18385 To ensure that the CBC remains relevant and continues to make an essential contribution to the Canadian broadcasting system into the 21st century, we believe that local and regional program offerings must be increased and we recommend the CBC rely upon the independent production community for the creation of such high quality Canadian programming.
18386 Thank you, Madam président and Commissionaires, for your attention. That concludes our presentation. We would be pleased to respond to any questions. Thank you.
18387 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I would ask Commissioner Pennefather to ask the questions, please.
18388 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: Thank you, Madam Chair, and welcome, both of you. Thank you for coming here today. Thank you also for the programming that you have created over the years so successfully.
18389 I would like to explore a couple of points you have raised in your written submission then this afternoon. I guess I will start with your comment, which you have repeated today, "The CBC must focus exclusively on the business of broadcasting."
18390 What do you mean when you say that? You have some explanation but I would like to hear more about that.
18391 MR. DONOVAN: We want to be very supportive of the CBC's commitment to producing indigenous Canadian production. It is unmistakeably the leader in Canada in broadcasting in doing that. But we feel in a time of scarce resources that that can be achieved to an even greater extent, particularly with a local and regional focus by essentially out-sourcing to the community, which I am part of, the independent production community.
18392 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: So the focus of your attention is CBC as an organization that fulfils its mandate by contracting out to the independent sector.
18393 MR. DONOVAN: Yes. I mean it seems to me that in this day and age, most businesses, including public sector businesses, are increasingly focusing on core competencies and whereas our core competence is producing production, we feel that that is where the greatest contribution from our sector comes. We feel that scarce resources can be addressed and the results of producing high quality and even higher quality programming can be better addressed by focusing on broadcasting for the CBC, which it does very well.
18394 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: So is your concern when you say "the business of broadcasting," is your concern to thereby free up more resources when you make this proposal? Or is your concern more the fulfilment of the CBC's mandate?
18395 MR. DONOVAN: I mean we feel that the CBC does fulfil its mandate but we feel that it is confronted by increasing cutbacks and we are offering this as a solution.
18396 We are also concerned that the regional and local will be one of the areas that will be cut back first and we feel very strongly that that would be a mistake. We feel that the strength of CBC and most broadcasters, is local, particularly in a world where there are now a world of tremendous fragmentation. You can market edge by having strong local franchises.
18397 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: So that I am clear, though, with your concern that CBC fulfil its mandate by ensuring local and regional programming, you are saying, though, no in-house production, only production with the independent sector.
18398 MR. DONOVAN: No --
18399 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: You did say that the CBC is producing indigenous programming and that is one of the keys to its definition as a public broadcaster. Does that mean no in-house production?
18400 MR. DONOVAN: No, I think that news should be in-house.
18401 In our submission, we suggested that programming that is not news should be out-sourced.
18402 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: When you speak of local and regional programming and you applaud the initiatives that CBC has put forward, I assume you are referring to the initiative to create new half hour programs using approximately 24, 25 million over five years.
18403 That, as I understand it, is programming for the regions. Is that you understanding of this proposal, to be seen in the region?
18404 MS McNAIR: Yes, but I also think the CBC is reserving some time on its network schedule for the sort of programming that reflects the regions. So we see the CBC, the owned and operating stations, as clearly having to produce programming of importance for its particular community, but that the network provides a very valuable national window for the best of that programming to be exchanged.
18405 We don't want to see regional programming ghettolized to a half hour or a particular time frame in prime time because we think that a lot of the shows that are currently being produced and broadcast nationally, we would consider to be a regional production and we would encourage that to continue. That a principal role of the public broadcaster is to facilitate the exchange of programming from all areas of the country.
18406 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: Thank you. It is the case that there are at least two different ways of looking at this in terms of the regional production. One is reflection on the national network, which we have discussed at length with both English and French networks, and one is production, which is in the region for largely the regional audiences reflecting what you call the local programming.
18407 I felt your emphasis was more leaning to the presence of production from all parts of the country on the national network. I thought that was the key to what you were saying.
18408 MS McNAIR: That is correct.
18409 MR. DONOVAN: But, at the same time, we think that there is value in regional productions that are focused on regional audiences.
18410 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: You say that the CBC would need additional resources to do this, in your brief, and that your proposal then is that the independent sector will cost less and, therefore, free up these resources. Am I reading this correctly?
18411 MS McNAIR: Yes.
18412 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: Have you any other options for new additional resources for the CBC? As you know, there has been considerable discussion around the whole area of advertising and that I wondered if you had a take on advertising and television and if you see any options for the future there?
18413 MR. DONOVAN: Our position is that we support CBC's access to advertising revenue. The goal is to create the highest quality Canadian programming and access to advertising is one of the ways in which to do that, particularly where funding from government has been declining and uncertain.
18414 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: One other question. I know that you are interested in the area of feature film as well and I wonder if you had any comment on the CBC SFC proposal to support feature films and how you see that being carried out by the CBC?
18415 MR. DONOVAN: Our position on feature films is that Canada has a -- I participated in a policy review of feature films and it became clear that Canada has a terrible history and record in terms of having Canadian films reach Canadian audiences. Essentially, about one per cent of Canadian films succeed in reaching Canadian audiences. Or Canadian audiences spend about one per cent of their screen time devoted to Canadian films. That is what I am trying to say. And the broadcasters in Canada, the CBC and the others, can play a role in that. However, the broadcasting of television product is different than the making of feature films. These are two different genres involving two different approaches. So, it is easy to say, oh, CBC make movies, and that will solve the movie problem in Canada. It is not so simple. It is entirely different entities and entirely different approaches.
18416 It would be good to see more feature films made by way of the Canadian broadcasters but this is easy to say and hard to do and it is not something I would specifically recommend.
18417 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: So I am not clear. Are you supporting what they propose to do with $30 million over five years? I believe there is a range of options before them in terms of scheduling, acquisitions, licensing, Canadian features?
18418 MR. DONOVAN: Yes. No, we support that. We support that position but I have very strong personal views that the solutions for the feature film problem do not rest with the broadcasters.
18419 It is difficult for me to understand how you do both at the same time, not be a producer, just be a receptor for independent production and schedule it and yet, fulfil all these public mandate objectives.
18420 MR. DONOVAN: The core of the idea which we are presenting is that a way to achieve these goals and do so within the budgetary constraints is by out-sourcing. It is a solution to the problem.
18421 We are really, sincerely, not trying to add to the problem by throwing in one other complicated mandate, but rather suggest this as a solution and we have to be very careful not to be telling the business, but speak from our own experience. But our experience is that independent production represents less cost than in-house production. Although some of the in-house production is excellent and I can see the reasons why CBC can fulfil its mandate in ways that are more complete by remaining concentrated on in-house production. But, given constrained budgets and declining budgets, a solution is more out-sourcing.
18422 And also, I think that you can maintain quality and build quality by doing that. I think that we have proven that. I would like to think that our company has proven and that our sector has proven it.
18423 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: Thank you. I was just mentioning it because you made a very strong point about that in your brief regarding producer and broadcaster and/or broadcaster, so I appreciate your comments and that completes my questions.
18424 Thank you, Madame Chair.
18425 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Grauer has a question for you.
18426 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: One question.
18427 Just further to Commissioner Pennefather's question, and I wonder if you could also put on your "I live in Halifax" hat, as well as your producer's hat.
18428 One thing I am not really clear on is, you have talked about the ability of the independent production sector to produce, for the CBC non-news, you know, regional local programming for those audiences, entertainment programming. And I am wondering if, in your view, there is a place in the broadcasting landscape for non-news information programming and if there is, should that be done by an independent or is that more appropriately done in-house? And what I am talking about is public affairs, current affairs, that kind of programming directed to regions about issues that are important to people in that region.
18429 MS McNAIR: From our perspective in an ideal world, information public affairs programming would be out-sourced because we honestly believe it would save the CBC money.
18430 In addition to that, we believe that the out-sourcing of programming will ensure that there is a diverse array of voices or different viewpoints being presented on the CBC. The person who has creative control over the programming, in our mind, is key in developing this sort of outlook that that program is going to take. So, particularly in an ideal world, although we recognize that the CBC does produce an awful lot of public affairs and information-type programming that is excellent and that it may not -- that coupled with news, it may be difficult to out-source everything.
18431 But the out-sourcing of that type of programming, we believe would ensure diversity. It would ensure a lot of different outlooks being available on the national network or the local or regional owned and operated station.
18432 So our wish list would be, yes, everything should be out-sourced other than news.
18433 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: Just a quick supplementary. With respect then to your recommendations, where would this fit with respect to entertainment programming? Do you have priorities in terms of what should be in that local regional programming for those regions? Do you have any priorities?
18434 MS McNAIR: The first programming we would say that should be out-sourced is the under-represented entertainment-type programming.
18435 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: I wasn't thinking of the out-sourcing, I was thinking of the type of the programming that should be --
18436 MS McNAIR: On the regional? Well, then we are getting more into the broadcasting business, too, I think, which -- when we suggested that the CBC should focus exclusively on broadcasting and not on production, I think that the CBC would be a lot more than scheduler. It would be making programming decisions and what is best for that region. Would it be an information-type programming and variety-type programming.
18437 Personally, it would probably be in our best interests that there are comedy programs everywhere across the country. But really, I think that that is a decision for the CBC to make.
18438 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: Thank you.
18439 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
18440 MR. DONOVAN: Thank you.
18441 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be by Great North Communications.
18442 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon.
18443 MR. THOMSON: Good afternoon, madame la présidente, Commissioners. It is a pleasure to be here.
18444 I would like to begin by thanking the Commission for providing this opportunity to present our views on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
18445 My name is Andy Thomson and I am President of Great North Communications, an Edmonton based production and distribution company.
18446 I am sure the Commission understands how difficult it is for an independent producer such as myself to criticize a broadcaster, no matter how constructively at a public hearing such as this. Broadcasters are our life blood. Without their support we cease to exist.
18447 I want to make this point because I hope it will help the Commission understand how deeply and passionately I feel about this issue.
18448 I have been told by both my own producers' association, the CFTPA, and by some of my good friends at the CBC, that I am the only producer in Canada participating in this process who is against the CBC. I want to take this opportunity to state very clearly that this is simply not true. I am not against the CBC, I strongly support the CBC, I would never want to see the CBC closed down, privatized, marginalized, given to Mr. Asper or meet any kind of similar fate.
18449 All I want is for our CBC to be the best possible CBC it can be and to that end, I think it is incumbent on all of us, independent producers, our association, the Commission, the CBC to work together to accomplish this. This is, in fact, what I thought this process was all about. To spend all this time and money and effort to simply endorse the status quo for another seven years doesn't make much sense to me at all.
18450 As I said in my written intervention, I support the CBC and I would like to see all their licences renewed for a maximum of 12 months. And during those 12 months, I would like to see them work with their new President, the independent production community, the Commission, the other Canadian broadcasters and the citizens of Canada to come up with a vision and a plan for a new and revitalized CBC that can lead us unchallenged into the 21st Century.
18451 I began my career in this business at the National Film Board of Canada in 1968. In that year, the NFB was at the height of its powers. Expo '67 had just finished, the NFB's labyrinth exhibit had been one of the highlights of the fair. The place was as large and as vibrant as it ever had been.
18452 But Expo '67 did more than just provide a showcase for the NFB's excellence. It provided an opportunity for an independent production industry to form. There was so much work to be done for the fair that people left the NFB or the CBC and started their own independent production companies.
18453 By 1968, the Canadian production community no longer consisted of just the National Film Board and Crawley(ph) Films here in Ottawa. There were now a lot of production companies out there and they were given a huge boost by the Federal Government's creation of the Canadian Film Development Corporation, which later became Telefilm Canada.
18454 Clearly the role of the NFB was going to have to change. That change was a long and extremely painful process as Commissioner Pennefather will well remember, I am sure.
18455 But the NFB did begin to change. It began to realize that it was no longer there to lead the production sector, but to serve it. They provided opportunities for young filmmakers to learn the craft at the hands of masters like Colin Lowe(ph) and Norman McLaren. They initiated the idea of regional production and discovered filmmakers like Anne Wheeler. They learned how to co-produce with the new private sector.
18456 In 1983, when I was the head of the NFB's drama studio, we co-produced 26 half hour dramas based on Canadian short stories with a four-person production company from Toronto called Atlantis Films. I like to think that I gave them their start.
18457 Through the eighties and nineties, the NFB continued to change and evolve, constantly seeking a role for itself that complemented, not competed with, the independent production sector. I think that today they have found that role. No longer do we hear cries from the independent producer that the NFB should be closed down.
18458 The NFB now supports the production industry. It provides training and co-production and mentoring opportunities. It is a place for experimentation with new techniques and new technologies. It has eliminated its in-house production staff and works entirely with freelance filmmakers and independent production companies.
18459 Its films continue to win awards. They are imaginatively and aggressively distributed across Canada, and most amazingly, $21.5 million of the NFB's English programs operating budget of $29 million, or fully 75 per cent, is now spent directly on productions or co-productions.
18460 The NFB has clearly found a role for itself in today's environment that complements, not competes with, the independent production sector.
18461 The CBC has a similar history. When it began almost 50 years ago, it, too, was the only Canadian game in town. The only domestic alternative to American signals that could be picked up by antennas for those who live close to the border and the only broadcaster available for those who didn't.
18462 But over the next 50 years, the world of Canadian broadcasting changed dramatically. First came the private stations, then the private networks and systems. Then in the eighties and nineties came dozens of specialty channels. It was a new and different world and the CBC, like the NFB, should have been adapting to that new world. But I don't think they have.
18463 The CBC, as it operates today, does not complement the private broadcasting system here in Canada. It competes with it. It competes with it for advertising revenue, it competes with it for Canadian Television Fund dollars. It competes for the rights to big ticket sports events and for blockbuster American movies. It competes for the hearts and minds of Canadians wanting to watch the suppertime news.
18464 And every time I ask my friends at the CBC why they choose to compete with the private broadcasters, the answer is the same. They need the advertising revenue. They cannot exist on their Parliamentary allocation alone. They need the dollars they earn from broadcasting NHL playoff games seven days a week for two and a half months of the year, while at the same time complaining about their lack of shelf space.
18465 They need the dollars they earn from broadcasting a suppertime news program in Edmonton where, quite frankly, they would get a larger audience at a fraction of the cost if someone were simply to read the news between periods at Edmonton Oiler hockey games.
18466 They need the revenues they earn from broadcasting the Olympic games and blockbuster American movies while their presence in the bidding war for those rights simply drives up the prices for everyone and minimizes the potential revenue for the entire Canadian broadcasting system.
18467 CBC's English-language television network had an operating budget in 1997/1998 of approximately $550 million. Roughly $330 million came from their Parliamentary appropriation and $220 million came from what is called net revenues, the bulk of that being, I assume, advertising revenue.
18468 I guess my point is simply, isn't $330 million enough money to run a pretty good network? Do they really need that $220 million of advertising revenue to do the job that needs to be done?
18469 I appreciate the fact that CBC's English network's Parliamentary appropriation has gone from $450 million in 1995/1996 to $330 million in 1997/1998. And that those budget cuts have been painful and difficult. And it will always be difficult, even impossible to reduce CBC's operating budget down to the level of its Parliamentary allocation if we try to do so from the top down.
18470 But it is a different story if we build from the bottom up. How much money would it really take to run a terrific television network, a new, revitalized CBC, if we started from scratch?
18471 Well, in 1998 it cost $31.5 million to run Discovery Canada, which I think is a pretty good network. Mind you, Discovery only runs documentaries and our new CBC would need to broadcast Canadian drama.
18472 In their last licence term, CBC averaged 6.5 hours a week of Canadian drama. Let's assume our new CBC will average 10, a Canadian movie on Sunday night and eight hours of Canadian drama during the week.
18473 The difference between the licence fee for a one-hour documentary and a one-hour drama is about $150,000 per hour. So that 10 hours of new Canadian drama would cost our new CBC $1.5 million per week for 26 weeks, allowing for repeats, for a total of $39 million. Let's add another million to cover the cost of the staff and facilities required to handle that level of dramatic production. So the cost to the Discovery Channel, but with 10 hours of original Canadian drama per week on the schedule, has now gone up to approximately $70 million.
18474 I think we might all agree that our new CBC needs a nightly one-hour national newscast, something Discovery doesn't have. I have no idea what a newscast costs, but let's assume it can be done for $100,000 a night, or roughly $35 million a year, more than the entire cost of running the Discovery Channel.
18475 That puts our budget up to only $105 million. So let's allocate $25 million for amateur and local sports coverage and $25 million for children's programming to get us to $155 million.
18476 Everything else we see on the CBC, like "Venture" and "Marketplace" and "The Nature of Things" and "Life and Times", shouldn't cost any more than comparable programming on The Discovery Channel, which leaves us about $175 million to deal with the still important problems of time shifting and universal access, all of which can, I believe, be dealt with well within this level of budget.
18477 I continue to believe that a revitalized CBC, with a dependency on advertising revenue, with ten hours of original distinctive Canadian drama per week, with a terrific nightly national newscast, with lots of regional amateur sports coverage and a lot more children's programming than they currently carry, is completely attainable within the CBC's current parliamentary appropriation.
18478 All it takes is a little vision, some imagination, corporate will and some guidance and direction from you, the CRTC.
18479 Before closing, as a regional producer, I do want to briefly comment on the CBC's rather dismal performance with regard to regional reflection, particularly the reflection of the Prairie Region, and I wish to support the interventions presented to you, both in the written stage and here at this hearing by the three Prairie producer associations.
18480 CBC's last licence term commitment was ten hours per week of regional reflection on the network. While I appreciate that North of 60 is shot in Alberta, it is nonetheless set in the Northwest Territories and controlled by a company based in Toronto. The only reflection of Alberta that I remember seeing on the network during the last licence term has been a country and western music program called Country Beat. There is more to life in Alberta than line dancing.
18481 There is much more I can say about the CBC and how we can, together, make it the vibrant, distinctive successful public broadcaster that it ought to be and that Canadians deserve, but I realize that I am quickly running out of time. I will, however, be pleased to answer any questions that you might have.
18482 Again, thank you for providing the opportunity to be here today.
18483 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Thomson.
18484 If you had spoken French, I would have asked you to go slower because the interpreters would have had a hard time. But in English --
18485 MR. THOMSON: I gave her a copy of it, though.
18486 THE CHAIRPERSON: I would ask Commissioner Langford to ask our questions, please.
18487 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: Thank you very much for patiently waiting for your turn here today. It has been a long day, and it is going to get longer.
18488 MR. THOMSON: Not for me.
18489 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: Not for you. Lucky you.
18490 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: I guess you don't feel very lucky, though. There is kind of another tone going through your written brief about only getting 3 per cent of your work from the CBC and feeling that the kind of work you do is the sort of stuff they should be interested in.
18491 Is there a little sour grapes in this? Are you kind of angry because they won't buy your stuff, to put it in a colloquial term here?
18492 MR. THOMSON: No. Fortunately, there are so many other wonderful broadcasters in Canada who seem to be quite prepared to buy our programming; and quite frankly, this year we are producing more programming than we can handle. So we are having to farm some of it out to other producers.
18493 That is not the issue. In fact, I think the reason I brought that up in my written intervention was more to point out that because of the fact that we do so little work with CBC, it probably does liberate me a little bit in terms of the views I can express at a public hearing like this.
18494 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: Okay. So we are talking academically here. We might as well get that one out on the table. You may lose 3 per cent. You have room for it.
18495 A lot of your views are similar to what we heard from Patrick Watson. I'm sorry you got scooped, but we don't know exactly what everybody is going to say. Sometimes I think perhaps Patrick is not sure what he is going to say until after it is out of his mouth. He is probably more surprised than we are sometimes.
18496 I wonder why you would take I think perhaps even a harder line than he did, a slightly harder line, in the sense of in-house production. I understand it is your bread and butter, and I understand the argument about drawing on a diversity of voices and the creativity pool in Canada. At the same time, I think you made a relatively telling point; that if you haven't made this stuff, you don't know what is good.
18497 He said stay in news. But is that enough?
18498 We have a CBC that has won incredible amount of awards, international awards, over the years. I am thinking of some of the early work that Cam Graham did, The Canadian Establishment, works like that that still hold up, that are still good viewing.
18499 Radio is winning awards. I heard either this morning or yesterday morning -- I can't remember which; it all begins to move in your head and blend -- that the new series on the ore carriers up north, these poor aboriginals who had been carrying nuclear ores out of the north and whose lives were shortened by it, and whose communities were damaged by it, just won a B'nai Brith award, I think it was.
18500 These people who know how to produce programs on radio and television. Why can't they do some in-house as well as take advantage of the talent pool that is out there?
18501 MR. THOMSON: I agree with Patrick in the sense that you have to have done it in order to be able to commission it, but I don't think you have to continue to be doing it in order to be able to commission it. I think it is possible for CBC to hire people to act as commissioning editors who have hands-on experience in terms of producing drama and documentary children's programming. But I don't think they have to continue doing that at the CBC in order to keep up that level of validity.
18502 I think the other concern I have is kind of a slippery slope. If you say they can do some, then you have to define how much and you get into percentages. Is it percentages of dollars or percentages of time?
18503 It is just easier to say why not in terms of the under-represented categories of drama, children's documentaries, variety and performing arts. Why not just commission that from a very, very healthy independent production sector that makes that stuff extremely well.
18504 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: You spoke eloquently at the beginning of your remarks about your own apprenticeship to some of the NFB giants, if I can use that word. It is a misused word, but I think at least two of the names that you gave fit.
18505 MR. THOMSON: Some of them were tall.
18506 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: They are real legends out there, as well as people who are legends in their own mind.
18507 That obviously was a tremendous experience for you. Why don't we just let the market decide? Everyone seems to be agreed that they can get certain forms of production done more cheaply by people liked you and Salter, and the other people we have seen appear before us. They know they have limited resources. If they followed your plan, they would have even more limited resources.
18508 Why not let the market decide? Let them find a balance they can live with; something that keeps some in-house talent, maybe keeps people like Starwitz raising the bar for people like you who are out there and hungry and creative.
18509 Is it such a bad thing?
18510 MR. THOMSON: Well, I think the bar has been raised. I think that was a valid point 15, 20, 30 years ago, but I don't think it is any more.
18511 When I started at the Film Board there were no film schools. In fact, if you went to film school the Film Board wouldn't hire you because they felt you had been badly trained. You had a much better chance of getting hired if you had not had any training whatsoever.
18512 But that has changed. People can go and work for Salter Street and learn the craft, or they can go and work for Alliance Atlantis and learn the craft, or they can come and work for us and learn the craft. They don't have to go to the public production house or the public broadcaster to learn the craft. Lots of us know the craft now, and there are lots of us out there who are quite prepared to teach it.
18513 I am not sure without -- well, I think in terms of the giants of the industry today, and I think if you were to list the names of the best producers and film makers in the business today, I don't think any of them are on staff at a broadcaster, either public or private. I think most of them work in the independent production community.
18514 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: Shifting over to the question of advertising and your notion of a very, very short licence renewal --
18515 MR. THOMSON: Well, longer than Mr. Watson's.
18516 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: Mr. Watson doesn't get the last word here, does he, Madam Chair?
18517 I have this problem with it intellectually. Obviously there are times when short licence renewals are appropriate, and this Commission has tried to utilize that tool. We have very few tools in our tool belt, and that is one of them.
18518 Yet we have had a long process here where we have asked the CBC to come up with a strategy, and they have come up with a strategy. It is certainly at least arguably -- you may find points that you don't like, directions that you don't like, be it constellations, be it advertising, be it Internet.
18519 But arguably -- and I am sure they have the lawyers to pore over it -- it is within their mandate; it is within the terms of the Broadcasting Act. They are a duly hired management team. They are a duly nominated board of directors, and this is the strategy they have come up with and set before us.
18520 We have had a public consultation process throughout 11 cities in Canada. We have had the benefit of your knowledge and that of 100-and-some other live intervenors, plus over 4,000 written interventions, based on this strategy.
18521 Do you really think that they can't massage what they have got, and we can't help them massage what they have, without having to do this whole thing again in less than a year?
18522 MR. THOMSON: Well, I guess I could repeat the same answer that Mr. Watson gave you this morning, but that wouldn't add much to the proceedings. So I won't.
18523 I read their strategy. I read it at lunch today so I could be really fresh. To me, it looks like more the same. I didn't see anything very earth-shaking or breathtaking in the strategy that they proposed.
18524 I think Patrick is absolutely right: more the same is going to just continue to lose so much support among Canadians that the government will have absolutely no difficulty whatsoever just getting rid of an institution that is hugely important to all of us.
18525 I don't think either Mr. Watson or myself are enemies of the CBC. If anything, we want to see a CBC that can defend itself against that kind of attack. I don't think the CBC that exists today and the CBC that is in the plan they presented is that kind of CBC. It is going to have to be a little more dramatic than that. It is going to take more of a push, as Mr. Watson would say.
18526 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: Those are my questions; thank you very much.
18527 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
18528 Commissioner Colville.
18529 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: I was going to ask that same question. But as a supplementary on that last question that Commissioner Langford asked you, if you accept that point of view that this isn't good enough and you have to go back to the drawingboard, it seems to me that some kind of signal has to be given as to what would be acceptable.
18530 The same minds are going to go back to that drawingboard with the same mindset, perhaps influenced by what they have heard at this hearing, at the regional consultations, and so on.
18531 Can you help us in terms of what more specific signal would one want to send in terms of here's the mindset we want you to bring to the T-square and the pencil when you get to the drawingboard.
18532 MR. THOMSON: A couple of points, Commissioner. First of all, it won't be exactly the same set of minds, because I am assuming there will be a new one announced fairly soon who can bring some insight to that process. In fact, I think would be a terrifically good idea if whoever the new president of the CBC is has some kind of ownership of whatever the plan is going to be for the next licence period rather than inheriting one that has been designed by an outgoing team.
18533 I think by giving them a one-year extension, you at least allow that process to happen. I think that is important.
18534 In terms of direction, I feel really passionately about the commercial revenue issue. It is not that I care whether or not the CBC runs ads. I am not offended, as one of your intervenors was, by seeing ads on television. That doesn't bother me at all. What bothers me is the fact that they allow advertising revenue to drive so many of their decisions. I think that is the point.
18535 If they could come up with a plan where their programming decisions and their decisions as to how to serve the community and how to serve the people of Canada were not driven by a need to earn revenue, then I think we would be on the right track.
18536 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: On another point, your analogy to using The Discovery Channel as a sort of base to build upon as an economic model, it seems to me you took it only so far in terms of adding back in the things that one might have to add back in to provide a comparable service.
18537 Obviously, Discovery has delivered satellite to cable. CBC runs a series of transmitters from one end of the country to another. CBC also provides what many people consider to be quite a valuable service of providing regional news service and information service from one end of the country to the other.
18538 I am wondering what happens when you start adding those activities back in. It costs quite a bit of money. Somebody said in the past -- I can't remember who it was -- that the whole issue of broadcasting is content or programming, and everything else is housekeeping; but if you don;'t do the housekeeping, then you have nothing to carry the broadcasting on.
18539 I am wondering what your thinking is on that in terms of being able to do that within your $150 million to $170 million.
18540 MR. THOMSON: I think when I finished my calculation, I had about $160 million or so left to spend on the issue of universal access and time shifting.
18541 The access issue is -- my view is that it is going to disappear anyway.
18542 I understand -- and I am not exactly sure -- that it costs about $90 million a year for CBC to maintain their terrestrial delivery system. I would really like to know how many Canadians aren't getting television by cable or satellite these days and how many of those who aren't want to.
18543 I don't know how many Canadians you disenfranchise by stopping the terrestrial distribution of CBC. The number is probably pretty small, and you could probably for a lot less than $90 million give them all a satellite dish and serve that entire community.
18544 So I think that that could be solved. I think that the $35 million for youth would probably allow for regional news as well in those communities that needed it. Again, I feel quite strongly that it is such a waste of money and time to have a regional newscast in Edmonton when we have three private broadcasters that are doing that and CBC is getting a four per cent of the audience, and yet they persist in running this.
18545 I am sure maybe there are other communities where CBC is the most watched local suppertime news and, if that is the case, then it should stay. But there is no point in doing it just because you need to do it. I mean if there is no audience for it, there are better ways to spend the money.
18546 So, I think with the 35 million I put for news, you could probably cover most of the news requirements in the country. I think with the 150 million I had left over under the Parliamentary allocation, you could easily pay for whatever needed to be done to make sure that all the Canadians, who want to get CBC, are able to get it.
18547 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Were you able to hear the views that were expressed by the regional directors for the CBC, particularly in terms of how they are refocusing their regional newscast to do more what they characterized, I think, as the investigative journalism that the private broadcasters aren't doing.
18548 MR. THOMSON: I wasn't able to hear that but I read some of it in their proposal, yes.
18549 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: You don't see that as being unique enough that warrants that to be continued?
18550 MR. THOMSON: Again, in terms of local news, I can only really deal with the Edmonton example, and they have tried everything and they still haven't nibbled into that market at all. The private broadcasters happen to be, and historically have been, very, very strong.
18551 I think you have to look at it on a case-by-case basis and say does this community need another English language six o'clock newscast or not?
18552 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Those are my questions. Thank you.
18553 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Thomson.
18554 MR. THOMSON: Thank you very much.
18555 THE CHAIRPERSON: We will take our break and be back at 10 to 5.
--- Short recess at / Courte suspension à 1630
--- Upon resuming at / Reprise à 1700
18556 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be by Shaftesbury Films.
18557 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon, almost going into good evening.
18558 MS JENNINGS: Yes, thank you. Hello, good afternoon.
18559 THE CHAIRPERSON: Welcome.
18560 MS JENNINGS: Thank you, Madame Chairman and fellow Commissioners for giving us the opportunity today to talk to you.
18561 My name is Christina Jennings and I am the Chairman of a Toronto based film company called Shaftesbury Films. I welcome the opportunity of speaking to the Commission today with respect to our views on the CBC licence renewal.
18562 I wanted to say that one of the reasons why we wrote to the CRTC and why, in fact, I am here today, is because I, personally, and others in the office got tired of sort of hearing what we will call CBC bashing. And I think the final prompt to move me into action was when I read in the Toronto media that, in fact, independent producers were unhappy or angry with the CBC. And since Shaftesbury Films was neither, we decided at that time to let our views be known to you in terms of the licence hearings.
18563 The CBC, in our opinion, has done an excellent job of triggering strong Canadian programming and working well with the independent production community during what have been, in the last couple of years, some very difficult times.
18564 Shaftesbury Films is a small company. We are seven employees. We focus on developing and producing dramatic television for both cinemas and for the television market. Our focus is really only on Canadian content programming.
18565 In the past five years, we have produced feature length films and one television movie. Shaftesbury has built itself a reputation as a leader in the area of international co-productions. I don't think there is a company that has done more work with the United Kingdom in the area of international co-productions than Shaftesbury. And we are getting a name for adapting Canadian literary works by authors such as Carol Shields, Mordecai Richler and Timothy Findley, to name a few.
18566 The CBC has been an important production partner for Shaftesbury for many years. Our first two features were pre-bought by the CBC in the important script stage and those licences provided the backing for the Canadian distribution advances that we obtained and ultimately the films got made.
18567 More recently, we have produced two feature films and one television movie with the participation of the CBC through the Canadian Television Fund. Each project told a distinctly Canadian story.
18568 "Conquest", set in Saskatchewan is the story of a dying Prairie town and a bank who likes to give away money to keep the town alive. It won the Atlantic Film Festival Award for best Canadian feature.
18569 Last year, we produced "Jacob Tutu Meets the Hooded Fang", an adaptation of the well-known novel by Mordecai Richler. This feature film is set to be released in Canada, a major Canadian release, on October the 18th.
18570 As well, last year, we made "External Affairs", an adaptation of the play "The Stillborn Lover" by Timothy Findley, which is part of the upcoming CBC fall schedule.
18571 It is likely that none of these projects would have been made without the CBC's participation and support during both development and production. Our creative and business dealings with the CBC on these projects have been excellent. The dynamic between producer and broadcaster was one of a partnership and we believe that we were successful in balancing the needs of the CBC with those of foreign financiers and sales agents.
18572 As well, we believe that as independent producers, we fulfilled our part of the bargain by creating compelling Canadian drama for audiences in Canada, as well as around the world.
18573 The current environment for Canadian filmmakers and producers is precarious given the vagaries of the international marketplace and is being made more difficult by dwindling production financing in Canada.
18574 We believe it is in the interests of the CBC and the independent production community to continue the meaningful collaboration that has recently begun to ensure that both entities continue to thrive.
18575 We, independent producers, and the CBC have a shared goal to create dynamic Canadian programming and to do that with limited resources, hence, the ongoing partnership. A collaboration between the CBC and the independent production community is underscored by the recent decision to cut the guaranteed portion of the CTF funding for the CBC.
18576 We were dismayed that the allocation was cut and particularly prior to this public consultation process. In our view, the CBC as our national public broadcaster needed the certainty of funding in order to fulfil its mandate to create dynamic Canadian programming and to do so with some certainty.
18577 We believe that any diminishment of the broad national role for the CBC or adopting a PBS-style model for the CBC, would result in a public broadcaster who is unable to play a meaningful role in producing programming that represents the diverse Canadian cultural fabric.
18578 Nor do we believe that the CBC should be ghettoized into certain confined, under-represented categories of programming since we are very sceptical that private broadcasters will step into those areas that the CBC is being asked to forego.
18579 As producers of content, Shaftesbury Films must struggle to adapt and find ways to thrive in an ever-evolving environment. No differently, the CBC has and must continue to adapt and find innovative ways to fulfil its mandate as a broad-base national public broadcaster in consultation with members of its audience and production partners.
18580 The CBC has historically and continues to have a mandate to balance cultural imperatives with market demands. We believe it is vital for the CBC to continue to collaborate with the independent production community in order to maintain a source of entertaining product within the confines of its Parliamentary allocation.
18581 The CBC should be encouraged to find innovative ways to support the production, distribution and marketing of Canadian programming and feature films.
18582 The CBC's recent announcement of the feature film initiative is a good example of how the CBC is working to support the Canadian film industry, continuing to strengthen its partnerships.
18583 In the press release announcing this initiative, it was noted that the CBC triggered 18 feature films into production through the CTF over the last three years. In Shaftesbury experience, two of those features were ours, the CBC worked closely and successfully with the Canadian distributors to allow for the orderly exploitation of the film in all relevant media, often in priority to the free television window.
18584 The CBC has a long tradition of supporting Canadian talent, writers, directors and actors. In addition, they have lived up to their mandate as national public broadcaster and have ensured that Canadian stories are brought to the screen that might not otherwise have been made by private broadcasters.
18585 The willingness to support Canadian stories has resulted in such dramatic successes as "The Boys of St. Vincent", "Little Criminals", "Big Bear", "Road to Avonlea", "This Hour Has 22 Minutes", and last night, the directorial debut of Don McKellar(ph), which won the Prix Jeunesse at Cannes last year.
18586 Any changes to the CBC that would threaten this great dramatic programming tradition should be discouraged. There has been considerable discussion from many sectors about the question of regional allocations. As a Toronto based production company, I recognize that this is a somewhat difficult issue to raise.
18587 However, we have a concern with respect to a focus on programming being placed on where content is being produced. We believe that Canadian stories should be sought out that reflect the entire Canadian experience, regardless of where they are being produced. We believe it is a mistake to allocate the use of funds on a regional basis. There should not be a quota system, but rather a system of excellence supporting the best Canadian stories, regardless of where they come from.
18588 Who is to say that producers from outside a region cannot tell a particular regional story. In our case, we made the film "Conquest", about the changing way of life in the Prairies. I was drawn to this script, even though I had never been to the Prairies. And with the help of the CBC, this film got made.
18589 The CBC has traditionally produced and licensed programming that reflects stories from all parts of the country, and in my opinion, has successfully balanced the regional nature of those stories and how and where they are produced.
18590 The issue of regional allocation is, in my opinion, adequately serviced by mechanism currently in place. For example, Telephone Canada's regional offices and allocations, CTF's regional bonus initiatives and provincial tax credits.
18591 We believe that the CBC should be focussed, as it has been, on seeking out the best Canadian programming, rather than artificially in supporting a quota system of regional production.
18592 Finally, there is the question the term of the licence being granted. I know from our broadcasting colleagues the amount of time and money that goes into getting ready for a licence renewal hearing. A seven-year licence will let the CBC get on with their long range plans and move forward with the challenging and important task ahead as Canada's national public broadcaster.
18593 In summary, it is our opinion that the CBC has done a rather remarkable job over the last several years in triggering the amount and type of programming given a difficult situation.
18594 We support their licence renewal for the seven-year term and we discourage any action that would diminish the CBC's effectiveness and commitment to continuing to create strong Canadian drama.
18595 Thank you.
18596 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Cram?
18597 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you. Welcome, Ms Jennings.
18598 MS JENNINGS: Thank you.
18599 COMMISSIONER CRAM: I am from Saskatchewan. I am the Regional Commissioner for Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I want you to know that right now, because I will be addressing your issue of quotas --
18600 MS JENNINGS: Okay.
18601 COMMISSIONER CRAM: -- in due course.
18602 I wanted to start off with -- and I have read your letter. You say you are one of the small, non-integrated production companies. One question, do you think that CBC should draw its production from small and large companies?
18603 MS JENNINGS: Yes, indeed.
18604 COMMISSIONER CRAM: And when we talk about that, how do you define "small"?
18605 MS JENNINGS: In our case, we are not a publicly traded company. I don't know how one defines it, other than we have seven employees and we don't, say, have 20 or 30 or 40. So I don't quite know how to define that. If you mean small and large, public, non-public companies, perhaps.
18606 COMMISSIONER CRAM: So there should be some equilibrium or balance between large and small?
18607 MS JENNINGS: Yes. I mean, I think it is the nature of -- as the CBC sort of examines the type of scripts that come into them in the area of dramatic programming, I don't know that they are necessarily looking at, "Is this a small company or a large company". As I say, I think they are looking for what are the best stories to be told within the limited resources that they have.
18608 COMMISSIONER CRAM: So you wouldn't suggest that there would be any conditions imposed upon CBC that they would use some proportionality in using smaller and larger companies?
18609 MS JENNINGS: No.
18610 COMMISSIONER CRAM: At the last, you talked about yourselves becoming -- focussing on commercial products for international marketplace.
18611 Tell me, and you are working with CBC and they do distinctly Canadian work, how saleable is that, internationally?
18612 MS JENNINGS: All the films that we have done with the CBC have had significant advances out of the foreign marketplace and have sold very well internationally. The film "Conquest", the film about Saskatchewan, actually, has done incredibly well for us around the world. It has been in many international film festivals and the British company that is selling it is selling it quite successfully.
18613 So somehow, I think, actually, there is a way to marry what is, in that particular instance a distinctive Canadian story about the changing of the Prairies and that it finds a world audience, no differently than the world, probably outside of North America has never really heard of "Jacob Tutu Meets the Hooded Fang", but they are going to after this. So we haven't had difficulty to date selling our films internationally.
18614 COMMISSIONER CRAM: And so the distinctively Canadian films are surviving quite well, then, internationally?
18615 MS JENNINGS: Yes, they are. In our experience they are, yes.
18616 COMMISSIONER CRAM: You then talk about CBC should not be ghettoized and to certain confined under-represented categories of programming as you are sceptical that the other private broadcasters will step up to those areas that CBC is asked to forego.
18617 What are those ones that the private broadcasters that you believe would be sceptical to take over, what areas?
18618 MS JENNINGS: I think it is in the mandate of the CBC as our national public broadcaster. From time to time it is this balancing act in a way that they have to do where they have to tell, in some instances, very distinct Canadian stories that may not actually -- other private broadcasters may not make.
18619 I mean, for example, I am not sure "Big Bear" would have been made without the help of the CBC. I don't think "Conquest" would have been made without the help of the CBC in our country. I think it would have been considered, quote, "Too small and soft a film" for the others.
18620 We do a lot of work with the other private broadcasters, so I have some experience here. So my concern would be that that's what would be sort of the sacrifice, is that those films would not get made.
18621 COMMISSIONER CRAM: So it is the riskier drama?
18622 MS JENNINGS: Well, I don't know if "Big Bear" was risky --
18623 COMMISSIONER CRAM: You made a --
18624 MS JENNINGS: Yes, I mean, as I say "Conquest" is a very small film. I'm not sure CTV would ever have bought it, nor any of the other private broadcasters. But it was a film that needed to be told. I mean, it was a story that other Canadians didn't know about. So I am very grateful that the CBC were there and ultimately it did find an international audience.
18625 COMMISSIONER CRAM: And you talked about the CBC's mandate and it is clear that their mandate is to reflect all of Canada to Canada.
18626 And when you talk about a story from Saskatchewan not being told, would you agree that not a lot of stories from Saskatchewan are told on the network?
18627 MS JENNINGS: I don't know that I am an expert enough on the CBC's programming to know that. I know that there has been an enormous -- I have made two films now in Saskatchewan as a Toronto producer going out and partnering up with my colleagues in Regina. And I know that actually production over the three years we have been out there has actually sky-rocketed. It is almost impossible to find a crew out there.
18628 I know that the CBC was instrumental, I think, in a film just last year, bringing that to the screen. I think the CBC are changing. I think diminishing revenues, I think sort of awareness of producers having to partner up. So I don't know that there is a shortage of "Saskatchewan" stories. There may be.
18629 COMMISSIONER CRAM: You heard from Mr. Thomson just before you and I am sure you know Kevin Devolt(ph) and people in Regina.
18630 If I understand their issue, if there is any Saskatchewan production from CBC it is always on a co-production basis with somebody from Toronto. Has that been the history thus far?
18631 MS JENNINGS: Well, it is interesting for me. I mean, "Conquest" was a script written by Rob Forsythe(ph), a Saskatoon native that actually had been around for a while and we picked it up. And I suppose because, as I said, I was very drawn to that story, we started production yesterday on Gail Bowen's(ph) novels, a Regina writer -- and on six of those novels.
18632 And again, should we somehow be discouraged as a Toronto producer for being drawn to Saskatchewan stories or B.C. stories or out East stories. I know that, in fact, again, the Saskatchewan community is growing. I mean, it is --
18633 COMMISSIONER CRAM: But we were talking about the mandate of CBC and the issue of co-productions from any Prairie producer with somebody from Toronto and the issue of reflecting Canadians to Canada.
18634 MS JENNINGS: I don't personally believe that those stories can only be told by a person from that region. And I know Steven Onda(ph) from Heartland Motion Pictures, who has been our partner on two films is now making a film where he is the sole producer and has been sold to the CBC.
18635 So again, I suppose, and I know it is a delicate issue to talk about, but I don't think that we should be disadvantaged from wanting to tell a Saskatchewan story because I happen to live and work in Toronto.
18636 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you. Today we are talking about CBC's mandate and that was what I was trying to get at.
18637 MS JENNINGS: Yes, yes.
18638 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Please don't --
18639 MS JENNINGS: Yes, okay.
18640 COMMISSIONER CRAM: -- take in any way my comments as criticism of yourself at all.
18641 MS JENNINGS: No. And I think in -- oh, sorry. Okay.
18642 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
18643 MS JENNINGS: Thank you.
18644 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
18645 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be by Norflicks Productions.
18646 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon.
18647 MR. NEILSEN: You have our written submission and we have a short verbal one that we will be giving and we are cutting it back given the length of time today has taken.
18648 MR. WESLEY: Norflicks is a Toronto based independent production company and we are here intervening on behalf of the CBC.
18649 I am David Wesley, Vice-President of Development at Norflicks and with me is Richard Neilsen who is the founder and President of the company. We do dramas and documentaries and variety programming.
18650 Canadians, like most people in the world worry about how to remain culturally distinct in the embrace of the American colossus. Like everybody else, we worry that purely commercial strategies applied to culture will leave us with nothing of our own, but plenty of theirs.
18651 What dependency on American programs means is that we import not just programs, but standards. A colonization of the mind. A psychological predisposition that could be almost impossible to irradiate.
18652 If we want a working example of what that might be like, we have only to look at our two private networks. Their measure of competence applied to Canadian product is how closely a production apes American television. But what is at stake here is much more than just taste.
18653 What has to be questioned is how the story that television chooses to tell are selected, created and formed. Television possesses an unprecedented ability to engage viewers in a creative process that requires their participation. Societies that lack this capability are denied a vital tool in what has become the single most important aspect of a new cultural process.
18654 Private network television in Canada, insofar as entertainment television is concerned, is third world in that the bulk of its programming is created for and with the participation of an American audience, rather than a Canadian one. And when their Canadian shows imitate American programming, they too become a reflection of the American audience, rather than their own. Small wonder Canadians don't like these Canadian programs very much.
18655 To the extent that U.S. television has stimulated the growth of television everywhere it is desirable. But it must not be allowed to inhibit the development of a capability that is vital to the growth of modern culture within each society, Canada included.
18656 Television product is shared widely. But TV's capacity to be a creator and preserver of culture through the interaction between creators and a distinct national audience is a capacity only few countries possess. In Canada, at the network level, this creative interaction is confined to the CBC. That is why the CBC must be protected from those who would destroy or diminish it, either as a result of competitive greed or because of the uncritical support from its friends or its own internal ineptitude.
18657 Like print, TV is a creator and destroyer of worlds. That's all vested interests, as well as the dispossessed who are not part of its processes are apt to look upon it with deep suspicion.
18658 These suspicions and disappointments are a bad basis on which to construct policy. We offer our suggestions with the assurance that they are as free from bias and prejudice as we can make them.
18659 We believe that the only measure of financial efficiency in our business is the percentage of money expended that actually goes to talent or to support talent, who can then engage and interact with the Canadian audience. By this measure, we have one of the worst broadcast systems in the world.
18660 Over the years, we have been among the CBC's severest critics. We believe that the CBC has concentrated too much on news and current affairs, has failed to provide a viable strategy for regional programming and has, from time to time, seemed confused as to its role and mandate. We think it has had bad leadership at the very top for a number of years.
18661 But since these appointments have been made by the government, the CBC should not be criticized for deficiencies and mistakes caused by the lack of knowledge and experience of successive chief executives.
18662 What is remarkable is that the CBC TV, given the deficiencies in its top leadership is as good as it is. There is much to praise.
18663 CBC variety is virtually alone in providing program vehicles for Canadian performance artists. CBC comedy, such as "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" and "The Royal Canadian Air Farce" are original and popular. The "Newsroom" and other programs by Ken Finkleman are unique, successful and ground breaking. No one else in Canada does children's drama and few anywhere do it better.
18664 It is true that many of these successes, as with the feature length dramas are done by independent producers, but their distinctive character, when compared to such derivative productions as "Traders" and "Cold Squad", done by the independent sector for Global and CTV reveal the constructive hand of the CBC.
18665 In comparing the two network models of private and public television in Canada, the Commission should recognize how much more successful the public broadcaster has been in creating Canadian shows. Nine of the top 10 Canadian entertainment programs are on CBC and 17 of the top 20.
18666 This Commission and its predecessor share considerable responsibility for the current sad state of the CBC and Canadian broadcasting generally, which successive governments, through their appointments, both at the presidential and board level are even more seriously implicated in what has gone wrong.
18667 The best evidence of how debilitating government policies have been is the unfortunate fact that there is no one with the kind of authority required to speak for the corporation. There are those within the corporation that could do so, but they are not in charge.
18668 They, like the rest of us in the Canadian creative community, are asking that you strengthen the CBC and restore it to its place of leadership within the Canadian television industry.
18669 The present funding process permits private broadcasters, quasi-independent producers and the cable industry to exploit the situation in which hundreds of millions of dollars generated by the industry and contributed by Canadian taxpayers is subject to a system of allocation that has eliminated any evaluation of the merits of any application for funds, so long as it meets certain arbitrary monetary criteria.
18670 Government money, meant to stimulate independent production as a means of giving voice to its Canadian artists has been hijacked by people enamoured of the glitter of Hollywood and indifferent or hostile to Canadian talent. The only thing that can restore order to a disgraceful situation is a vibrant, reorganized CBC, unencumbered by its past, provided with enough financial strength to demonstrate that the concept of the public good can stimulate artists to excellence and producers to create meaningful television.
18671 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
18672 I would ask Commissioner Grauer to ask the questions, please.
18673 COMMISSIONER GRAUER: Thank you.
18674 I just have a couple of questions. You have clearly given the subject a lot of thought and consideration, you have a lot of interesting ideas, so I will just really touch on a couple of them where I need a bit of clarification.
18675 I know you have recommended that the CBC get out of regional stations and local programming and appoint commissioning editors for at least four regions, Pacific, Western, Central and Atlantic to commission both network and regional programs.
18676 Now, just let me put something else to you here. If there are no local stations and so there is no local and regional productions, right, for local audiences. There is no local television. What I am wondering is where would you develop the talent from which the commissioning editors could commission if there is no local stations and local production for local audiences in which you could nurture some talent and some skills?
18677 Do you know what I am --
18678 MR. NEILSEN: I am suggesting that you would certainly have -- you may have a station. You would certainly have a centre for the CBC. It would be broadcasting totally in that region. It would have the capability to broadcast either regionally or nationally.
18679 The importance of the commissioning editor is that I think there has been too much concentration on where the film is made and who makes it and much too little attention as to who buys it and what the interest that they want to see reflected.
18680 I think that if the CBC decentralized its purchasing policy from independents and its production policy to the extent that it produced for the national network, if that was decentralized, if someone in Saskatchewan or in Edmonton or wherever had it as their job to think of what they wanted to see come to air -- Incidentally, I think they should be able to speak to the last person who appeared. I agree with her completely. That commissioning editor should have access to producers wherever they are in the country. We must not divide up. Our talent pool is not so large that we can avoid to put it into compartments.
18681 I think what is very important, and I think there is a feeling in this country, that out of Toronto come the decisions as to what Canada is and that is the thing that can be corrected. If we regionalize that function, it would be wonderful if it was competitive, it would be great if the person who was commissioning stuff out of the prairies was creaming the ratings from everybody who was coming from other places. That would be a wonderful situation. She would probably be moved to Toronto, but we could -- The truth is that I think that we haven't and I think there is a huge tendency in hiving for the CBC to think that we have to fight for the national model.
18682 I agree with that in terms of programming. I think that anything -- drama, for instance, should be broadcast nationally. Its cost just prohibit it. You shouldn't make it for a region. But what you should do, you should do public affairs for a region. You should do documentaries, if they are focused in on a region.
18683 The point that I think Andy Thomson made, the newscast that the CBC gives you in Edmonton is nothing distinctive from any other newscast. It can pretend that it is, but it isn't. The truth of the matter is that what we want from the regions and what we want reflected is the thing that those people in those regions are going to respond to, have affection for, and are going to allow them to feel that they are participating in the national dialogue. And that is what that is about.
18684 COMMISSIONER GRAVER: I am not sure I do understand, actually, because what you are saying is that there is an important role for local programming of public affairs and current affairs within a region.
18685 MR. NIELSEN: I don't really care if the CBC shuts down its stations out there, or anywhere. What I believe is that we are coming into a broadcast environment where stations are not very important. I think stations are important where they have a local constituency and so on. But City TV serves the Toronto market much better than CBC serves the Toronto market and probably CFTO does as well. Those are not the issues. The issue is that we have a national service here to create a national dialogue to expose national talents from wherever they are and they should be addressed to the questions that Canadians feel most strongly about and are most vital to them and we can devise a system that does that. I don't care anything about the hardware but probably if we are talking about one of those CBC owned and operated stations, might well continue to operate. But I don't think that the critical mass of people there in terms of technicians and so on is important. We have moved to a stage where our industry is much more sophisticated than that.
18686 COMMISSIONER GRAVER: Maybe it is the time of day or the number of days we have been sitting here because I don't get it. What I don't understand is this. Let me tell you what I hear you saying to me. And I take your point and I understand with respect to drama, which is expensive and it is high budget. Perhaps the economies are not there to be producing this for small audiences. I take your point.
18687 You say here, get out of regional stations and local programming for the CBC, the corporation. Get out of local stations, get out of regional TV.
18688 MR. NEILSEN: It does very little of it, but it is very expensive.
18689 COMMISSIONER GRAVER: Certainly what we have heard from Canadians from coast to coast.
18690 MR. NEILSEN: I am not trying to eliminate regional programming. I am saying that it should not duplicate the local newscast. I am saying it should do regional public affairs.
18691 COMMISSIONER GRAVER: But how? If it gets out regional stations and local programming, how is it going to do it?
18692 MR. NEILSEN: I am saying it should retain the capability to broadcast regionally. Maybe that means retaining the stations. That is not my point.
18693 My point is that they should not be expending resources to duplicate a newscast in Edmonton. What they should be doing is regional public affairs for the prairie region that is fascinating and interesting. And they must have the capability to do that.
18694 COMMISSIONER GRAVER: And that is important to you.
18695 MR. NEILSEN: That is important.
18696 COMMISSIONER GRAVER: That is certainly what we have heard from coast to coast. I just couldn't reconcile getting out of stations --
18697 MR. NEILSEN: I am just referring to the fact that a certain amount of class exists across this country and we are into rather rigid lines as to how it should be owned, affiliates and all the rest of it.
18698 COMMISSIONER GRAVER: I understand.
18699 MR. NEILSEN: And I am saying that should be relooked at.
18700 COMMISSIONER GRAVER: If I understand you, then, what you are saying is you are saying these are priorities in terms of programming, absent discussion of infrastructure and how it is delivered and we should focus on those elements.
18701 MR. NEILSEN: Absolutely. Good.
18702 COMMISSIONER GRAVER: I get it. I am very glad to get it because I didn't understand.
18703 Then I will very briefly go to my other two points, which is I couldn't reconcile how then you would suggest the provincial governments might be supportive of this, but I can now see how that would work.
18704 The only other question is making Newsworld a cooperative news service to which you had suggested all the other private broadcasters would subscribe and I wonder if you don't have any concerns about diversity of voices.
18705 MR. NEILSEN: I think we have more important concerns. The reason, basically, that I think we should do this, remove the news function from the CBC proper and give it to Newsworld, is that I don't think until we do we are going to escape having either a politician or a top civil servant as head of the CBC. I think the government appoints those people, who know nothing about our industry, in order to control the news department and to see that the news does not get out of line, particularly the news on Radio Canada and so on. I think this obsession with control is one of the things that has kept the CBC from modifying its structure or changing it.
18706 So, I think that what we should do is get the government out of the news business and the way we do that is we take Newsworld. It continues to perform what I think it does quite well and could do better, but it is a service in itself. But, in addition to having a channel, CBC would buy its news from there and would pay a fee for that. That would constitute the only federal subsidy to this service. But, at the same time, television has not adapted itself to what the press always had. Namely, a press service that took stories from every newspaper across the country, distributed them to all the others, in addition to writing some stories of its own, and charged those newspapers for that and paid them when they took the news from them. I think that that model for television news -- You see, we have a very serious situation in this country that most of our foreign news is taken from American networks. We get an American view of the world. The CBC has its foreign correspondents but they can't reflect everything. The CTV has one or two here or there.
18707 Essentially, to have a first rate news service which the country could afford to be gathering more material abroad for a Canadian audience, and also I think it should have an international service. There is no reason at all that an international service wouldn't be prepared to look at this along with CNN. CNN is mainly a business service abroad for Americans and others travelling abroad. It isn't very good. It gets good when somebody bombs Baghdad and they are there to look at that. But I think that we should give serious attention to the problem, to the delivery and the development of sound news services and I think the CBC is the place to start. I think it has more resources and it applies them reasonably well. But I think we can do that with a separate, distinct channel which could then, as I say, form a cooperative nucleus so that member stations -- You talk about the number of voices. I would sooner see CTV having the same correspondent on a given evening in Moscow as the CBC than to have them taken in the NBC feed. I think it need not work that way. It may well be that you would have a bureau in Moscow and you wouldn't have the same feed taken that you would have two reporters. So that they wouldn't necessarily look the same. But it is in today's world where it is very -- I mean most news, an awful lot of news is simply a fakery. People aren't there. People follow one line. And the reason is always in this business is that we aren't prepared to pay for it. The Americans pay for it and all of the rest of us ride on their backs. And this applies to news and this applies to everything else.
18708 COMMISSIONER GRAVER: Thank you. There are many other things that I could pursue but it is getting late. I appreciate you dealing with addressing those issues for me. Thank you.
18709 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Gentlemen.
18710 Thank you.
18711 MS. BÉNARD: The next presentation will be by Ms Wendy Lill.
18712 THE CHAIRPERSON: Welcome.
18713 MS LILL: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me and I appreciate the opportunity to speak here. My name is Wendy Lill and I am the Member of Parliament for Dartmouth and I am the critic for Culture and Heritage for the New Democratic Party.
18714 It is a bit unusual to have an MP come before the CRTC. Theoretically, I have the opportunity to influence the CRTC in other ways or will through the Federal Cabinet and as a Member of Parliament I can talk through Parliamentary Committees. But I guess the New Democrats feel that the role of the CBC in this country and public broadcasting is vital. We are very committed to public broadcasting and I felt that this was kind of a watershed event.
18715 I am now going to proceed to be quite critical of the CBC but I guess I would start by saying that I am also very committed to public broadcasting.
18716 I am going to start with a vision and I am going to start with an image. Not long ago, I took part in a peace vigil on the grounds of the Halifax Regional Library and it was a sunny day and that there was a statue of Winston Churchill behind me, in brooding stance, watching over it. One person after another walked up to the microphone to speak about war in Kosovo and there was a student with rings in her nose and she was reading e-mails from other students in Belgrade. And there was a very frail and wise-eyed peacenik that got up and who just spoke out about the importance of no bombing. There was a frenzied poet. There was an ex-soldier dressed in black. They all spoke about their need for peace. And then there was a nervous refugee from another bloody war who cautioned against simplistic thinking. And then a veteran came up and gave just a wrenching reddy-eyed plea for us to hold the line and continue to support the bombing. Some children got up and they sang a song about rainbows. They had balloons. And so it went. It was an open mike and it was an atmosphere of free and respective speech. And it was all about peace. It was a series of witnesses all around the themes of peace and war.
18717 I think that public broadcasting at its best is all about that. I think it is honest, focused, surprising, creative, it is unmanufactured, it is respectful, it is trustworthy, it is accessible, and it is public. It is a forum for our debates and it is a stage for our writers and our artists and it is a mirror in which Canadians can see themselves in the world. And it is in Halifax or Iqaluit or Vancouver or St. Catherines or Sherbrooke, or Biggar, Saskatchewan on a sunny day or a cloudy day. I think the role of public broadcasting is to provide access for all Canadians to disagree and to debate and to speak out and to reflect and listen to one another in good days and bad. In war and in peace. It is the only place, really, that I see at this point where we can empower and strengthen and connect with each other as citizens. It is not as consumers. It is not around our identification with a brand of sneakers or rock videos or a mutual fund. It really is around issues. It is about important citizen and community concerns, such as art and culture and the environment and war and peace and the mass media revolution, which we are all in the midst of and it is about labour and business. And it is about all the big things that affect our lives.
18718 So that is the vision that I have of public broadcasting. So the question is: How does that vision jive with the complex financial and political broadcasting challenges facing the CBC right now? I am going to briefly talk about that.
18719 The CRTC has and does present, and we know now that the broadcasting environment is one of ever-increasing channels. It is concentration of ownership and fragmented market. The private networks have been allowed to expand into new specialty channels, while consolidating ownership and fewer hands and as a result of major corporate buyouts and mergers. These conglomerates, sometimes referred to as "commercial constellations," have an overwhelming advantage in terms of advertising reach and packaging and ability of repositioning their on-air product to cash in on niche markets. Programming from the commercial networks is based totally on ratings in a relentless search for more advertising revenue and corporate profits.
18720 So, into this world that we all now know is out there, where does our public broadcaster fit? The CBC's strategic plan proposes that it become a publicly funded constellation, taking on the commercial constellations in the battle for market share. While they talk about preserving the public mandate in their vision, they warn that they need this repositioning to become relevant.
18721 I am here, really, and the New Democratic Party would like to say that we believe this is really the wrong direction to be going. I guess that is not terribly surprising but becoming a publicly funded commercial constellation, we believe, presents a real danger. If the plan proceeds, the CBC will become a network like the others and its public funding will become very vulnerable.
18722 I believe that public support for adequate CBC funding is predicated on the CBC presenting something distinctive on the air and we all hear over and over that there is nothing new on TV. This is the irony in the many, many more choices that we apparently have. We are not feeling that we have more choices and it is really a sad situation, but it is certainly one that we all hear everyday, and I am sure you have heard it many times before. That having more channels, in fact, is not antithetical to the role of public broadcasting, per se, but the expansion of the CBC into projects, into more channels and into their own specialty channels in the current commercial context does not, we believe, strengthen the CBC. We think it would ultimately weaken it.
18723 I think Canadians want a national broadcaster that will provide forums to which to present ideas that are not in the mainstream but that, in fact, are regional, that are local, that have distinctively Canadian views.
18724 I would like to move on a bit to the whole idea of access for all Canadians. Somebody that was here before was talking about how many people, in fact, have no choice but the CBC. I think that we have 70 per cent cable penetration now in the Canadian market. So there are 30 per cent out there that, in fact, don't get the specialty channels, even if they want them.
18725 I think a special part of the CBC's obligation is to provide quality programming to all Canadians who live in the north and remote areas who don't want or can't afford cable TV, or don't have access to the internet or specialty channels. I think that that is part of the mandate and that is one thing that we believe has to be strongly supported and we believe that the focus has to remain there. We have nothing against more work on the internet areas. The children's programming areas is an exciting one but I think we believe that the main network remains the primary vehicle and when cuts are made due to government policy, the main network should be what the CBC protects.
18726 I think that I am sounding very critical of the CBC. I am not resting all of the blame on the board and on management. Obviously, the government has given the CBC the mandate to be the largest single cultural agency in Canada and it has the responsibility to fund it accordingly. This has failed to happen. The CBC has faced a decade of very significant reductions in the Parliamentary stipend which has led it down the road to commercialization. I mean it is a surprise to be where we are now.
18727 I think, to the CBC's credit, in the midst of the cuts, some of their services have been increased. The 90 per cent Canadian content on CBC TV is admirable and it is something that we all applaud.
18728 I agree with CBC supporters who are raising their voices against the cuts from the string of governments and I do criticize the CBC board and the management who have remained stoically silent through these cuts. That silence has frustrated me as an opposition critic who is always on about the CBC, and I know it has frustrated thousands of Canadians who really want to hear their Board standing up and screaming to the hills for more support for this very important publicly funded public broadcaster.
18729 One of the criticisms that we believe and that we hear, and that you have heard over and over, is that the Board has fallen into the trap of a corporate culture as opposed to a public broadcast supporter. We support the friends of public broadcasting in their suggestion that the appointment process of the board of management has to be changed and that we actually do have to see that the members of the board are representative of all walks of life and from all regions, and not just from one political party. So that they seem to be really representative of Canadians and restore the confidence in the board of the public broadcasting.
18730 I could go on. I am going to try to wrap this up. It is very important that we increase our regional broadcasting. I have heard over and over from people that we need regional drama, we need regional public affairs, we need to know exactly what is going on in the street next to us.
18731 Northrup Frye once wrote that Canadian identity is local and regional and it is rooted in the imagination and works of culture. I wholeheartedly agree in that.
18732 I would like to say in closing that I want to return to the role that public broadcasting plays for a people and for a nation. The CBC was created to provide a buffer against encroaching American commercial interest. The CBC as a public broadcaster was meant to be different.
18733 As a public broadcaster, the ability and the responsibility to provide a bulwark against the continuing and incessant message of commercializing of materialism and consumption, which just drives commercial broadcasting. It acknowledges that people's highest calling is citizenship. It is not consumerism. The one thing that public broadcasters can do that private broadcasters can't do is, in fact, be noncommercial.
18734 So I would say, quite clearly, that CBC's strategic plan falls far short of the lofty goals that we have set up as a public broadcaster, jam-packed with commercials, heavily dependant on repeat programming. It doesn't bring us closer to that important role of being a forum for our debates and a stage for our writers and a mirror in which Canadians can see themselves.
18735 In closing, I would urge the CRTC to say no to the CBC's strategic plan. I would urge the CRTC to take a positive role in re-establishing a strong and vital public broadcaster and to find a way to really endorse a truly public broadcasting policy and to find ways to pay for it.
18736 Clearly, the public broadcaster in our country is under funded and it is time that we gave it enough money so that it can exist in the manner that we envisioned to begin with.
18737 Thank you.
18738 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I would ask Commissioner Pennefather to address any questions, please.
18739 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you. Welcome, as an artist, as well as a Member of Parliament.
18740 MS LILL: Thank you.
18741 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: I understand from your brief and your remarks that you are speaking on behalf of the NDP Caucus today.
18742 MS LILL: Yes.
18743 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: Your brief is clear. I wanted to ask you some questions around public broadcasting, but also around the strategic plan.
18744 You mentioned in your brief and here that you have concerns about that plan, the constellation aspect. But, as you know, there are many other components to that plan, which were also laid out in certain specific initiatives tabled with us during the hearing. I am sure you are aware of those.
18745 I was wondering if you had any comment on that because you will find initiatives tabled that carry out in their proposals providing distinctive programming as distinctive presence in the region, revitalizing English television through Canadianization, building bridges between French and English cultures, amongst others.
18746 As you know in regards to regional programming, the CBC tabled a new approach, $25 million in direct expenditures in the regions. So there are other components of this plan. Are they also not satisfactory?
18747 MS LILL: I am very excited to see their re-commitment to regional broadcasting. I guess I have some difficulty in believing it at this point because they have, in fact, violated their last mandate to the CBC regarding regional broadcasting.
18748 I worry about the amount of monies that there is going to be for regional broadcasting, given the over extension in terms of the internet, in terms of the specialty channels, in terms of children's channels. I really like the idea of the youth channel. I think it is an exciting one. Again, I am concerned about money. I am concerned that we make sure that we have the money for the main mandate. I am concerned about the 2 per cent, and I mention in the report, the 2 per cent productivity increase which they hope to gain through basically increased productivity in their staff. We have just been through a major strike at the CBC, over 2,000 technicians on strike, and the journalists and the editors were on the verge. I believe that it is the thousands of creative workers at the CBC who have, in fact, multi-tasked and they have extended their hours and they have extended their commitment to the CBC. I think that we have seen an enormous productivity increase that I have doubts and it seems almost to me sadistic to expect much of them at this point. I am not really sure they are going to get much more.
18749 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: Were you able to follow the presentation by the regional directors when they were?
18750 MS LILL: I am afraid I wasn't.
18751 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: It was interesting because, as you mention in your brief and your concern today about not quite believing it, they expressed great passion and enthusiasm for the way that they have rebuilt the supper hours and, in fact, in a time of difficulty, Canadianization occurred and that occurred where a feeling one got is that,in fact, their efforts were something that were really going in the direction of the plan. I don't know if you were aware that they had really articulated, "bit the bullet," and gone on with a new approach to return to that mandate.
18752 MS LILL: I would like to echo what Mary Vingoe from the Eastern Front said. I think that there continues to be cuts to funding in drama. We have just seen a realignment, a rearrangement of Newsworld in the Maritimes and it is now being done out of Toronto. I understand the intent and the sincerity of the regional directors. They are obviously wanting to be all things to all people. But if the money is not there, I think they are going to be strapped to actually realize that goal.
18753 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: One last thought. I think you mentioned new media and you support the work of CBC in this area. Did I hear you correctly?
18754 MS LILL: Sorry, I didn't hear you.
18755 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: Do you support the activities of the CBC in new media?
18756 MS LILL: Yes.
18757 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: And yet that is a considerable cost to them. Where do you see that in terms of priorities at the CBC?
18758 MS LILL: I go back to the fact that I think that the original mandate and the main networks are the priority and I think this is a very ambitious, very overly ambitious strategic plan. I think that one of the centre flaws is that it is trying a public broadcaster something that it essentially isn't, and that is a private broadcaster, fuelled by commercials and very -- And I have heard over and over today as well that we weaken what we want the public broadcaster to be if we simply try to be just commercial mock-up of another network.
18759 COMMISSIONER PENNEFATHER: Thank you very much. I appreciate your responses.
18760 MS LILL: Good luck.
18761 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Yes, we will need first some vacation this summer. Thank you very much.
18762 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be Mr. Garth Pritchard.
--- No response / Pas de reponse
18763 MS BÉNARD: It would appear that Mr. Pritchard is not here.
18764 We will go on to Mr. Babb.
18765 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good evening. It is 6:00. We will call it evening.
18766 MR. BABB: My own written script said: Good afternoon. But it will be: Good evening.
--- Laughter / Rires
18767 MR. BABB: Thank you very much for letting me comment about CBC Radio. My name is Clement Edwin Babb. I live in Burlington, Ontario. I am an ardent listener to CBC Radio, not just a passive listener. Rather, I have sent many, many letters and postcards to CBC broadcasters, perhaps 250 in the last 10 years, thanking these people for jobs well done.
18768 I want CBC Radio to thrive, must like in the past. But there is one aspect of CBC's plans that worries me a great deal: Partnering. I repeat: Partnering, which CBC Radio wants to do. I would like now to just read very quickly from my submission to you earlier.
18769 The one aspect I object to is partnering further by CBC.
18770 My reasons: To partner is to inject CBC with the disease spreading across Canada whereby private companies horn in on public enterprises which have been developed by and for the public over many years.
18771 (b) Partnering means relatively low cost to private companies offset by large advertising benefits.
18772 (c) If Molson's, Bell, Pizza Pizza wants to advertise, let them use customary media: newspapers, TV, commercial radio, magazines, skywriting, billboards, but not the public radio.
18773 I have one exhibit. This sheet shows a municipal bus. This sheet shows graphically that which may happen to us listeners to CBC audibly if CBC is successful in partnering. The caption about the bus is:
"This is PARTNERING!
This bus was once a member, like all other buses, of the Burlington, Ontario Transit system. This bus became a garrish shill for a major private corporation."
18774 I hope you will agree with me that partnering by CBC Radio should not be allowed. That is my presentation.
18775 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, sir. I would ask Commissioner Cram to ask you the questions please.
18776 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you, Mr. Babb. Thank you for driving here today and providing us with your input.
18777 I don't know if you know, the proposition has been somewhat narrowed by CBC Radio. They were talking about the monies going to a third party.
18778 MR. BABB: That is correct. Yes.
18779 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Not themselves.
18780 MR. BABB: I understand that, yes.
18781 COMMISSIONER CRAM: And it wouldn't be news and information. There would be: This news is provided by Midas or whatever. That would not be what they would be doing.
18782 MR. BABB: M'hm.
18783 COMMISSIONER CRAM: It would be for what they call new programming, the idea being that say, the Royal Bank gave monies to the Winnipeg Ballet and then we had a ballet that could go on, on radio, without which it would not exist.
18784 MR. BABB: Right.
18785 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Do you still feel the same reservations about that?
18786 MR. BABB: I very definitely do. I think that that represents a foot in the door. For one thing, it represents a foot in the door.
18787 The second thing: You mentioned Royal Bank. Well, what happens if somebody else wants to do this and then the guidelines which have been provided for in the perfection of the submission by CBC to you just recently -- what happens if somebody else wants to get themselves as the sponsor of the National Ballet or the Winnipeg Ballet? You get a dispute and then maybe lawsuits, this kind of thing.
18788 I am very leery of what people say when they say: Oh! yes, we are going to have very tasteful, discriminating advertisements and we are not going to let the riff-raff in here, just the high-tone big business. But I am quite leery of that. I am quite sceptical.
18789 COMMISSIONER CRAM: M'hm. Yet, at the same time, have you seen in the last couple of years a diminishment in the programming from CBC Radio, sort of a diminishment in the quality or an increase in the number of repeats and that sort of thing?
18790 MR. BABB: I would say that there have been quite a number of repeats. But there have been some additions. Danielle Charbonneau has come on and she has been a very nice addition.
18791 Incidentally, I would hate to see her say: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is Danielle Charbonneau. What is the name of her program? "Music" -- oh! no, I won't say that. First, I must say: Royal Bank brings you "Music for a While". I would hate to see that happen but it very well could.
18792 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Okay. Thank you very much and thank you for driving all this way. I hope you are going to stay overnight at least. Thank you.
18793 MR. BABB: Yes, thank you.
18794 THE CHAIRPERSON: Unless you take the bus.
--- Laughter / Rires
18795 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Babb.
18796 MR. BABB: I did take the transit and the bus and so forth. Thank you.
18797 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
18798 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be by the Canadian Media Guild / La Guilde canadienne des médias.
18799 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Bonjour et bienvenue.
18800 MME PELLETIER: Merci.
18801 MR. AMBER: I guess it is officially evening. So good evening.
18802 My name is Arnold Amber. I am the Vice-President of the Canadian Media Guild. I have been working in information programming, mainly in television for so many years that I am probably one of the oldest employees left at the CBC in age.
18803 In addition to the work I do both in the union and for the CBC, I am head of the International Federation of Journalists Committee on Public Broadcasting. So my concerns about public broadcasting extend far beyond Canada. The IFJ has over 250,000 members and members in almost every public broadcaster that exists in the world.
18804 I would like now for my colleague to introduce herself.
18805 MME PELLETIER: Mesdames et messieurs, bonsoir. Merci de l'invitation.
18806 Je m'appelle Francine Pelletier. Je suis actuellement co-animatrice à l'émission "the fifth estate" au réseau de CBC. Auparavant, j'ai été brièvement au "National Magazine" et avant ça, deux ans comme correspondante à Québec du "Point" de Radio-Canada.
18807 Donc, j'ai eu le privilège et l'occasion assez rare de fouiller les tripes des deux réseaux, tant français qu'anglais, que d'ailleurs je dirais sont assez différents l'un de l'autre, mais ce n'est pas le sujet de mon débat ce soir.
18808 Je vais laisser mon collègue Arnold commencer.
18809 MR. AMBER: Thank you. I just returned from South Africa where I was working with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, both on their election and some issues about public broadcasting. What that meant was that when I arrived back here on Sunday, I was presented with about 150 pages of everything that has been happening about these hearings and about the CBC application over the last four or five weeks.
18810 It allows me, I think, in some respects, to bring a different perspective, a little bit more of the forest and less of the daily trees. To me, when I was thinking about this as I was flying home, it seemed to me I went back to the presentation I made to the CRTC last year, when basically the issue was: How do we get more Canadians to watch more Canadian television?
18811 I was surprised when I read some of this press coverage and talked to people about all the various objections people had raised about the CBC getting other licences and doing other things because quite obviously, one of the big issues about getting people to watch more television is to get them to have more places to watch it on. I think we have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt in the last few years that the CBC is definitely involved in showing more Canadian television than anybody else in this country.
18812 Now, a lot of this is contained in our brief, which we presented to you and which I must say that I helped write. So if you want to ask questions about it, I am one of the guilty parties.
18813 I should tell you though that today I come here to speak to you slightly angry. Three hours ago or two hours ago, I was even more angry because sitting here and listening to some of my colleagues from the independent production community is enough to make your blood boil if you are committed to public broadcasting and if you are committed to the CBC.
18814 I start off by saying that one of the issues if you are a debater is you don't leave any issues standing. An issue not refuted is an issue that is left standing. So I don't know what the CBC is going to do to refute some of these things. I don't even know if it is in the CBC's interest to do it. So I will do it.
18815 I think that I was pretty upset when the people from Salter tried to define the core functionings of the CBC to be regional broadcasting and all national broadcasting should be outsourced. I understood when the CBC said: We don't think that part of being a national broadcaster, we have to do the cleaning of the buildings. That, to me, seemed to be a non-broadcasting function.
18816 When somebody has the gall to come here and tell you that the CBC as the national broadcaster should not actually be doing the national production, it seems to me to be an arrogance which only matches the CBC of 30-40 years ago when it said: Only we can make television.
18817 It seems to me that the independent production community, which is not totally independent, as we all know, relies on public handouts just in the same or different manner in which the CBC does. But this independent community -- and they should be more modest because of that -- comes here and claims two things: that before them the CBC did less regional broadcasting; that all the good things that we have seen on television in Canada started up when the independent producers started up. This is totally false.
18818 Years ago, and I have just completed a project for entertainment programming at the CBC which forced me to go into the archives, we have produced at the CBC, not outside but inside the CBC, wonderful variety, wonderful drama. There are things that -- and the difference between those programs and the ones that some of the independent people are doing today is Canadians watch those shows and they watch them in large numbers.
18819 So I would like to just take one opportunity, because I don't know who else is going to do it, to re-address some thinking that you have been hearing about here.
18820 They are vested interests, they are dealing with public funds, and it seems to us that one of the key issues that the CRTC should be addressing itself is about returning some of this production to inside the CBC.
18821 I know the CRTC, in the past licence recommendation, asked the CBC or mandated the CBC to do 50 per cent of its non-information programming outside the CBC from outside. This has gone on too far. Right now, the CBC is incapable of meeting some of its mandate's requests because it cannot do production inside.
18822 Our document talks about this. Our paper talks about this and I won't continue along that line. But to us, the CBC is both a broadcaster and a producer and it needs a dynamic core of producers inside, not just in information programming but in other areas as well.
18823 If I got angry at the first people from Salter, I got even further angry when it was then suggested by Mr. Quickfix! who had it all down that, for $39 million, we could run the CBC until we start adding in what it really cost to run the CBC. But Mr. Quickfix! wants to go even further. He wants to take it out to news, current affairs. In fact, I don't know when the independent community is going to stop.
18824 Are they going to stop when they totally control every program the CBC puts out? Look at the record. From 1982 -- I remember when I met with Francis Fox before his fall and we talked about what is the purpose for the creation of extra funding for the private sector.
18825 Has it achieved that objective? Yes. There is a very, very robust private sector.
18826 Is there still a need for inside production at the CBC? We fully believe so. My vested interest of course is I represent the 3,700 people that make television at the CBC and do administrative things. So we have an interest, sure, vested, but I think, on the public broadcasting level, the BBC doesn't do everything outside. Why does the CBC do everything outside?
18827 It was funny to listen to someone saying: We want more stuff done outside. Right now, we are doing upwards of 85 per cent all non-information programming outside. You cannot even be content to leave the last 15 per cent, in some cases, in drama less than 10 per cent, inside the CBC. It seems to me that not only are they arrogant but they are vultures as well.
18828 Our position is simple. We said it in our paper but I will say it very, very quickly: We believe that there is enough money within the Canadian system of public funding to achieve better quality television and I think that what we want is we want the CBC to look at new methodologies, new ways to present programming in the areas of drama and children that are less costly than some of the ones that we have chosen now. Radio-Canada does it in television. We think the CBC should do it in English television.
18829 I think too that people are misguided when they talk about the problem about CBC getting other licences. I will be very quick about this.
18830 In the environment of the 500-channel universe and the need if you produce some shows to own those programs and to sell them off, either nationally or internationally, that financial situation means that the CBC would be far better financially if it can be granted two or three more licences and eventually the five or six that it wants on television.
18831 In fact, I would say to you: My perspective, dealing with public broadcasters all over the world, is that the only way it will succeed and survive is if it does have these outlets in which it could basically amortize is programming costs.
18832 Shelf space is crucial both from a programming perspective and from a financial perspective and I challenge people who don't want the CBC to go that route to tell us how we are supposed to survive financially. We cannot keep relying on government money. We saw what happened.
18833 Ads: We are still in a survival state at the CBC. Cut the ads off quickly, cut them off now, and I think survival will go.
18834 I am very concerned about quality. I think that what we have to do is drive the CBC to a vision and drive the CBC to a new level of quality. And I think we can do it.
18835 Lastly, I would say to you: My view of this whole process is that basically we are speaking about a partnership here. I think there is a partnership about a CRTC. There is a partnership with the CBC and with the government to get out of the dilemma.
18836 There are only three places that people basically get a lot of money out of for running public broadcasting around the world: you get it from the government; you get it because you have a levy like they do in Britain; then you get it from advertising.
18837 We don't have a levy here anymore. I am old enough to remember when my parents did pay a levy on something or other. But I do know that it is a dilemma and all of us, and I include you folks with it, that believe in public broadcasting should be very, very careful about what happens now.
18838 Putting too many restrictions on a renewal of licence or limiting a licence, another bizarre notion: Give it to them for six months. I could tell you now that it is really bizarre that we finally get five-year guaranteed funding for the CBC and someone comes and says: All right. Now, limit their licence to a year. It took so long to get the five-year funding guarantee. Why would you do that?
18839 So I say to you again that the CBC definitely has a plan. We don't agree with everything, as we said in our brief, about the plan. But it is a plan that you can work with. Some of the things that I have heard today -- I used the word "bizarre" already. So I won't use it again. But they certainly are unrealistic and where we are facing as we come into the year 2000 is a realistic policy for public broadcasting in this country.
18841 MS PELLETIER: We also think that the CBC should change and that is the point I would like to make concerning notably the Board of governors.
18842 But before I go on to that, it is a bit of a sticky wicket, especially since it is not under strictly your jurisdiction. But I think it is something that merits discussion, that has to be put out there, and that has everything to do with the future and good administration of the CBC.
18843 I just want to say first that I accepted the Media Guild's -- of course, I am a member of the Media Guild -- invitation to come here today because I think in this ongoing debate about the role and future of the CBC, which seems to have gone to yet another feverish pitch, the people, like me, who actually have the job of putting the programs on air are, I think, fairly rarely heard. It is sometimes painful to be -- we are thousands, I believe, employees of the CBC. It is sometimes painful to hear all the things people have to say about the CBC.
18844 I would just like to make this other point before I go on, that was inspired by my afternoon here, is that I do believe -- I do think that English Television, CBC English Television needs to be specially defended here.
18845 Les oreilles nous frisent un peu, surtout venant du Québec où on ne voit absolument pas ce genre de mentalité un peu revancharde s'exercer contre la télévision en particulier. Alors qu'on a un véritable culte pour la radio de CBC, on a un espèce de mépris absolument renversant souvent, je trouve, pour la télévision de CBC.
18846 Alors, quand on regarde dans les faits, et j'ai travaillé aussi pour la radio, ce sont essentiellement les mêmes personnes ou le même genre de personnes, les mêmes valeurs, le même genre d'émissions, le même mandat, et bien sûr, le fait de mettre de la publicité et le sport est, je crois, ce qui rend les Canadiens anglais fous face à la question de CBC.
18847 Mais je trouve qu'il y a un danger ici. C'est une espèce de mise en garde que je fais. Il semble avoir une espèce d'obsession avec la publicité et le sport à CBC, comme si la télévision de CBC était moins pure et moins virtueuse que la radio de CBC, alors que personne ne s'évertue à dire: Mais quelles seront les alternatives?
18848 I really think that there is a scapegoating of CBC Television going around that is to the Canadian psyche what hating the feds is to the Québécois psyche. There is some twisted political agenda here and I must say I can't help noticing it and I can't help standing up and defending, which I think is worth defending, even though of course a lot of things could be better. The CBC could be more vital. It could be more dynamic. It could still yet be more relevant to all of Canadians.
18849 In that spirit and in the spirit of the people who don't want to see more of the same on the CBC, we think, I think, the Media Guild thinks that the question of how CBC is run is really paramount. I think it has a lot to do with how we feel about the place and to help people perceive the place.
18850 There are 12 Board members at the CBC that we the employees never see, never meet, never know what and how they are discussing, never hear, as the MP from Dartmouth just said, never hear defending the CBC or criticizing the huge cuts, people who very often do not know a whole lot about public broadcasting and yet who are at the helm at these very crucial times.
18851 Now, I think obviously the system is at fault here, a system where the President is named not by the Board but directly by the Prime Minister, where the Board members are also named directly by the Prime Minister and, if you like it or not, be they Liberals of the day or Conservatives of the day or not, they do owe their allegiance to the Prime Minister and to the government.
18852 The famous arm's length that English Canadians are so proud of, I think, suffers. It has been said earlier, and I think we all know that there is the perception specifically, particularly these days in the wake of "L'affaire Milewski" that there is something wrong, that there is the possibility at least that the government is putting pressure on the CBC and I think we have to stop that perception. We have to do something about it.
18853 The proposition that is laid out in the Media Guild's brief is to adopt something that the Australians and the British have already adopted, the BBC and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which is to go about naming those people that have a big say in how we run things and how we do things very differently, that rather than having the Board members named by the Prime Minister, you would have a parliamentary committee naming them.
18854 After a wide call, a wide broadcasting of members throughout Canada, they would be trained. They would be asked what they are not asked now, how they feel about public broadcasting, what do they know about public broadcasting. The President would then not be named by the Prime Minister but be named by the Board of Directors, which would give the Board the clout and accountability it does not have now.
18855 Finally, and this is, I suppose, the most radical proposition: We would see two new members, going from 12 to 14 members, members that would be elected from the French Network and the English Network, one each.
18856 De cette façon-là, on pense que non seulement les employés se sentiraient mieux représentés et quand les choses deviennent difficiles auraient leur mot à dire directement à la table des négociations mais aussi que le Conseil d'administration serait renforcé par le fait-même et deviendrait plus efficace.
18857 Il y a une question de transparence ici et d'indépendance qui, je pense, sont cruciales comme je disais auparavant au bon fonctionnement et à l'avenir de la CBC/Radio-Canada, que je pense que tout le monde, tous ceux qui sont venus ici aujourd'hui applaudiraient.
18858 Je vous remercie de nous avoir écouter.
18859 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Merci, madame. Thank you very much. I have very few questions because your intervention this evening and your brief is very explicit in terms of where your opinions and ideas and suggestions are. But I would like maybe some clarification or further detail on some of them if you allow.
18860 First of course, as you may certainly guess, I will not comment or ask any question about your suggestions about the corporate governance, but I am interested in the transparency part because we have raised through the hearing that issue -- it has been raised by many intervenors with all different kinds of purposes.
18861 But I would like to understand your own position because you talk about getting more financial transparency, you know, the costs. So what do you see that could be done that is not done right now that could be helpful to all Canadians in terms of helping the CBC as a Corporation, as a public institution, to be -- not that it is not accountable but to have the appearance and really kind of go further in that accountability.
18862 MR. AMBER: Well, one of the things that we are suggesting, which continues what Francine was saying about the selection of the Board, was that I think you have to establish it beyond doubt that there is a cleavage between the government and the Board of the CBC, and so that the CBC in fact is independent.
18863 A Corporation which relies so heavily on its information arm has to be seen to be independent as well as being independent. So we have asked for this very, very transparent way of recruiting new Board members. Advertisements which the BBC does, a parliamentary committee that vets the people in open session just like this would be, and if the media shows up, they show up and they report on what answers were given by the various potential candidates, and so on and so forth.
18864 By the way, I was in South Africa in 1993-1994 when they actually used this. When they turned the State broadcaster into a public broadcaster, this was the methodology they used to set up the independence of the SABC. So that is what we were talking about --
18865 THE CHAIRPERSON: I heard you on this, Mr. Amber, and I don't want to talk about that because it is not our jurisdiction. It is not our --
18866 MR. AMBER: Well, then maybe I misunderstood the question.
18867 THE CHAIRPERSON: So I am talking about transparency in the other areas, not only towards the corporate governance in terms of who gets on the Board or who gets to be President, but in terms of the commitments that the CBC altogether, the Board, the management and the artisans that work within the CBC take together in terms of meeting those commitments and how can -- some would say, it's on the airwave, it's on the screen. It is quite apparent, yes.
18868 But in terms of some specific commitment, how can it be more transparent in order to bring to everybody, you know, unions, citizens, the CRTC, the government, the kind of information that would give us the comfort --
18869 MS PELLETIER: Well, I don't know if -- je m'excuse de vous interrompre.
18870 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Non, ça va.
18871 MS PELLETIER: I don't know if this helps but I know that without going all the way up to the Board that there is probably a culture of transparency to inculcate within CBC/Radio-Canada. There is a funny contradiction, you know, with that huge institution. The fact that they hire people like me because of your gut instincts, because of your troublemaking instincts.
18872 Yet, you can never turn around those troublemaking instincts within your own Corporation. You can never try to ask too many questions. It is hard to get information circulating and the bigger it is, the harder it is.
18873 I don't know why we cannot get minutes of meetings or at least get some kind of internal memos of what is going on because I think it is one of the basic problems of morale and sort of communication within the institution, that communication does, even though that is our business, does not flow internally.
18874 MR. AMBER: Externally, it would seem to me that of all the institutions in the country, CBC, Radio-Canada, it is easiest for them to actually talk to the Canadian people. Years ago there were programs for people who wrote in questions and the CBC answered them, this was a radio program. From time to time there have been attempts, sometime half-hearted attempts, to get senior managers to appear on radio or television programs and take phone calls. There was one recently, just a few months ago.
18875 Actually, what I believe should happen and strangely enough, at one stage we talked about doing this as a program on Newsworld, is that there should be programs of that sort. That part of the partnership between the CBC and the Canadian people should be the ability of the Canadian people to question what goes on the air.
18876 The BBC, years ago, took a much more direct approach on this and they had a program and the producer who did the program would have to come in and defend what they did or show what they did or why they did it. There are all sorts of devices you could use and you know what, I think that the programs that we have all put on haphazardly throughout our years I have actually very well listened to or watched. So actually, it is another -- would be programming that I think the public would be interested in.
18877 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. On page 7, I have even asked what the word meant because it was a new word for me, I am still learning my English. I can't even pronounce it -- beleaguered.
18878 MR. AMBER: How about if I say it is sort of under seige.
18879 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, that's --
18880 MR. AMBER: Morale that is under seige, beleaguered. Troubled.
18881 THE CHAIRPERSON: With the strategy presented by the CBC, do you feel -- because, you know, your last paragraph on that page -- or your last sentence and that I can -- I knew what it meant, the fight is just beginning.
18882 What do you think will be the impact on the morale, on the creativity, on the professionalism, the innovation, you know, all the work that you are doing with the strategy that is proposed for the next licence term? Do you feel that it is either a good protection, a good tool, a good arm or is it something on which you feel comfortable that with the proper collaboration that if there is a fight, it will be a fight against the world outside. But it will take you further into the notion of what is a public broadcaster.
18883 MR. AMBER: That's one of the reasons why we have the labour contract is to help guard the people that work at the CBC who belong to our union.
18884 But beyond that, our belief is that what the employees at the CBC want, first of all, is a more stable CBC. We have lived through utter hell the last five years, just utter hell. We are all survivors. Just like people can talk about surviving a terrible illness, we are survivors.
18885 What we want most is the ability to make better quality programming and what we would like to see and we think that if you agreed to most of the things that the CBC asked for, we think that the conditions may be created to do better quality programming. We think to put the CBC on a more sound financial footing.
18886 We are very, very concerned about regional programming. And in my needs to get through my notes rapidly I didn't touch on regional programming, although I notice it comes up by almost every intervenor, including the famous Edmonton program. And it makes your blood boil again because the criticism about Edmonton is you could fit all the people into the hockey arena. Well, the hockey arena would never hold the people in Edmonton who used to watch that program before somebody got the great idea of cancelling the Calgary program and making the Edmonton program, as we say in our brief, go to Edmonton and Calgary. And after five years of experiment, it is now, with this new program one has to rebuild.
18887 I should remind you, because I understand I missed it this morning, there was a delightful dramatic presentation by Mr. Watson. It was Mr. Watson who was Chairman of the Board when they decided on that great idea of cancelling Calgary, killing Windsor and a bunch of -- Saskatoon and a bunch of stations in Quebec.
18888 Some people said here today, and I think it is the fundamental point that broadcasting in Canada, despite everything else, needs a strong regional base. Canadians relate to their cities and their regions. And it is a country that -- a former Prime Minister often talked about, its regions and regions and regions that make up this country. And I can say to you, both from that broadcasting perspective and also from the perspective of developmental possibilities for a better national service, that the regions must be kept.
18889 So I thank you for actually raising this so I could get that in.
18890 MS PELLETIER: If I can just add, if you are asking me what do the employees of Radio-Canada, CBC think of going on to this expanded universe, I don't think they -- I almost thought Sheila Copps was talking for the employees when she says, "How can you possibly do this with the same resources and the same people", feeling as if she was defending us poor, over-worked employees.
18891 I think what the people of CBC who work there want is a strong leadership. They want to have someone who says, "Okay, gang, this is where we are going. And follow me, I am going to take you there and then I am going to stand up to our critics and to the government".
18892 That being the case, I think CBC employees would welcome new challenges. I mean, the energy towards Newsworld is still noticeable. It is still a new baby in the place that the old baby doesn't have any more and it generated a lot of energy that people in the old place envy sometimes the Newsworld people.
18893 So no, there is place for new stuff. It is just how are we going to do it and what is the vision, I think, is the big word here. What is the vision?
18894 THE CHAIRPERSON: But do you feel there is one in the strategy proposed?
18895 MR. AMBER: There certainly, in my view, is the beginning of a vision. I, again, fully believe, just like the BBC would not be the BBC preparing itself for tomorrow. I mean, I think you all know about all the services of the BBC offers. And the BBC has strategically placed itself as the world's -- maybe the world's leading public broadcaster, certainly the reputation in the English speaking world as the leading public broadcaster. And they have strategically placed themselves to continue their work as a public broadcaster by having a multitude of services. And I think that is what the CBC is trying to do.
18896 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the BBC is doing it with much more money.
18897 MR. AMBER: For sure.
18898 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, that makes a difference, because that is what we are asking. You know, somehow -- I guess I am asking, is the strategy for you a vision that will bring the best energies and you feel that what is available in terms of resources is sufficient to provide high quality programs as you see necessary for the CBC to fulfil its role.
18899 It is a long question, but I guess that is what --
18900 MS PELLETIER: I think we definitely have to fight for more money. I think, you know, saying we can make do with these cuts, nothing will change at the CBC, you won't see any difference in the quality, I think is a short-term argument. I think we need -- we cannot content ourselves and still want to expand our universe with what we have got.
18901 THE CHAIRPERSON: So would we understand correctly if we were to, you know, kind of coming out of this evening and our short entretien, but reading your written paper that you approve of the general strategy and the general orientation, but you recognize that the resources are limited and you cannot do everything with the same level of resources.
18902 MS PELLETIER: Yes. The CBC being all things to all people, I don't think can stand, no.
18903 MR. AMBER: But, you know, the alternative is equally bad.
18904 It is my view, and I don't necessarily speak for every union member, that if the CBC doesn't reposition itself strategically as part of the Canadian television system, it will fail as well. So the question, in some respects, is not terribly important. There has to be a reason why all the other major public broadcasters have sought to expand their services.
18905 The 500-channel universe, which is the key word, has actually changed everything. And if you want to sit in your little corner, the corner will get smaller and smaller until you will become irrelevant. The CBC can never become just a PBS in the American terms. It has to be the type of public broadcaster that exists in places like Britain and Sweden and in the Netherlands and so on and so forth. That is what it must be and to do that, you have to make decisions.
18906 I think the CBC's issue about starting new services -- and I think the thing you are concerned about is by starting new services does it even further kill the product it has now. I think there is a multitude of things the CBC wants to do. One of them is have the ability to borrow money. I think that this is another area that they are looking at because that is the way you strategically change your position in the marketplace.
18907 THE CHAIRPERSON: The kind of answer we are looking for and the concern we are raising, given that we are not the Treasury Board, we are not the government, we are the regulatory agency, we renew licences and our champs d'activité is quite wide, but yet, it is not all the dimensions. In the range we have, I am asking for some advice on your part, given that we cannot at the same time say yes, this orientation is interesting and here's the money.
18908 Should we go in the short-term with the resources we have. Like, for example, when we go with the strategy, that means putting somewhat like $20 million a year into new media when there is, we were saying, about that amount of money over seven years period that was proposed. Do you see in terms of what are your priorities or what you see as very basic in terms of what is the service of the CBC? Do you see that as something you support?
18909 MR. AMBER: If the days following the bloodbath on the money side four years ago had been followed by a hearing of the CRTC to basically say to the CBC, can you continue, tell us your plan, I don't think anybody then would have imagined that the CBC would have come out of this as well as it has.
18910 I have not seen the business plan for new ventures, but I think in the end the CRTC -- and that's why I talked about this partnership -- I think all you actually to go on, from my point of view, is what faith you are willing to put into the senior levels of management and their plan. The plans aren't filled out about new ventures.
18911 I, myself, think that maybe the new media thing sounds too high. It sounds like too much money and maybe I am right.
18912 One of the reasons why we, in our document, do not support the English radio youth music station is we think that that perhaps is not a valuable use of what we think will be $8.5 million out of existing funds. I may be wrong, the CBC will correct me when they do their rebuttal if that is the case.
18913 But there are some things we don't think are good and we have noted it. The other things we think are part of it, although we don't know all the business plan details, but what we have heard of it, we are willing to go along with.
18914 We do know, definitely though, that the CBC -- as we said to you in our paper last year, the CBC must never be allowed to become a supplementary part of the Canadian broadcasting system. It always has to be a key part of it. And to be a key part of it, it cannot exist with the television services it has now.
18915 It is bizarre that I come back from South Africa where they have three over-the-air broadcast channels and they have the equivalent of what we call Newsworld, they broadcast to all of Africa, but a 24-hour news service. There are reasons why these people have those sorts of things and I think it is because it is one of survival and it is one of the promotion of public broadcasting, not the hinderance of public broadcasting.
18916 MS PELLETIER: Madame Bertrand, I think what you are getting at is, do we think that the CBC is rethinking enough its basic mandate and its core network before launching itself, you know -- reinventing itself on the broadcast wheel.
18917 I think we could all share, like, we think maybe there could be more thinking there. And of course, getting rid of ads and sports would do wonderful for the support for CBC Television, but there is no money to come in. There is no alternative right now.
18918 This is my suggestion to the CRTC: To help CBC get to that vision of reinventing its basic self, give it what it is asking for with the provision that it will do that. That it would rethink more seriously with all the resources, the dynamisme and all the rest that that will generate. The obligation to rethink what it has not been able to do always, because you can't just take away the advertising because you just can't from -- that could be the solution.
18919 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you very much. Thank you.
18920 I thank you for your patience, having been with us all day today. And thank you for your participation.
18921 MR. AMBER: Thank you for giving us so much time.
18922 MS PELLETIER: Yes, merci beaucoup.
18923 THE CHAIRPERSON: Merci à vous.
18924 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be by Barna-Alper Productions.
18925 THE CHAIRPERSON: Bonsoir. Welcome.
18926 MR. BARNA: Thank you very much. I never sort of even dreamed that I might be closing out the ceremonies, especially since, you know, when I was going to school, usually the fact that my last name started with "B" would get me to the front of the list.
18927 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
18928 MR. BARNA: Now I am at the end of the class.
--- Laughter / Rires
18929 MR. BARNA: I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to appear in front of you. I should tell you that I greatly appreciate the work of the CRTC because a lot of the well-being of my company, Barna-Alper Productions, has had to do with the choices that you have made in the past.
18930 The fact that you quite wisely decide to license new networks has meant that we were able to build a company that is diversified, that benefits economically greatly from the system that is in place now.
18931 When the new channels came on air, we were doing largely National Film Board documentaries and it was in those days that if you would make one or two phone calls, you were finished all your phone calls for the year. Now you can keep on calling forever and ever and you can keep on pitching. And we benefitted because we started off working with Newsworld and TV Ontario and then moved on to Discovery Channel and History Channel.
18932 Part of the reason I am saying this is because we have also become a major supplier to the CBC. I just want to make sure that people here understand that we are quite diversified and we work with a lot of different networks. Nobody asked us to be here but we felt that it was important to be here because it is a great public issue and it rests in your hands and the decisions that you are going to make are going to have great influence.
18933 Before I get into talking about any detail about the CBC, I just want to take a moment of your time to tell you a little bit about what we have done in the past year and what we are in production on now, in case you are not familiar with our company.
18934 I guess our flagship show is a show called "Da Vinci's Inquest," which we co-produce with Haddock Entertainment and the CBC. We launched it last year and everybody kept telling us while we were shooting that it was a great show. Of course, we didn't believe it until it went public and we didn't get beaten up with a two-by-four stick and critics liked it and the audience liked it and we had very good ratings for it.
18935 Last year, Barna-Alper also had two television movies of minor significance on air. At the end of the day, "The Sue Rodriguez Story" on the CBC and also "Milgaard" on CTV, which was a minor achievement because we had to go to court to actually get it shown, but we were a lot wiser for it.
18936 In addition to that, we did another 13 hours of programming. We do a series called "Turning Points in History" for the History Network. It is a renewable series. We are now going into our third season. This year, we are very happy because we are going to be producing a documentary series once again for the Discovery Network. We did 40 hours for them a couple of years, a series called "The Body, Inside Stories." This year, we are starting a new series.
18937 So we work for all of them and, in addition, to the ones I have listed, we have good relations with Global and we have it with City, and I could go on and on. So there is no particular huge vested interest that I have to show up here and just be a good boy because you give us money every once in awhile.
18938 I am intervening for a number of reasons. One of them is, I guess, just as an ordinary citizen. I grew up with the CBC. I have a lot of respect for both the current affairs programming that they produce, the news and the variety and the drama. I guess I was weaned on "Wayne and Shuster." I was writing comedy sketches when I was in Grade Six. I am still submitting them. They are going nowhere.
18939 So I care about the institution. I care about the institution in a very instinctive and fundamental way. But there is also self interest. I care about the institution because I am a producer of "Da Vinci." And I know that the network has been immensely supportive of our work for Chris and I. I have to tell you, to produce a series in a Canadian context, we are handicapped. We are handicapped in a lot of different ways.
18940 First of all, we are handicapped because we compete in terms of monies available to do our shows. Audiences don't distinguish between a Canadian-produced show and an American-produced show. Yet, the reality is that our shows are produced at sometimes 25 per cent of the price of what it cost to produce "The X Files" and produce one-thirteenth of the price of what it cost to do "ER." And we air side by side. Not only that but we produce in probably one of the hottest, busiest cities in Canada, Vancouver, where the American service productions drive up the prices so that when we go looking for studios, when we go looking for crews, when we go looking for deals, we have to pay or we have to be competitive with what the Americans can pay.
18941 Our partners in crime are the CBC and the CBC have been generous in supporting us with the level of licence fees that they have supported us. And, naturally, we are concerned when they are financially handicapped by cuts. We are concerned when they are handicapped by the new development, loss of the envelope, and we are supportive when they look for ways to be vital and active into the future and to act and behave like a normal broadcaster would to look to the future to build both sort of an integrity in the broadcast system. In other words, have as much place both in narrow casting as in broadcasting, and also concern that they don't lose revenues that are supporting them right now.
18942 It was a hell of a negotiation to get what we needed to get for "Da Vinci." I don't mind telling you that. And I prefer to believe that if that negotiation was tough because money is short inside the network. let us not forget that the Parliamentary allocation was reduced. To further entertain further cuts would be detrimental and I believe would have a very severe and negative impact on the independent community.
18943 I should say that I know there are a number of people that have intervened. I think that there is a lot of discussion about the CBC changing. I think the CBC has changed a hell of a lot. I think it was a big deal five, seven, eight years ago, trying to get an appointment at CBC to pitch an idea, to sell a movie. There used to be sort of "blood baths" and battles back and forth between National Film Board and CBC as to who did the real documentary, can we access broadcast time. Those days are gone. They welcome the independent community, unlike Arnold Amber's observation that we are arrogant and vultures, there are some of us who have more amicable relationships and don't wish to see the CBC destroyed. In fact, we want to see it become stronger.
18944 I think I have talked to many of my colleagues in the independent community who, just by the nature of the fact that the CBC creates orders in volume, has incredible standards, wants to see the CBC thrive and be financially viable. You cannot cut and cut some more and expect it to be the institution that it was designed to be.
18945 Stability. I support their seven-year licence. I support it because I think that it is a very draining process to have to go through this. I believe the leadership is strong now. They have an idea of where they want to go. I don't believe that any one person, whether they are independent in the independent community, independent broadcaster, or the CBC, can figure out where the hell all of this is going in the next five years.
18946 If we were to expect them to give us a master plan, I don't think they are going to be a lot more successful or a lot less successful than Global would be or CTV would be. Let's face it. We are all flying by the seat of our pants. It is changing very quickly.
18947 I guess that's it. That is my little speel.
18948 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I would ask Commissioner Colville to address the questions, please.
18949 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Thank you. Welcome, Mr. Barna. I guess they must have picked your first name in the alphabet for this order of appearance here and maybe focusing on the "Z" in Laszlo or something that you ended up being last on the agenda.
18950 I only have a few questions to ask you. Let me ask you, first of all, I guess you are in kind of a unique role relative to some of the others who have appeared in front of us and, in particular, the number of the independents that, as you have noted, you work with the History Channel, you work with CTV, you work with Global, you work with the CBC. We have been discussing this issue and people pick on words and I guess we get accused of perhaps using the wrong word at the wrong time and what does that mean. But we have talked about the CBC perhaps having a complementary role to the private sector, the word "distinctive" has been used over the past several weeks, the term "broadcaster of record" has been used. Given your experience of having worked with a number of different broadcasters and specialty services and the CBC, how do you view the CBC in that range as being distinctive, complimentary, broadcaster of record. What role do you see for it relative to the others as you are selling the programs you produce to all of them?
18951 MR. BARNA: To be honest, we don't designate a project as particularly CBC or CTV. I mean I think there are certain instincts that you have. You look at what their line-up is.
18952 From a sales of point, we are very crude about the whole thing. You have to say, okay, well, if I am going to be pitching a cop series and CTV has two cop series, then you are less likely to walk into CTV because they have so-called franchises in that area.
18953 I think that in the day-to-day workings with the executives of the CBC, they are committed, regular broadcast executives. No more, no less. I don't quite understand the notion of specialness and carrying that like a ball and chain because it is very hard to recognize.
18954 For instance, on "Da Vinci," I know one of the attractions for the CBC was that it was set in Vancouver. Indeed, one of the attractions for me was that it had a special feel. It had a special community that it was addressing. And it had an integrity because that was coming from the heart of the writer and the creator, Chris Haddock. He was writing about a community that he had lived all his life.
18955 So could we have brought "Da Vinci" to some other broadcaster? I believe so. Were they specially designed to order "Da Vinci" because it was in Vancouver? Well, I like to think that they ordered "Da Vinci" because they had good taste.
18956 So, I don't know actually see them operating in a very sort of narrow confined designated responsibilities to address certain issues. I know they do do that. I know that they do put on regional searches so that they get anxious and they want to have a series come of Montreal or Nova Scotia or wherever. And I know that they treat that seriously and there is a whole bunch of talks that go on with regional producers.
18957 My experience from my company's point of view, if the project is strong enough and it is smart enough and it can hold a million views and a million and a half viewers, I will sure go knocking on that door.
18958 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: The CBC talked about committed broadcast executives. Do you get a sense that perhaps it has been suggested that they may be more risk takers when it comes to choosing programs to air than perhaps the private broadcasters might be?
18959 MR. BARNA: I wouldn't use the word "risk taker." I think that they have slightly more resources to play with, a lot more resources to play with. I think that if they were healthier financially, they would be developing more. They would be trying new shows. They would be placing more shows across the board and across the regions.
18960 I think that their level of risk taking right now is very handicapped by the fact that they are financially tight.
18961 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Picking up on that point, I was noting in the letter that you sent in, and again the comments that you mentioned today, about the fact that "Da Vinci's Inquest" is on, "The Sue Rodriguez Story," and we have heard from a number of independent producers over the last few days about the various programs that they have managed to produce and have the CBC air. And then you go on in the next paragraph in your letter to talk about the budget cuts. I guess my marginal note on the letter was, well, given all of the activity that is going on, it would appear that maybe the budget cuts haven't been so bad. I mean this "Da Vinci's Inquest" has gone on, only in the last year, and it seems to be doing well.
18962 If the current level of funding, and even Mr. Amber noted, we believe there is enough money in the CBC. I think that is what he said, if I am wrong, I apologize to him. But would it be your view that there is enough money there now? I mean a lot of people have talked about the budget cuts and I kind of get a sense that the reason people are saying that is because they are worried more is to come.
18963 If the funding was stabilized at where it is now, would you believe that the CBC could continue to do the "Da Vinci's Inquest," "The Sue Rodriguez Story," those types of things that you provide and others do?
18964 MR. BARNA: I know that their level of production on mini-series and on television movies has diminished. It is just like physically gone down. I don't know what the exact statistics are but, at some point, they used to do five television movies a year. They do a couple of television movies a year.
18965 I would like to think if they had more money they would invest more money into the programming. I don't think that they want to be coming to the independent producer and saying that you know that hit show that you did last year for a million dollars an episode, why don't you it for eight hundred? It is crazy. In a normal system, success is rewarded with more. It is just not one of the abilities that they have. I think if you look at their current affairs line-up, they have had a lot of the same flagship shows and they have continued to perform "The Fifth Estate," "Marketplace," et cetera. Where are the new shows?
18966 I don't think that the lack of new shows really illustrates a lack of imagination. It demonstrates the lack of a financing ability to get it done. They are expensive, whether they are in-house or out of house. If you look at what they are competing against, primarily, again from the American networks in terms of "Dateline" and "20/20" and the proliferation of magazine shows that have come out. They are very expensive to do.
18967 You have to ask, you know, how can they stay vital, when on the one hand, CBS/NBC is hooking our audiences on junk, so to speak, mainlining them with expensive shows. And then we have to do with what we have developed plus a little bit more. So I think that that argument that they have enough is probably not accurate.
18968 The notion of in-house production versus out-of-house production, that's a sensitive one. Obviously the Media Guild has a different point of view on it than we do in the independent community.
18969 The only thing I would like to note now is that almost all of our documentary work in the independent house is being done by ex-CBC staffers. And they are real good and we are very happy to have them and they are working.
18970 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: If we assume that the current level of funding were to continue and be stabilized -- that's the term a lot of people use, we need stable funding. So let's say it was stabilized at the level it is now, do you think the CBC's current priorities are adequate in order to achieve what you think are the proper objectives?
18971 MR. BARNA: Yes. I think that there is, you know, new leadership at the top. Obviously high on their agenda is figuring out how they are going to survive and be over the next couple of years, not just as a function of licence, as a function of self-respect, mandate.
18972 Most of the people that I know care very deeply, whether they are reporters or they are production executives or they are vice-presidents, they are in this game because they are committed. If they were in it for, I believe, the big bucks, they would probably be in the private sector. And I believe that if they were stable, if they were given a long-term mandate, I think that they -- the institution would change and will change even beyond what they are proposing right now.
18973 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Well, given that you are satisfied with the current mandate, the management and the current priorities, in your letter near the end you said that you wanted to come here today to present your views on how the CBC ought to grow and change as it prepares for the next century. Again, in your oral presentation you said you want the CBC to become stronger.
18974 How do you want to see it become stronger? How do you want to see it change?
18975 MR. BARNA: Well, they are in a tough situation. Traditionally, distribution was one of the components they used to feed them, it is all more or less going out of house. I would like to see them form more partnerships with the independent community.
18976 I think, for instance, right now in the current affairs side of the CBC there is a documentary unit that does about, I think, 75 hours of programming. I am hopeful that with the launch of new channels and new services that they will be able to put more work into the independent community.
18977 The reason I say that is not only because it is self-interested, but as we all work on a shrinking dollar, we are all going to be looking for new partnerships and new ways to make more on less dollars. I think independent producers are capable of bringing in partnerships from abroad, from other broadcasters. And I think that, you know, as long as they keep marching in the same direction, going in the same direction that they have indicated up to now, I think that that growth will be illustrative.
18978 A sensitive area, which I don't even want to get into, because I am not privy to the stats, to the decision-making, is in what ways they can find efficiencies in the current system.
18979 I have trouble enough running my own company with 20 people, never mind running -- commenting on their institution with 3,200 people, figuring out how they can shave 20 per cent off their operating line and put it into production. I would expect them to keep addressing that in an ongoing way.
18980 And I don't think you have to be a cop to actually get them to do this, I think that their well-being is enough incentive to keep them looking forward rather than staying still.
18981 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: The last question, speaking of delicate issues, let me ask you a question about your own program.
18982 There was a gentleman here earlier in the week, people were talking about the issue of diversity and programming on the Canadian system reflecting the changing face of Canadian society. And your program, in particular, was mentioned with respect to whether or not it reflected the face of the community in Vancouver, and that perhaps it didn't reflect.
18983 I will give you an opportunity to respond to those comments and perhaps address how one might go about better reflecting the changing face of Canadian society in our programming on television.
18984 MR. BARNA: Well, Chris and I talked about this, because like, news travels fast. I think it was like five minutes later we got the phone call and we knew that it happened.
18985 Chris and I talked about it, what we would say in this context. Let me just say two things. One of our series leads is Sue Matthews(ph), not an insignificant lead in the series, a principal character. And I could go on and name more people who play very key roles in the "Da Vinci" team who are from visible minorities and who reflect the diversity of the community.
18986 We feel that the show is a fairly accurate reflection of the way Vancouver is, of the way Vancouver experiences itself and its diversity. And perhaps the best suggestion that I could make, and I don't know how familiar you are with the story lines that we pursued in the last season, is to ask you and invite you to track the program, because we feel actually quite proud of our accomplishments and our balance.
18987 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Let me ask you a more general question then.
18988 What is your sense overall then of the programming on CBC Television? Do you think it reasonably reflects the face of Canada?
18989 MR. BARNA: Well, our programming is good, the other -- you mean in a broad sense?
18990 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Yes.
18991 MR. BARNA: Does it reflect Canada?
18992 Well, you know, yeah, I do. You know, again, I don't want to set up this false dichotomy like the CBC reflects Canada, CTV doesn't reflect Canada.
18993 I think that their comedy line-up, I used to do stand-up comedy, so I am a sucker for their comedy nights. "Air Farce", "This Hour", "Comics", they are very indigenous and they are very populaced and they really reach out. Variety, which I may also like, if you are going to like comedy, you are going to like song and dance. So I cheat, I look at that stuff. It is good stuff. They got skating on.
18994 Hockey. I mean, people want to pull hockey. I mean, give the network a break.
18995 Sorry I brought it up. Sorry I brought it up.
--- Laughter / Rires
18996 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: You were doing great right until that sentence. You were really doing great.
18997 MR. BARNA: I don't watch hockey --
18998 COMMISSIONER LANGFORD: You better get the pads on now.
18999 MR. BARNA: So, do I think they do a good job, yeah. And please keep in mind that they are only programmers. They cannot make, writers write to a tune. They get submissions from six teams of writers, they will choose two. But they have to choose within the realm of the possible of what is actually brought to them. And sometimes, you know, if they come up short, as do other broadcasters, it is not necessarily -- I think we, the independent community also have to take part of the blame, because we are not telling stories that are vital enough, that are smart enough, that are strong enough. So it is a partnership.
19000 Does the CBC reflect the across the board with the exception of hockey? Yes.
--- Laughter / Rires
19001 COMMISSIONER COLVILLE: Thank you very much, those are all my questions.
19002 MR. BARNA: Thank you.
19003 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, sir. Thank you.
19004 MS BÉNARD: The next presentation will be by Patricia Bourgeois.
19005 It would appear that Madame Bourgeois is not here.
19006 THE CHAIRPERSON: There was a lady --
19007 MS BÉNARD: It was not Madame Bourgeois. I checked with her.
19008 THE CHAIRPERSON: However, legal does have something --
19009 MS BÉNARD: Yes, I know. So that concludes the interventions for today.
19010 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, legal has something to put on the public record.
19011 Me STEWART: Merci, madame la présidente.
19012 La Société Radio-Canada a envoyé au Conseil trois lettres en date du 8 juin.
19013 La première c'est une réponse aux questions du Conseil concernant les précisions sur la demande de RDI.
19014 La deuxième c'est une correction au tableau 7(b) de la section 5, services aux malentendants, pour la demande du Réseau de la télévision française.
19015 The third letter is entitled "Clarifications Concerning Synergies Between Proposed RDI and Newsworld Initiatives".
19016 These three letters will be put on the public record.
19017 Merci, madame la présidente.
19018 LA PRÉSIDENTE: Alors, merci beaucoup.
19019 Cela termine nos travaux pour la journée. Nous revenons demain matin pour la période de réplique à Radio-Canada. Nous commencerons nos travaux à 9 h demain matin.
19020 MME BÉNARD: Merci, madame la présidente.
19021 LA PRÉSIDENTE: À demain. Bonne soirée.
--- Whereupon the hearing concluded at 1920, to resume
on Wednesday, June 9, 1999, at 0900 / L'audience
se termine à 1920, pour reprendre le mercredi
9 juin 1999 à 0900