ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 26 April 2010
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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND
Review of community television policy framework
140 Promenade du Portage
April 26, 2010
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
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.
Canadian Radio-television and
Review of community television policy framework
Konrad von Finckenstein Chairperson
Michel Arpin Commissioner
Len Katz Commissioner
Rita Cugini Commissioner
Marc Patrone Commissioner
Peter Menzies Commissioner
Jade Roy Secretary
Rachelle Frenette Legal Counsel
Aspa Kotsopoulos Hearing Manager
140 Promenade du Portage
April 26, 2010
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
CACTUS 6 / 30
Shaw Communications Inc. 106 / 561
Access Communications Co-operative Ltd. 178 / 935
Westman Communications Group 187 / 969
Canadian Cable Systems Alliance Inc. 192 / 993
Lynda G. Leonard 239 / 1247
Laura Margita 247 / 1281
Ron and Nathalie Pollock 255 / 1316
Tobias C. Van Veen 263 / 1353
--- Upon commencing on Monday, April 26, 2010 at 0917
1 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning. Bonjour, mesdames et messieurs, et bienvenue à cette audience publique.
2 Je vous présente les membres du comité d'audition: Michel Arpin, vice-président de la radiodiffusion; Len Katz, vice-président des télécommunications; Rita Cugini, conseillère nationale; Marc Patrone, conseiller national; Peter Menzies, conseiller régional de l'Alberta et les Territoires du Nord-Ouest; et moi-même, Konrad von Finckenstein, président du CRTC. Je présiderai cette audience.
3 L'équipe du Conseil qui nous assiste comprend, notamment, Aspa Kotsopoulos, coordonnatrice de l'audience et analyste principale des politiques relatives à la télévision; Rachelle Frenette, conseillère juridique; et Jade Roy, notre secrétaire de l'audience.
4 At this hearing we will be discussing a number of issues as part of our review of the Regulatory Policy for Community Television. When the Commission last reviewed this Policy for Community Television in 2002 its two key objectives were:
5 - one, to foster the creation of more locally produced programming that is reflective of the community; and
6 - two, to facilitate the entry of new participants to the broadcasting system.
7 Depuis, le monde des communications a connu des changements énormes. Les technologies numériques, telles que l'Internet, les appareils mobiles portables, et la vidéo sur demande, ne cessent de causer des modifications considérables des attentes et des demandes en matière d'écoute des auditoires. De plus, nous avons assisté à un regroupement appréciable des médias dans le secteur privé.
8 L'audience qui s'amorce aujourd'hui nous permettra donc de discuter du rôle du secteur de la radiodiffusion communautaire dans ces nouveaux contextes, sans perdre de vue que, selon la Loi sur la radiodiffusion, les services communautaires constituent le troisième élément du système canadien de radiodiffusion.
9 During this hearing the panel will focus primarily on the following issues:
10 1. Are the current funding mechanisms for community television working? Are the amounts currently dedicated to the sector appropriate?
11 2. Is there an adequate access to community programming or are improvements needed?
12 3. Is there sufficient accountability regarding the amounts cable companies are allowed to direct to community television?
13 4. Should direct-to-home satellite companies be authorized to provide community programming? If so, under what conditions should they be allowed to do so?
14 5. Is video-on-demand an appropriate platform for community programming?
15 6. Can new technologies be used to distribute community programming more effectively?
16 7. Should advertising be allowed on independent community channels or on those owned by cable companies or on neither?
17 I would now like to ask the Hearing Secretary, Jade Roy, to explain the procedures that we will be following this morning.
18 Madame la Secrétaire...?
19 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci, Monsieur le Président, et bonjour à tous.
20 I would now like to go over a few housekeeping matters to ensure the proper conduct of the hearing.
21 Please note that the Commission Members may ask questions in either English or French. Simultaneous interpretation is available during the hearing; the English interpretation is on channel 1. You can obtain an interpretation receiver from the commissionaire at the entrance of the Conference Centre. We would like to remind participants that during their oral presentation they should provide for a reasonable delay for the interpretation while respecting their allocated presentation time.
22 Veuillez noter que les membres du Conseil peuvent poser des questions en français et en anglais. Le service d'interprétation simultanée est disponible durant l'audience. L'interprétation française se trouve au canal 2. Vous pouvez vous procurer les récepteurs d'interprétation auprès du commissionnaire à l'entrée du Centre. Nous désirons rappeler aux participants d'allouer un délai raisonnable pour la traduction lors de leur présentation à vive voix, tout en respectant le temps alloué pour leurs présentations.
23 When you are in the hearing room we would ask that you please turn off, and not only put on vibration mode, your cell phones and BlackBerrys as they cause interference on the internal communication systems used by our translators and interpreters. We would appreciate your cooperation in this regard throughout the hearing.
24 The hearing is expected to last approximately 7 days. We will begin each morning at 9:00 a.m. We will advise you of any scheduling changes as they occur. We invite participants to monitor the progress of the hearing in order to be ready to make their presentation on the day scheduled or, if necessary, the day before or after their scheduled date of appearance depending on the progress of the hearing.
25 Pendant toute la durée de l'audience, vous pourrez consulter les documents qui font partie du dossier public pour cette audience dans la salle d'examen qui se trouve dans la Salle Papineau, située à l'extérieur de la salle d'audience à votre droite. Le numéro de téléphone de la salle d'examen est le 819-953-3168.
26 There is a verbatim transcript of this hearing being taken by the court reporter sitting at the table to my right, which will be posted daily on the Commission's website. If you have any questions on how to obtain all or part of this transcript, please approach the court reporter during a break.
27 We will proceed with the presentations in the order of appearance set out in the agenda.
28 And now, Mr. President, we will start with the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS). Appearing for CACTUS is Catherine Edwards.
29 Please introduce your colleague(s) and you will then have 15 minutes to make your presentation.
30 MS EDWARDS: Thank you, Madam Secretary, Commissioners, Chairman and staff.
31 We are honoured to present today a business plan to modernize community TV, addressing in one stroke Parliament's expectations for the community element in the broadcasting system, facilitate the adoption of digital technologies country-wide, generate thousands of new hours of local Canadian content, reduce cable companies' administrative burden, and reduce CRTC regulatory overheads at no new cost.
32 I am Catherine Edwards, the spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations.
33 Joining me are: Robin Jackson, our fund development specialist; Patrick Watt, to my left, of CHCT-TV in St. Andrews, New Brunswick; Timothy Dallett, of the Independent Media Arts Alliance; Dr. Irving Rother, at the end, of the Canadian Association for Media Education Organizations; Marita Moll, at the far end to my right, from Telecommunities Canada; and Peter Garrow, Director of Education, Jurisdiction and Governance for the Assembly of First Nations.
34 Depuis plusieurs années, CACTUS milite en faveur de postes de télévision à but non lucratif, propriété des communautés qui les exploitent. Nous sommes aux côtés des citoyens canadiens, des organismes communautaires, éducatifs et culturels qui s'inquiètent de la perte d'accès démocratique au système de radiodiffusion que les canaux communautaires offraient précédemment.
35 Nos membres appuient fortement le concept d'une télévision vraiment communautaire, tout comme les quelque sept mille personnes qui ont pris la peine d'intervenir dans la consultation menant à ces audiences.
36 They are inspired by community TV that was once so successful that it launched the careers of Canadians like Guy Maddin, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers and Tom Green, with programs that would likely not get made today.
37 We note that the Chairman of the CRTC commented in 2008 that:
"...community-based television operations do not occupy a significant place in Canada's broadcasting system."
38 We also note that in Peter Miller's "The Business of Canadian OTA Television," cable local channels are referred to as "former community channels."
39 In 1982 Canada had 294 distinct community channels. Reviewing community channel schedules today suggests that there are only about 20 in all of English Canada. Most are sharing so much programming that they are really regional networks.
40 Rogers acknowledges in its submission that its class 1 and 2 systems in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland are interconnected and, therefore, it is an "inefficient use of spectrum" to carry "community-based programming services".
41 Rogers recently replaced six community-run channels in New Brunswick with a single English provincial service. There were once close to 30 distinct services in this province alone.
42 We found a similar pattern of consolidation for Cogeco and Shaw. We could find only a handful of programs produced on Shaw systems in Manitoba outside Winnipeg. Winnipeg was telecasting commercial radio every weekday morning, and extra-provincial sports and third-party programming for much of the rest of the time. EastLink offers the same programming schedule on all its Maritime channels.
43 Cable penetration has dropped from a high near 80 percent in the 1990s to just over 60 percent today, making it impossible for cable-only channels to function effectively as a digital town hall, even had consolidation not occurred simultaneously.
44 Secondly, on the few distinct services that remain, cable companies report that less than a third of programming is made by the community. In the last two years, the cable industry as a whole failed to meet the 30 percent minimum established by the CRTC in 2002.
45 CRTC auditors themselves from 2002 to 2005 found that access was not promoted and that the definitions of access used by Rogers and Shaw were "questionable."
46 It is disappointing that more than $130 million was collected last year from the public to make its own productions but was primarily used for other purposes.
47 MR. WATT: These audits reflect our own experience. When I worked for Rogers in Fredericton from 2000 to 2006, staff were told to classify programming as "access" even if the public was just simply invited for an interview. Using the Rogers and Shaw definition of access, every broadcaster produces then "access programming."
48 We are disappointed that not one cable company submitted any new and innovative ideas for community channels to this process. They requested reductions to the already minimal level of access, more advertising, and more program sharing among their systems.
49 How can community TV fulfill its mandate under the Broadcasting Act if the characteristics that define it are removed, one by one?
50 MS EDWARDS: But we realize that the cable landscape has changed. While cable companies were once locally owned and operated, today they are multinational firms whose divisions face competition from satellite, telephone and internet. Cable companies are concentrating their energies on their core business.
51 In the "Stop the TV Tax" campaign, Rogers TV and Shaw TV were positioned as competitors for private and public over-the-air broadcasters.
52 We believe it's time to let communities develop their own community channels.
53 In every other country that recognizes community broadcasting, community ownership is the defining characteristic.
54 The CRTC defines a community radio station as "owned and controlled by a not-for profit organization, the structure of which provides for membership, management, operation and programming primarily by members of the community at large."
55 At Canada's first hearing into community television in 1971, almost every intervenor commented that while the channels might be carried on cable, they should be administered by communities.
56 The CRTC's 1986 Report of the Task Force on Broadcasting Policy affirmed that community TV should be treated like community radio, and the 2002 policy created an over-the-air community licence class, for which we applaud the Commission.
57 What is needed to encourage the uptake of these licences -- there are currently only 7 -- is access to financing.
58 MS JACKSON: Imagine state-of-the-art multimedia centres in libraries, community centres, and other locations where community residents already congregate for cultural and civic events. The content produced will reach residents free over the air, on the web and other new media, and on the cable basic tier. The goal is platform independence: as the technologies for distribution and production change, so will the centres.
59 MS EDWARDS: Here are a few scenarios.
60 A community organization wants to advertise a fundraiser on TV, radio and the web, and post a notice on the "Upcoming Events" section of the multimedia centre's website, with links to the site of the organization.
61 Or, a dance troupe presents a live performance from the theatre that is attached to the multimedia centre and it is also multicast on TV, radio, the web.
62 Or the municipality, collaborating with the multimedia centre, holds a public consultation on the demolition of a factory. Viewers at home participate directly via phone, internet, and wireless devices. Architects' 3D "fly-through" virtual plans are part of the broadcast and the entire meeting can be downloaded on demand.
63 MS JACKSON: Our model will generate thousands of hours of new local content every year. Communities will generate six to eight times as much programming as the public and private sectors, as the Keeble report attests.
64 We are asking the CRTC to direct the monies now collected by cable companies for "local expression" to a Community-Access Media Fund, or CAMF. This fund would offer a stable and adequate source of funding for community-based programming services for the first time.
65 Many communities have some of the infrastructure of a multimedia access centre, but lack distribution to the community at large.
66 MR. DALLETT: For example, the film and video co-operatives that belong to the Independent Media Arts Alliance already teach media production and rent equipment at low cost, but they lack broadcast distribution. While a great deal of local content is already being produced by the 12,000 media artists our members represent, it is rarely seen. Approximately a dozen such centres across Canada are interested in the CAMF proposal and could return community access to over 4 million Canadians.
67 MS MOLL: Some of the 3,000 sites funded by Industry Canada -- they are known as CAP sites in communities -- offer free internet access, learning, and training, and already teach new media. But they lack the studio facilities and distribution on television.
68 Access to multimedia ICT centres such as have been proposed by CAMF have been recognized as key strategies for the adoption of digital technologies by Canada's trading partners, including the U.S. and the European Union. Many of our member sites could serve as nuclei.
69 MR. GARROW: Many First Nations communities operate radio stations but are too sparsely populated to attract cable operators. First Nations communities have never benefited from community TV. APTN's submission observed that even in areas that are served by cable, there is no production by Aboriginals.
70 We are the fastest growing population in Canada with the fewest opportunities for skills training. Multimedia access centres would enable us to tell our stories and to preserve Aboriginal languages and culture within our own communities.
71 DR. ROTHER: The Canadian Association of Media Education Organizations (CAMEO) began working in 1992 to make media education a mandatory part of the Language Arts curriculum at all grade levels. We achieved this goal in 2002.
72 Media literacy is a lifelong skill, however, that needs constant updating, especially with the non-stop rollout of new technologies. It is crucial that community media centres be provided the financial means to teach youth and adults to make media as well as to think critically about its messages.
73 MS JACKSON: The money collected by cable BDUs for community expression is sufficient to fund 250 multimedia access centres in more than twice as many communities as are served by the 139 remaining cable channels reported by the CRTC and closer to 10 times the number our research suggests really offer distinct services.
74 The total of 250 includes 171 communities with populations over 10,000, 24 additional neighbourhood centres for cities with populations over 500,000, and 55 regional centres where populations are more sparse.
75 The CAMF Goals and Operating Principles posted on our website proposes board representation by municipalities, the educational sector, media and cultural organizations, the Aboriginal and minority language communities, local business and the non-profit sector.
76 The document also suggests operating principles and codes of ethics for the media centres, building on codes of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
77 Tout récipiendaire de financement devra soumettre un rapport annuel dans lequel seront spécifiés la quantité de programmes originaux produits, les genres, les sujets et les impacts de la programmation offerte, ainsi que les niveaux de formation et la participation de la communauté servie. En consultation avec le CRTC et Patrimoine Canada, le FCAM analysera ces informations et en fera rapport au Conseil et à l'ensemble des Canadiens.
78 MR. WATT: To ensure that the community sector can play the role envisioned by Parliament, multimedia centres need not only stable funding but distribution on all platforms to be accessible to all of the community. We need access to at least one over-the-air TV channel in every community of sufficient power to reach everyone.
79 With control of our own transmission infrastructure, our communities will be ready for wireless services such as mobile TV and be positioned to multicast free over-the-air television from regional public and private stations.
80 MS EDWARDS: CACTUS will publicize the new community-access licence class and the availability of funding through CAMF, and advise new centres in facility design, hiring and training of staff and volunteers.
81 The 2 percent of cable revenues collected for community expression is sufficient to establish all 250 multimedia access centres within three years.
82 The CAMF model could also be introduced incrementally, with half a percent of BDU revenues in Year 1, 1 percent in Year 2, 1.5 percent in Year 3, and 2 percent in Year 4. The same number of multimedia centres would launch but in six years.
83 In conclusion, this plan meets Parliament's objectives by increasing diversity, volumes of local and Canadian content and access to the broadcasting system. It could become a cornerstone in Canada's digital strategy, by offering multimedia access to over 90 percent of Canadians at no new cost. It frees cable companies to focus on their core businesses. It reduces CRTC costs of monitoring cable compliance. It ensures accountability and transparency for subscribers, through annual reporting. It strengthens democracy by increasing access to the new digital marketplace of ideas, and it strengthens communities by giving them 21st century communications infrastructures to develop every aspect of community life.
84 Nous vous remercions de votre attention et sommes prêts à répondre à vos questions.
85 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your submission. I read your very lengthy submission -- I think it is 125 pages -- in detail, so you obviously did an awful lot of work and have studied the subject matter extensively. One point I agree with you on is that there is a lack of detailed information on how the 2 percent is being used by the BDUs to product community programming.
86 Just for your information, on Friday we issued to the four largest BDUs a format asking them to give us a breakdown of expenses reported for community programming, both divided by hours and by expenses, et cetera. We asked them to submit this by May 7th.
87 So when you make your final submissions, you and others, by May 17th you will at least have, from the four largest BDUs which produce about 90 percent of the funds for community channels, a breakdown and can comment on it more intelligently on the basis of data rather than on guesswork.
88 MS EDWARDS: Okay. Can I just ask whether that report will include, as is stipulated under section 28 of the BDU Regs, the titles of programming claimed as access and the names of parties provided access so that there is some way for the communities to check whether that is really happening in their communities?
89 As we have pointed out, one of the problems is the definitions of "access" that are often claimed. Your own auditors have seen this as a problem.
90 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, we are not going to go to that level of detail at this point in time because of the short time frame, but I realized upon reading your submission that in effect some more information we need as decision-makers, you need as submitters.
91 So, Madam Secretary, I will give you the forms and would you please make them a part of the record and available in our examination room?
92 As I say, the information will be there by May 7th. We will put it on the web and then you have 10 days to analyze it and make your final submissions.
93 Now, going on to your submission this morning, I can't help feeling a huge whiff of nostalgia. You were saying the heyday of community was in the 1960s. You were referring to Winnipeg as an example of how things worked, et cetera. Essentially, correct me if I'm wrong, but I have the feeling you are somehow trying to recreate that world.
94 That was close to 50 years ago or 40 depending whatever starting point you take and the world has very much changed since then, and to some extent you have to explain to me, if we had this heyday situation in the 60s and 70s, which you point out here, why did it disappear and why should we go back to it? Because, after all, I mean the world changes, we have huge technological improvements, we have a completely differently structured industry, et cetera. Why is it important to go back there?
95 MS EDWARDS: I will answer that question.
96 It disappeared because cable operators' businesses changed, their goals changed. Our understanding is it was no longer -- they no longer saw it in their interest to promote access to their channels.
97 Most Canadians, since they never really understood clearly the person on the street, that that wasn't just something nice the cable company did but it is actually meant to be a right to access our broadcasting system, other than particularly well-informed activists like ourselves, didn't know who to complain to or if they did complain to the CRTC over the years, honestly they didn't get the backup they needed that would make it worth them getting back on air except in little pockets. So firstly, that is why it has gone away here in Canada.
98 Secondly, it hasn't gone away anywhere else in the world. This model has been spreading. As new technologies are coming online, as other people, societies and conditions are changing, people are finding, in a hyperconcentrated media universe with globalization, more than ever, as we see here in Canada too, people need local programming. They need to see their own stories on the air. They need to have a way to cope with and debate all the changes that are happening around them.
99 So the environment of media consolidation makes it, as we heard at the Diversity of Voices hearing, more important than ever that there is broad-based access to the broadcasting system and some way for those minority voices to be heard.
100 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, I don't get it, I'm sorry.
101 MS EDWARDS: And lastly, we are not asking for a rollback. Our plan is very much forward-looking and takes into account the new media environment that is out there and we seek to incorporate those elements into a new brand of access for people.
102 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are not, you are trying to base everything on TV. The centre stone of your submissions, as we understand it, is TV and is local transmission, both of which we have now all sorts of other additional ways of reaching people.
103 You can have -- I agree with you absolutely, people want to know what is happening in their community. It is a great source, et cetera, but there are all sorts of other ways to satisfy it. You can have virtual communities. You can have Facebook communities. You can have -- we have an unparalleled ability to communicate and constitute new groups.
104 Why is it so necessary to go back to recreate something based on TV and based on over-the-air TV? That is what you said, you wanted one channel reserved in every community for over-the-air TV. When over 90 percent of Canadians -- whatever it is, 96, somewhere around there -- receive their television not over-the-air but through BDUs, why do you need it over-the-air and why is television still the cornerstone?
105 Why couldn't, for instance, new media be the cornerstone? Why couldn't it be done through the internet, through wireless, whatever?
106 MS EDWARDS: Television isn't the cornerstone. The model of multimedia centres is platform independence, meaning enabling communities to move with the technology. So as it changes and television drops out of the picture, then they will be positioned to take advantage of new media.
107 Secondly, Rogers in its submission talks about the fact that it still feels it needs a linear community channel over-the-air as a storefront to drive people to their website. If over-the-air broadcasting wasn't still important, all the broadcasters in Canada would be giving up their licences tomorrow.
108 Television is not viewed on the internet yet at the rate that it is over-the-air. We don't know what the future looks like. The way things are going, we think it is going to be a user-pay system in the future, where it may be very expensive for communities to try to post programming on the internet.
109 As far as social media like Facebook and so on, it is true that people can meet in virtual communities around the world but there is no -- community media is about having central places in the community where people can go to learn about media, make it together and engage in processes that include town hall meetings and include public performances which are shared.
110 You can't do that on the internet in a basement. You can't invite studios in for -- you know, a studio panel in with a live studio audience in your basement with a handycam. So these production -- regardless of distribution, the production facilities are necessary.
111 When we talk about moving away from television, we are just using new terminology to refer to it. Wireless distribution of moving pictures, mobile TV, is just going to be another type of television, and if communities don't have access to some of that spectrum, they are not going to be positioned to be able to take advantage of those new technologies.
112 Historically, much of the innovation of technologies that communities use, such as the phone-in program, was developed by community television. Using mobiles to go into communities to give exposure to communities at their locations was developed on community television. Communities are a huge source of innovation for Canadian technology use and we need to give them equal access to the tools that take advantage of that.
113 Lastly, the Broadcasting Act is about broadcasting. The community sector is one of three elements that is supposed to have space recognition and resources under the Broadcasting Act. It is not a new media act.
114 THE CHAIRPERSON: Because you say, we need access to at least one over-the-air TV channel in every community of sufficient power to reach anyone. As I told you just a moment ago, in most communities we are talking somewhere about 6 to 8 percent people who watch TV over-the-air. Why do you need an over-the-air channel?
115 MS EDWARDS: Because 40 per cent of Canadians don't get cable and don't get local channels currently. So it is not 10 percent, it is 40 percent.
116 THE CHAIRPERSON: Where do you get that statistic? I mean we publish statistics on BDU penetration. It is nowhere near 60, it is in the 90 percent.
117 MS EDWARDS: Cable penetration though is 60 percent. Satellite isn't positioned now to carry local services. So that means if you want to see your community channel, you have to get it over-the-air in you are in that 40 percent or on cable if you are the 60 percent, and having local licences puts communities in a position that they have some leverage to negotiate with BDUs for services and get mandatory carriage.
118 THE CHAIRPERSON: If I assume your figures are correct -- I don't have the right figure here -- let's say they are. So we are in a community, 60 percent of people watch through cable, the other 40 watch on satellite or they don't have -- hence, they watch over-the-air.
119 So you are suggesting if you have an over-the-air channel, the people will actually turn off their cable and satellite and go use their rabbit ears in order to get the community channel?
120 MS EDWARDS: Actually what we proposed in our written submission is that -- and this is happening in the United States already -- that local television, if there isn't space on satellite, for example, or on cable that the set-top boxes should be designed so that you can have seamless switching from your --
121 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Now what is the viewership of community television right now?
122 MS EDWARDS: You posted Canadian viewership data on the CRTC website -- is it two to three weeks ago now. Viewership in Canada -- remember that what we are saying is that the model we are seeing in almost all of Canada right now is a BDU-programmed channel and doesn't -- bears very little relationship to what viewership numbers might be under a community-controlled model.
123 But we do have Quebec to look to, which has 45 independently operated organizations producing community TV that reach about 1.7 million Quebeckers or about one-third its population, and we thought it was interesting in your figures --
124 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am not talking about reach, I am talking about viewing.
125 MS EDWARDS: I know, but their viewing statistics in Quebec are three times the rate for the rest of Canada, which suggests to me that independent production can -- independently produced community services can generate three times the viewership.
126 But before we get into a viewership debate, it is really important to remember that the point of the community sector is that it serve as an alternative and a niche broadcaster compared to the other services.
127 THE CHAIRPERSON: I read your submission. I heard you this morning.
128 MS EDWARDS: Yes.
129 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am trying to get answers to my questions and I am trying to figure out if we have a common baseline or not since you seem to dispute some of our numbers. So that is why I am asking you: What is the viewership of community television?
130 If you want to break it down between Quebec and non-Quebec, be my guest, but I would like to know what you see -- do we have an agreement or a disagreement on that point? What is the percentage of viewership in Quebec and outside Quebec for community television as constituted today?
131 MS EDWARDS: The numbers that you have posted are 0.3 percent in Quebec and it is an average of 0.2 percent, I understand, for the rest of the country -- between .1 and .2 depending on the cable operator.
132 THE CHAIRPERSON: And your submission basically is, if I understand, if we take the 2 percent away from the cable companies and give it to the CAMF to finance these multimedia access centres and take up the other suggestion that you suggest, then your viewership would increase to what?
133 MS EDWARDS: It is impossible to know in Canada until we do that experiment, but in other countries it is significantly higher than it is here where it is a community-run model. But I do think it is important to remember that when you are talking about BBM numbers, we are talking about companies that are competing to get the biggest cut of the market because it is an advertising model.
134 So with a community channel, if you have a program that is designed, say, for the Aboriginal community, which is only 2 percent of Canada's population, or the gay and lesbian community, which is 10 percent, or the Sikh community, which I don't know the percentage, you are producing programming, they are producing programming for their own communities. So say it is a gay and lesbian program for 10 percent of the community, if they reach 10 percent of that community or 5 or 50, you know, that is a high number.
135 Those programs need to be assessed in terms of whether they are reaching the niche audiences that we created the community sector to reach. It doesn't make any sense to compare audience numbers for, you know, parliamentary-mandated niche broadcasting channels on the basis that we apply to other channels.
136 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but I have to deal with some projections, some numbers, in cetera, in order to rationalize what we are doing. You are asking me to give you access to roughly $130 million in order to fund and run these multimedia access centres. At the present --
137 MS EDWARDS: Yes.
138 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- access to community channels. While they are very small numbers, you must at least have a plan or an objective, if we acceded to your wishes, of what would be the result.
139 MS EDWARDS: Well, the other useful number to keep in mind is that back in 1996 the CTTA was very interested to get a good picture on viewership numbers for community television across Canada. They were trying to deal with the fact they were facing satellite competition for the first time.
140 I was involved as an employee of Shaw with extensive market research that was done interviewing, inviting the public into studios in big cities like Calgary as well as smaller communities. Some were chosen in Saskatchewan.
141 What they found is that viewership numbers in big cities were quite low and viewership was single-digit percentages, whereas -- and unfortunately, I have done everything I can to find that report and haven't been able to. I have done access to info requests and so on. But in smaller communities it was double-digit percentages.
142 It showed up what we have known for a long time, that community television tends to have two different roles in different markets.
143 In big markets it tends to function as a niche-caster, so people come in and make programs for communities underserved in big, urban, very diverse areas to serve them, whereas in smaller communities that have no other source of local television, possibly even local media or radio or newspapers, viewership numbers jump. So suddenly it is much less about niche-casting, it is about producing anything for that community.
144 Unfortunately, what we have seen with the pattern of BDU consolidation, because they are now -- they have shut most of their studios in smaller markets and they are producing for big cities, we are going back to the teeny-tiny niche-caster model, which doesn't get very good numbers. This is why we feel leaving this model in the hands of BDUs to administer is going the wrong way. So they have tried to professionalize those channels --
145 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand. I read your submission.
146 MS EDWARDS: Yes.
147 THE CHAIRPERSON: I was asking for a number. I guess I am not going to get a number from you. So let's move on.
148 You were talking about community TV -- and, you know, we had this lengthy hearing on local TV, et cetera, and the BDUs to some extent make the argument that community TV is becoming more and more a replacement for local TV, et cetera, or there is a mélange of the two, et cetera.
149 To my mind, local TV and community TV are quite different but I would be interested to hear from you what you think is sort of the dividing line, where does local TV stop and community -- what is the essential difference?
150 MS EDWARDS: The essential difference between community TV and local TV is community TV is produced by the people that live in a community as opposed to being produced by a for-profit entity that happens to distribute in that community. So that is the key difference.
151 But community TV, in the absence of local TV, can step up to the plate and fill in the need for local information if there aren't other sources.
152 THE CHAIRPERSON: But it has to be locally produced. So you categorically rule out that any production by Rogers in its centres for the community can be counted as community TV?
153 MS EDWARDS: That's right. It is local TV and it has value. People wrote into this submission saying that they appreciate coverage they get for different things and we feel that cable channels, if they want to fill the gap being left by public and private local broadcasters, sure, go for it. We have no issue with that mandate. It is just that it is not community television.
154 THE CHAIRPERSON: Except you won't let them have the money for it?
155 MS EDWARDS: We feel that the money that is collected from subscribers -- 2 percent comes out to what, $1 on every $50 cable bill -- was earmarked to enable the communities to produce for themselves. We just feel it is not being directed to the purpose that it was created and we feel that BDUs have other ways. We also feel it is not fair to public and private broadcasters or BDUs to compete when they are using subscriber fees that were meant for something else. Public and private broadcasters don't have access to that.
156 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, throughout your submission you make a very strong point for lack of accountability. You essentially criticize both the cable companies and the CRTC, the cable companies for not furnishing the numbers and CRTC for not demanding them.
157 What exactly do you feel is missing? What would you like to see in terms of accountability so that you can satisfy yourself or the members of your panel that the money, $132 million or whatever it is, is being spent properly?
158 MS EDWARDS: I am going to pass that over to our fund specialist, Robin Jackson, who has extensive experience with fund management.
159 MS JACKSON: Accountability, in our view, would happen at two levels. First, there would be -- and I am talking about CAMF, the fund -- there would be annual financial statements done by outside auditors on the books on an annual basis. There would be an annual report done to you, which would discuss such factors as administration of the fund, performance indicators, has CAMF met them.
160 There would be highlights of the past year, accomplishments, activities, problems encountered, results and successes, descriptions of the plans for the forthcoming year, the number and amounts of grants given, to which centres, performance of existing channels or centres, number of new centres, number of individuals and organizations that participated in community access programming, programming values, genres. The report would detail benefits to the community that have happened.
161 And this is where it gets different --
162 THE CHAIRPERSON: How do you do that, the benefits to the community? You suddenly left accounting and you went into a very subjective field of evaluation.
163 MS JACKSON: Yes, because I think that I have covered the basics of accounting and finances. I am moving into another area which is important in terms of community access programming, which perhaps is not the same in other types of broadcasting.
164 It would report on programming that has stimulated community debate on important issues. It would address whether previously excluded groups have been involved. It would describe steps taken with media that have been used in new ways, because we are talking digital media here. We are talking about as the whole digital strategy evolves. And it would detail long-term targets for community access, whether they have been met or not.
165 So there are two types of funding. There is the usual reporting that you would expect financially from a responsible organization and then it would also be in terms of what the impact has been at the community access level.
166 THE CHAIRPERSON: So in effect, it is a self-evaluation by the BDUs on what they used the money for and to what extent it was successful in carrying out the community mandate?
167 MS JACKSON: The annual financial statement is not done by the fund. It is the same process that you go through for your financial statements.
168 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, you are misunderstanding. I am talking about right now, the BDUs run the community channels, you want more information. The first part, which was accounting data, I understand. But then the second part is essentially an evaluation, at least the way I understood you, of the effectiveness of the program, the effectiveness of the outreach, the effectiveness of giving access to groups, et cetera.
169 MS EDWARDS: Can I answer that one?
170 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you would expect the BDU to self-assess itself as to how far they were successful in carrying out the mandate?
171 MS EDWARDS: This actually answers -- it goes into the zone you raised with audience, is that the mandate of community access is not about product and volume -- although volumes are definitely possible -- it is about process. And if you are going to be giving money -- as you point out, we are asking for a lot of money -- for community media, its mandate is about process and involving communities.
172 What we think one of the things that was missing in the BDU model, other than very basic accounting and reporting, was it was a passive approach to community service, we will open the doors and you can come on in and you can use cameras if you want. But community media is about a lot more than that. It takes leadership to actually make sure that a communications facility that is paid for and put into a community, like a local library, actually reaches people, is used, is accessible and achieves its target.
173 So a key part of the CAMF plan is that there should be specific concrete targets in different communities.
174 THE CHAIRPERSON: That is not what I was asking you. I asked what are you asking right now from the BDUs and Ms Jackson clearly specified what you want in accounting information. I understand that, but the second part struck me as being an evaluation, and since we are asking it from the BDUs, is it a self-evaluation, or do you want us, on the basis of that information, to make the conclusion that she was talking about?
175 That's the point I was trying to make.
176 MS JACKSON: I have had experience with government departments where performance evaluation is not done by the recipient of the moneys, it is done by another party.
177 THE CHAIRPERSON: So we would ask Rogers, "Please give us this financial information," to take an example, and, also, hire a third party to evaluate you on your outreach -- on your access provisions, et cetera?
178 MS JACKSON: I am not sure why we are talking about Rogers.
179 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am just taking it as an example. Take Shaw, take any BDU, whatever.
180 The present system which we have now -- and we have many BDUs -- take any one of them. I just used Rogers because I live in Ontario, but it doesn't make any difference.
181 You want more accountability. You want financial information. I understand that, but you also want, basically, an evaluation; to what extent they are successful in reaching the community, providing access, et cetera.
182 Now you say that the third party would give it. So we would, I presume, if I took your suggestion to heart, say, "Yes, I want to implement it," and I would ask the BDU (a) to give me that financial information, and (b) to provide me with an evaluation on these points from a third party.
183 Is that what you have in mind?
184 MS EDWARDS: I think we were commenting on -- we understood that you were asking what accountability would there be if you adopted our vision of CAMF --
185 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's not what I asked, that's why I restate it now.
186 MS EDWARDS: I misunderstood your question, I'm sorry.
187 THE CHAIRPERSON: Under the present one -- you said that there was lack of accountability in the system as it exists today. I understood the first part. I am trying to find out how we get at the second part, which is really what you are talking about, a type of value-for-money evaluation: Is this money properly spent. Does it meet the purpose, et cetera.
188 MS EDWARDS: Yes.
189 THE CHAIRPERSON: If I didn't buy your scheme, but I said that you are right, that we should need that, who would furnish it?
190 That was my question.
191 MS EDWARDS: I think you have a better take on that.
192 MS JACKSON: You are asking us, if we went with this scheme -- I mean with the present situation, how we would do that.
193 MS EDWARDS: With a third party.
194 MS JACKSON: I haven't thought that through, to be perfectly honest, because I was focusing more on our own situation.
195 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Then tell me, in your own scheme, who would do that evaluation?
196 Who would make that evaluation? If I say that I accept the CAMF, I accept the multi-media access, et cetera, who will make the evaluation whether we actually get value for money?
197 MS JACKSON: I think it can be done by third parties. I don't think that's an unusual situation, to have those kinds of things done by third parties.
198 THE CHAIRPERSON: So that would be one of the conditions. Besides giving the financial statement, they would have to give us the third party evaluation.
199 MS EDWARDS: Could I add one thing to your question about how this accountability would be built into this model?
200 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
201 MS EDWARDS: Robin has focused on reporting. The fact that the multi-media centres themselves are owned and operated by communities and have community boards of directors -- and we have published on our website, under our operating principles, details of who we think should be on those boards, including local educational authorities, municipalities, local cultural groups, representation of minority language groups and so on -- there is an automatic accountability back to the community.
202 If the service is meant to be to the community and the community is not getting it, it is the community that has the means to directly address it, unlike in the current situation, where we are trying to ask a third party to deliver a service for a community.
203 So there is an inherent accountability there.
204 Similarly, the way we have structured the board of CAMF itself, we have suggested that it be national level organizations -- for example, like the Assembly of First Nations, like the IMAA, and so on -- that have a stake in local cultural expression, but they are a national association that can help -- that has a stake in local culture and can make sure that the fund, as a whole, is delivering in all regions of Canada and meeting that mandate.
205 It's the fact that it is community owned and operated which is your first line of accountability to communities. This money is being charged to cable subscribers living in communities.
206 THE CHAIRPERSON: You also mentioned the Local Program Improvement Fund. As I understand it, you want to get a piece of it, or don't you?
207 MS EDWARDS: We think that the idea of a fund like that -- it was originally called -- I think it was the Regional Programming Initiative Fund. It was raised in the Lincoln report, and when it was first talked about, it was discussed in terms of facilitating community broadcasting and regional broadcasting.
208 So it was somewhat surprising to us, given the high volumes of local content that the community model can generate, if the point of that fund was to generate more local Canadian production, that the community sector was not invited to the table to discuss that.
209 But we know why, the independent community sector is so small, it has been so decimated, that we are barely a player. So in our written submission we tried to assess all of the different possible sources of funding for the multi-media centre model that we are proposing.
210 And logically it makes sense that the community sector, with its high volumes of local content and our ability to produce so much more programming for the same amount of money, with its extremely efficient model, hyper-local model, would qualify.
211 But when we assess, is this a better solution for us, is this a better solution to ask the Commission for, we just feel that that fund is too small to serve the public, private and community sectors.
212 And there is already other money that is meant to be going for community production, so why should we compete and take something away from what public and private broadcasters so much need.
213 THE CHAIRPERSON: Also, in light of the definition, that asks for the difference between local and community TV --
214 MS EDWARDS: Right.
215 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- it really doesn't make sense to make such an order.
216 So I gather, essentially, if you get the 2 percent, you are not asking for a piece of the --
217 MS EDWARDS: Correct.
218 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, in your proposal you want a local channel, or a community access channel. What is a community access channel? Put some flesh on the bones for me. What do you have in mind there?
219 MS EDWARDS: We have asked for a new licence class, the community access licence class.
220 The existing licence class is very general. It can be for-profit, not-for-profit, open to advertising -- and we understand the reason for that.
221 My understanding, in the wording of the Commission document, is that it was looking to bring in a new model and see what people would do with that, and that is a great approach.
222 But there hasn't been much uptake of these licences, and we feel that there are a couple of shortcomings with the existing licence class. One is, it is not defined specifically as not-for-profit. So if that licence class were used to trigger, for example, funding from a new Community Access Media Fund, it's not clear that it's for community-owned operations.
223 Secondly, that licence class has a low power restriction on it, which doesn't work for a lot of rural communities in particular. They need higher power distribution to reach their communities of interest.
224 I think those are the main two reasons.
225 THE CHAIRPERSON: You always go back to your submission. Take it for granted that I have read it. I read it in detail. What I am asking you for is some clarification on points that I don't understand.
226 You want to create a new class of community access channels. What would that look like? What would it be?
227 I guess it would replace the existing community channels that are being offered by BDUs.
228 First of all, is that correct? Did I read that right?
229 MS EDWARDS: There are a couple of questions there. Is it replacing --
230 Just give me a second.
231 MS EDWARDS: First of all, we don't suggest that you get rid of the existing community licence class, because there are some holders of those licences, such as Télé Mag in Quebec, for example, which are for-profit, and there are also some communities that are using those channels to rebroadcast, and so on, religious services.
232 So that shouldn't be disturbed. We don't want to negatively affect any other licence holders.
233 The new licence class -- as I mentioned, we think it should be not-for-profit, not allow advertising, that it should be 80 percent community-produced, local content, and that there should be no power restrictions, so that communities can ask for the power they need.
234 Those are the key factors.
235 THE CHAIRPERSON: And because they would, in your view, also transmit over the air, therefore, they would automatically get carriage on the local cable company.
236 Is that the idea?
237 MS EDWARDS: That's right.
238 And, no, we don't necessarily propose that they should replace BDU channels. As we mentioned, we feel that BDU channels have evolved toward a local model, not a community model, and if they and communities feel there is value for their channels, we have no issue with their co-existence.
239 THE CHAIRPERSON: As you know, we recently exempted BDUs under 20,000, and they are no longer licensed. And, you, in your submission, suggest that we made a mistake, because, as a result of that, they also don't have to make any more contributions to the local community channel.
240 I think you site the example of Îles-de-la-Madeleine, where they actually have ceased doing that.
241 MS EDWARDS: That's right.
242 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do I understand you correctly? You think that we should amend the exemption order to say: Yes, you are exempted, but you still have to pay -- use 5 percent of your gross revenue for community channels.
243 Do I understand you correctly?
244 MS EDWARDS: Right. It depends on which model you go with. It was actually the Fédération that made the specific point about Îles-de-la-Madeleine, although we agree.
245 If something like the existing model continues, members of the Fédération have been made extremely vulnerable by that. Most of them exist in communities under 20,000. So if the cable operators in their area decide to revoke their licences, they may have no access to funding at all.
246 Again, that is under the current model. But under the CAMF model --
247 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, that was my question.
248 MS EDWARDS: Okay.
249 THE CHAIRPERSON: But is there any other example, besides Îles-de-la-Madeleine where that has happened?
250 Are you being preventive because you are afraid that this is going to set up a trend, or is there actually evidence that people are thinking of it?
251 I understand, especially for the small cable companies, that you cannot be successful unless you are very closely tied to your community. Therefore, spending money on a community channel is actually to your own benefit.
252 So is Îles-de-la-Madeleine an exception, because of peculiar circumstances, or should we be aware that this is the beginning of a trend?
253 MS EDWARDS: I would say that it's the beginning of a trend.
254 Patrick, would you like to address the situation in which St. Andrews has found itself?
255 Do you need more time to think about that?
256 You need a minute to think about that.
257 There are two things going on here. One of the problems is that the definition -- like, in Îles-de-la-Madeleine, they were able to make the request for that money because there wasn't a BDU-offered community channel in that area.
258 That system might work, if we still had the very small licence areas that we used to have, where it would be clear -- for example, somewhere like St. Andrews -- that the BDU wasn't offering a channel in St. Andrews, so St. Andrews could step forward and say: We would like to operate the channel.
259 But what happens is, because of zone-based licensing, the zones are much bigger. For example, Rogers can come back to CHC-TV and say: We have a channel that is broadcasting -- cablecasting from Saint John, and that is within the licence area.
260 So the legal argument falls apart.
261 THE CHAIRPERSON: My whole point is, I don't like to regulate unless it is necessary, and in a small town, where you have less than 20,000 customers, and you have a community channel, to discontinue it for economic reasons -- obviously, they could do it, but it, surely, would reflect on their relationship with their viewers, on their marketability, and their effectiveness, et cetera.
262 I am told by the small operators: We are such an integral part of our community that for us to do this would be suicide. We wouldn't do that. On the contrary, we would probably spend more than the 5 percent.
263 So, you, as an umbrella organization, I wanted to know whether you have any evidence or knowledge that we actually created a problem here or not.
264 MS EDWARDS: I think the trend with smaller cable operators is that that is more true. But I think, with big cable operators, what we have seen is -- by the CRTC's own data -- with big regional companies, I don't think they do care about subscribers in the smaller communities, and that is why we have seen so many studio closures.
265 Secondly, in terms of reducing regulation, I agree with you that it has become sort of Byzantinely complex to go through now, as a small community television channel, and figure out what you are actually entitled to, because of the conflicts between the BDU regs, between the 2002 policy, between previous policies on which that is based.
266 That is why we feel that the CAMF model is relatively simple. If all cable companies contributed the same amount to make up the budget we need, we don't get into all of those complicated licence area-by-licence area arguments.
267 THE CHAIRPERSON: Before we leave the area of funding, I have two quick questions.
268 On page 121, Recommendation 368, do you actually suggest that we should tax the ISPs to facilitate community expression?
269 Do I understand that correctly?
270 As you know, the ISPs are not in broadcasting, or they maintain that they are not in broadcasting, et cetera, and we have a reference before the Federal Court right now.
271 But you say, as ISPs become a more significant platform for BDU distribution and take the role of the BDU, CACTUS is of the view that an appropriate contribution from ISPs to facilities would be free benefits and service-based for live streaming.
272 So rather than money, in effect you expect a contribution in kind if I understand that?
273 MS EDWARDS: We are aware that ISPs are not currently regulated, but we are acknowledging that, as you have said, the media environment is changing really fast, that that decision may be re-examined sometime in the future.
274 And we have also heard arguments form cable BDUs that, you know, it is not fair that only they have to do community channels and so on. So we are just, to get the discussion out there, we want to raise the issue that all BDUs, and to the extent that ISPs may be recognized as BDUs in the future, if television does become the main platform by which we are accessing audio/visual content, that at that point including them as a BDU and looking at what ways they can facility community access may be appropriate. So that is a forward-looking kind of a note to keep in mind.
275 THE CHAIRPERSON: Moving on. DTH, as you know, they are presently not subject to the community obligation, all their factors, and go to CAMF. They have made an application to us many times as part of this, that they be allowed to create something what they call a community of communities channel, which I gather is essentially a reportage from all sorts of communities, presumably based on a provincial basis or regional basis, et cetera.
276 And so that if you are a subscriber to either Shaw or Bell, you get this channel you can see what happens in various communities in a given area.
277 You are opposed to this, if I understand?
278 MS EDWARDS: We don't think that it would fall within the definition of the community sector, because it wouldn't be community owned and operated.
279 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you don't see a way of combining the two?
280 MS EDWARDS: We were open to that idea in 2002. I think what we had was a hybrid policy. We just haven't seen it working.
281 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And VOD, as you know, SaskTel and MMTS provide community channels through a VOD channel. And I guess that I'm not quite sure why VOD would actually not be a good way to deliver community programming. By nature, community programming is very diverse and would try to give access to as many groups as possible, et cetera.
282 If this is VOD, where you can go on and ask on-demand what you want, you can seek programming, you are interested in local politics, you can see what is happening there, et cetera. Why would VOD, rather than the community channel, not be a good way to meet the need of communities?
283 MS EDWARDS: Having community content available for download at anytime is a good idea and it is a good idea and it is part of our multimedia centre model. However, VOD on its own is just server space. There is no training for communities, there is town hall platform where people can come in, meet one another, learn, produce programs together. You know, it is just server space, and we can get that anywhere and we can provide it ourselves. We don't think it is -- you know it is note the core purpose. It is just an additional delivery model. It is not community TV on its own.
284 And again, that would be controlled by a for-profit entity.
285 THE CHAIRPERSON: And in your -- on access you mention essentially that there is not sufficient access. And I would like to know what you mean by that? Because if I understand it, the community channels operated by the various BDUs go to great lengths to make themselves available to whoever comes forward and gives them access.
286 Now, certainly, I don't have any complaints. But there are some people saying we wanted to get on Shaw's community channel, we were denied access, et cetera.
287 So I gather this is -- unless I misread something, this is more of a potential of being unleashed rather than there being actual denials of access right now or, if I have got you wrong, please correct me.
288 MS EDWARDS: Yes, there are denials of access. First of all, people don't know that access is available. Your audits from 2002 to 2005 the auditor commented that there doesn't appear to be the promotion of access on any of the channels audited. Secondly, from our own experience, we know that access is denied. I was the volunteer coordinator at Shaw in 1997.
289 We sent out -- when the cable channels were partly deregulated and became optional, we were asked to send a letter to 400 volunteers informing them that their services were no longer required. Shaw, in its submission, says that they have I think it is 300 and something volunteers in all of their systems in Western Canada now. There used to be 1,200 volunteers in Vancouver alone.
290 New TV will tell you that they have been denied access. You are going to hear it from all kinds of people over the next seven days that have been denied access.
291 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it is your contention there is a real problem in terms of access?
292 MS EDWARDS: There is an enormous problem in terms of access.
293 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I will get the numbers from the other interveners I gather? I mean, so far you are giving me anecdotal evidence. It is up to us to deal with that -- and may be right, may be wrong but, you know, it is sort of systemic --
294 MS EDWARDS: I don't believe it is anecdotal. First, we think that the current policy at 30 per cent minimum level of access has become a ceiling in the last two years. The cable companies themselves report that they haven't been able to meet that. They have achieved 27 per cent one of those two years and 28 per cent the other.
295 If these channels were created and defined by offering citizens a high level of citizen participation, we can't see how 27, 28 per cent is a high level of participation even if we didn't know that there is a problem with the definition of access, which your own auditors have flagged.
296 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And on advertising, I gather you feel that is incompatible with a community channel. But the present sponsorship, it wasn't quite clear, you sort of say, ah, it is okay, but you think they are pushing it further than it should be done.
297 What exactly is it? What is the present sponsorship that you would like?
298 MS EDWARDS: We think that relationships between community channels with their local business communities are extremely important and we think that sponsorship is one of many ways. These channels shouldn't stop there, that partnerships between local business and particular programs can be developed.
299 Sponsorship messages, you know, are recognized, you know, used by other public service channels like PBS. And a sponsorship message typically doesn't break into the middle of programs, it is part of a framework of a channel, you know it's neutral delivery, they are all about accountability and transparency in fact. You know, it tells you who has underwritten a particular program.
300 Advertising goes into a different zone where suddenly you have an open-access platform that is supposed to be open to everyone in the community on a non-discriminatory basis and suddenly you have some members of the community that can buy time and have their messages played, you know, bust into other people's message, be played over and over again.
301 It just doesn't fit the public service model that is recognized in a lot of countries and, you know, public broadcasters around the world. It changes the fundamental self-representation mandate. You know, you see someone on a community channel you assume that they are speaking for themselves, you don't assume that you have to have that same level, you know, guardedness about you are not really quite sure what is being sold to you.
302 You know, Dr. Rother, would like to have a stab at that? I think that that falls into your area of media literacy and, you know, what you have found with youth in their response to advertising on television.
303 DR. ROTHER: Well, first of all, let me explain just that media literacy is not a protectionist approach. It is not teaching youth how bad media is, it is creating an awareness.
304 Advertisement has definitely had a large -- a huge effect on youth and will continue to do so whether or not media literacy is there or not. We hope that the youth will be more aware of it, but from a media literacy point of view or an organization point of, we see as very problematic in terms of community television.
305 MS EDWARDS: Just one more thing is that the community sector was meant to be the platform where people can innovate, it is meant to be an alternative. And we feel that there are much better ways that one can involve a business community in a channel by stimulating long-term partnerships.
306 You know, just two examples might be, you know, if is somebody wants to do an ad to get out, you know, information on pricing on a product or something. We feel that that person might in the long-term, you know, build their business and build the community by having a dialogue. So if it is a new business that is trying to get set-up, you know, why not have local business owners in a studio talk show come in and talk about, you know, is it meeting your needs, is there things that we could do better.
307 If they are not selling, you know, we could look at why they are not selling. You know, maybe there needs to be a partnership between -- you know, we are not selling cross-country skis, is it because we don't have trails? Is that something we could talk about with the local part authority?
308 We just feel that community television is about dialogue and creating long-term stable partnerships and, you know, we just don't feel the advertising -- you know, it is not the best way to engage the business community and to engage viewers. There is other channels to do that. Community TV is meant to be an alternative.
309 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Now, your proposal is really quite radical when you come right down to it. You basically want to expropriate the BDUs of $130 million and saying that you are using that right now, not for the purpose of community. This should be paid to the CAMF. You will then set-up the multimedia access centres, involve the community and spend this money in such a way that there is full access by the community groups.
310 A couple of questions I have. Reading your submission I had the feeling that your basic problem is there is a lack of accountability, there is a lack of access and there is a lack of community involvement in the present system.
311 And if that is the case, do you really have to go so far, as you suggest? Are there not intermediate steps that we could take to address it rather than saying, here BDUs, I am sorry, you have for too long had 2 per cent for granted, you haven't achieved what you wanted, we take it away from you?
312 MS EDWARDS: Three responses to that. One regarding your comment about expropriation. Our understanding of the current policy is that cable operators -- first of all, the idea of benefits packages and so on are, you know, well-understood by the CRTC. We don't think of those as expropriations every time they occur.
313 And historically, my understanding is that cable operators -- and this happens not only in Canada, but in the U.S. as well -- are given access to public rights of way for the use to lay cable. They are given, you know, what are so close to monopoly licences in many areas. And it is one of the conditions of their licences.
314 When they entered the broadcasting system and it was known that they were likely to take away viewers from the public and private broadcasters, one of the kickbacks that they were meant to do was to support communities. This money is charged to communities and we feel that that is therefore a public trust, that that money be used in the way it was designated.
315 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. I mean, you are absolutely right, it is not an expropriation. But my point is it is part of their present business practice, their business plan, et cetera. So suddenly taking it and directing it somewhere else will have a profound impact obviously on the BDUs.
316 And I was using expropriation in that loose sense that --
317 MS EDWARDS: Okay.
318 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- it is something that they are used to right now and they won't have in the future.
319 MS EDWARDS: But to respond to the other parts of your question, we don't think it is radical at all. Every other country in the world that has recognized the community broadcasting sector, often in imitation of our model, had recognized the notion of community ownership from the beginning.
320 I think the idea that we have for-profit companies here administering channels for the community is the radical idea. It is odd. It is like if we said that, you know, Rogers was going to run the CBC. You know, the Broadcasting Act defines public, private and community sector, and the underlying principle is ownership. So that has always been an odd thing in Canada.
321 And you know, I used to be a volunteer coordinator for Shaw and I thought in the 1990s, up to that point, when they were smaller companies, they were true full monopolies, not facing satellite competition and closely regulated by the CRTC, I felt it was a pretty good model.
322 So you know what, I am not anti that idea if it worked, but we went through a situation already where from 1997 to 2002 a lot of access problems were earmarked. We went to a hearing, we were asked to consider a hybrid model. Community groups were assured that they could get back on the air. Although they had no guaranteed access to money for financing, they were just supposed to produce in a basement and bring their videos to the cable operator. And it hasn't been working for eight years.
323 so you are asking us to reconsider a hybrid model that demonstrably has not been working for eight years, and your own audits show.
324 THE CHAIRPERSON: So that is really the crucial question here. You feel that in hearing contradiction, having the for-profit outfit running a community -- and that is why in your model you insist that whoever produces your community multimedia access, that they are all being run by non-profit organizations?
325 MS EDWARDS: That is right, sir.
326 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. If your own suggestion, with the structure of CACTUS -- at paragraph 386, page 132, you suggest that CACTUS would publicize this way of funding for community groups; assist community groups to liaise with Industry Canada regarding frequencies; support community groups in licence applications; assist the CRTC in assessing applications, to establish that they truly represent the community; support community groups in funding applications, providing technical guidance, et cetera.
327 Aren't you walking right into the same conflict that you were just saying? You say that the BDUs are commercial outfits, that they can't be trusted with a not-for-profit, yet here you want to be the supporter of applications, assist in the assessing of applications, and then, later on, assist in the running of them and administering the money that is received.
328 Surely, you have to be one or the other, you can't be both at the front end, at the deciding end and at the tail end at the same time.
329 MS EDWARDS: Initially the community channel system in Canada -- which, as I mentioned, I did think worked well initially. It took several years, five or six years of experimentation, significant leadership by the NFB, by the CRTC itself, and a cable industry which, at that point, was new -- it was open to new ideas -- to get the system set up.
330 There was a lot of overhead. NFB published magazines monthly, helping people understand this new idea, and they were flying out across the country, training.
331 To resuscitate what has become, particularly in English Canada, a completely decimated community sector is going to take coordination.
332 It doesn't mean you are making decisions on behalf of communities, but it means that you are publicizing the availability of a licence class.
333 As we know, only seven people stepped up to the plate, to the licence class that was made available in 2002.
334 Publicizing the availability of financial support, so the communities even know that these opportunities are available...
335 The particular boards of directors they would put together and the community infrastructure they would put in place would be entirely up to them.
336 But people need help. I spent hundreds of hours on the telephone, helping the public figure out how to get on the CRTC website and intervene in this process. You need to publicize these things --
337 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, fine, but then you also want to assist us in assessing the applications, the very applications that you supported.
338 Isn't there a conflict of interest here?
339 MS EDWARDS: It was an offer -- if the CRTC finds this a regulatory burden, the idea of assessing applications by 250 new entrants. Although we want to encourage new entrants, we have always said that.
340 It's a possibility. We were looking for ways to make the model work, so that it's not more work for organizations that are already taxed.
341 THE CHAIRPERSON: Lastly, upon reading your submission, if you go to page 142, you will see that you make the difference between community -- you talk about community and access to the community.
342 And at least on my copy -- and I looked at the web, too -- there seems to be something missing.
343 At the bottom of page 142 you say:
"Since production is voluntary, communities tend more to make programs about things and issues that they do not see being covered in other media, so the resulting content may be hyper..."
344 There is nothing else on the next page.
345 MS EDWARDS: It says "hyper-local".
346 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mine says "hyper", and then there is a new bullet and there is a big space in between.
347 What is the end of the paragraph?
348 MS EDWARDS: It says "...hyper-local, where no other sources of local programming exist or represent political, social, cultural or artistic views not heard in the mainstream. The tendency is for community programming to be local and to niche-cast."
349 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. For some reason, this is not on the web and it's not on the copies available to us, so if you could make that full paragraph available to the Secretary, I would appreciate it.
350 MS EDWARDS: Okay. My apologies.
351 THE CHAIRPERSON: Those are my questions.
352 Michel did you have some questions?
353 MS EDWARDS: Robin, did you have anything to add about -- the Chairman has raised an issue of conflict of interest with CACTUS assisting new licence holders, or dealing with the CRTC in terms of assessing their licences. Do you have any idea, from your background of a better way to do that?
354 MS JACKSON: I think that was just, as Ms Edwards suggested, an offer to you as a possibility. Obviously, we are not tied to that.
355 In terms of other alternatives, I don't really have one. My experience has been with grant applications, and I don't think that's exactly -- it doesn't carry over to regulation by a body such as yours.
356 MS EDWARDS: I think it's similar to having the CAB put forward suggestions for how the LPIF might be managed, and what they did was, they went to a third party -- an outside company to do it.
357 These are the kinds of things that we can talk about going forward.
358 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
360 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
361 I have only a few quick questions, because I know that my other colleagues, I am sure, will also have questions.
362 You had a bit of a discussion with the Chairman regarding the very fact -- and the word "expropriation" was used, and then it was changed for another word. But, at the end of the day, what you are looking at is to get the full 2 percent that is currently provided for local expression, which means that the BDU will not have any money to produce local programming.
363 If they want to keep a local service, how would they finance it, through a rate increase? How?
364 MS EDWARDS: In a way, it's not my business, because you are asking me to speak on behalf of the BDU, but my opinion is that because --
365 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: I am asking you to speak on their behalf because you are taking their money and you are creating your own fund.
366 MS EDWARDS: Okay. Because they are positioning those channels as competitors for local private and public broadcasters, we know that local private and public broadcasters have been having a lot of difficulty producing local programming. You know, we have just gone through a value-for-signal hearing.
367 We feel that, in fact, taking advantage of the 2 percent -- a 2 percent collection of subscribers actually puts the local private and public broadcasters, with whom we are now competing, at a disadvantage. So we feel that what would be more fair for those channels is for them to compete on an equal footing.
368 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: They may be competitors, but as you, yourself, stated -- and the BBM data that the Commission released show that it is not highly performing. They have registered between a .1 and a .2 share.
369 You used .3 in one instance this morning.
370 Are they really competitors?
371 MS EDWARDS: Again, that is their business decision, if they feel that those channels are useful to continue running in that way.
372 The other thing about the 2 percent -- would cable bills go up?
373 Why would cable bills go up, in that cable companies made over 35 percent profit last year. We feel that 2 percent is a tiny portion of that. It was meant to be used for community access.
374 We feel that what they should do, if those channels are developing in a way not envisioned by the Commission, is to go back to the Commission for licensing and determine whether that is a service that offers a significantly different service, compared to public or private broadcasters that should have mandatory carriage, which would justify rate increases.
375 We feel that it is between you and the broadcasters and the cable companies to negotiate the position of these channels that have now morphed into something different.
376 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: The PBIT that you mentioned is based on the total revenues of the cable industry, which includes telephony and wireless and internet, in some instances.
377 Well, surely, telephony and internet, and, in some instances, wireless. So it's not necessarily the cable distribution that has a PBIT of 25 percent and higher, it's the whole thing.
378 I am sure that we will hear over the next couple of days that the margin in the distribution sector is much lower than that, and if there is a need for a local service -- and they will argue that there is a need for a local service -- it will have to be financed through a rate increase.
379 And, obviously, the counter argument will be to say that the Commission has removed them from their source of financing for local expression programming, so the culprit, again, is the CRTC.
380 MS EDWARDS: I also feel that it's relevant to come back to the question of accountability. Since rate increases were deregulated, and it doesn't say, specifically, on a cable bill -- there is no accounting for exactly how the 2 percent is being spent, we don't know whether that money is being passed on to subscribers. Right now all we know is that they are charging subscribers lots more than it costs to provide those services.
381 And we would suggest, too, that if the BDU model is only getting a .1 or a .2 percent audience rating, is that an efficient use of that money, and is that an efficient use of spectrum in the basic tier?
382 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: That's a good question, which I am sure my colleagues and I will ask the BDUs. That is a very valid question, there is no doubt about it. For the type of money that is invested, a .1 or a .2 share is fairly low.
383 MS EDWARDS: When it's not also meeting its process -- community-driven mandate, exactly.
384 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Now, just a point of clarification, because you did mention that Quebec was getting a .3 share. I don't know where you got that number, because the number that the Commission released was .1.
385 Again, I have, just before my eyes, the PPM report for the week of the 5th to the 11th of April 2010, which shows VOX -- VOX being the local expression channel of Videotron -- again at .1, which is half of what we have reported regarding Rogers, because Rogers was at .2 in the report that we have put on the website.
386 MS EDWARDS: I don't have the website in front of me, but I thought, when I looked through those numbers, that the rates in Quebec were significantly higher.
387 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: No, they are lower than Rogers.
388 That is, at least, the number that the Commission put on its website. That's why I am asking you, where did you get the figure of .3?
389 MS EDWARDS: I thought that was in the 661-5 Public Notice.
390 I can get back to you on that, if you like. We can look at it when --
391 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: It was .1.
392 Now, my last question is, in your concluding remarks this morning you gave seven reasons why your plan should be approved. The fourth reason is that it will reduce the CRTC cost of monitoring cable compliance.
393 My question to you is, how will it reduce the cost? We will have to monitor --
394 If we don't monitor the BDU, we will have to monitor the fund. So, at the end of the day, the cost will remain the same for the CRTC.
395 MS EDWARDS: We assumed that the administrative -- the cost burden to the CRTC now is significant, because, as we have discussed already with the Chairman, there hasn't been enough accountability and transparency up until now.
396 CACTUS requested repeatedly, since the hearing was posted, whether we could get access to information that is available under the BDU regulations to be collected, and we initially got a letter back saying that it had never been collected.
397 We understand that that's a lot of detail to collect, so we feel that if that's offloaded to CAMF, and CAMF is requiring all of those individual, 250 channels to submit reports with all of this information, and more, and then CAMF itself -- you know, that information is public, and then CAMF is reporting back on the consolidated data, and also making it public and transparent.
398 That is all work that the CRTC doesn't have to do.
399 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Okay. Mr. Chairman, those are my questions.
400 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
401 Len, do you have some questions?
402 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
403 Good morning.
404 I want to come back to the discussion you had both with the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman with regard to viewership, and your response, and the notion that the .1 or .2 percent, clearly, is not sufficient for the amount of money that is being invested.
405 When the Chairman asked you how your model would increase the viewership, your response was -- and I wrote it down -- "It's impossible to tell until we do the experiment."
406 I come back and say, you want the CRTC to redirect $130 million for an experiment?
407 Isn't there a better way of taking a look and seeing whether there are other alternatives, including yours, without ravaging what currently exists today?
408 MS EDWARDS: What we feel is that the BDUs have had ten years to experiment with this new model, and it hasn't achieved any new viewership, so certainly we need something new.
409 I can refer to viewer statistics for community television in other countries, which vary from figures as low as they are here, 0.1, 0.2, up to 30 percent of people who are viewing per week. They are collected in many different ways in different countries and they are not easy to compare.
410 But we would be happy to submit those to you. In fact, they are part of the TimeScape Report that had been published on the public record for this proceeding.
411 COMMISSIONER KATZ: That is fine, if you want to file them on the final response, that is fine. But you may want to also take a look at what you gleaned out of the current situation in Canada as well with some of the community broadcasters as well in terms of their viewership. They do have control over it as well.
412 MS EDWARDS: Unfortunately, most of them lack the financial resources to conduct that kind of research.
413 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you.
414 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, Rita?
415 MS EDWARDS: Just to add one thing to that too, which is to comment that it is a lot of money to put into something that is getting 0.1 or 0.2 per cent viewership. Remember that the mandate of the community sector is as a niche broadcaster. So, for example, APTN gets similar numbers, international services that are carried here get similar numbers, even to the BDU-run model that we have now, which we feel is underperforming. Those have carriage on the basic tier.
416 For example, APTN, because again we feel that that has a significant place in the broadcasting system; a significant, important, protected place and we feel that access by ordinary citizens to the broadcasting system, which is stipulated in the Act, has that kind of priority importance.
417 COMMISSIONER KATZ: There is no doubt that community plays an integral role in the Broadcasting Act and the obligation to the CRTC. At the same time, we are entrusted to make sure consumers are getting reasonable return on their monies as well. And as you are well aware, we have been struggling with this whole issue of local broadcasting as well.
418 And so it is important for us to try and understand the various pushes and pulls in the system and come up with something that actually accomplishes the obligations inherent in the Broadcasting Act to us, but also what is fair for all parties.
419 THE CHAIRPERSON: Rita?
420 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you. I hope to not keep you here much longer. It has been a long morning already.
421 But I do hope you understand that, as my colleagues have already said, your plan does deserve a fair amount of scrutiny. You are asking us to authorize you to spend 2 per cent of profits not generated by you. So in that --
422 MS EDWARDS: Two per cent of profits that come from subscribers.
423 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Of profits that are not generated -- yes, but they are not generated -- that revenue is not generated by CAMF, it is generated by the BDUs. And you are asking us to give you the authority to spend that money.
424 MS EDWARDS: It is paid for by Canadians.
425 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: I understand, I understand that.
426 So I want to understand perfectly one thing that you said in your oral presentation, and you did say it throughout your written, is that this whole concept of regional networks. And I too will use the example of Rogers. I live in Toronto, it is my BDU, and the hotel here in Ottawa happens to use Rogers as well.
427 So last night, for example, Rogers on their community channel here in Ottawa aired the Junior Tennis Championships from Markham, Ontario. I don't know which one of their studios produced that. So in your criticism of regionalization are you saying that Ottawa should not have seen those Junior Tennis Championships out of Markham?
428 MS EDWARDS: What we are saying is that in our program analysis we could only find 20 -- I think it was actually 19, fewer than 20 channels in all of English Canada that produced more than 50 per cent of its programming schedule in that local place. All the rest was coming from other places.
429 So I question, you know, the allocation of monies that have concentrated in big cities. We feel that rural communities are being underserved and that the point of community TV was to serve them.
430 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: No, I understand your point. But in my example, do you think there is validity in showing the Junior Tennis Championships from another city here in Ottawa?
431 MS EDWARDS: As long as the rest of the program schedule meets minimum local requirements.
432 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay. Now in terms of access to the fund, you did mention the seven licences that have been granted. And I know, Mr. Watt, you are sitting on the panel and I did have this question for you tomorrow. You currently do not access any BDU funding, your only source of revenue is the 12 minutes of advertising?
433 MR. WATT: That is correct, yes.
434 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: But under this model you would now be able to access the fund?
435 MR. WATT: Yes.
436 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And you would give up your 12 minutes of advertising?
437 MR. WATT: Yes.
438 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay. Thank you.
439 Now, in terms of who would be represented on the board of the fund. Ms Edwards, you are very much up-to-date on CRTC procedures, both current and past. So my question is, why would you not include BDUs on the board of the fund seeing what happened with the CTF, now the CMF?
440 MS EDWARDS: We anticipate that this model will be reviewed obviously and developed by all parties. It is a proposal and a starting point for discussion. But what we feel is that BDUs, since they have been allowed to also initiate their own programming services, wield tremendous control over the content that Canadians are seeing on their television screens.
441 In the case of community TV, five BDUs own more than 90 per cent of them. And we feel that it is in recognition of that, is one of the reasons that they are expected to put 5 per cent back into Canadian programming produced by other people and that that, you know, is what in part underlies the creation of the Canadian Television Fund, now the Canadian Media Fund as well as community TV.
442 So, for example, I am concerned when I see a move where we have said that, you know, this particular party controls very much of the content that we are seeing. We exist in a hyper-concentrated universe, we are concerned about diversity of voices in the broadcasting system.
443 So we ask that party to make funding available that can be spent and planned and licensed by smaller broadcasters, smaller players, independent producers. And then those entities end up back on the boards of those same funds influencing how those funds are spent too.
444 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: But, Ms Edwards, the CTF almost imploded because the BDUs said we need to know how our money is being spent. It initiated a whole review by this Commission. It initiated a whole review from Heritage. They have a new guideline now, a new contribution agreement, they have a new board structure.
445 Why wouldn't you simply say we'll talk to BDUs about whether or not they would like to participate on this Board as the sole funder of the fund?
446 MS EDWARDS: We are open to the discussion.
447 Did you want to address that?
448 MS JACKSON: Correct me if I am wrong, I thought that the board was changed because it wasn't working, because the BDUs were on the board and that they have now gone to arms-length people.
449 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: We are not here to talk about the CTF. What I am --
450 MS EDWARDS: Well, you raised it.
451 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: What I don't understand is there are -- you know, Ms Edwards, you used words about community television is about dialogue, it is about accountability and transparency. And you used those words. But I don't see anything in your proposal that opens up a dialogue with the BDUs. I don't see anything in your proposal within which we can work in order to meet your objectives.
452 You know, the Chairman opened this discussion with you. But is there absolutely nothing within the current framework that we could alter or amend or change that would meet your objectives? Are you basically not asking us to throw out the baby with the bathwater?
453 MS EDWARDS: Okay. So first of all, in terms of whether it is appropriate for BDUs to sit on this fund and have influence on how this money is being spent, we feel that the audits that you yourselves have done and not even meeting the minimum thresholds for community content demonstrate that BDUs haven't done a good job on their own managing this money when they had 100 per cent control to do so.
454 We just feel that they have had a long time to demonstrate, but they are not doing that job in that particular area. We think they do a fantastic job in their core business, but it doesn't make sense to have big companies like that trying to administer money for communities.
455 Secondly, in terms of having a dialogue, when we heard that this hearing was going to take place, because we are a very small organization with very limited resources, we are all volunteers as a matter of fact, we asked the CRTC -- this was at the time that the Keeble Report, you know, it was being -- you know, the different reports that would be input into this hearing we were coming about.
456 We asked over and over to the CRTC, could you not have a multi-stakeholder conference about this so that we could have at the same table BDUs, for-profit BDUs, co-op BDUs, interested broadcasters like some of the ones that have intervened, community groups, so that this could be work shopped, not in a combative environment of a CRTC hearing where all the onus is on you guys to try to figure out a solution, you know, to people telling you competing things, pulling on competing data? We wanted that process.
457 We were told that, you know, it wasn't possible, it is expensive. We approached Heritage Canada to see whether there might be funding for something like that because they had done their previous year a report with an advisory panel on community radio. So there was just no support place in the structure to do that.
458 We wanted that process and we would welcome that process going forward. In fact, that would be a fantastic next step after these hearings.
459 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay, thank you very much. Those are all my questions.
460 LE PRÉSIDENT: Michel, tu as des questions?
461 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks, Mr. Chair.
462 Good morning everyone. I will ask my questions in French. But please answer me in English if you are more are ease and more comfortable. And make sure that headsets are ready if you need them.
463 LE PRÉSIDENT : Michel, tu as des questions?
464 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks, Mr. Chair. Good morning, everyone.
465 I will ask my questions in French but please answer me in English if you are more at ease and more comfortable and make sure that the headsets are ready if you need them.
466 On a entendu les remarques de mes collègues sur ce $ 120 millions ou ce $ 130 millions qu'on pourrait aller chercher dans les poches des entreprises de distribution, mais, en fait, il faut bien comprendre que ce n'est pas les entreprises de distribution qui ont cet argent, c'est l'argent de tous les consommateurs canadiens. Donc, le risque est peut-être encore plus grand que si on va chercher $ 130 millions pour une structure que vous nous proposez, qui m'apparaît quand même assez bureaucratique.
467 J'ai fondé deux comités de citoyens dans ma vie, qui ont été très actifs et qui ont fait parler d'eux beaucoup, et il me semble qu'une télévision communautaire, les télévisions communautaires doivent quelque part partir de la base, pas par le haut, mais par la base.
468 Dans tout ce que vous avez dit dans vos mémoires que j'ai lus, jamais je n'ai entendu et je n'ai vu quelque chose comme "membership," et la question que je vais vous poser : Est-ce qu'on ne pourrait pas avoir un autre modèle qui reconnaîtrait le vôtre, mais sur la question du financement, vous auriez droit à 1 pour cent du 2 pour cent actuel des entreprises de distribution dans la mesure où vous pourriez, vous, aller chercher 1 pour cent en contributions auprès de vos membres, qui pourraient être individuelles, mais non seulement individuelles, mais aussi des municipalités, parce que la télévision communautaire, c'est souvent auprès des télévisions de proximité? Vous parliez du Québec. Bien, dans des petites communautés, les télévisions communautaires font souvent très bien.
469 Alors, est-ce qu'on ne pourrait pas avoir un mécanisme... je n'entrerai pas dans les détails, je les ai dans ma tête. Mais est-ce qu'on ne pourrait pas avoir un mécanisme qui vous permettrait d'aller chercher, au bout d'un an, disons, avec toute la comptabilité, toute la surveillance que vous êtes prêts à nous offrir, est-ce qu'on ne pourrait pas avoir cette télévision communautaire qui irait chercher 1 pour cent des revenus des entreprises de distribution, non seulement terrestres mais peut-être aussi satellitaires?
470 Et si vous rencontrez ce 1 pour cent -- si c'est moins d'un pour cent, vous auriez moins, ce serait proportionnel -- mais là, on aurait l'impression, nous, que, de toute façon, un modèle comme ça, ça nous garantirait que vraiment, vous mettriez l'épaule à la roue. Alors, c'est la question que je vous pose.
471 MS EDWARDS: O.K. Nous sommes ouverts à ces idées, et dans notre soumission, nous avons considéré toutes les possibilités comme sources de financement pour la télévision communautaire, par exemple, sources dans la municipalité, et caetera.
472 Ce que nous savons, c'est que les sources provinciales et municipales, à ce moment, ne reconnaissent pas l'expression communautaire comme leur responsabilité. Par exemple, nous voyons, juste dans le mois passé, que le diffuseur provincial de la Saskatchewan a fermé ses portes. Alors, les sources provinciales, ce n'est pas une responsabilité bien comprise comme une responsabilité des municipalités.
473 Mais nous supportons, et c'est un modèle au Québec, leur indépendance que, dans le passé, ils ont généré des sources de financement de beaucoup de secteurs.
474 Notre crainte, c'est que, en ce moment, nous voulons que les Canadiens aient le droit à un accès vraiment communautaire, et tous les Canadiens également. Dans notre plan, nous avons identifié des budgets et des montants d'argent nécessaires pour offrir un service vraiment local.
475 Notre crainte, c'est que pour des années, c'était... au commencement, c'était 10 pour cent des revenus bruts des cablôdistributeurs qui étaient utilisés pour la télévision communautaire. Ça été réduit à 5 pour cent dans les années 90, et maintenant, c'est à 2 pour cent.
476 Notre crainte, c'est que sans source de financement stable que le même niveau de service peut-être ne va pas être disponible dans tout le Canada. Par exemple, si les ressources dans une région, peut-être les communautés de monsieur Peter Garrow ici n'ont pas les sources locales pour générer ce type de fonds -- parce que la production de la télévision, c'est encore dispendieux même si c'est moins dispendieux qu'un modèle professionnel -- est-ce que ça veut indiquer que ces communautés ne vont pas avoir le même niveau de service que d'autres communautés qui ont accès à des sources de financement?
477 Par exemple, au Québec maintenant, on a vu que même s'ils n'ont pas des budgets adéquats, au moins ils ont survécu avec quelque support du ministère de Culture dans le passé. Alors, notre crainte, c'est d'offrir un niveau de service adéquat pour toutes les communautés.
478 Mais avec ça, je suis d'accord avec toi que le support local, c'est très important pour encourager la comptabilité et la connaissance et compréhension de tous les joueurs locaux dans la région.
479 Absolument, si notre plan ici pour re-divertir l'investissement des câblos n'est pas total, n'est pas 2 pour cent, nous allons, évidemment, essayer de remplir ces fonds d'autres sources, mais c'est juste que nous ne pouvons pas garantir le niveau de service qu'on a décrit en ce moment avec seulement 1 pour cent, parce qu'on a identifié un niveau de service minimum qu'il faut.
480 Notre crainte, c'est si nous essayons d'ouvrir 250 centres multimédias à travers tout le Canada, on craint de juste leur donner chacun la moitié de ce budget et les laisser seuls au cas où dans quelques milieux ou autres milieux, ça ne va pas atteindre le niveau de service que les autres.
481 CONSEILLER MORIN : Actuellement, les entreprises de distribution ont 2 pour cent. Ce que je vous propose, c'est que si vous ramassez 1 pour cent, vous auriez automatiquement le droit d'avoir le 1 pour cent des entreprises de distribution terrestres et satellitaires. Ce serait plus d'argent pour vous, et le canal corporatif serait toujours en oeuvre. Donc, on aurait 3 pour cent totalement si ce modèle-là était mis en place, et ça vous rendrait partie prenante. Vos troupes seraient motivées à ramasser de l'argent, à collecter de l'argent.
482 On parle de PBS. Au Canada, on n'a pas de modèle semblable, en tout cas, et l'endroit peut-être le plus visible ou, en tout cas, approprié serait au niveau local. PBS nous fait des annonces de collecte d'argent, mais ces modèles-là, il me semble que ça échappe au Canada. Alors, c'est dans ce sens-là.
483 La dernière question. Si le CRTC vous octroyait ce 1 pour cent ou ce 2 pour cent, est-ce que vous... Vous avez parlé de transparence. On a vu que les entreprises terrestres, lorsque le CRTC a introduit le Fonds d'aide à la programmation locale, se sont fait forts de mettre sur la facture des consommateurs le 1,5 pour cent.
484 Est-ce que, pour vous, ce serait important que le 1 pour cent ou 2 pour cent soit sur la facture de chacun des consommateurs canadiens qui paie pour la télévision communautaire? Parce que je ne pense pas qu'il y a beaucoup de consommateurs canadiens... si on demandait aux gens dans une salle de lever la main pour dire comment vous financer ça, vous autres, la télévision communautaire, je ne pense pas qu'il y aurait beaucoup de consommateurs canadiens qui diraient, ah, bien oui, c'est les entreprises de distribution qui nous chargent 2 pour cent.
485 Alors, est-ce que vous seriez d'accord pour que le 1 pour cent ou le 2 pour cent que vous réclamez si votre modèle était adopté par le CRTC, que ça apparaisse vraiment sur la facture des consommateurs?
486 MS EDWARDS: Je vais juste essayer de diviser votre commentaire en deux parties, because it was a complex question.
487 Okay, the first question, just to respond to what you said about generating revenues at the community level, you are asking, if a community can come up with half the budget, this fund might come up with the other half of the budget.
488 What we know over the last dozen years is that, right now, the average budget for the Fédération, which significantly operates this model, as well as the seven over-the-air television channels in English Canada, among them, have managed to raise about a third of the budget they need, and that's even with, in Quebec, Ministry of Culture support.
489 And we are talking about a province that has significant backing for French-language cultural expression.
490 So our concern is that many communities would not be able to raise that level of funding on their own.
491 TVO actually does the PBS-style direct fundraising, by the way.
492 The second question -- I may have to ask you to repeat some of it, because I was trying to hold both in my head at the same time.
493 The question is whether we would support putting on cable bills that 1 or 2 percent is being spent for local community expression.
494 I think that is between the CRTC and the BDUs, on how that money is spent. I am not sure that that would be directly our call.
495 We are certainly not against it. We feel that Canadians pay for all kinds of things as a group that they may not individually take advantage of.
496 For example, we have always seen these multi-media service centres, in some ways, as extensions of the services provided by a public library, as a key, core, public service information resource.
497 And I am not sure, if you asked every Canadian tomorrow, "Do you want to pay for your public library," that they would necessarily say yes. You know, many people use the internet now.
498 So I don't know. There are many, many things that we pay for as Canadians.
499 COMMISSIONER MORIN: I have seen many bills -- statements -- in the United States, and it is clearly on the bill that -- each regulatory measure is on the bill, and every consumer can see it. That's not the case in Canada.
500 MS EDWARDS: I think that it would make the process more accountable. We have been asking for that.
501 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thank you very much.
502 THE CHAIRPERSON: Peter, I believe you have a question.
503 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Regarding your budgeting and your business plan, I just want to confirm; at paragraph 309 of your submission it says -- start-up costs for 171 new access centres to be approximately $96 million, and then the yearly operational cost to maintain these centres, that is where the rest of it comes, and it points out that this would double the budgets of the existing 77 community-controlled organizations.
504 MS EDWARDS: Right.
505 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I am having difficulty understanding how that doesn't turn into the professionalization of these community centres in terms of that, because you are critiquing the Shaws and Rogers, et cetera, for the professionalization of community channels.
506 We are talking somewhere between $113 million and $130 million here. APTN runs its entire operation, I believe, on a $42 million budget. So $130 million seems like an awful lot of money for a service that currently serves somewhere between 33,000 and 66,000 Canadians, based on those ratings.
507 My question is, do you really think you need that much money? How much money do you really need?
508 MS EDWARDS: Forty-two million dollars is for a single service. We are proposing to you that we can create 250 hyper-local services for that amount of money. It's an extremely cost-effective model. However, you can't run a television channel with no employees at all.
509 Currently the average community TV channel that is run by communities themselves, with a third of the budget they need, has been zero and three employees. You can't publicize the existence of the channel, repair equipment, train the public, coordinate the programming schedule. You need a minimum --
510 For example, when I used to work in Calgary as Shaw's volunteer coordinator, there were eight staff there and 400 volunteers, and we needed every one of those staff.
511 As the volunteer coordinator, my main responsibility was training. There was somebody who scheduled the programs. There was a manager. And the other five, their job was to deal with the public coming in every day to help them run the studio facilities. So every night there was somebody there.
512 We are also proposing a multi-media model which is offering more services than just conventional television. We are saying that we can offer for that budget multi-media training -- you know, media on internet platforms, and that could include website designs and things like that; and potentially, to the extent that the community radio sector is interested, radio production as well.
513 So we are offering more, and we are offering 250 individual services.
514 If you underfund centres like that, the public doesn't find out about them, they don't get adequate support, the programming produced isn't of high enough quality --
515 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Sure, but why would I -- and this is my last question -- why would I, as a person interested in media access --
516 Given that the core foundation of community television and radio has a democratic purpose, for people to have a voice -- but this was in an era in which the best you could do was maybe get a letter to the editor published in a newspaper. That was the access. There were always gatekeepers.
517 There are no gatekeepers on the internet. People's ideas and opinions and blogs, they run freely. It's completely democratic like this.
518 Why would we, as a country, be pouring all of this money into this, and why would I go to one of your community centres to learn how to use new media when I could just set up my webcam, do my Rick Mercer-style rant, post it on YouTube, and the whole world can have it?
519 I don't understand why we would be reinforcing a 50-year-old idea, with technology that is even more than 50 years old, in that sense, when the democratic purpose is being served now with media that none of us could have envisioned at the time that was put in place?
520 MS EDWARDS: I don't feel that the democratic purpose is being served now. There may be no gatekeepers on the internet, but there is also no local focus. There is nowhere to find the opinions of your friends and neighbours, or people who live in your community but that you don't know, who is not on your Facebook list of friends.
521 Secondly, we are talking about broadcasting and television production, it is not just about access to any media. Television, as we all know -- most people consider it the most influential medium there is. Whether it is on television or -- one day it may be of high enough quality that we are all downloading it on the net, it is access to the means to produce audiovisual production.
522 Sure, some kids can grab cameras in basements and upload something to YouTube, but what about 60-year-olds? What about 40-year-olds that don't know how to get their websites found?
523 To take advantage of these new technologies -- it's not a 40-year-old model. We are proposing to help people use the whole range of new media tools, including the video content, which is challenging to produce in a way that supports public discourse.
524 So if you really want to televise a town hall meeting, so we don't just get a 30-second clip on the nightly news, if you want to run that thing in its entirety, and highlight the points of view presented, it takes training and coordination.
525 So for people to adequately participate in public discourse in Canada, there need to be places where people can learn that, tape those kinds of comments on video, and then know where to find them.
526 You know, there is a central channel that we can go to. It's not lost somewhere on YouTube.
527 Does anyone else have anything to add, because several of you are --
528 THE CHAIRPERSON: We are running out of town, Ms Edwards. You answered the question; let's go on.
530 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I promise to be brief.
531 I want to pick up on your criticism that Access TV isn't very accessible, and that the programming isn't reflective of the communities in which those programs are aired.
532 Barring a complete overhaul of the system, which you are proposing, would you favour mandated community content or programming thresholds for larger BDU community TV stations -- in other words, programming levels that are mostly local to the community in which they are broadcast -- and (b) stricter monitoring of volunteer participation of community productions?
533 MS EDWARDS: What you are suggesting -- we just don't think it's going to work in the long term. It might be better for some people, in some places, and improve the situation that we have now, but there are a couple of problems with it.
534 One is that -- I still come back to the definition of "community ownership". For communities to really take control of their own infrastructure and develop their own targets for how we want to use media -- you know, where are the holes in your community? We haven't had any Aboriginal programming. We haven't had any programming from that group over there. We haven't heard the response to the Speech from the Throne, you know, from those guys.
535 Communities need, over the long haul, to be able to develop their own strategies in order to support local infrastructure. It's not enough just to have, okay, one volunteer can come in and make one show, and good, that's finished; you need to develop, like with any undertaking, with any business, a goal and a mandate that fits that organization.
536 The organization we are talking about is a community.
537 Just as one example, it is also about the common town hall. Cable community channels have typically been down the hall from where you pay your cable bill.
538 In Calgary we were up in some warehouse district.
539 They are not located in places where communities congregate.
540 What we are proposing is that they be in libraries, they be in community centres, they be attached to town halls, so that we can easily broadcast these kinds of cultural and civic events.
541 So it's about developing a strategy that fits the community; it's not about trying to make some old model work that doesn't work. We agree that that model is old and doesn't work, and we want a new model.
542 I think that's the main answer to your question.
543 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Just so I understand, you don't believe that community programming can be truly representative of the community unless it's owned by the community itself, or operated by the community itself.
544 You are saying that if a BDU runs this particular operation, then no amount of regulation is going to ensure that it has a preponderance of local community content and is truly accessible to the average person that walks through the door and says they want to take part.
545 Is that correct? Do I hear you correctly?
546 MS EDWARDS: What we don't think is that it will fill the long-term communication needs of communities if it's planned by entities based outside those communities, with other purposes.
547 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Those are my questions.
548 Thank you, Mr. Chair.
549 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. You have until May 17th, obviously, to make additional comments. You might reflect on the points that several of my colleagues have picked up on.
550 The question that Mr. Patrone asked -- the CBC also said in their submission that if your issue is access and local production, do you have to throw the model out totally, or can you improve the model by mandating, in effect, a different type of access, or specific levels of local production.
551 MS EDWARDS: We would like to improve on the model that you proposed in 2002, which is introducing community licensing.
552 THE CHAIRPERSON: You can come back with whatever you want; I just think this was clearly one thing that wasn't very much answered today.
553 The second part is that there is a bit of an inherent contradiction in what you are saying. You want the 2 percent, which is television money. Television customers, BDU customers, spend it, and you want to use it for both community TV and also for multi-media.
554 I mean, there is the question, why is the television viewer obligated, under your model, to pay for training for people in multi-media? He is a television viewer, it should surely come back to him in terms of television, rather than a benefit to new media training, radio training, and all of the other things that you mentioned.
555 Unfortunately, we are running out of time, but you might want to address that in your written submissions.
556 Thank you very much. We will take a 10-minute break.
557 MS EDWARDS: Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1118
--- Upon resuming at 1130
558 THE SECRETARY: Please take your seat.
559 LE PRÉSIDENT: Okay. Madame la secrétaire, commençons.
560 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the representations of Shaw communications Inc. Appearing for Shaw is Jean Brazeau. Please introduce your colleague and you have ten minutes to make your presentation. Thank you.
561 MR. BRAZEAU: Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, commissioners.
562 I am Jean Brazeau, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Shaw Communications and I am joined here this morning by Michael Ferras, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs; Cynthia Rathwell who is also Vice president, Regulatory Affairs and Programming at Shaw Direct; Alex Park who is our Vice President of Interactive Advertising and Programming; Dean Shaikh, Director, Regulatory Affairs and Leanne Fioravanti, Manager, Regulatory Affairs also.
563 We are very happy to appear before you today because this hearing is about important opportunities to celebrate and build upon a great success story of the Canadian Broadcasting system. The 2002 Policy framework for community-based media has helped to support the evaluation and increasing importance of community television.
564 Millions of Canadians in large, small, urban and rural communities have come to rely on their community channel for local expression and reflection. The community channel provided the only source of local programming in many communities where there is no local broadcasters.
565 Even where there is a local station, broadcasters are required to provide only seven or fifteen hours per week of local programming, which they meet primarily through news. In an era of decreasing local programming, community television has become critical to fulfilling the local content objectives under the Broadcasting Act.
566 Consistent with the specific responsibilities of BDUs under Section 3.1(t) of the Act, it is appropriate for the Commission to continue to support the ability of BDUs to operate community channels originate a diversity of local programming and support access programming.
567 Given the importance of community channels under the Act, the Commission must reject any proposals that will undermine the precious success of community television.
568 We strongly recommend the continuations of the current policy framework because it has created an abundance of local programming and access opportunities while strengthening the Broadcasting system. For almost 40 years BDUs have been committed and responsible stewards of community programming.
569 Through unique programming format, community partnerships, the dedication of staff and volunteers and the investment of time, energy and financial resources the community channel reflects a wide range and voices and opinions in the local community served by Shaw system.
570 Further evidence of the channels importance to communities is provided in this short video.
--- Video presentation
571 MR. PARK: Our video provides only a brief glimpse of the community programming available every hour of every day on the community channel and our contributions to building and supporting local communities.
572 Some of the additional highlights of the over 9,000 hours of original 100 per cent Canadian programming produced on Shaw TV each year include programs such as local public affairs programs, Irvin Rush and Tania Kiefer Studio 4 in Vancouver, political programming, including the Albert Legislature Question Period, weekly coverage of over 50 local municipal councils, school boards and committee meetings and live complete coverage of municipal action results, in-depth coverage of local emergencies, including 24-7 live coverage of the Winnipeg flood-watch. This occurred over a 30-day period.
573 Various specials on major social issues such as the impact of Curtis Matthews in cities like Calgary, Vancouver and Saskatoon, the impact of child pornography and the crisis of homelessness in the greater Vancouver and greater Victoria areas.
574 Sports programming that brings together local communities, including Provincial Curling Championships, a rich variety of local community and high school sports, live coverage of Western Hockey League and Ontario Hockey League games and community defining rodeo both advanced across Western Canada including, of course, the Calgary Stampede.
575 A completely unique local voice and perspective on the positive impact of the 2010 Olympics in the lower mainland produced over the entire 18 days of the Olympics. Programming from cultural communities in a variety of languages including russian, italian, spanish and hindi.
576 Our dedicated staff and volunteers are constantly active in the community shooting local stories, covering special events, providing volunteer training and helping Canadians to be heard.
577 We are also very proud of our support for local charities. Each year, we partner with hundreds of charity and non-profit groups to raise money that stays within the local cities and towns and organizations. We contribute airtime, volunteer training, equipment and staff to support a variety of these events. In 2000 along, our combined efforts with community groups raised over $15,000,000.
578 MR. FERRAS: The diversity and quality of programming in our community channels demonstrate that the existing policy is working. Community programming is inclusive and representative of the communities we serve, reflecting their issues and concerns.
579 As part of our role as stewart Shaw takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that community program meets acceptable standards of quality, decency and balance.
580 Given our long history of commitment to community television and the success of the 2002 policy framework in increasing local and access programming, we are strongly opposed to the proposal to overhaul the current policy. There is no justification or need for these proposals. They would undo the success of cable community channels and undermine our significant contribution to local expression. We could not continue to successfully operate community channels if the Commission was to divert or reduce our eligible contributions to local expression.
581 We would like to discuss our specific recommendations.
582 First, we believe that no changes are required to the current access programming requirements or access policies. The current access rules have resulted in increased levels of access programming. They also properly balance the need to encourage and support community participation with the importance of providing BDUs with a reasonable and necessary level of stewardship.
583 Our second recommendation is consistent with our message that the importance and success of cable community television in creating and broadcasting local community programming should be recognized and supported.
584 The Commission should consider increasing the allowable BDU contribution to community channels from two per cent to three per cent, but with no increase to the overall required contribution to Canadian programming. One hundred per cent of the increased contribution would be invested in community channels to support important initiatives, such as the conversion of the channels to high definition, close captioning, video-on-demand and increasing the quality and diversity of local programming.
585 Our third recommendation is to consider eliminating restrictions on advertising, to increase the level of funding available to support community programming. Local businesses are an integral part of local communities. We should provide these businesses with more opportunities and incentives to spend their advertising dollars in the Canadian Broadcasting system and support their local communities.
586 MS RATHWELL: Our fourth recommendation is to authorize Shaw Direct and other direct-to-home BDUs to operate community channels. Such a policy change would further enhance the diversity of voices and the production and exhibition of local programming in the Canadian Broadcasting system.
587 This service could not focus exclusively on one community, however it would showcase local programming from a wide range of communities across Canada. The national presence of a community channel with aggregated local programming would expose Canadians to grassroots experiences of others across the country.
588 Shaw Direct imagines a community of communities model. DTH undertakings should be authorized to direct the same proportion of the Canadian programming contribution that cable community channels are allowed to contribute.
589 MR. BRAZEAU: Finally, Shaw is extremely proud of the history of the community channel. It reflects our commitment to building a strong broadcasting system that services Canadians. The 2002 community framework has contributed to the success of community channels across Canada. Through Shaw's investments and stewardship, the channel provides an essential service to many Canadians.
590 BDU financial contribution to support Canadian programming through local expression have resulted in a vibrant community programming. These investments are consistent with the responsibilities of BDUs under the Act.
591 For these reasons, the Commission should continue to provide BDUs with the flexibility to increase the quality, diversity, relevance and importance of community channels across Canada.
592 Thank you. We look forward to your questions.
593 THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for your presentation. I just have a couple of questions and my colleague, Len, with have more questions.
594 First of all, I would like the secretary to show you a chart that was prepared by my staff for the purposes of this hearing.
595 As you know, the original policy suggested two per cent of BDU gross revenue should be devoted to local programming -- to community programming. Now, if you see on the chart there, it's two per cent of $67,000,000 in 1988 with inflation factor, it becomes $84,000,000, but you have grown, you have grown way beyond whatever was there.
596 So, this chart at first blush would suggest that is short of $35,000,000 of access in BDU funding you because, you know, two per cent if you take since the 1988 one and inflate it by, inflation would come to $84,000,000.
597 You care to comment if necessary and I was very careful whenever I said "at first blush" because, obviously there are lots of explanations and whether you want to do it now or whether you want to do it later in your written submissions, it's obviously your choice.
598 MR. BRAZEAU: I think we would prefer to do it in our written submissions. We will certainly look at these numbers and come back with our response to your chart.
599 THE PRESIDENT: And for those in the room, they are available at the Information Room and it will be posted on the web too.
600 And secondly, the whole question that I asked Ms Edwards before you: where does local television end the community television starts? Because, to me, there seems to be a bit of confusion and people seem to use it sometimes to change it, et cetera. She felt there was quite a different community in her view; community television is only if it's produced by the local community and that was really essentially what it boiled down to. I gather that's obviously not your view.
601 So, how do you look at it, mister? How do you see the difference, Mr. Brazeau? Do you -- where is it for you, where does local TV stops and where does community tv starts?
602 MR. BRAZEAU: Well, I think you're right, Mr. Chairman. We would view the role of the community channels very differently than what you've heard this morning and Alex Park is responsible for the creation of the community channel. He may be able to give you a better sense of what is our vision for the local channel.
603 MR. PARK: Thank you, Jean. I think in looking at local broadcasters in many of the communities that we serve, there is some patterns in terms of the text of programming that local broadcasters have been doing and are currently doing.
604 I certainly view that is currently local broadcasters, their content generally falls into two particular types of areas. One is just daily hard news, which they do and they do very well and we think they're fulfilling a very important of the broadcasting system and they continue to improve that and we think they're doing quite a good job.
605 The second type of programming tends to be local information programming that could be morning talk shows, morning drive shows, those sorts of things, but that really where it begins and ends. We have not seen very much other type of local programming. That certainly was produced and distributed for many, many years by local broadcasters that much of that programming no longer exists.
606 So, what we see certainly is an opportunity to complement what the local broadcasters are doing to find other stories, to find other groups and other views and other views that are not being heard in those particular programming formats to either hard news or those kinds of local information programs.
607 So, in general, that's how we would see the difference.
608 THE PRESIDENT: So, it is complementary to local news, but the ownership for the community owned BDU is irrelevant. It's the content that makes a difference of this.
609 MR. PARK: Primarily. What we would say on the community channels is that there is also a great deal of programming that we're involved with producing or certainly the ideas and the program proposals come directly from the community. We don't see any of that in local broadcasters.
610 THE PRESIDENT: Now, in terms of access, I asked Ms Edwards for -- whether there was any problem with access and she said there was and that you have cut down your personnel and they are doing the work et cetera. On the other hand, she was relatively short on specifics and on numbers, et cetera.
611 How do you handle access? Just give us an appreciation. Obviously, there are not a lot of people who want to use your system, so what kind of triage have you set up to make sure that people have access and that you have to get tools if one wants to have access?
612 MR. PARK: There is a couple of components to access. I think first when it's how do you actually promote it, how do we make people aware of the fact that access does exist and that we are in a position to provide support to community groups to do that and we do that in a number of ways.
613 We communicate that through regular bill stuffers, we do those actually twice a year now through bill messaging. We do that to be specific on advertising that we actually run on the community channel and we have created promotional spots that run on the channel saying: if you have an idea or you would like to participate, please give us a call.
614 We are beginning to see more and more communication from our community through situations like e-mail and information from the web. We are contacted on a regular basis by the community through a variety of ways.
615 So, the first thing that we do is we promote the mere fact that it exists.
616 Secondly, when we are approached by community groups for access, one of the things that we have found over the years is that providing some sort of structure to that is helpful, we have a limited number of resources. Obviously, there is only so many staff and cameras and other facilities and hours in a day.
617 So, we have actually created a very simple system where we will sit down with the access groups when they come in and have a discussion with them about the type of programming they want to do. Do they need a lot of it? And support, do they need very little support?
618 In some cases, we will have access groups come to our channel with complete programs and they say: Can you simply run this and please make sure it runs in prime time and we meet those requests, but it's very much a dialogue that exists between us and the community organizations where we try to work out what works best for both groups.
619 In many cases a lot of community access groups require quite a bit of support, in many cases they provide very little. So, we enter into that discussion with them.
620 We then will look at issues like: have we done this kind of programming recently? Is there an over-abundance of this type of programming? Are we providing balance in our schedule? Has this group had access, you know, within the last two months or four months?
621 There is a variety of those sort of tests that we put into the process to make sure that there is actually balance and that we can meet the requirements and we can make the requests.
622 So, that's very much the process that exists at the moment.
623 THE PRESIDENT: Is that triage system that you describe to me available on your website and can I, as a community group, find out how, yes, and so it's how you look at it?
624 MR. PARK: I would say it's not a the moment, but we would certainly look at that and we would like to have a good discussion about the role of the web in community programming. We think it's actually quite an interesting area.
625 So, the answer would be, yes.
626 THE PRESIDENT: Over to you, Len.
627 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning.
628 I am going to backtrack a bit and start with something that CACTUS said this morning and I welcome your comments.
629 In their conclusion, they have cited seven reasons why they thought their proposal would be advantageous to all concerned and one of them, it was number 3: "Frees cable companies to focus on their core businesses."
630 Can I get your views on that comment because they think they are helping you here as well? And I guess, and I'll just expend upon it.
631 From a financial perspective, to the extent that it's revenues on your top line and expenses on your bottom line with a zero profit margin, if you didn't have to do this at all, and it was done by a third party, you would actually increase your profit margin for your shareholders and your investors, but that's a secondary issue.
632 I am just trying to understand here whether in fact you see their views the same way they see their views?
633 MR. BRAZEAU: I will ask Mike to provide some comments also, but we think it's very much part of our core service in programming. We have been doing this for 40 years, now I think we are doing a very good job at and I think our customers appreciate the quality and the involvement in producing community job and community programming.
634 So, I would disagree with CACTUS. I think it's very much part of our core service and core product.
635 MR. FERRAS: I think there is sort of a sentiment that runs throughout the CACTUS ideas in their proposal that this is somehow a burden on cable companies and nothing could be further from the truth.
636 I mean, we, as John says, operating community channels is part of our history. It's part of the policy history of the Commission. It's a proven way for cables to contribute to the objectives of the Broadcasting Act. We don't see it as a burden.
637 We see it as something that provides benefits to the system. It helps us to identify with communities and we are not looking to get out of this. We have never suggested that we want to get away from doing this. We are there, it's part of our history. It's not a burden.
638 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, you would be supportive of anything that would actually enhance community accessibility and reception to the programming?
639 MR. FERRAS: Well, for example, when we talk about our proposal to increase from two per cent to three per cent, that's all for making the channel better. We think it's a model that has worked. I mean, if you look at the amounts of programming and we are meeting access levels or meeting Canadian programming at local levels.
640 There is more to be done and we need to transition the systems, the channels to HD, we need to improve accessibility services on it, whether it be closed captioning or description. You know, these are important things and it's another example of our commitment to the channels.
641 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Yes, clearly more money always allows people to do more things, but the question also is: can you do different things and the same things better with the same amount of money as well?
642 MR. BRAZEAU: I think the access issue is very important because it has been raised a number of times today and I think Alex has a few points to make on access and what we are doing to ensure that there is, you know, full access on the community in general.
643 MR. PARK: Just to follow up on your earlier question. Doing more is one component of it, but there are also other developments that we think will require further funding, so as an example conversion to HD is something that's clearly in our future.
644 The requirement to provide closed captioning for everyone of our original hours of programming produced is clearly another.
645 COMMISSIONER KATZ: We will get into those because I have got this in my noted here as well, so we will come back.
646 MR. PARK: Okay. So, certainly that. But you are right, there is always the opportunity to do more. We think we're actually one of the few broadcasting facilities in this country that is sitting in front of you saying: help us find a way to do more. We are actually not asking for any reduction in terms of that and what we are saying: is there a way that we can do more of this kind of programming. And I'll just give you some examples here of the whole issue of access.
647 So, in 2008, we have reported to you that our access programming accounted for 43 per cent of our total programming. In 2009, that went to 48 per cent. So, that's obviously with the definition of access programming that I think we have all agreed upon.
648 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. So --
649 MR. PARK: So, we would always welcome the opportunity to increase that.
650 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. One of the things I found intriguing when I was reading your submission again last night was you used the word "steward" and "stewardship". And again today you used it three times.
651 I actually went onto the Wikipedia as well as other locations to get the definition of what stewardship is and it says here: "It's a term that continues to be used in many ways, but more generally it refers to the responsibility to take care of something owned by somebody else."
652 And it said the same thing in a couple of other definitions here as well.
653 So, I guess my question to you is: who is that someone else, in your mind, that you believe you're stewarding for?
654 MR. PARK: I think it's very clear. I think it's the community and the community groups that we serve. I think that's very clear and the relationship that we've developed over 40 years with those groups and I have been in community programming for 40 years, so I've seen this actually develop in a very positive and healthy way, that that relationship with those groups is fundamental to the success not only of the channel, but of the groups and of their ability to be trained professionally, to get their messages out in a very efficient way, to use the channel and the resources in an efficient way. We believe this is an enormously important stewardship all there to make sure that it's done right and it's done with the proper resources and done in a way that meets the needs of those communities.
655 Those groups traditionally have come to our channel for one or two reasons only. The first major reason is they want to communicate within their community, either to other people of like minds or not. It's a communications exercise. They come because they want to --
656 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, help me then because I agree with you that you're stewarding on behalf of the community. But, yet, in reading a number of the interventions, they claim that you don't have an open process.
657 They can't come before you, there is no annual general meeting, you've got a couple of advisory boards I think you've said in your submission, you hold 16 advisor meetings in the last year, but none of them are open to the public to come in and express their views and ask you questions as well.
658 So, where is the disconnect?
659 MR. PARK: I don't think there is a disconnect. I think one of the things that we've talked about with our community dialogue section is to actually invite people from the community that we feel have a voice in that community and to come and talk to us about the channel.
660 We would be very happy to do more of those and we would absolutely want to do more of those. We found those forms to be very helpful, to be very open and to --
661 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But why is it by invitation only? Why isn't it open to everybody? If you are stewarding on behalf of the community and it's the community that's paying, why wouldn't the entire community have the availability to come in and provide you with their views?
662 MR. PARK: There are a number of ways that the community provides their views to us, that's one of the forms. We certainly get continual feedback from our community either through our viewer response lines which we operate on a regular basis, where any member of the community, we invite any feedback to us certainly through e-mail. That's just one formal way of exercising that discussion.
663 Would we or could we open it up? Certainly.
664 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But you haven't, to date?
665 MR. PARK: To date, for us it's quite an efficient way to do that. There is always -- there is always ways to engage people in that process and we have looked at that.
666 COMMISSIONER KATZ: How much did you spend on community TV last year?
667 MR. FERRAS: It was about $30,000,000.
668 COMMISSIONER KATZ: $30,000,000. And how do you prepare a budget for that $30,000,00? You know what your revenues are the previous year, you presumably have a budget for the current year as well, so you know what two per cent is going to be.
669 How do you sit down, Mr. Park, and decide on how you are going to spend your money, given you know you've got this pot of money for this year?
670 MR. PARK: The way that we traditionally do it as you know, we operate a number of community channels and each of those channels is required to put their own budget together based on their own community needs.
671 And so, we would look at the individual budget from the individual systems, make sure that they are meeting the requirements of the channel and our commitments and we would do it on that basis.
672 Those budgets are actually managed at the local community level through the local programming managers and through the local staff that we have within those systems. They create those budgets, they're responsible for those budgets and they're responsible for them in their own individual communities.
673 COMMISSIONER KATZ: How do those local community managers put together their budgets? Do they solicit input from the community, from local community, because there is costs associated with transportation and vehicles, cameras, equipment, shows, production, volunteers, whatever?
674 MR. PARK: I think one of the things that has been very helpful for us is that we have been at this for an awfully long time and so, I think we have gotten quite good with the community in kind of figuring out what things costs and where the money should go.
675 Obviously, we are trying to balance the kinds of programs that we would so. Some programs are a bit more expensive to produce than others. If we decide that something requires mobile production. There are expenses associated with that and we understand what those are and we have been doing this for quite a long time.
676 So, I think we have a history of understanding what and again it goes to the stewardship and I think we have a very long history of understanding where that money should be spend effectively.
677 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But at this point in time you don't rely on grassroots community to provide input to the station manager who sends the budgets over to you?
678 MR. PARK: Our expectations as it happens that our managers are actually in touch with the community really finding out what sorts of things are going on in the community in trying to budget for those.
679 Probably the best example would be where we get involved in producing even type things in the community, so we would know in discussions with community organizations what it would cost to produce, you know, a rodeo out of Red Deer, as an example, with some community participations and volunteers, some staff, some mobiles. We understand what that is.
680 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But there is no communications to the community just before that budget goes in and saying we are preparing our budgets for 2010 for community involvement, is there anything that you would like to see in there, like a rodeo or something that may come up or may not come up?
681 MR. PARK Do we communicate that process? No, at that point, we do not.
682 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So there is no opportunity for community feedback and input?
683 MR. PARK: There is in putting the initial budget together and making the decisions, yes.
684 MR. FERRAS: And I think there is also ongoing solicitations of programming ideas, what are the issues of the day at each community, what is happening in that community. We are constantly getting feedback from people through the ways that Alex describes in terms of making contact, whether it's on an ongoing daily basis with the access groups and the local groups that are inside of our studios and visiting our centres, it's through our bill stuffers, it's through word of mouth, it's through open houses.
685 I think the example that you spoke of was just in retrospective Vancouver. They had 16 open houses. There is open houses across the whole country. So, we don't want to leave the impression that people are not involved, I don't think we have a meeting where we say: here is our budget; it's more what's happening in the community, what are the ideas, what are the stories, what are your concerns? And that --
686 COMMISSIONER KATZ: The average resident in the community doesn't know you're doing that and so, after the fact it's pretty hard for him to perhaps be able to input into the process because the process has already been defined and closed, I would imagine? There is no formalization of it?
687 MR. FERRAS: I will let Alex reply, but my sense, because I have been asking these questions with Alex as well, as we have been doing through this process. There is an ongoing process of input for ideas and it's constantly evolving and that's part of the stewardship role as well.
688 You have to understand that programming is happening, who is producing it, what is the access groups producing and how is that contributing to the issues of the day in that community and how are they changing.
689 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Do you see any down side in having a more formalized process in the community, for a community to partake in the building up of a community programming to take place?
690 MR. PARK: No.
691 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. How do you measure success right now? How do you know whether the community channel is accomplishing that it's intended to do? What measurements do you look at, what type of feedback to you get?
692 MR. PARK: There are about three areas where over the years that success has begun to be measurable. I think one is clearly in terms of the amount of original programming that we produce, an access programming, so we measure that and we have lots of samples about increases in those numbers over the years. So I think that's certainly one.
693 I would say also the quality of the experience of the volunteers. Again, having been at this for an awfully long time, our experience now is that with volunteers you're quite interested in very specific types of training and very specific types of experiences with us. We have gotten, I think, quite good at delivering those types of training experiences.
694 So, we have begun as an example to you as coops doing quite regularly because they come to the volunteer process with quite a different agenda in mind and quite a different outcome in mind and we have been very successful in working with those.
695 We certainly look at audiences and we would like to have -- we welcomed your discussion about reach and share this morning. We have some views on that that we would like to reach and that's certainly one of the ways in which we measure the criteria of that.
696 And I think, finally, is the programming that we are at the end of the day ultimately producing, is providing a balanced view and it's providing enough and wide enough voices within the community to clearly indicate that indeed this is the life, the day and the life of someone living in the City of Calgary or Vancouver or Nanaimo. These are the issues that matter. These are the things that care. We look at those and we try to determine: are we meeting all of those requirements?
697 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But you don't go back to the community with some sort of survey or asking them to see whether what you have put on last year or six months ago is meeting the purposes and what more could you do to enhance that community channel?
698 MR. PARK: We have in the past. We actually for a number of years were involved in what we call "day after recall surveys" and the way that those survey systems work is that you would call a number of cable subscribers and call them the next day and have a conversation with them about the community channel and what they have seen the night before.
699 We conducted those for a number of years with a third party company and we would engage that company in doing those surveys. Part of what we are interested in was not so much just how many people were watching, but where did they see the -- where did it matter to them, what resinated on the channel for them, what worked, what didn't work, what did they like and what did they not like. We did those surveys for about a three or a four-year period on a regular basis in our systems.
700 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Do you see benefits in reintroducing that system?
701 MR. PARK: We would. I think one of the -- I will be very candid -- one of the reasons why we began to stop doing that is that there were some issues we were concerned around our own privacy, around providing as an example, our customer's phone numbers to third parties for surveys.
702 And so, that whole process became difficult for us, but we found it incredibly valuable because not only did it provide viewership members, but it gave us real qualitative feedback right in the community about the channel and about the --
703 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, if you can get around the privacy issue, you --
704 MR. PARK: We would, absolutely, yes.
705 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. You mentioned one thing that I was focusing on as well, one among many, but that is viewership and you've submitted something in Index, I think it's "F", which has Shaw TV unique viewer numbers and when I look down it, the preponderance of them are sports, amateur sports.
706 You've got the WHL hockey season, the Hockey Playhouse, CIS, Football season, Curling, Calgary Stampede, which is an event, Vancouver City Collection, White Cap Soccer and then your community channel, but the overwhelming preponderance is sports related.
707 To what extent to do you see audience viewership and knowing amateur sports are a hot issue, as part of your programming strategy?
708 MR. PARK: We use it to some degree, but we also measure -- there are other audiences and other programs, so we measure the entire channel actually and I'm hoping this is an opportunity to discuss a little bit with you the differences between reach and share.
709 Certainly the numbers that you released on the share side didn't surprise us at all, the way of measuring share is that it's ostensively a broadcaster model that measures in 15 mated increments on any given channel. That model, that number is generally used by broadcasters to create gross rating points and out of that model, they actually then develop their cost-per-minute to sell advertising. So, that number is based on a national level.
710 We would -- we think of far more realistic way of measuring as actually to measure the reach and so, when we look at reach numbers for the community channel, we think that that's a far more valid way of looking at that because that actually measures the numbers of unique viewers that tune in to either a program or a program day.
711 We're interested over the course of the day how many people tune into to Shaw TV over the course of a week, how many people tune in to Shaw TV and, therefore, the value. So, the reach numbers for us are extremely important.
712 So, you know, and I think on our table we indicated the reach on a Western Canada basis is over 300,000 unique viewers per day, putting Shaw TV clearly in the top 50 channels viewed by our customers.
713 Do we look at it? Yes. Do we make programming decisions based solely on that? No.
714 COMMISSIONER KATZ: How do we explain to the average Canadian that we value over-the-air television we value community television, over-the-air television is being supported through an LPIF one and a half per cent and gets a reach multiple times the reach of the community channels, not just here, but all the community channels. And yet, the community channel gets supported with a two per cent of the revenues, which is 33 per cent higher than what the private broadcasters who provide local community programming as well, local programming on this community programming as well?
715 How do we rationalize the two sets of numbers?
716 MR. BRAZEAU: Well, I am not sure if we need to rationalize the two sets of numbers. You know, over-the-air -- so we are getting more than the two per cent or the one and a half per cent in the index, but they also have other advantages that the systems offers and in advertising a little, et cetera. So, I think it's a -- you know, comparing apples and oranges here and, you know, I think it's very important that we fulfil our responsibilities in creating and presenting, you know, good Canadian local or community programming and I think the two per cent is in recognition of that role we play.
717 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, hypothetically, if advertising revenue was permitted on the community channel, would it be on an apple apple's basis?
718 MR. BRAZEAU: Again, I don't think -- you know, we suggested having the availability of advertising on the local channel, but I think our proposal was a very limited one that would certainly not put the local channel in the same ballpark as the over-the-air.
719 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. In reading over a number of the submissions and yours as well, they commented on the fact that you use the term "Shaw TV" rather than the community channel. You use them interchangeably more so with the slant towards community channel but yet you're advertising your website as all Shaw TV.
720 Can you explain the transition and why you felt it's important to move off of the basic intent of the program and the need to have a community front and centre as one of the pillars of the broadcasting system?
721 MR. PARK: I think certainly again in the development of the channel over many years, certainly in the early days when the community channel existed in the channel universe where there were 22 or 24 or 26 channels, it was a relatively easy channel to find, it was a relatively easy channel to identify, I think part of our process was to simply create something in the community that was identifiable very quickly and very easily and I think that was very much a part of it, it was to in a sense to kind of create some clarity for our viewers around what this channel was about.
722 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, Shaw Community TV doesn't do it and Shaw TV does?
723 MR. PARK: It could. It could.
724 COMMISSIONER KATZ: The issue of local and hyper local came up as well and one of the concerns that I have is the need to regulate needlessly and we start to distinguish between what is local and what is hyper local, you end up having to regulate or intervene and figure it out.
725 Is there a need to do that? Is there not a better way of getting us out of the picture as well and finding a way where the money sort of can be used interchangeably, if necessary?
726 MR. PARK: We think it already is actually and I think the model that we are -- that we have been practising with Shaw TV for many years. We think that those types of whether it's hyper local or local, it's intertwined in the serve as it's actually just a way in which the channel is developing and the relationship of the community is developing.
727 Do we do some programming on our own as the licensee? Yes. Do we work with the community in some cased where we do it together? Yes. The people who view the channel and who actually consume that channel make that determination on every single program that they watch on the community channel? Probably not.
728 Their concern is: does it reflect my community? Am I interested in this? Do I see value in this? Does this matter to me? Those are the questions.
729 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But do you think the Commission draws a distinction because you can't advertise on Shaw TV, you can have sponsorship and became a very fine line as to how you define one and distinguish it from the other whereas, obviously, locals can advertise whatever they want.
730 So, there is a distinction there and a difference in how we treat them and I am just wondering whether we need to have that or not?
731 MR. PARK: Let me see if I am clear about your question. That related specifically to advertising or to the content as opposed to access and local origination here as I am unclear?
732 COMMISSIONER KATZ: With regard to the advertising predominantly?
733 MR. PARK: I think we have certainly been practising the situation where in a sense it is a form of sponsorship. It's not advertising. The 15 second and full motion within that spot has been very, very helpful for us and I think we have asked that you consider the possibilities of increasing that to promotion advertising on a certain limit and amount of time.
734 We would see the opportunity to create that additional funding as being important for us. We think you should -- the rule should be quite simple actually that you provide to us.
735 We know that in the past, we've had many discussions with your staff around the subjectivity around the language in those types of ads and it has caused some back and forth discussions and I think we came to quite a good resolution about. So, I think wherever you can make it very clear and very simple that here are the rules and those rules may well mirror what the local broadcaster can do. Where your controls would be would simply be on the number of minutes per hour-hour.
736 MR. BRAZEAU: And I guess one of the major differences is also that our model is that the entire revenues generated and new revenues generated by advertising the one per cent or whatever would be 100 per cent applied back into the community channel.
737 So, it would be there to support more better new technologies in the community channel.
738 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. But you also said in your submissions that trading of two per cent for advertising is not your preferred scenario. In fact, you were more strenuous in using the words "not your preferred scenario". Why would that be?
739 MR. BRAZEAU: It's just that -- and I think Alex can speak to that, but just to let you know the type of programming we do, the involvement of the community would make a community channel at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis OTAs if it's just to compete for advertising dollars in order to support the channel.
740 So, I think that would be extremely challenging for us to continue with the same model in order to compete against the over-the-air.
741 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, right now, you don't compete with over-the-air, you feel, even though you are saying you provide local service, local community information to supplement the --
742 MR. PARK: Yes. We do not compete with them. We do not compete with them for programming, we do not compete with them for audiences and clearly in your numbers generate far more audience numbers than we ever do.
743 I would say where we would tend to compete with them is in our engagement at the local community level. We involve far more people on this channel, we involve far more groups and far more points of views than you will ever see in the local broadcasters. If we want to compete, that's where we would compete
744 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, let me ask you this question differently. You are also advocating increasing the two per cent to three per cent. Do you see the augmentation of a two per cent with advertising revenue as a way of starting to accomplish what it is you want to accomplish, given you're saying there is a whole host of things you want to do that you can't do with the current amount of money?
745 MR. PARK: Yes, that could be one of the ways.
746 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Getting into now some of the issues you talked about earlier, DTH being one of them, and the notion of community or communities.
747 I need to understand what the implications are that -- is your proposal to have one national community station for DTH over-the-air?
748 MS. RATHWELL: Yes, that's our proposal.
749 COMMISSIONER KATZ: What would you do with French Canada
750 MS. RATHWELL: Well, I think what we would do at the outset, and this is a function of capacity limitations, that we would have a bilingual channel and it would be proportionate as in French language and English language programming on the same channel.
751 You know, the other language that wasn't the IO track could be accessed through the secondary idea of programming capacity.
752 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Are there any programs in Canada today that are effective as producing two language programming on the same channel?
753 MS. RATHWELL: Well, I am not aware of one, but on the other hand, it would not seem to be contrary to the objectives of the Broadcasting Act, quite to the contrary it would enhance the cultural identity of Canadians. It would give them access to programming that they may not otherwise be predisposed to tune to automatically.
754 Another component of what we would envision as a possibility is also providing programming in aboriginal languages because we have a historical presence and relationships with Northern communities and at the same time make those available also in English and French by the secondary audio programming channel.
755 Now, I mean that would not obviously be a huge presence on the station, but we think that it plays well to the objectives of the Broadcasting Act.
756 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, if we take the assumption that it would be one channel, not two, because I was under the impression it would need two channels. But then, Bell ExpressVu would do the same thing. So, on a particular market we may actually have three community channels broadcasting. You would have the Bell ExpressVu community channel, you would have the Shaw community channel and you would have the BDU?
757 MS. RATHWELL: That would be the case, but an individual viewer being a subscriber presumably to one BDU service wouldn't be able to access all of them concurrently. So, this would fill a niche that currently 900,000 Canadians who currently subscribe to Shaw Direct do not have that would provide them with insight into community, of communities and community of interest programming that could be relevant, notwithstanding that the geographical communities that are depicted in the programming are, you know, separated by space. It's not necessarily that they are separated by interests.
758 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But what you've said a minute ago was the reason you could do it two channels was because of capacity issues, but you could find space for one more national community of communities channel, notwithstanding the fact that I think we spoke last year and you didn't have any room for any more OTA local channels?
759 MS. RATHWELL: Well, capacity limitations for DTH are an ongoing issue. We currently have, you know, 52 transponders and we believe that we could make available one service on there. We have modulation technology that would permit us to add a couple of channels in this way.
760 And as you know, we're launching a new satellite in three years that will increase our capacity. It will never be sufficient to provide community channel on a local and to local basis consistent with our inability to do it for conventional broadcasters, but we believe that it is in the public interest and is consistent with the Act to be able to provide one community channel with a sort of unique perspective on local programming and local representation that can be useful to viewers and to the system.
761 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And you don't think that channel would be at the expense of an OTA channel that heretofore you're obliged to provide, but don't because of capacity limitations?
762 MR. BRAZEAU: Well, you've just -- I think the amount of capacity we're comparing there, you know, for this community channel versus a community, if you are suggesting there is only one OTA to be carried --
763 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Because I think you're carrying some today, that you should be by virtue of the Broadcasting Act. And what you're suggesting here is to create a new channel that would take up that capacity, that if you had, presumably you should be using for the purposes that you currently are not -- that are inherent to the Broadcasting Act?
764 MS. RATHWELL: The way that we provide the local programming today and we believe we -- not local programming, but cover local, broadcasters that carry local broadcasters we believe that is in a way the response to our viewers' demands largely within the context of our capacity.
765 We've pointed out many times that there is a large degree of program duplication on those services. We've advocated, you know, the emergency of this channel unfortunately because that has always been deemed to require the consent of local broadcasters. We have been unable to consolidate local programming from local broadcasters in that manner, although it would be a very efficient way to deliver more programming from conventional broadcasters to our viewers.
766 What we are proposing to do with one single community channel is bringing the whole channel full of local community programming, new programming not duplicate of programming.
767 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Well, this is what you are planning to do.
768 MS. RATHWELL: So, we believe that -- you know, it's not so much that we are displacing a service.
769 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You are, right now you are not providing. But let me move on. I hear your answer. I am going to skip to one quick point on accessibility.
770 You say in your submissions on paragraph 54 that you continue to add new features, including close captioning described video among other features. To what extent are you actually providing closed captioning today because our policy basically says that we don't distinguish within community private or public. We are saying closed captioning is mandatory for all channels.
771 MR. PARK: In our recent licence renewal as you are probably aware, we didn't commit to begin the process of closed captioning a number of our programs which we have begun to do in Vancouver. So, that process is under way. We are not currently captioning all of our community programming. Our intent would be to do that.
772 COMMISSIONER KATZ: By?
773 MR. PARK: I think we had a commitment within our licence.
774 MR. FERRAS: Yes. And we're going to get processes next year, but we are in the midst of our new renewal and we have made commitments to go to 100 per cent by the end of year one.
775 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. HD for community channel. One of the things you suggested was if you had more money, you could advance the needs for HD on the community channel as well. There is no obligation to move of in rural areas, the community channel is not on channel 52 to 69. Why the urgency to move to community channel to HD when other channels aren't moving as quickly?
776 MR. PARK: I think there is a few reasons for that. We are beginning to see some demand from our particular customers around continually improving the quality as more and more of our customers are buying HD television sets and moving into the world of HD.
777 Our concern is that the community channel if it doesn't move in that direction could be perceived as something other than -- other than a very good thing to watch and we see that technology changing quickly. We see it becoming quite cost effectively, possible for us within the next three to five years.
778 And I think as we begin to plan our capital expenditures over the next three to five years in terms of operating equipment and trucks and adding facilities and those sorts of things, that our belief is that we would begin that process of migrating slowly over a three to five year period to HD.
779 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And just to confirm, your evidence was that it would cost seven and a half million dollars to convert over five years, which is a million and a half dollars a year?
780 MR. PARK: Yes. And that would be -- that ostensibly just the production facilities. We have not looked at the whole transmission issues. We think we can incorporate it into that, but that's the real hard cost of trucks and mobiles and cameras and facilities.
781 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, seven and a half million as I've said into five years is a million and a half on the basis of $30,000,000 million odd dollars, it's about three per cent, is what it would take per year to begin the conversion?
782 MR. PARK: To begin the conversation. Yes. And we are doing just -- that's a preliminary estimate where Alex is doing some experiments this summer on a couple of projects to give us a better idea of what the full cost would be.
783 MR. FERRAS: We have just begun now on the process of actually costing out, what it would actually cost to do HD productions with full HD trucks and cameras, so we're just on the verge of doing our first production to really understand the impact and the quantum of that expenditure.
784 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. I want to move on to the notion of VOD and ultimately new media as well. Have you considered putting the community channel on to VOD?
785 MR. PARK: We, again over the last year, we have been providing specific programs on a trial basis on our VOD platform. We have had some quite interesting results with that actually and our customers being able to access programs on VOD, we would absolutely like to do more of that. We think that's it's a very good other way of distributing content and we believe that that should be available for both the local origination programming. And I think to support some of the access considerations access program as well.
786 COMMISSIONER KATZ: What are the economics, if you are to move all the linear broadcasting community channel on to VOD? Is it more cost effective? Is it more costly?
787 MR. PARK: On the VOD side, there are a number of cost areas, there is -- and we have been again looking at exactly what this is. So, the programming -- physically, the programming has to be re-encoded and so, there is a cost to do that. There is a cost of the machinery to actually do the encoding to store on servers to serve it out.
788 So, there are additional costs involved in that and our sense is that it's one of those scalable type issues that the first 100 hours is probably quite expensive and the next 100 hours, the cost begin to drop, but we haven't cost it out, commissioner, that it would cost to take our entire service and make it available as a VOD platform.
789 We have begun the process, but we haven't finished.
790 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Yes. The reason I asked the question -- sorry? If you can file information, that would be great, if you have it, with your final submission.
791 MR. PARK: Yes, we would be happy to do that.
792 COMMISSIONER KATZ: The reason I asked the question is because unlike television, classical television, I don't think community television is on a scheduled basis. You do have a schedule, but you repeat that as well quite often and people aren't looking for something because it's hot at the moment, unless it's a sport even I guess that you do live.
793 But for the most part, you want to sort of have people know about it and you play it again and again, so there is no need for scheduled television in the classical sense, so I am just wondering why it needs to be on linear broadcasting and not on a VOD real for example and ultimately, why not in a new media environment over the internet?
794 MR. PARK: Our view is that it should be in all of those markets and all of those distribution methods, that there are certainly audiences that will continue to prefer to watch it in a linear fashion. We still see that in terms of our own viewing. There will certainly be, we think, a demand for people to view that programming in their own time and their own schedules and their own way, on their own devices, we think that's another distribution method that will develop.
795 But our belief is that it would not be one over the other. It would be as well as and our goal is to expand the entire distribution system so that it's available in all platforms.
796 COMMISSIONER KATZ: On that point, as we're all aware of the Minister of Heritage when he redefined the CTF, defined it as the CMF Canadian Fund with the mandate that in order to retract funding from that, you've got to be on more than one platform. Do you see that as a viable scenario here that anything that's related to community broadcasting must be broadcast on more than one platform in order to get approval so to speak?
797 MR. PARK: Yes. I don't know if approval is the right word, but certainly access by viewers and access by people who want to get to the content, I think the simple answer is yes, I think the more opportunities and different ways in which you can provide access from the viewership point of view we should be exploring this.
798 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Shaw filed with the CRTC a while ago exemptions for a number of markets pursuant to the revised policy last year dealing with 20,000 or lower.
799 That exemption would suggest that you no longer have to commit to community television in those markets. Have you cut back on community programming in any of those markets?
800 MR. FERRAS: No, we have not.
801 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Do you see the day when you might?
802 MR. FERRAS: Well, I think it goes back to what we have been saying that we see the community channel is real part of our history and something that provides advantage to the broadcasting system. It's a model that's working, that's providing local programming and access opportunities. So, you know, we really haven't even begun to think about it. I think at this point it's state of course of what we have, it hasn't changed our thinking at all.
803 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Let me hypothesize for you. Let's say for whatever reason in a year from now you feel that in certain markets it no longer makes sense to offer the community television channel, but yet, you're still and I guess no longer are spending the five per cent, would it be your view you would roll back your fees to the customers in those communities by that five per cent?
804 MR. BRAZEAU: Interesting hypothesis, but as Michael -- for us right now, the local channel or community channel is still part of our programming and is still part of our strategy and we don't see us not providing that service, so --
805 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You see the continued investment in community programming as far as you can see out?
806 MR. BRAZEAU: Nobody is questioning that.
807 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Those are my questions, Mr. Chairman.
808 THE PRESIDENT: Okay. We are a little behind schedule for the questions and I am starting to get a bit worried, so I'll call for lunch right now and I would ask you to leave shortly after lunch because I want to ask my other colleagues if they have questions and I don't want to cut you off. Okay.
809 So, it's -- let's say it's a quarter to one now, let's resume at a quarter to two. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1236
--- Upon resuming at 1346
810 THE SECRETARY: Please take your seats.
811 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, Mr. Brazeau. Is he here? Yes, he is.
812 Let's continue with the questioning from this morning. I believe, Rita, you have some questions?
813 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: I do, thank you. Just a couple of follow-up questions.
814 When you talk about advertising, do you mean both local and national advertising?
815 MR. BRAZEAU: Exclusively local.
816 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay. Obviously you were in the room this morning and you have heard and read the CACTUS proposal. And I understand your position completely, that you are opposed to an overhaul of the system.
817 But should this Commission decide that you know what maybe a fund is necessary, maybe not to the extent as proposed by CACTUS and others in these proceedings, is there a percentage of your gross revenues that you would find acceptable to give to a fund?
818 MR. BRAZEAU: That number would be zero.
819 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay, that is clear. Thank you.
820 Now, with regards to your proposal for community programming on DTH, would this be new programming that would be produced specifically for distribution on DTH or would it be repurposed programming from Shaw TV currently?
821 MS RATHWELL: It would be new programming.
822 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: So all of it, 100 per cent, would be brand new?
823 MS RATHWELL: Yes.
824 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay, thank you.
825 And just one final question. Within the Shaw organization, who is ultimately responsible for the community channel?
826 MR. PARK: I am.
827 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: You are. For all your systems across?
828 MR. PARK: Yes.
829 MR. BRAZEAU: I was going to say Jim Shaw, but...
830 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: That is your boss right, Mr. Park?
831 All right, thank you very much, those are my questions.
832 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel Arpin, tu a des questions?
833 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: I have two, Mr. Chairman.
834 In your written presentation you are quoting some audience figures, and I am referring to your section entitled Shaw TV Audience Appeal, which are paragraphs 31, 32 and 33, and also the Appendix F.
835 Now, in the Appendix F you are attributing the numbers that you are quoting to BBM. And so how did you get to those numbers? Are you a BBM member?
836 MR. PARK: Yes, we are.
837 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And then in your paragraph 32 you say that in Vancouver you experience up to 20.7 audience share. And you were talking about a coverage of the final game of the WHL, Vancouver vs. Medicine Hat. And now 20.7 audience share, every broadcaster would like to have that anytime of the day. And that share is also BBM data or was it based on a survey that you have conducted?
838 MR. PARK: BBM, we are part of the BBM system and we are part of the people metering system in both Vancouver and Calgary.
839 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And now they have PPM also in Edmonton?
840 MR. PARK: Yes, they have just launched that.
841 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And so are you also a member for the Edmonton market?
842 MR. PARK: No, but we will be.
843 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: You will be.
844 Now, the programming that you showed us in your video today, are you sharing any programming among your various systems? And which quantity of programming are you sharing?
845 MR. PARK: We are currently sharing amongst certainly some of our Shaw systems. We are currently well within the 60 per cent threshold for what we used to call bicycle programming, so we are well within that regulation.
846 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And it is bicycle, it is not through -- you are not live..?
847 MR. PARK: Yes. Let me qualify that. In some cases it is live, in some cases it is taped.
848 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: It is taped.
849 And are you sharing some access programming among various licenses?
850 MR. PARK: I would say some, but I can't give you examples of that. I think with the community group -- I know that we have actually had requests from community groups who come to us and say can you show this program in Calgary? And then they will come back and say can you also show it in Edmonton or Red Deer? And if it makes sense in those communities and it is part of our access, then we would.
851 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Okay. Now, I have a few questions -- do you do any French programming? You have French communities in Winnipeg and around Edmonton and maybe in other locations, but these two for sure.
852 MR. PARK: We do some. I don't think we do enough.
853 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And so you are doing some French programming.
854 Now, if the Commission was to allow you to operate a DTH community channel, you have been saying, Ms Rathwell, that it will be original programming. The French component, will it be coming from this western area that you are mostly -- you are much more important as a DTH operator and has obviously a BDU in the west than in the east?
855 MS RATHWELL: Actually, just to clarify, we have proportional representation basically for the regions of Canada among Star Choice customers or Shaw Direct customers, pardon me, so we are not really a western-focused service.
856 That being said, clearly with the French-language component we will have to be looking at commissioned programming from French-language producers that we would work with much in the way that, you know, community channels work right now in the production of access programming.
857 So we wouldn't be -- you know, some of it may come from official minority-language communities in the west but, you know, a component of it would also come from Quebec and from New Brunswick and other areas.
858 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you.
859 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
860 Monsieur Morin.
861 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks, Mr. Chair.
862 Just a few minutes ago you said no to Commissioner Cugini. I would like to raise the question that I raised this morning with CACTUS. And if I said to them if you want to get access to the fund, you will have to raise the same amount for members or for municipalities, as you know in many countries through the world municipalities are financing the community channels. And if they don't have this 1 per cent, perhaps they can get it lower than that.
863 But at the end of the day, if we take the amount, 1 per cent plus 1 per cent, it will mean for us 2 per cent and you can keep 1 per cent for the community channel of your own.
864 So why isn't it workable for you? Why this kind of compromise with a new model after 40 years and the history of the Commission, why such a model, a new model where members and municipalities are part of and that is not the case now, won't be appropriate or won't be a new way to look at the community channel?
865 MR. BRAZEAU: I think there are several reasons. The first one, which is our main submission today, is that the community channel today is not broken. So I am not quite sure what we are trying to fix with this new model, but we think the current model is working quite well. People are getting access, we are producing good quality programming. And so I am not quite sure what is the problem that CACTUS is trying to fix or that we would improve of as a result of your suggested model.
866 The second thing is that, and I think Commissioner Katz raised it this afternoon about multiple community channels competing against each other. So we would be very concerned that, you know, under your model there would be two community channels competing against each other.
867 And I think the result of that would be probably two inferior community channels being produced. And I think that would just drive viewers away from community channels, something that we don't want to happen. So we would have some significant concerns with, you know, a model that dilutes the quality and the financing of the community channel.
868 Mike might have a few other points to make.
869 MR. FERRAS: I think what CACTUS is trying to do in its model our model already does. I mean our model, as we said in our opening remarks, is very inclusive. We don't feel that there is any group in a Shaw community that is not able to gain access to Shaw's community channels.
870 So we are trying to understand what is the problem that needs to be fixed? It is always good to look at the existing model and see if there are things that can be adjusted. But fundamentally, what they are proposing strikes us as very very complicated. There is lots of practical problems in how they would roll this out into 171 communities from scratch and find public buildings to become these media centres. All of which is, you know, designed to maximize and promote access, and that is a good thing.
871 We think we are already doing that. So we don't really understand why your model is accomplishing that the existing model that was established in 2002 is not accomplishing.
872 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Do you say that every proposal that comes to you, you accept it?
873 MR. PARK: No, we don't, and there is a number of reasons why. I mean, first of all, the way we currently operate there are just physical limits. There are only so many hours in a day, there are only so many staff and volunteers, there are only so many cameras. There are true limitations on that.
874 Secondly, as part of our stewardship role we look very carefully to see is there balance in the system? That is part of the current system that we are actually very proud of. Is there balance in the programming, is there balance in access, is it the same continual group of folks who come every week and get their access simply because they had it?
875 What about all the other community members? We are struggling on the other side, to be quite honest with you, to continue to maintain a lot wider access than just simply dealing with the groups that are currently with us.
876 COMMISSIONER MORIN: But if they are part of the system with membership fees, for instance, they will have to take care of all the diversity issues that you are talking about and they will be more responsible. Perhaps they will respect some standards and so on because they will be more involved and they will, at the end, be responsible for one part of the whole financing.
877 MR. PARK: Our experience right now is that actually we don't have any of those issues. We have no issues with any kind of inability to provide access, to provide any kind of access on a regular basis to groups. We schedule it, we work in an effective manner to make sure our resources are being used across the entire system. We are concerned that, in a sense, there are proposals to solve a problem that doesn't exist. That is our experience.
878 And at a municipal level, if I may, our experience over many many years with municipal councils is that we have had to enter into negotiations on a regular basis with municipal councils about beginning to support the costs, continual costs of providing cameras and volunteers and folks to do something as simple as council meetings.
879 Councils are not in any mood, at a local level, to begin to provide funding for this sort of stuff. We have been supporting that kind of activity for 40 years at the local municipal level, and doing it very well and happily and openly. That would be a very difficult model to maintain. It may work very well for the first little while. Our sense, and again having been at this for a long time, it is not sustainable, whereas this funding model is sustainable.
880 COMMISSIONER MORIN: But if they don't, it would be a renewable model, each year they will have to provide the funds, you know. So if the community changes its mind you will get back all the contributions.
881 MR. BRAZEAU: But, Commissioner Morin, if you create such uncertainly around the funding of this community channel and this model, it becomes extremely difficult for us. To have that conversation again that Commissioner Katz was having about, well, how do you budget this? How do you plan for this? You know, this year we have 1 per cent of the funding. Next year we have 1.5 per cent. And the year after that 2 per cent or back to 1 per cent.
882 I mean, with that much uncertainty in the regime it would be almost impossible for us to operate a channel under that amount of uncertainty, financial uncertainty.
883 COMMISSIONER MORIN: My last question. Will you have any objection to publish clearly on each billing statement of your subscribers the amount and the percentage that is now dedicated to the community channel?
884 MR. BRAZEAU: We haven't given any consideration to that.
885 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Why? Because you gave some consideration to the contribution of the LPIF fund.
886 MR. BRAZEAU: Yes, but we did not put it on our bill. So you know, it is something we haven't really thought about. So I don't know if we, unfortunately, have an answer for you. It is not --
887 COMMISSIONER MORIN: But as a matter of transparency?
888 MR. BRAZEAU: As a matter of transparency? We will certainly take it under consideration.
889 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
890 Marc, you have a question?
891 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon.
892 If your recommendations are accepted vis à vis advertising, what guarantees would there be that community TV content currently on Shaw won't morph into more ratings-driven content aimed at gaining market share and generating ad revenue?
893 MR. PARK: We have been I think involved for about four years very specifically with the current advertising model that has been presented to us. I would suggest to you that there has not been a single program driven by that. All of the revenue for all of that advertising has actually gone directly back actually to the channel. And about 50 per cent of that revenue goes directly covering additional expenses.
894 What is actually happening with the money is that we are doing, with the advertising money, we are actually doing more. We are not doing less and we are not looking for programs that drive that kind of audience for that kind of reason.
895 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: But why ask us to drop the current restrictions if you weren't out to try and generate more in the way of ad revenues? Presumably, that is why you want to do this is because --
896 MR. PARK: Yes.
897 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And in order to do that, of course, your content has to become more professional, because once you develop an ad-driven program you essentially -- that is a road that you have decided to go down, if you know what I mean?
898 MR. BRAZEAU: Well, with all due respect, I would suggest we haven't gone down that road at all over the last three or four years. That indeed what has happened with the advertising revenue is that rather than that advertising revenue affecting any of the programming content, programming formats or any of that, that that revenue actually has been turned back directly into the channel to increasing -- if anything, we would actually prefer to increase the volume of programming that we are doing, not necessarily change the format.
899 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Do you have any analysis or research that shows what kind of revenues -- and as you told Commissioner Cugini, it is all going to be local --
900 MR. PARK: Yes.
901 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: -- that you expect to generate as a result of this, assuming that the rules vis à vis advertising change?
902 MR. PARK: We have done some modelling based on advertising that could be looking at something like two minutes per hour or four minutes per hour. It is a very simple model actually. So we would be happy to file that with you.
903 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank, I appreciate that.
904 Does your proposal also include the fact that funds generated for community TV go to operate the full commercial production facility? So in other words, of the monies that are generated and funnelled towards community TV, is it all part of the same pot, that part of that fund would go into producing local spots?
905 MR. PARK: The actual production costs around producing local spots come out of -- specifically out of the revenue that is generated on the advertising.
906 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So you don't have any ethical conundrums around using monies that are specifically designated for community production to go towards the production of commercials for commercial gain? Do you see that as contradictory --
907 MR. PARK: No.
908 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: -- towards the aims of community TV?
909 MR. PARK: No.
910 MR. BRAZEAU: And I think we have mentioned that, again, any revenue generated by advertising would go back into the community channel. And that would also go towards more access programming, you know, the whole gamut of programs that are being produced in the channel. So it wouldn't just be, okay, now we have some more revenues, let's produce -- let's start competing with the OTAs on programming. I don't think that would be the objective here.
911 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay, those are my questions.
912 Thank you, Mr. Chair.
913 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you very much.
914 Let me just get two very quick clarifications. Did I hear you correctly say, Mr. Park, that when you have the consultation it is by invitation only? And when you discuss with the community, the programming, et cetera, it is by invitation?
915 MR. PARK: The process was we asked our local program managers to identify within their own specific communities the top community leaders who would represent agencies, group volunteers. We invited those people to attend, and they did attend in many cases and participated fully.
916 THE CHAIRPERSON: But why wouldn't you just throw it open? Why wouldn't you advertise? Why count on the pre-selection by your station manager? He may be of totally good will, but unaware of some community interests who want to participate.
917 MR. PARK: We would certainly -- again, I think I mentioned earlier on, this was the first time that we had held these kind of dialogue sessions. We would be more than happy to open up to the entire community, it is not an issue.
918 THE CHAIRPERSON: And on VOD, if I understood correctly, right now it doesn't prevent you from offering part of your community channel on VOD, right?
919 MR. PARK: Not preventing, as we just simply haven't done a lot of it. We have kind of looked at it on an experimental basis and tried to figure out what kind of content or people interested in having delivered in a VOD platform from the community channel, so we have begun that experiment. But we have not looked at taking every single hour or programming --
920 THE CHAIRPERSON: But would you welcome the flexibility, whatever obligations you have now for community channel, we would say it is up to you whether you deliver it through the community channel or through VOD?
921 MR. PARK: We would. Again, I think part of our concern would be to ensure that there is the appropriate funding to continue on with that. We have used our current funding to do a bit of experimenting.
922 THE CHAIRPERSON: I wasn't talking about funding. I wasn't talking about funding --
923 MR. PARK: No, I understand.
924 operation and flexibility.
925 MR. PARK: Yes. Yeah, we would do that, yeah.
926 THE CHAIRPERSON: Like 60 per cent, if we would say you can deliver it either way?
927 MR. BRAZEAU: The only caveat -- I think, you know, we are close -- but I think the only caveat we would throw is that there is still very much an attachment by the community to the channel. And, you know, just watching the programming through VOD, you know, you sort of lose that relationship, you lose that connection to the community and the channel.
928 So we would be a little concerned about that. But having said that, I still think that VOD is certainly a tool we would like to use much more in the future.
929 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, well thank you for your presentation. As I said, you know, you have until May 16/17 to make additional comments.
930 Thank you very much.
931 Madame la Secrétaire, on va procéder avec le prochain intervenant?
932 THE SECRETARY: Yes. I would now ask the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance, Access Communications Cooperative Limited, and Westman Communications Group to come to the presentation table.
933 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation from the Access Communications Cooperative.
934 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
935 MR. DEANE: Well, thank you and good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and CRTC staff.
936 My name is Jim Deane. I am President and CEO of Access Communications Cooperative Limited. With me today is Martin Smith who is an Access Regional Manager and a long-time community channel producer.
937 While I am Chair of the CCSA I am here representing Access Communications. Access Communications is here today because we believe passionately in community television and because the policy framework for community-based media that was established in 2002 has been an unqualified success. In our view, there are no compelling reasons for the Commission to consider making any significant changes to that framework.
938 Since the framework was introduced eight years ago, Access Communications has dramatically expanded the amount of programming offered on our community channels and we increased the range of programming that we provide. Last year alone, we aired over 33,000 hours of community programming on our community channels in Saskatchewan, and that includes over 3,000 hours of first-run programs. Over 40 per cent of those were community accessed programs. We are very proud that we are able to offer such diverse and unique programming to our customers.
939 As these numbers indicate, Access Communications has embraced the current policy framework. In fact, we have met or exceeded all of the requirements established by the Commission. That should not be a surprise to anyone, given who we are. Our mission statement is we are a community-owned cooperative dedicated to providing exceptional communications and entertainment services and unique opportunities for local expression.
940 In fact, the founding members of the then Regina Cablevision Co-operative state their purpose was to reflect the community back to itself through the medium of television. And I am proud we continue to embrace that founding purpose.
941 We have been granted authority by the Commission to devote our entire 5 per cent contribution to Canadian programming to our community channels in Regina. We have consistently exceeded that mark and over the past year have devoted close to 6 per cent of our gross broadcast revenues to community programming.
942 Access Communications has worked for nearly 35 years on developing our Access7 community channels. We have created a strong programming schedule and we have worked tirelessly to build our brand. We have also developed a volunteer network in each of the communities we serve and created strong relationships with a wide variety of individuals and groups. These people come to us with their programming concepts and ideas and we provide them with assistance and a vehicle to bring their ideas to fruition.
943 We have done this in part because the Commission has consistently encouraged us to do so since the first community television policy was introduced in the 1970s. In the current proceeding, however, we are faced with proposals that would encourage the Commission to completely change the direction on its community channel policy and to implement a framework that would force cable distributors to abandon their community channels and to give up everything they have created over the past three or four decades.
944 On top of that, a number of parties want to force those same cable distributors to redirect their funding to third parties. These proposals, in our view, are simply wrong and would likely do great damage to the growth and development of community programming in many parts of the country.
945 The reality is that no other entity in the Canadian broadcasting system could take the financial contributions that BDUs make to their community channels today and create the same quantity and quality of programming. No one other than a cable distributor would want to provide a community channel in small centres in Saskatchewan in the same way that we do today.
946 Further, there is only the cable distributor that has a presence in each of these communities it serves and has the ability to leverage the resources associated with that presence to create community programming that is of interest to its customers in those communities.
947 The current model allows BDUs to do more in each community with less money. And that critical benefit would be lost if the models proposed by some parties in this proceeding were implemented by the Commission. These parties are making high-risk propositions with little chance of there being any real benefit or reward for Canadian consumers or the broadcasting system in Canada. We do not believe that this is a risk the Commission should want to take.
948 The enormous amount of quality community programming that is available on our channels and those of other distributors would be put at risk if some of the changes to the policy framework proposed in this proceeding were implemented.
949 Access7 community channels are our channels and we have done everything the CRTC has asked us to do with respect to community programming over the course of the last 35 years. And we fundamentally oppose any proposal that might result in the community channels that we operate being taken away.
950 We hold this view even though we understand that under some of the proposals being made, we might be one of the few distributors that would not be impacted because we are community-owned. But how long will that last? If someone decides they do not like the direction that we are going in, how long before they are in front of the Commission saying they want to exercise control over Access Communications' community channels?
951 In order to continue to meet the needs of the communities we serve and to expand our community programming to newly acquired systems, we need to have a stable and consistent community television framework to allow us to plan for the future without fear that our efforts could all one day be taken away from us. This is crucial for Access Communications because we are implementing a long-term plan to expand community television to all 218 communities we serve throughout the Province of Saskatchewan.
952 We have recently acquired 185 cable systems, all of which operate under the Commission's exempt order for BDUs serving less than 20,000 subscribers and we intend over the coming years to launch Access7 channels in each of those communities. We have already launched 11 new community channels and if the current community television framework remains in place, more will follow.
953 We strive to ensure that our channels meet the evolving needs of the communities and customers that we serve. We have evidence that indicates we are achieving this goal. In an independent survey of our customers conducted last year, 83 percent of respondents believe it is important to have a community channel and 68 percent responded that having a community channel makes a positive contribution to their quality of life.
954 Access Communications is an integral part of the communities we serve because we have been able to implement healthy participation from our customer base and provide robust coverage of events in the communities we operate in. The community programming we provide is quite diverse. It is not at all similar to local programming that is currently broadcast on conventional television stations.
955 While conventional television broadcasters do a commendable job producing news programming, other genres of local programming have fallen by the wayside. It is the community channels that are operated by cable BDUs that have stepped in to fill the void and to provide Canadian consumers with an array of community programs in non-news-related genres.
956 We provided in our written submission a long list of programs that we produce throughout Saskatchewan. No conventional broadcaster in Saskatchewan is currently broadcasting those types of programs on its station.
957 Today Access7 airs more local programming than any other Saskatchewan broadcaster and we would not have been able to do so without the stability and support provided by the current community television policy framework.
958 We would also point out that community access programming is a major feature on Access7. Again, it represents over 40 percent of our local first-run programs. Offering community access has enabled Access7 to produce programming that is as diverse and unique as the communities that we serve. Community access programming is how we fulfill our mission statement of providing unique opportunities for local expression.
959 Some parties to this proceeding have complained that content aired on community channels is becoming too professionalized. The implication is that community access programming is being discouraged because of this.
960 We disagree with this proposition. These parties fail to recognize that television production technology has improved and become significantly more affordable over the last 10 years. Community producers have access to this equipment and Access Communications provides technical assistance to these groups. The result is a more professional look to our community channels.
961 That said, Access7 viewers recognize and accept that community programs, particularly community access programs, may not always look and feel like broadcast television. Clearly, we couldn't produce over 3,000 hours of first-run programming with the resources at our disposal if we demand broadcast television quality.
962 Finally, I just want to conclude by reiterating that the current funding mechanism for community channels has ensured that a stable source of financial support is available. The proposal to create a new fund for community programming would do little to ensure Canadians in every region of the country are able to access a community channel.
963 Under the current policy framework, the community channel has a reliable direct source of funding that ensures community programming will be made available to Canadians. Any new funding mechanism would require BDUs to finance third-party community television undertakings and would only add a layer of complexity and inefficiency to the system that would not benefit customers.
964 It is not surprising that CACTUS has proposed itself as the administrator of the proposed Community Access Media Fund. The $1.5 million per year that is reserved for administration represents $1.5 million per year that would otherwise go straight to production of community programming.
965 Access Communications is confident that maintaining the current community television policy is the best course of action the Commission can take. To do so would provide the long-term stability that will enable BDUs to continue to increase the quantity and quality of community programming on their community channels. In our case, it would ensure that we are able to realize our goal of launching a dedicated community channel in each of the 218 communities we serve.
966 Thank you for your time and opportunity to present.
967 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
968 We will now hear the presentation of Westman Communications Group. Please introduce yourself and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
969 MR. BAXTER: Good afternoon. My name is Dave Baxter, President and CEO of Westman Communications Group. Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the importance of community programming and the potential regulatory implications.
970 Westman had a vision when it applied for a cable licence in the late 1970s. It was to provide community programming throughout Southwestern Manitoba. That vision is largely being achieved. As a cooperative owned by our customers and essentially the communities we serve, we are very focused on what they want. Community programming is very important to us and to them.
971 Today, 19 of our communities operate a community channel. The largest is Brandon and the smallest is Birtle, a community of only 165 cable subscribers.
972 This has been achieved very cost effectively due to:
973 - the dedication of volunteers in each of those communities;
974 - secondly, our staff. They serve as supporters of community volunteers by providing training, equipment and technical support. They also act as producers for some programming;
975 - thirdly, the unique win-win partnership with Assiniboine Community College's Media Production program, which we helped to found, whereby students receive hands-on experience with TV production. As a result of this partnership, additional community events are covered that otherwise we would not have the resources to do.
976 Westman works with community groups to help them to communicate their message using our community programming channels. We also support the fundraising initiatives of charities.
977 Westman provides each Community's Access Committee with both equipment and annual operating funds. These funds include base funding as well as variable incentive funding which is determined by the amount and variety of programming produced by a community.
978 Our volunteers produce a wide range of programming, including Town Council and School Division meetings, summer fairs, dance recitals and Christmas concerts.
979 Programming which is of regional interest is shared among the communities. A recent example is Russell, Manitoba volunteers' coverage of the parade for their local Olympic gold medallist John Montgomery that was made available to other communities. The Community Access Committees meet quarterly to exchange ideas and to provide feedback to Westman on the support their community volunteers need.
980 Programming content is now available on our video-on-demand service in six of our communities. We currently have approximately 120 hours of local content on our servers and it is accessed over 100 times per week and growing.
981 We recently purchased and equipped a new larger video production mobile. It is instrumental to ensure we can continue to increase the events we cover throughout Southwestern Manitoba.
982 Our live coverage of events has also increased significantly. Recently we broadcast live the provincial curling championships in Killarney. We also made it available live in Brandon by using our wireless transport link.
983 We continue to expand the scope of events we cover, in part to address a void left by conventional broadcasters. An example is our coverage of the Western Canadian Music Awards that were held in Brandon last year in cooperation with Shaw.
984 Community television has increased in importance in recent years, particularly as our local TV broadcaster, CKX, covered fewer and fewer local events. Westman has filled much of the void. CKX was eventually shut down last fall. What our communities seem to miss most is the local news coverage that CKX provided.
985 As noted in our written submission, our community channels deliver an incredible amount of local programming. This is achieved with a very modest budget. We could do even more with additional funding. With more funding we could offer local and regional news coverage. We could also increase the quality of our programming and eventually offer it in a high definition format.
986 That additional funding would need to come from both the ability to sell advertising and from being able to access the Local Programming Improvement Fund.
987 We appreciate the regulatory flexibility that has enabled us to serve the local programming needs of our communities. Granting the exemption which allowed us to retain the entire 5 percent to spend on programming locally was extremely important.
988 Our community channels have leveraged that funding to do a great job of producing relevant programming to reflect their own communities. They also have leveraged the resources of each other as well as Westman's to achieve this. It should be noted that the proposal made by CACTUS doesn't adequately take into account the synergies and economies of scale by taking a cooperative approach such as Westman has.
989 In summary, overall, the regulatory approach for community programming has worked very well. We are proud of our achievements. We also think we are in an ideal position to leverage our proven approach to expand the scope and quality of our programming. However, this will require new sources of funding.
990 Thank you.
991 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
992 We will now hear the presentation of the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance. Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
993 MR. EDWARDS: Good afternoon. I am Chris Edwards, Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs for the CCSA.
994 With me are Alyson Townsend, President and CEO of CCSA, and Eric Banville, next to me, Operations Director of DERYtelecom.
995 From Burgeo, Newfoundland, we have George Reid, Chairman of Burgeo Broadcasting. Also with us is Harris Boyd, President of Solaracom Inc.
996 Alyson will make a few remarks on behalf of CCSA's membership as a whole and then we will turn it over to our members to tell you about their community channels.
997 MS TOWNSEND: Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you once again.
998 The main point we want to make here today is that the community television framework as it exists today works very well. It works well because it is flexible. Nowhere is the importance of that flexibility more evident than in its application to the many small systems that we serve all across Canada.
999 Our panel today is the largest we have brought before you for many years. That underlines the importance of this issue to our members and, more importantly, to the communities they serve.
1000 Almost all of our members offer community channels despite the fact that they are not required to. Their community channels range all the way from fairly rudimentary billboard services to sophisticated channels such as those operated by Access and by Westman. The point is that each of our members offers as much of community programming as they6 can, according to their means.
1001 They do that because their community channels are important to their communities. Many of our members operate in very small and remote communities and their subscribers depend on their community channels as a way to stay informed about, and connected with, their towns and their villages.
1002 Mr. Reid will tell you about Burgeo Cable that operates its community channel for one simple reason: in an environment with limited communications facilities, the community absolutely needs it.
1003 Burgeo's approach to its community channel is different from that of Access or Westman or Dery. Each of these members has its own solutions for funding its community channel, finding and creating content for the channel and presenting its service. Subject to basic regulatory requirements, each system is able to scale and tailor an offering that fits the needs of its particular community.
1004 Quite simply, a one-size-fits-all approach to regulatory cannot work for these small and diverse BDUs. Perhaps more than in any other area, this is a place where unthinking application of rules designed to control the actions of the big guys could have disastrous results for the communities served by small BDUs.
1005 Flexibility is what makes the system work in our communities and it works very well.
1006 MR. EDWARDS: We do want to take a moment to address the proposals put forward by CACTUS.
1007 First, we note the thousands of letters that you have received that express thanks for the support of local community channels. We also note the comments that our own members have made to both us and to you about their willingness to work with and, indeed, their dependence upon local community groups for the content they present on their community channels.
1008 We simply do not accept CACTUS' premise that there is some sort of wholesale denial by cable companies of citizen access to the airwaves. At least in the communities our members serve, we see just the opposite.
1009 We also want to impress upon you just how small many of our members' communities are. While CACTUS frets about regionalization and professionalization of community channels, we are talking for the most part about towns and villages of a few thousand and sometimes a few hundred people. We are not the big guys that CACTUS worries about.
1010 For the most part, our members are trying to offer a public service, not to control agendas and make money with the community channel. What would help them is a mindset that encourages them to build their community channels. What they need are incentives and assistance to help them do the job better.
1011 Those could include:
1012 - much greater flexibility in the approach to sponsorship;
1013 - access to commercial advertising revenues;
1014 - relaxation of the definition of "local content";
1015 - added flexibility to pool content and financing across systems; and
1016 - access to existing funds for the promotion of content, most importantly the LPIF.
1017 That is how you can improve and extend the reach of an already established and working community channel system for the benefit of underserved Canadians. That in our view should be your objective.
1018 MR. BANVILLE: DERYtelecom évolue dans les régions rurales du Québec depuis plus de 50 ans, notamment au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Portneuf et Charlevoix. De par Câble Axion, elle opère également en Beauce, Mégantic, Estrie et Montérégie. Chacune des entreprises opère une télévision locale couvrant le territoire desservi. De plus, DERYtelecom diffuse quatre télévisions communautaires, deux au Bas-Saguenay, une couvrant la région de Portneuf et une couvrant Charlevoix Ouest.
1019 Exposées à une offre télévisuelle croissante, notamment en haute définition, les populations locales exigent une télévision de meilleure qualité, qui plus est, un service de base numérique incluant une grille horaire compatible au guide télé à l'écran. On ne veut plus se contenter de la version des télévisions communautaires des années 70. On veut une véritable station avec de la qualité au rendez-vous et une grille horaire stable.
1020 Dans le cas de DERYtelecom et de Câble Axion, des sommes significatives sont investies afin de maintenir ce service télévisuel dans les communautés. Chacune consacre annuellement plus de $ 200 000 aux télés locales. Ces sommes ne suffisent, toutefois, pas à assurer la pérennité des stations.
1021 Les télévisions locales assurent une couverture de l'information communautaire, notamment par la diffusion d'émissions d'actualité, d'affaires publiques, culturelles et municipales. Elles sont souvent la seule tribune pour faire connaître l'avancement des dossiers locaux.
1022 Depuis près de 20 ans, TVDL produit une émission quotidienne d'information couvrant le Saguenay et le Bas-Saguenay, quatre jours semaine, et ce, en direct. Quatre-vingt pour cent de ses abonnés disent regarder l'émission.
1023 Les télés locales sont devenues des incontournables en matière de communication auprès de la population pour les organismes de développement économique et touristique. Ces organismes intègrent la télé locale à leur stratégie de communication, favorisant la production de séries ou de chroniques destinées à faire connaître les services, les succès d'entreprises locales ou à assurer le suivi de dossiers économiques ou touristiques majeurs.
1024 Les organismes à but non lucratif occupent une place particulière dans les opérations des télévisions locales, chacune offrant gratuitement des possibilités de communiquer leurs initiatives, projets ou nouvelles. Les télévisions soutiennent également la diffusion de téléthons ou de bingos au profit d'organismes du milieu, tel que c'est le cas à La Baie avec le Club optimiste.
1025 À noter, d'ailleurs, que la TVC Portneuvoise effectue plus de 600 sorties de tournage par année pour couvrir les différentes activités sur le territoire. On peut compter un nombre similaire de sorties pour chacune des télévisions locales.
1026 Les artistes et artisans de tous acabits bénéficient d'une visibilité sans pareille grâce aux télévisions locales, chacune possédant des émissions consacrées, parfois plus d'une, comme c'est le cas dans Charlevoix Ouest, bastion par excellence de la vie culturelle du Québec.
1027 Les télévisions locales contribuent au rayonnement du sport amateur en faisant la promotion et la couverture de divers événements sportifs, dont des tournois de hockey, soccer, mise en lumière de succès sportifs d'athlètes du milieu.
1028 Notons, par exemple, la couverture des exploits de Valérie Maltais, athlète de La Baie à Saguenay, qui a participé aux derniers Jeux olympiques. Par l'entremise de l'équipe de la télé, la communauté a, d'ailleurs, pu expédier une vidéo d'encouragement à l'athlète à Vancouver.
1029 Les télévisions locales sont également un milieu d'épanouissement pour plusieurs bénévoles et participent à l'animation de la vie communautaire en s'investissant dans divers projets.
1030 À Portneuf, depuis maintenant quatre ans, deux employés de la TVC offrent aux jeunes de 5e et de 6e année des ateliers de formation sur la télévision. Présentement, une quinzaine de jeunes apprennent les rouages de la télévision et, après une formation de trois mois, passent à la production d'émissions faites entièrement par eux. Un projet similaire est en étude dans la région de Charlevoix.
1031 Présentement, les demandes surpassent de beaucoup les heures de travail des employés, pas assez nombreux pour offrir la quantité et la qualité de programmation désirée. Les bénévoles apportent une aide précieuse, sans laquelle il serait impossible de poursuivre. Hors, le nombre d'heures des bénévoles est volatile. On ne peut assurer la pérennité de l'organisme sur eux.
1032 MR. REID: I am George Reid, Chair of Burgeo Broadcasting System in Burgeo, Newfoundland. Burgeo is on the south coast of Newfoundland, about 100 kilometres as the crow flies from Port aux Basques. Burgeo has a population of 1,600 people.
1033 Our system was established in 1981 as a community-owned, not-for-profit enterprise. We came into being because due to the lack of interest by CTV and CBC in the 1970s in maintaining their transmission facilities in our area, our people found themselves without any television service at all. We exist to serve our community. We have about 700 customers, which is about a 95 percent penetration of households in our service area.
1034 I will tell you a quick story. Recently, our technician responded to a customer call. The customer complained that he got our Channel 10, which is the community channel, on every channel. More surprisingly, he got the community channel even when the TV was switched off. It turned out that he had an LCD screen. Because the community channel had been left on so long, its image had been burned into his screen.
1035 MR. REID: We have seen many cases of the same thing.
1036 When we go into homes in our community, our community channel is almost always on. People leave the channel on as they go about their household activities. It is their continuous background. It is their connection to their town and it is information relevant to their lives. They tune to other channels when there is some particular show they want to see.
1037 The community channel is an absolutely vital service for shut-ins, including hospital patients, seniors and the disabled. What I am saying is that our community channel is important -- extremely important. That is why we offer it.
1038 To give you a sense of how important it is, I can tell you that roughly 20 percent of our customers are also DTH subscribers at around $49 a month. Those people are willing to buy our basic cable service for another $24 a month just to get access to the community channel. And I can assure you, we are not Canada's richest community.
1039 We actually have three community channels: we have Channel 10 which covers general interest and events, we have a business channel and we have a church channel. We do live event programming on Channel 10 that includes a weekly Sunday news show, local hockey, parades, high school graduations and the like. We have a two-hour show called "Bandwagon" that is created by and features local musicians. We post regional job market highlights from Manpower Canada and local job listings. We carry messages from local politicians, the RCMP, the Red Cross and other public agencies.
1040 THE SECRETARY: I am sorry, your time is almost up, so you will have to complete.
1041 MR. REID: The cost of our community channel is covered by our monthly subscription fees. In addition, we generate some revenue from placements of commercial messages on our business channel. We have one full-time person dedicated to the community channel. We maintain a studio and cameras for both in-studio and on-site recording. Our two-way plant allows us to feed signals back to the studio.
1042 We have upgraded our studio equipment at least three times now, each time at a cost of around $15,000 to $20,000. For a system of our size, running the community channel is expensive and it can be very hard to find the dollars. So we do what we can with what we have. Any help we can get in the form of access to funding would make a huge impact on what we would be able to do in terms of more and better programming, better equipment and so on.
1043 Our community is remote. We were set up by our community to bring communications -- TV, radio and internet -- to its people. Without us, they are completely unconnected with the outside communications world.
1044 Within the community, we are the only electronic hub for communication and information. We are the only place that our people can go in the electronic world to see what is going on, to see their own lives reflected and to communicate with one another.
1045 Our community channel is a central piece of that hub. In today's electronic world, at least for people in our community, it is not only important, it is indispensable.
1046 Thank you.
1047 MS TOWNSEND: Thank you very much for your time and we will be pleased to answer your questions.
1048 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your presentation. I visited some of you and we have been very impressed by both Westman and Access, your facilities and what you are doing, and I am sure it will be the same if I visit Burgeo, which I intend to do one of these days -- sorry, DERY.
1049 You basically have one message. You are saying the system works, it is good, give us the flexibility, we are very closely integrated with our customers, we know them, we can serve them well and we do serve them well.
1050 If that is the case, why are you asking for access to the LPIF? Isn't that a bit contradictory to your message that the system is working well and you are serving your customers?
1051 MS TOWNSEND: Mr. Chair, I don't think it is contradictory at all and as a matter of fact I am sure Mr. Reid could tell you how he would spend some of that money. I believe that instead of spending 2 percent or 5 percent, he dedicates approximately 10 percent of his gross profits to his community channel. So anything that could be available to such systems as Mr. Reid's would go directly to the community channel.
1052 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but put yourself in my shoes. We have to determine who to support and what. We have a 1.5 percent charge for LPIF. We will have a 2 or 5 percent depending, in your case 5 percent, for community channels, and how many people do we reach, how much good does that money do, what is it for, and the viewership for local television is a completely different dimension than the viewership for community TV, important as community TV is, et cetera.
1053 If you are telling me it is working well, why do you want to take money away from the LPIF, from local TV, which is serving a much greater number of the same people?
1054 MS TOWNSEND: Well, actually, in our communities, local TV for the most case is no longer there. So the community channel is replacing the local TV channels. I think that Dave Baxter told you that their local channel is closed down and therefore Westman stepped into the breach.
1055 THE CHAIRPERSON: I know that, but you are carrying the closest local channel in the neighbourhood, I presume, just in order to keep your people informed. So I am sure Westman, for instance, will carry a Winnipeg channel, which is presumably the closest one.
1056 So I mean just in terms in proportion, we don't have -- obviously, if you could have more money, you would use it well. I have no doubt about that. But given what you have told me and how well the system works for you, isn't it time to sort of proclaim victory rather than asking for more?
1057 MS TOWNSEND: Harris wants to make a comment.
1058 MR. BOYD: Mr. Chairman, we made a number of proposals that would provide additional resources particularly to our smaller community channels. You have to keep in mind that 10 percent of the kinds of revenues or 5 percent of the kinds of revenues some of our smaller systems have doesn't give you very much money. Even in George's case, it is 10 and it is still a very small sum. There are shortages of volunteers. You still have to buy the same equipment, the same cameras. If you have a mobile, you are still facing the same cost.
1059 So we ask you to look at our various proposals. You can look at them individually or totally. Certainly when it comes to sponsorship, we have some ideas there. It is unduly restrictive. In our markets, largely outside of the local broadcasters' areas, we propose that we be allowed to do advertising. You obviously have to look at the total demands on the LPIF and make that decision accordingly.
1060 THE CHAIRPERSON: What is your specific demand on the LPIF?
1061 MR. BOYD: On the LPIF? We said -- our proposal, our written submission was that we should have access to the LPIF outside of the major urban centres.
1062 THE CHAIRPERSON: To the extent of...?
1063 MR. BOYD: We said -- we just gave you a range of 10 to 15 percent of the total LPIF allotment. Obviously that is when we thought it was going to be limited to 1 percent. Now, it is staying at 1.5 percent.
1064 MR. DEANE: Mr. Chairman, just a clarification. Access Communications is not asking for access to the LPIF.
1065 THE CHAIRPERSON: I apologize. You appeared as a group. I noticed you didn't say anything but I assumed you had that --
1066 MR. DEANE: Yes. We had understood it to be a temporary measure. So we are not asking for it.
1067 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
1068 Marc, you have some questions?
1069 MR. BAXTER: If I could just provide a brief comment. I probably asked for the most direct application for LPIF funds on the panel and that was to replace the fact that the local broadcaster no longer exists and we don't have local or regional news. And yes, we backfilled it with CBC Winnipeg but Winnipeg news isn't Western Manitoba news.
1070 Certainly, I guess the point I would make is that I think we have proven we can do a lot with not a whole lot of money and that if there is going to be an LPIF that we would be a good place to invest that in to enhance local programming. So simply, that was the point I was making.
1071 THE CHAIRPERSON: In your particular case, I have a little bit of a problem because the station when it went down, one of the problems was because it wasn't on the satellite and there is a very high penetration of satellite customers in your area. Potential purchasers who wanted to buy the station would only buy it on condition that they have access to satellite, which they didn't. But if there is such a high penetration on satellite, say, which planned stations not being carried as there was obviously relatively low value being placed by the people in that area on the local stations.
1072 I mean, you as a local cable company you carry the CKK, so if it was so important, people would presumably would have streamed to you rather than have tiny approach with Star Choice or ExpressVu, but they did. I mean actually there is all the numbers and all the purchasers, the only way we'll touch it is if we get on a bird. So, it seems to me that the demand is not as -- or the demand for local news is not as conditional component in that area as we tend to believe otherwise.
1073 MR. BAXTER: Just to clarify the statistics though that I think you're referring to when you say 40 per cent satellite carriage. That is largely outside of the Brandon central area, so that's where a lot of that is where cable doesn't exist.
1074 THE PRESIDENT: Oh! There is no cable. It's not that they prefer satellite, but that there is no cable there.
1075 MR. BAXTER: Right. So, included in that number is a lot of non-cabled area, so the percentage is much lower than that. A lot of people took our service, they indicated largely because of the local channel. So, there is a void there and it's something we would like to address and if there was some funding available to help fill that void, that's what we would like to do.
1076 THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Marc?
1077 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon. Thank you for your presentation.
1078 Mr. Deane, as a point of clarification regarding your position on the LPIF, I believe in your written submission you say that if the fund is going to be a going concern, then you would try to be part of it, assuming of course that your recommendation was accepted?
1079 MR. DEANE: Yes, that's right. If it's ongoing, we consider applying, yes.
1080 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Ms Townsend, your members operate community channels in 177 communities. Correct?
1081 MS. TOWNSEND: That's correct.
1082 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And you say that that number could grow, depending on what happens here with this proceeding?
1083 MS. TOWNSEND: Absolutely.
1084 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: What do you see is the most important thing that comes out of this proceeding in terms of helping your members grow in terms of providing the service that Mr. Reid has been providing his community?
1085 MS. TOWNSEND: Well, I will ask Jim and Dave to comment on that as well as they are on the ground, but I think that we could safely say "stability", stability in the framework and the current framework as it is has allowed them to be in this area for a number of years and build up the type of followers that they have built up.
1086 So, Jim, would you like to add to that?
1087 MR. DEANE: Well, I think stability around the framework would certainly help us, knowing what the landscape looks like three to five years out. It would be helpful, but at the same time, community television is who we are and we're about, so I can tell you last week we watched the community channel in Lampton Saskatchewan and so the history of Saskatchewan. Tomorrow we will be watching the community channel outlook Saskatchewan and Central Saskatchewan, so --
1088 It is who we are, but it will certainly be able to roll it out quicker if the framework stays the way it is now.
1089 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: You've launched six over the last while?
1090 MR. DEANE: Eleven and 12 last week and 13 tomorrow.
1091 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: You expect the national over-the-air networks to vacate almost all of the communities currently served by the CFSA members. Is that correct?
1092 MS. TOWNSEND: That's correct.
1093 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And your members expect to fill that void with "truly local content". Is that right?
1094 MS. TOWNSEND: That's correct.
1095 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: As a result, in order to help you do that, you are asking for us to basically change the current regulatory definitions of community and community programming as you see them as "no longer appropriate and harmfully restrictive." Can you go explain that for me a little bit?
1096 MS. TOWNSEND: I am going to ask Chris Edwards who drafted that wording.
1097 MR. EDWARDS: I am going to turn it right over to Harris who has a long history with this issue.
1098 MR. BOYD: Sure. Let me just talk a little bit about how we're structured in many areas of the country. There is still, in spite what people think, lots and lots of little cable companies across the country.
1099 We represent 100 of them and the definition you have for local programming is that the programming as to produce, be produced within that municipality and in many of our municipalities, they're actually quite small, but there is another municipality neighbouring most of these and have been created into large regional urban areas.
1100 So, what we are looking for is a way of reflecting the relevance of what happened in one community in that area, used the word "region", but in the area which is still important to another local community. Sometimes a larger centre is still the hub for a smaller centre in terms of some of the charitable activities, certainly in terms of sports activities, who want to be able to follow the sports teams.
1101 So, when your team is playing in another community, it's just as important to be able to cover it for your residents as it is when it's over there and vice versa. That should be considered local programming.
1102 We think that we're unduly restricted by the current definitions, but allowing a little more flexibility would help us undertake this kind of work.
1103 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So, if the local hockey team from Mr. Reid's community was playing in St. John's, then that, I guess, wouldn't qualify as local.
1104 MR. BOYD: Wouldn't be local in the current definition.
1105 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So, you propose a redefinition of community to denote communities of common interests which could include an entire province, but three territories of Northern Canada, Northern Ontario or Eastern Quebec. But aren't you in a sense proposing the very thing that you're critical of the conventional broadcasters of doing, which is regionalizing content?
1106 MR. BOYD: No, because they have actually abandoned the local community altogether. In some cases they were never there obviously. In George's case they haven't been there for a long time. So, what we want to be able to do is produce programming in a whole range of centres and then exhibit throughout those rather than just confining it to the one where it's produced in the first place.
1107 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: But doesn't that reduce or potentially reduce the commitment to individual communities?
1108 MR. BOYD: Well, you have to keep in mind that we are not filling any small communities, we are not filling the schedule, so there is lots of time. We are not doing 24-7 community channels in these small communities, so there is lots of time to put more programming on, lots of time to rerun programming and hopefully as technology evolves we will be able to have access on line and in some of the bigger places VOD, so we can have more exhibition.
1109 But it's not a matter of the trade-off, it's a matter of putting that programming on to actually make more available.
1110 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Because that was, of course, one of the criticisms that was brought up by CACTUS, was that often times you will see programming, in that much of the programming they would see on community programming doesn't necessarily reflect the community in which it's being broadcast.
1111 And what I'm hearing is you're asking for more flexibility that would in fact potentially exacerbate that problem.
1112 MR. BOYD: Yes. I guess I would disagree with CACTUS. I mean, our community channels are incredibly popular in the communities we serve. The people there seems to think it's relevant to that community and at the end of the day, that's what counts.
1113 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And yet, you don't want to leave Wellan alone now.
1114 MR. EDWARDS: Really that -- Mr. Reid is getting all sorts of great rating. I mean, he is -- Let's context around our phrase of area of common interest and I guess part of our submission is even if some of these systems are allowed to work together, their size is still small enough that you are not really regionalizing in the sense that a national broadcaster would be.
1115 And the other point is, you know, just maybe the area of common interest, I guess. I am thinking, for instance, of the Northern communities where you have a very small population, a lot of shared interests, linguistic, characteristics and so on, and this is about the flexibility to provide service to a critical mass of customers and get that done.
1116 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And I guess when you talk about pooling of resources than that speaks to the same general issue, doesn't it, whereas a mobile production facility could service a number of communities rather than just one. Is that correct?
1117 MR. BOYD: And in some cases, even a studio. I mean it's impossible to have an up to date studio in every community of a few hundred people. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be served with some programming, so it could be produced elsewhere, ideally mobiles, but those are pretty expensive too.
1118 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Do you have any analysis or research suggesting subscribers or viewers would welcome this redefinition in communities which, as you would say, are quite happy with what they're getting now?
1119 MR. BOYD: You know, I think it would be anecdotal, but so maybe our members could talk about that.
1120 MR. BAXTER: We do regional programming right now. For example, the Brandon Kings play in Brandon, but we broadcast that to other communities. Same thing, Brandon University basketball. It's a common interest and, yes, so you have to consider the context of the areas that we serve, you know. It isn't just Brandon that's of interest, but it's quite often a broader area of interest, even though it's not within the definition of a specific community.
1121 So, there is a lot of the program that we produce that is of common interest and I mentioned, you know, we did the Kilarney Curling. Lot of people in Brandon are interested in any kind of curling they can get and particularly in Southwestern Manitoba, so we transport that back to our wireless link and provide that live.
1122 So, really, we are doing it now and that's what our customers want. That's what communities are interested in and it's not at the expense of anything, you know. As Harris mentioned, it's not like we're having the pull things off the air to make room for it. It's all added value.
1123 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And Mr. Reid, you say that 10 per cent of your revenues, the gross revenues are going into the running of your community TV operations?
1124 MR. REID: Yes, at least 10 per cent, yes.
1125 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Do you have to do fund raising? Are you able to generate any revenues through sponsorship, through your community operations?
1126 MR. REID: Yes. We have one channel which I told you was the business town, like the retail wholesale there, like, you know, the stores, about their specials and we charge them per page, that's for screening. So, it generates some revenue there.
1127 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I'm going to speak a little more about advertising later, but I wanted to ask Mr. Banville about the unique approach that Quebec has towards its community channels. Do you feel that any aspects of that are --
1128 MR. BANVILLE: Well, actually we do. I mean, we are doing -- already doing one hour and fifteen minutes per day of local programming with news and charity and all of that and we are only 15 kilometres from a big local TV which is TVA and we are not competing there. We are doing what they do not do. We serve our community.
1129 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: On paragraphs 33 and 34 in your written submission, you talk about the need to attract more viewers to the community channel, attract more sponsorship required the fund content creation in production.
1130 Is there any concern that some of this production, if you allowed that to happen, would get away from the main trust of community TV, which is access? I mean, where do you draw the line and where do you strike a balance between encouraging access with the community and providing content that is more attractive, potentially to advertisers?
1131 I mean, if you become more professional, does that not take away from the access side of your operation? Is this an area of concern?
1132 MR. BOYD: Maybe I can just comment on that to start with. I mean, it isn't necessarily a trade-off to have better quality and to have access. I mean in this day and age, people have a lot of choices in television and any of other platforms as well. So, we have to reach a certain level of quality in order to have people watch it. If they don't watch it at all, we are totally wasting our time and our money.
1133 So, when we use the word "professionalism", you've got to sort of put it in the context of the size of the operation that we're talking about.
1134 George has one full time person. That's all he has to staff. So, a little more -- one person and a half would probably allow him to promote the channel, have a better schedule, consistency so people would know what's on, when. When we talk about professionalism, that's what we're talking about.
1135 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Just out of curiosity, mister, you are not that person, are you?
1136 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: We heard from CACTUS --
1137 MS. TOWNSEND: I mean, Buchanan isn't on the air today.
1138 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: We also heard from CACTUS that access is routinely denied. Now, it may not be the case with many of your smaller operations, but is this potentially an area of concern whereby people who are much more experienced with respect to the use of production techniques and that kind of thing of getting access whereas perhaps those who don't have experience are not getting the access that they've requested?
1139 MS TOWNSEND: We have never heard that access as a problem. However, I would like to ask Jim to respond to that.
1140 MR. DEANE: No. I am not aware where we've ever turned anybody away. In fact, we do everything we can to encourage our access and we measure it. I can tell you that we do an independent survey every year and we ask a couple of questions in that survey.
1141 First question is: Can people volunteer to help produce a program on access seven and we are five that strongly agree and one that strongly disagrees. It came on a 3.78 last year.
1142 And we asked a second question: If people can work with access to produce their own programs on access channel seven and that number came out of 3.68.
1143 Those are good numbers. We have some work to do but anybody can come down and we don't follow the man that can pick up the phone and come down have a coffee with us and talk about how to get the program.
1144 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I was going to ask you to walk me through the process from the point at which somebody walks into one of your outlets, operations?
1145 MR. DEANE: I can point an example. I'll ask Martin to talk about a fellow in North Battle for the motivation of speaker that had an idea for a community access program. He has been on Martin's channel for three years now.
1146 MR. SMITH: Yes. It was just a local motivational speaker who originated in Quebec and moved out to North Battle so walked in a day and wanted to do a show and wanted to be called "That funny French guy" and, you know, it's all about motivation of speaking, talking about his day-to-day life with his family or his experiences and it's very well-received. It's one of our most popular shows.
1147 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Do you have any research that you've been able to get vis-à-vis, even anecdotal regarding the amount of advertising revenues that you could raise in the communities in which you have operations?
1148 MR. DEANE: In our case, no, and frankly there hasn't been a priority and sponsoring revenues have been sufficient for us to operate the community channel in a fashion that we think it should be.
1149 MS TOWNSEND: Dave, would you like to add to that?
1150 MR. BAXTER: We do sell some sponsorship currently, but we think that given our scale and the scale of the businesses in Western Manitoba, having a broader ability to promote products and services more specifically is something that's probably more relevant to the business community and we, on the other hand, don't think that there is a globe mind there.
1151 I haven't done any research specifically on it, but you know as we have discussed all day today, I mean community programming is relatively niche. You are not getting a huge number of viewers to all of the programming.
1152 So, I think any amount of revenue helps and we put it to good use and we are doing more programming, but we are not assuming that there would be a lot of additional revenue just because of the nature of the audience that community programming attracts.
1153 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Now -- I'm sorry. Do you want to --
1154 MR. BOYD: I just wanted to say, I mean, the only sort of real data we have as you may remember that in the very small systems, the class 3 systems, they were actually allowed to have 12 minutes of advertising on the community channel, the part 3, class 3.
1155 It didn't raise a lot of money, but you have to keep in mind those are communities well under 2,000 subscribers, so not a lot of businesses there. I think one of the things that we have been learning from the businesses in our communities, they can't generally afford to advertise, not for their local market on conventional television.
1156 So there is some untapped ability to generate advertising, but we are not able to know without putting it to the test how much that would raise. But probably some anyway.
1157 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Of the BDUs represented, I take it Regina is not exempt? That's one of the few --
1158 MR. BOYD: That's correct.
1159 MR. EDWARDS: That's the only one which isn't in yet.
1160 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: The only one. Are you able to say how many of the current operations actually have community channels?
1161 MR. BOYD: Yes. I think we gave the figure at 177.
1162 MR. EDWARDS: That's 177 communities. I think it was actually 28 of 80 some members in CCSA had community channels when we did our last submission.
1163 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And what would be the impact on exempt BDUs if the Commission were to amend the exemption order to require that exempt BDUs fund and/or offer community programming?
1164 MS TOWNSEND: I think I would like to ask George to respond to that. George, if you were asked to contribute five per cent of your gross revenues, how would that affect Broshill?
1165 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I guess it would cut the budget in half, right, Mr. Reid?
1166 MR. REID: Well, no, but they wouldn't they, you know. But you just automatically have to raise the rates, that's all you have to do, but I mean, they wouldn't get anything for it and you wouldn't get no five per cent, you know. Like what I understand is that if everybody crossed the board and pay five per cent and you're only going to do community channels in areas of 20,000 or 12,000 plus anything under 12,000 if you pay five per cent of your gross, you are not going to get anything because you're under 12,000. So, it would be silly to pay any money to anybody, wouldn't it, you know.
1167 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I just have a couple more questions. What would be --
1168 MR. BOYD: Just to put a comment on that. One of the things to keep in mind in the CACTUS proposal is they are proposing that organized community channels down to communities of 10,000 people and after that, it would be just sort of some regional service that they have.
1169 We're already in communities an awful lot smaller than that. So, if you take the money from those, those ones are going to close down and they wouldn't be replaced by anything from CACTUS. So, you would essentially be depriving communities of community channels at all if you follow their proposals.
1170 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: But did any of your members drop their community channel after the exemption?
1171 MR. BOYD: Not one that I know of. And keep in mind that many of our systems have been exempt for a lot of years. It's just a recent exemption order that's moved it from 6,000 to 20,000.
1172 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: One last question that concerns the LPIF. You have already answer the Chairman on issues regarding that. But I suspect the conventional broadcasters would point out that sharing the LPIF with community channels makes no sense, given the lack audience support for your content. Mr. Reid, of course, is the exception since everybody watched that, right, sir?
1173 But in many communities that would certainly be the case when you're talking about very small audience levels, that they wouldn't want the community channels to be included in that, even if you were to limit it to, say, 10 to 15 per cent as I believe you mentioned, Mr. Boyd?
1174 MR. BOYD: You're comparing the ratings of conventional broadcasters who are running mostly national programming and U.S. programming to local channels that are running 100 per cent, largely all Canadian programming and largely local programming.
1175 So, if you looked at the ratings of only their little bit of local programming, which is sometimes an hour a day or less, then it seems to me you would be comparing apples to apples.
1176 MR. EDWARDS: I would just like to add as part of what you have stated there, Mr. Reid's situation is fairly typical of the CCSA membership. Access in Westman are very large in the scale of our membership and Mr. Reid is not a unique circumstance.
1177 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I know my colleagues may have some questions as well, so Mr. Chair, thank you very much.
1178 THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Let me just understand this. I heard access is spending six per cent I presume Westman is spending five per cent. What about the rest of your members? Do they all spend five per cent?
1179 MR. BOYD: Yes.
1180 THE PRESIDENT: Yes, or more, I mean if so --
1181 MR. BOYD: It's more than that.
1182 THE PRESIDENT: Even Mr. Reid.
1183 MR. REID: Yes, ten per cent or more it is I guess.
1184 THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Michel, you had some questions?
1185 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Merci, monsieur le président. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
1186 My question is only directed to CCSA and mainly to Mr. Edwards, but my first question has to do with your submission in paragraph 44 where you stated CCSA member community channels serve 177 separate communities.
1187 Was it based on a survey or is it an actual count or what?
1188 MR. EDWARDS: We did do a survey and, you know, to be very frank, we wanted to present to you as part of our filing, but we didn't feel the results were consistent enough to do that and draw good conclusions from it.
1189 These numbers do represent a survey that we actually did by phone calls to our membership, but we are continually played by the problem of getting good information even in response to that --
1190 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And 177, is it all inclusive and before you give your reply, Mr. Banville, in his presentation, mentioned that he has community channel in Portneuf and in Charlevoix. They are not part of your list. He mentioned Cable Axion, they are not part of Appendix A. So, that's why I am asking myself, was your survey all inclusive or could there be more and much more community services than what you have on your list?
1191 MR. EDWARDS: I suspect there are some we missed. I know, as an example, Cancard & Cable Systems which are a number in Southern Ontario, we missed the first time around. So, there will be more. And then there are the -- this would not include the systems that Mr. Deane has spoken about at it, that he has recently purchased from Brad.
1192 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And you don't have La Coop de l'arrière-pays, which every time I have met the people, Mr. Arsenault and the others, they all talk about their community channel?
1193 MR. EDWARDS: Sir, I don't think they have a community channel any longer. At one time they had a community channel, but certainly in the last five years, they have not.
1194 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Okay. Monsieur Patrone et c'est adressé directement à vous, monsieur Boyd, si vous voulez y répondre, a discuté avec vous des propositions de CACTUS. Cependant, demain on entendra la Fédération des télévisions autonomes du Québec qui ont une toute autre proposition et je me demandais si vous aviez des commentaires au sujet de leur proposition, étant donné qu'on vous entend avant et que c'est la seule opportunité qu'on aura de vous entendre?
1195 Je vous pose la question d'autant plus que la Fédération des télévisions communautaires autonomes a un vécu d'au moins une décennie alors que... et peut-être même plus, alors que CACTUS est un organisme qui s'est créé spécifiquement pour se présenter devant nous.
1196 M. BANVILLE: Enfin, ce que je crois étrange au niveau de CACTUS, je crois qu'il y a... on a des communautés beaucoup inférieures à 100 abonnés où est-ce qu'on dessert déjà les conseils de ville sur les communautés en bas de 100 abonnés. Alors, je vois assez mal comment CACTUS pourra offrir un service aussi bon que celui qu'il nous a présenté.
1197 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Mais je voudrais savoir, on a une proposition qui est faite par la Fédération des télévisions autonomes du Québec donc et qui, elle, propose un modèle qui est très différent de celui de CACTUS et si vous n'avez pas la réponse, mais vous pouvez peut-être me dire que vous l'ignorez puis peut-être vous prévaloir de l'opportunité d'un mémoire complémentaire dans le... au plus tard le 17.
1198 M. BOYD: Peut-être je vais juste faire quelques commentaires pour la situation au Québec. On a beaucoup de modèles différents dans l'élaboration des canaux communautaires au Québec, même Vidéo Dery a un canal communautaire opéré par la compagnie de câble, mais il y a trois ou quatre autres qui sont gérés par la communauté.
1199 Et on ne voit aucune raison même au Québec de changer le modèle qui est là actuellement, la même situation dans le restant du pays.
1200 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Parfait. Merci. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
1201 THE PRESIDENT: Len.
1202 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chair and good afternoon. You state and I'll refer you to paragraph 21 of your February submission. There is a bullet there saying: "The joint community channel in Hamilton which is funded by three separate cable companies, has been very successful. That success model could be more broadly applied if your proposed community of interest approach would be adopted."
1203 And I'll come back to the community of interest in a minute, but how do you measure success? And you say it has been very successful, what is it based on?
1204 MR. BOYD: A success is definitely subjective in this case, so we look at the number of hours of programming that they produce and we look at sort of the professionalism they are able to put in place. Obviously by pooling the resources they have, a lot of resources at their disposal, given Hamilton is obviously a fairly important city. So, the success criteria are subjective.
1205 We look at what they want to do compared to what they are able to do and responding to requests from the community for different types of programming and more hours of programming and all of that sort of thing.
1206 One of the reasons we highlight that one it has always been unique in the country. At one time, if you ever recall, it was run by six cable companies. Just getting that kind of cooperation must have been quite a unique situation.
1207 Now, there are three involved, including one of our members. So, even though that is a single municipality and part of a larger regional one, that kind of cooperative approach we see as having merit among smaller more rural communities and that's the main reason we highlight that one.
1208 COMMISSIONER KATZ: From an audience perspective though, you have no idea what the audience take-up is on that?
1209 MR. BOYD: No. We don't in virtually all of our cases we are not covered by BBM.
1210 COMMISSIONER KATZ: The last part of that note with regard to community of interest and you asked for a redefinition of community outside the geographic carriers as well and I first want to -- maybe it's just my memory failing me, but did CCSA not come in about three years ago to the CRTC and asked for the right to broadcast outside the local community for hockey games to be broadcast back and again on an exceptional basis? Did we not approve it?
1211 MR. BOYD: I believe Eisling made that request at the time and it was approved as a condition of licence for them.
1212 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And it wasn't broader than that?
1213 MR. BOYD: I don't think so.
1214 MS TOWNSEND: No, it wasn't broader than that and that's why we bring it back today.
1215 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. And with regard to your definition of community of common interest, it's a very broad term I mean, you can put a truck through there.
1216 MR. BOYD: A mobile, in fact.
1217 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Maybe. Can you be more specific as to how we can sort of pack that in and because again, to the extent that you don't have 7-24 community broadcasting and it's vacant anyways, maybe there is something there that we can do, but you've got to sort of bring it back down to perhaps fact as to what it is you're actually looking for and how it would actually --
1218 MR. BOYD: It is hard to define, commissioner Katz, because the parts of the country are so very different. I mean, if you have a very, very large Metro Centre and we're talking about communities encircling that. For example, that's a totally different situation than rural Manitoba, rural Saskatchewan or rural Newfoundland, you know. If we served PEI, I would certainly say PEI should be considered a community of interest. I am from New Brunswick maybe in both languages, there are two communities of interest there. So, it does have to be flexible.
1219 What we suggested in our brief is: let us in the community groups define it and if people don't like the way we have defined it, they could come to you and make a complain and we would definitely change it in response to what you directed us to do, despite the fact that they would be largely unlicensed systems, we would be outside of the policy that you put forward.
1220 So, it has to be flexible just defining it, as I know we would all like to do almost limits it. That's the problem.
1221 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And we have obviously made exceptions for the Class 3 as well and CCSA members, distinct from the other group of BDUs. I am just wondering how we can go about doing it. Why don't you try and put some thought to it and maybe in your final submission --
1222 MR. BOYD: Okay. And we could look at all exempt systems though, given that's now a new class. There is only Class 1 and the rest.
1223 COMMISSIONER KATZ: All right. Okay. Those are my questions.
1224 THE PRESIDENT: Michel Morin?
1225 CONSEILLER MORIN: Bonjour. Ma question va s'adresser à monsieur Banville. Je suis un abonné de CableAxion, mais seulement pour l'internet donc... et vous dites que vous avez également, en plus de diffuser quatre télévisions communautaires, que vous opérez des télévisions locales également?
1226 M. BANVILLE: Oui, effectivement.
1227 CONSEILLER MORIN: Où exactement?
1228 M. BANVILLE: Une à partir de Magog, l'autre à partir de Sainte-Marie.
1229 CONSEILLER MORIN: Qui sont des télévisions locales?
1230 M. BANVILLE: Oui, effectivement. Il y a un peu un mélange d'un peu de télévision communautaire et locale, dépendant des secteurs, parce qu'il y a beaucoup de petites communautés dans le cadre de CableAxion.
1231 CONSEILLER MORIN: Dans ces cas spécifiques, est-ce que vous auriez... est-ce que vous demandez l'accès au Fonds d'amélioration de la programmation locale?
1232 M. BANVILLE: Pas nécessairement dans tous les cas, non.
1233 CONSEILLER MORIN: Sûrement, en tout cas, avec les télévisions communautaires que vous diffusez?
1234 M. BANVILLE: Je n'ai pas tous les chiffres devant moi. Toutefois, il y a beaucoup de l'argent qui est utilisé dans les télévisions communautaires proviennent et par donation et par CableAxion directement.
1235 CONSEILLER MORIN: Mais je comprends de votre réponse que vous n'avez pas vraiment discuté avec les télévisions communautaires que vous diffusez. Quel serait l'impact si vous pouviez toucher 1.5 pour cent des revenus de CableAxion pour la télévision communautaire?
1236 M. BANVILLE: Non.
1237 CONSEILLER MORIN: Merci, monsieur.
1238 THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Boyd, am I stating you correctly in the exchange with Len Katz that the flexibility that you look at and you obviously said yes, but only for cable systems under 20,000 and that would do the trick?
1239 MR. BOYD: I think so. It was being me, but I think that would work. Yes, yes, a simple answer.
1240 THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Thank you. Those are all our questions. Thank you very much. As I say, you have until May 17th to give us further submissions in writing.
1241 Madame la secrétaire, we are going to take a five-minute break before the others are set up.
--- Upon recessing at 1518
--- Upon resuming at 1525
1242 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madame la Secrétaire, let's continue please.
1243 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
1244 We will now hear the presentations of Lynda Leonard, Laura Margita via videoconference from Regina, Ron and Nathalie Pollock via videoconference from Winnipeg, and Tobias Van Veen via videoconference from Vancouver.
1245 We will hear each presentation, which will then be followed by questions.
1246 We will start with the presentation of Lynda Leonard. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation. Thank you.
1247 MS LEONARD: Thank you, Madam Secretary, Mr. Chair, Commissioners and CRTC staff.
1248 Good afternoon, my name is Lynda Leonard and I would like to thank the Commission for conducting the review on community television policy framework in Canada.
1249 After many years of trying to increase the amount of access airtime on community channels, I am pleased to see the public aspect of community television is again coming to light. I have been volunteering with public access television for two decades, starting with Calgary Cable and then Rogers Cable and ICTV, Independent Community Television Cooperative, in Vancouver.
1250 I have worked in community TV as well as corporate and educational video as a producer, researcher and editor.
1251 Currently, I am a Director of CMES, Community Media Education Society, but I am speaking today about my personal experience with community television in Western Canada.
1252 Years ago when I was a new community TV volunteer I do remember writing a letter of support to community programming when asked to do so by the cable company in Vancouver. Not long after, the cable company closed down several neighbourhood TV offices.
1253 Following the closures access TV shows were cut back at a very gradual pace, so it was difficult to speak out against these cuts. Back then the cable company said it was contributing more than the 2 per cent of gross revenues to the community channel, but we had no way of verifying this.
1254 Later, when the cable companies did an asset swap the new provider cut access off altogether for outside producers who are doing traditional length community TV magazine shows. Some of these shows included segments made by Aboriginal groups. New programs were created by the cable company hiring professional staff at lower wages than mainstream broadcasters.
1255 I would liken this change to a town being asked to financially support the construction of a community hockey arena for local teams through benevolent fundraiser. Then after the rink is finished, local citizens are told that only professional teams can play there.
1256 Looking at the comments received so far on 2009-661 I see that widespread enthusiasm for community television is proven by many letters supporting shows on Cogeco, Rogers and Shaw. Several writers believe the BDUs produced the shows with government money. And of course that is true, since the levy is as compulsory for subscribers as any other tax.
1257 Successful BDUs manage to profit from regulations, so this reinforces the impression that BDUs are more governmental than other industries. Would there be the same enthusiasm for community channels if they were accountable to local government? Certainly many mayors and municipal organizations, libraries and arts councils have responded to the call for comments. Is there a reason to think that BDUs manage the levy money better than municipalities would?
1258 Ten years ago there might have been an ideological argument that business is better at almost everything. But today regulation and public oversight look pretty good.
1259 We need to allocate more local airtime, perhaps even an entire channel, to youth. In large cities such as Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver there is no reason why a youth access channel can't be created. This is done in many cities around the world.
1260 Studies have shown that youth who participate in community television production have a higher level of self-esteem. Youth who are new to our country do not always feel like they fit in. And youth-oriented shows can help them feel more comfortable with themselves and their peers.
1261 Years ago the community channel was a place where parents could see their kids on TV performing in a local music recital, for example. Copyright payments for music and performance rights have made this much more difficult. Community radio stations generally pay a lower annual fee for these rights than commercial broadcasters. Community television stations should also pay lower fees, as the programs are non-commercial and are produced by volunteers.
1262 I would like to see a return to a public access system where young people, seniors and community groups can make their own TV shows with the help of fully-funded supervisory staff, ideally staff that have a social focus and not so much of a commercial focus.
1263 The reason I say social focus is that many volunteers who come in are from marginalized backgrounds. They may be fighting addiction problems, abuse at home or mental illness, they may have a disability. Staff who have a background working with these kinds of volunteers should be hired.
1264 Right now, the fastest growing demographic is the aging population and we need programming to include them. Call-in shows have been drastically cutback on some community channels. This type of interactive program brings people together and makes them feel like they are part of their community, not merely spectators to what is happening around them.
1265 Community TV archives could also be made available to libraries. Libraries have expressed interest in this, but there is little funding available to digitize older video formats. Unfortunately, some archives have already been erased. This is really a shame, because some of the shows in these archives over time become neighbourhood history.
1266 There is also the issue of balance. It is good that the BDU supporters see their issues get the time that private and public TV can't provide, but generally those issues also receive some professional broadcaster coverage. The community channel status quo is not what you would call edgy. Genuinely, alternative, and underrepresented views mainly go to the internet resulting in reduced viewership at the local level.
1267 In the past, mainstream broadcasters would pick-up on an item originally broadcast on the community channel. When a controversial program was shown this gave a kind of permission to mainstream broadcasters to follow-up on the story. Judging by the letters of 2009-661 challenging programming no longer seems to be making it past the BDU gatekeepers.
1268 In short, we have seen over the past decade that programming which mimics mainstream broadcasters is being funded while outspoken alternative programming is not. Coverage of political candidates has decreased over the years or has been eliminated entirely on some BDU community channels. This affects voter turnout during elections, because residents don't know who their local candidates are. Incumbents benefit the most from this lack of coverage.
1269 City council broadcasts have been cut in some places or moved off of lower analogue channels up to higher digital channels. Viewers with older TVs can no longer watch them unless they buy a digital converter box.
1270 A great number of Canadians donate to their regional American public broadcast TV stations. The popularity of these channels has lead to a greater awareness of American political structures. For example, through their local PBS station people in Alberta know more about what is happen with the Spokane, Washington School Board than with their own school boards. It would be interesting to know how much Canadians subsidize the American public broadcasting system through their donations.
1271 With regard to regional broadcasting, we need to help people stay in the small towns and cities. Municipalities like Campbell River, B.C. are losing major industries. Local community channels can help residents and small businesses cope with these closures by providing airtime to discuss these issues and hopefully find solutions.
1272 The best way to get people to take action on something is through broadcast television. Locally, the internet is the icing, but it is not the cake. In the old days community TV shows were literally bicycled up mountains to be broadcast. We can still do this today by uploading shows to a satellite or over the internet if we want to share them.
1273 I support the creation of the Community Access Media Fund as proposed by CACTUS. The best model to use is the one least likely to be affected by political cuts every time the government changes.
1274 I would like to add that I do not believe cable rates should increase because levy money is already there.
1275 Finally, we need to reclaim, rebuild and restore our community access TV channels. We have seen that BDU-run channels are at odds with the people they are supposed to serve. The underrepresented cannot afford to buy expensive technology, yet this is the main objective for the companies and the shareholders.
1276 A new model is needed for community television in Canada, one where the technology fits the content and not the other way around. The BDUs should run their own channels with their own profits and leave the levy to community-owned and operated channels.
1277 Thank you.
1278 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
1279 We will now hear the presentation of Laura Margita who is appearing via videoconference from Regina.
1280 Ms Margita, you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
1281 MS MARGITA: Thank you very much, and thank you for the opportunity to appear at this hearing.
1282 PAVED Arts is a non-profit artist-run centre. Our mandate is to support local, regional and national artists by operating an access and production centre.
1283 Our production activities enable artists and cultural producers to articulate, innovate independent perspectives in contemporary media and new media. We offer production facilities that provide good quality equipment at no or low cost for non-commercial independent productions over which the artist maintains full creative control.
1284 We help artists use technology effectively in creative projects and specialize in providing conventional and unconventional equipment, production resources and technical solutions.
1285 We help further artists' practices through residencies, co-productions, development programs and workshops, accommodate self-initiated projects by our membership and offer production support. In doing so, we are committed to access dialogue exploration and interaction in an environment of critical thought, aesthetic clarity and technical accomplishment.
1286 As the electronic media continue to pervade, diversify and commodify experience we insist that these very same media can continue to develop as vehicles for alternative propositions about culture, society and the quality of subjectivity.
1287 Our support of independent production, skill acquisition and professional development increases the ability of artists to create ambitious work addressing concepts, attitudes and issues not accommodated by mainstream commercial media outlets.
1288 Convinced that production is the product of its contents, we strive for excellence in the programming and presentation of media artworks to challenge and stimulate creators, viewers and listeners alike through exposure to ideas, practices and techniques.
1289 Through our correlation of production, presentation, research and dissemination activities we foster connections between local, regional, national and international artists and facilitate the participation of audiences and artistic communities in a dialogue about the evolution of media arts practice.
1290 PAVED, acting as a side of discourse in advocacy, fosters public awareness of independent media production helping to situate and promote it within contemporary culture. By paying artist fees in coordination with national standards we contribute to the recognition that creative work by artists is a value and deserves compensation.
1291 PAVED owns its own building in a core neighbourhood on the west side of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. PAVED is part of a national community of independent not-for-profit Canadian media arts organizations called the Independent Media Arts Alliance, IMAA. We have centres in every major city across Canada and work together to lobby and defend the rights of independent Canadian arts.
1292 PAVED has a history of working for over 40 years as a registered not-for-profit corporation and charity in Saskatchewan. We filed third-party audited reports annually which in turn are provided on an ongoing basis to all of our funders. Furthermore, audited statements, projected budgets and statistics ranging over five years are housed at HADAC, an online database located in Ottawa which houses this information on behalf of the cultural sector in Canada.
1293 PAVED receives stable ongoing operational funding from every tier of government. Our major funders are the Canada Council for the Arts, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, Canadian Heritage, the City of Saskatoon, the Province of Saskatchewan, the Saskatoon Foundation, the Canadian Human Resources Council and the NFB.
1294 This funding is made available to us because PAVED is considered a specialist in the delivery of media arts production, education and dissemination. Our services are unique in our city and our province. We are the only organization offering free media training in the community for those with limited resources.
1295 PAVED is a national cornerstone in intellectual copyright. Online dissemination engines like YouTube demand that artists waive their artistic copyright. I believe that this intellectual copyright is at the core of the CRTC and all Canadian cultural policy, which is the protection and support of Canadian cultural content and Canadian intellectual property.
1296 PAVED held a year-long project recently that discussed these issues in panels across our community, which ended in the production of PAVED Works, an online distribution project that protects artists' rights as it is our mandate so to do. We do however know that YouTube is an important and popular use of dissemination and it is PAVED's job to inform our community on issues of media arts literacy so that when an artist chooses to use YouTube they understand the copyright implications.
1297 PAVED has a large and active individual volunteer population which currently includes 50 per cent Aboriginal members. We have a democratically elected board of volunteers. We have an active group of outreach partners who volunteer quarterly in meetings with PAVED to plan and deliver media arts educations projects in partnership within the whole Province of Saskatchewan.
1298 They continually provide in-kind administration, space, social service expertise, funding and clientele for our shared projects. This teams includes -- I am just going to name a few -- the Central Urban Métis Federation, Communities for Children, Child Safe Saskatoon, the Core Neighbourhood Youth Co-op, the Indigenous People's Program, University of Saskatchewan, the John Howard Society, the list goes on and on.
1299 Now I want to talk to you about what the CACTUS proposal would mean to our community.
1300 Currently, there is virtually no community TV access available to the people of Saskatoon. CACTUS believes that artist-run media centres constitute an ideal location to connect these priorities and build new community stations.
1301 PAVED Arts would be an excellent fit for this application. We have, point blank, an interest in evolving the role of our centre into this expanded capacity. We are aware of the implications of such an investment and fully understand that this undertaking will necessarily be paralleled by enhancing the staff component and available infrastructure.
1302 Our confidence in tackling a project of this scale comes from over 40 years of experience with presenting and producing new media works. Furthermore, we enthusiastically embrace the opportunity to engage in the mentorship offered by CACTUS, one that will certainly provide invaluable expertise in founding this enterprise.
1303 As an artist-run centre we are well versed in issues of artistic independence, peer adjudication and transparent access to community. Within this context, PAVED is widely recognized in our community as an integral partner to a wide variety of media activities at large, as evidenced by the attached list of community supporters and partner organizations.
1304 Furthermore, we believe that all media can be animated at the level of community and that television need not be alienated or inaccessible to those with the will and passion to invest in it as a means of production. In other words, PAVED Arts identifies with both the philosophical underpinnings of this initiative and we see ourselves as an organization dedicated to the media arts, becoming the logical extension for this activity within our direct community.
1305 We are committed to lending voice to independent artists in Saskatoon as evidenced in our multiplatform activities in studio recording, video production and webcasting.
1306 The increase in distribution that CACTUS would provide would be a dramatic leverage to the $400,000 in annual funding we already receive. This funding ensures that PAVED's artist-driven focus can give leadership to our community in ways that truly produce the alternative mandate of the community sector in a way perhaps cable was never able to do. It is our entire job to understand what independence and cultural production means, looks like and is distributed.
1307 What makes it possible that PAVED can do this better than our cable company? Shaw has been very successful at producing broadcast quality programming on behalf of the community. However, it is on behalf of the community. They are the producers, they supply the interviewers and the shows that are delivered to the community in a way that the community participates as consumers.
1308 It is really hard work to get the community, help them understand your mandate, get them into your door. We would encourage and support individuals to make their own productions, not deliver the productions to them.
1309 It is for the communities to control and decide what they want on the air, rather than an established series of shows where they can participate as interviewees, athletes and audiences at sports games or participants in political events.
1310 THE SECRETARY: I am sorry, but your time is up. Can you conclude please?
1311 MS MARGITA: Yes.
1312 PAVED's strong standing in the community means that we can revitalize community broadcasting by using our strong art reach partners. Our specialization in artistic production and presentation is what we already do. This is our speciality, and it is exactly what this fund was created to do.
1313 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
1314 MS MARGITA: You are welcome.
1315 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of Ron and Nathalie Pollock via videoconference from Winnipeg. You have 10 minutes for your presentation.
1316 MR. POLLOCK: Yes, hello from Winnipeg, we are at the CRTC offices. And I have to tell the CRTC Commissioners, the CRTC office is Winnipeg is a fabulous operation, always friendly, always encouraging people to come up here. And Judy, who runs the show here, has been around a long time. She's a fabulous individual.
1317 We appreciate having this opportunity to speak about public access today. We had a TV show myself, I am Rockin' Ron Pollock, and this was Nifty Nathalie Pollock back in the --
1318 MS POLLOCK: I am Nifty.
1319 MR. POLLOCK: -- 1980s. Over here is Dorothy Dunsmore who was the innovator of Videon TV back in the days when there was true public access in Winnipeg. And in those days everybody who wanted to could come down to Videon TV and have a show and that was that. You could have it once a week. You could do entertainment and politics or religion or whatever you wanted to do.
1320 So basically, all of us here are supporting the idea of having that kind of -- a return to that. We made great use of Videon TV in the 1980s, 1985 to 1989, and we would like to use it again, but it doesn't exist in that forum.
1321 What is now called community TV is not public access. Shaw TV in Winnipeg, if you go there, they absolutely will not let you have your own show.
1322 Our Winnipeg access exposure of those years directly lead to our appearing on national television shows in the United States, being featured in a documentary playing in theatres in Canada for the last four or five years, and it has also been played in Europe.
1323 And a DVD release of that documentary has come out recently, I am showing it to you now, it is called Winnipeg Babysitter. It involved a whole arts community in Winnipeg. It is sold out already at McNally Robinson Bookstore.
1324 The people of today don't have the forum that we had back there in the so-called days of public access TV to do -- the chance what we have to do and wouldn't mind doing it again. But if we even didn't have the chance, nobody now can go to a TV channel, in Winnipeg anyway, and say I want a show and the people there say, sure, just come down, setup your taping date and go for it.
1325 What Shaw TV today presents is a very bland pablum. Now, I don't want to say the old days of community access were perfect, because they weren't. There were people trying to politicize it, promoting political correctness, padding the schedule, showing favouritism towards one group over another and censoring innocent content.
1326 So if real community access TV returns, myself and Nathalie are in favour of a better version of the old model, pure public access TV with true freedom of expression, only subject to the regular laws of Canada and not at the whim of so-called community leaders. It should be an exercise in true democracy where, subject to the laws of Canada, any person can have a show. It should be a place where people feel free to experiment with new creative bold ideas, including sarcasm and parity, and this should all be included it the regulations surrounding it.
1327 Now, we were a show including lots of dancing, lots of sarcasm and parity. And the powers at be, I have to say that at Videon in the old days didn't quite like it and we were in hot water a lot. But I think over the years we have been shown because of our -- to be now included in the golden years of Winnipeg TV where in fact then maybe we were considered a bit strange. And it is okay to be a bit strange on public access TV because there is lots of room in the world for blandness and conservatism.
1328 So I am strongly saying that if the CRTC commissioners go for a public access TV away from the blandness of the cable companies today to try to make sure that it is really true public access with nobody in charge of saying, well, you can come on, you can't come on and all that kind of stuff.
1329 So I am in favour of a true democratic thing. And again, as I said, subject to the laws of Canada. Other than that, you shouldn't be able to be censored and all that kind of stuff.
1330 MS POLLOCK: Promoting individuality.
1331 MR. POLLOCK: And to promote individuality.
1332 And so I would like to give credit to Dorothy Dunsmore over here who actually was the head of Videon in the golden years of TV here when anybody could come in. And I would like to have her make a few comments.
1333 MS DUNSMORE: Thank you, Ron.
1334 MR. POLLOCK: You are welcome, Dorothy.
1335 MS DUNSMORE: You already know my name is Dorothy Dunsmore. And in 1972 public access community television began in Winnipeg. I was hired to search out individuals and groups, inform them of the opportunity to use the community public access channel and assist them in understanding the process. By the end of 1974, 50 hours of community television were being produced every week in Videon's studio.
1336 When I began, it was often difficult to convince people that the offer was legitimate and was indeed free of charge. The next challenge was to convince them that not only could they produce and participate in television programs, but they would enjoy and learn from the process.
1337 Staff understood that no one was to be singled out for special treatment. Each person was to be accepted and treated with respect. We took a picture of each new program and asked the producer to write about it. Each page was placed in a binder and kept in the lounge for anyone to see.
1338 Over the years these binders became a historical record of the first years of public access in Winnipeg. It was important for the producers to feel a sense of community with each other. We held a get-together to give them an opportunity to meet. By the time each producer was introduced and spoke about his or her program, the room was lively with discussion.
1339 Suggestions were made and ways were found in which they could assist one another.
1340 For example, the Provincial Education Chairman of the Cancer Society appeared on Sounds of Silence, the sign-language program produced by the deaf community. She considered this a breakthrough and the following year had a signer appear on her month-long series on cancer education.
1341 The producer of the series, United Nations, and the community worked with a fellow from John Howard and Elizabeth Fry Society and with further cooperation with the producer on Conversations and Corrections. They produced four programs on the world's first international exhibition of arts and crafts by prison inmates.
1342 Because of the success of this first get-together, we held them twice a year from then on. We constantly worked to stimulate individuals, special interest communities and the community at large to examine themselves and to make connections. We told access producers that if their programs made someone get up, turn off the television and go out to participate in a local event or get involved in a local issue, they had accomplished their goal.
1343 If someone was moved to produce a program in rebuttal, the circle of communication was complete. This two-way communication provided the possibility of discovering common bounds of human concern. We published a four-page newspaper called Access, containing articles by access producers. Copies were sent to Manitoba members of Parliament, members of the Legislature, city councils and local media. They were also available to producers who used them to promote their programs.
1344 Access gave a comprehensive picture of the results of an active public access channel with the goal of animating the community, a community of people who express complex combination of ideas, talents and personalities.
1345 THE SECRETARY: I am sorry, your time is almost up. Can you conclude please?
1346 MS DUNSMORE: Oh, dear.
1347 MR. POLLOCK: Well, that is fine. We all -- Dorothy, myself and Nathalie, all thank you for this opportunity to speak to the Commissioners in the east. And we hope you are having a nice day there too like we are here. Thank you very much.
1348 MS POLLOCK: And we want our public access TV back as soon as possible.
1349 MR. POLLOCK: Thank you.
1350 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
1351 MS DUNSMORE: Thank you.
1352 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the last presenter, Tobias Van Veen, who is appearing via videoconference from Vancouver. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation.
1353 MR. VAN VEEN: Hi, good afternoon, dear Commissioners.
1354 Between 1993 and 1996 I was involved with Shaw cable community television as a youth host producer and reporter for the youth television show Mestiza. Shaw still had a studio in South Surrey, B.C. and we broadcast the show live to air every Tuesday afternoon.
1355 Working on Mestiza gave me invaluable experience in media from production to literacy, inquiry to ethics, and taught me hard-earned lessons concerning the collective efforts of achievement and responsibility.
1356 Working with Mestiza, among other such projects, has led me to investigate the theory and history of communications technologies which I now pursue as a doctoral candidate in communications studies in philosophy at McGill University and as a curator and artist in the technology arts collaborating with various media arts centres worldwide.
1357 Mestiza had a wide and receptive audience. We knew this because we were live, we took calls live to air. In this way, Mestiza was intimately connected to the youth community which we tried to bring to light through community television. It is this kind of experience that cannot be replicated without having dedicated production space and dedicated means of broadcast. The physical space catalyzes communicative space of the community.
1358 This simply a lesson I have learned from experience. Though, my research into historical modes and technologies and media production have confirmed this intuition.
1359 Since working with Mestiza I have gone onto, found, and worked with media arts centres worldwide, including in Vancouver VIVO, the Western Front, artist-run centres, CiTR-101.9 FM, New Forms Festival, W2 Media Arts Centre, in Montréal with the Society for Arts and Technology, Upgrade Montréal and other institutions in New York and Amsterdam and Berlin.
1360 Since its hay-day in the 1990s, Mestiza has continued on in various forms even as Shaw closed its South Surrey studio, leaving fewer and fewer opportunities for participatory community television. Indeed, without a studio space, a place where members of the community can gather and learn the tools of media production, energy once devoted into developing content and media literacy is now often spent scavenging for technical resources, expertise and production space.
1361 For these reasons alone, I heartily support the continued funding of community television, though in a forum that recognizes and supports community centres of media production.
1362 In short, I support the CACTUS proposal and the development of a new Community Access Media Fund or CAMF. Here are a few reasons why.
1363 First, community media remains invaluable as a means for Canadians to engage in civic participation in the discourse of the public sphere. It has been the CRTC's mandate to support such civic discourse by funding community television and radio, but in the 21st century, the question has shifted from "how do we fund the public sphere" to asking: Is there still a public sphere and do citizens still require government funded initiatives in order to participate in public discourse?
1364 The answer is yes -- and perhaps even more so. The public sphere today is wherever participatory discourse informs the processes of democratic governance. For democratic governance to thrive it must support diverse forms of community media. This in itself poses a particular problem: How does one fund such diverse and wide-ranging forms of communication?
1365 Reflecting upon my own experience in community media production and in research in the field of Communication Studies, it is my considered opinion that the way forward is to support and fund centres of media production and to protect means of access and dissemination for diverse community media, including the mandatory carriage of community programming on cable and broadcast frequencies, high throughput streaming for community media, and coordinated efforts to ensure the visibility and "findable" indexing of community media in the digital realm.
1366 In this respect, community media presents a particular challenge. How then, following from the tradition of funding community television, do we proceed in an era where once centralized broadcast media have proliferated into a multitude of platforms and approaches, from tweets and podcasts to blogs and other internet phenomena?
1367 There are, of course, the easy answers to such questions, the first being, with the internet we don't need to fund community media production. This kind of answer misses the point entirely. It's not about the internet.
1368 The Net is a dissemination tool, and at that an increasingly corporate network of walled gardens and privatized means of so-called "sharing," where the channels of media dissemination and production are privately owned under strict digital rights management and convoluted end-user licence agreements, substantiating increasing concerns over freedom of content, privacy, access, and longevity.
1369 The internet in itself does not and cannot supplant the physical space of community media production. What the internet provides is a multitude of conduits in predominantly archivable and always-on forms. Today it is more than evident that the internet is a powerful tool that will incorporate, if it has not already, all previously existing forms of communication -- which is precisely why community media requires a prominent place within its vastness.
1370 For community media to thrive within the wilds of the internet, communities need physical spaces for production, spaces with a mandate to teach community members production practices, media literacy, and the tools of various trades -- spaces unhinged from commercial influence and corporate monopolies over channels of distribution and content.
1371 Or put it this way: Even with the proliferation of diverse channels of communication, from blogs to mobile social media, the public sphere remains a particular form of collective communication that catches the ear of government through its wide reach and easy engagement.
1372 Community media is on the dial; it is a channel, a frequency, a dedicated stream, an "always on" conduit. Community television and campus and community radio once held this prominent position. With the internet, the possible conduits have multiplied.
1373 The urgent task before us now is to reimagine the means of communication within the public sphere by ensuring easy and local access to the tools of high-end media production. The best way to do this is to ensure that community media has a voice in the wide range of possibilities that constitute the public sphere.
1374 Centres of community media production offer not only technical resources but education in media literacy and technical proficiency, providing a direct connection to highly visible media channels, frequencies and streams.
1375 Sometimes it is easy to get lost in all of these options: podcasts, streams, tweets, blogs, mobile media. The reconfiguration of the Net's capabilities for content delivery in various interconnected, wireless forms always appears novel and sometimes different.
1376 But the point to remember is this: Whether television is broadcast online or through cable, community media is still a broadcast medium, however interactive it becomes, however personalized and do-it-yourself it becomes. And what remains necessary for community media production to be communal is that a physical space for media production is operated by the public, for the public.
1377 For community media production to resonate from a commonality, to connect to a geography, it must not become a token nod, a "community website," for example, nor must it be downsized into unconnected and scattered attempts at expression lost within the free-for-all that is the Net.
1378 In the 21st century, community media production cannot be adequately represented by a blog or YouTube. While such avenues might be useful for community media, community media itself requires two conditions for it to thrive within the public sphere. The first is a physical address, a space of media production in the community, a regional and local place to go. The second are dedicated channels, streams, frequencies and conduits, whatever the medium, analog or digital.
1379 Whereas places of media production are open for dropping in -- show up, learn, meet, volunteer, produce -- their content is always-on for tuning-in, be it on the Net as a stream or a podcast or through broadcast analog media.
1380 Whether the output of what is now called community television shifts from cable to internet technologies is not the primary point. The point is that centres of media production producing persistent forms of always-on communication or push media remain essential to the participatory and ultimately democratic value of such community media.
1381 So the question is always one of funding. The argument against funding community media production runs like this: (1) the DIY internet production media of YouTube, blogs, social media, and podcasting have supplanted the need for such funding; and (2) media arts centres that operate on various models, from the community-oriented W2 Media Arts in Vancouver to the technology arts-oriented SAT or Society for Arts and Technology in Montreal, are doing fine enough without such funding.
1382 Neither of these developments preclude the continuing funding of community media production. The reasons for a new and different distribution of current funds, however, are clear. First, the internet does not supplant community media production nor does it provide an adequate solution to the question of civic engagement. Second, existing media arts centres are often desperately short on funds.
1383 I should mention that personally, I have rarely been paid for such work with such centres. What those centres need is a guaranteed level of funding to achieve their goals as concentrated centres for community media production.
1384 Media arts spaces such as SAT, VIVO, W2, PAVED Arts are in the position to take up this role. They have the experience to do so as centres of community media production. In their own way, each offers the opportunity to engage in the discourse of the public sphere while being trained in the tools of media literacy.
1385 In short, media arts centres have become concentrated spaces of citizen journalism and democratic discourse and are well positioned to become the new production spaces for community media.
1386 In closing, I fully support the ongoing funding of community media production, through community media arts centres which need to be nurtured and supported as outlined predominantly in the CACTUS proposal.
1387 Thank you.
1388 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, all groups, for your presentations. I sort of detect a common thread to your presentations. You all feel that our present community system isn't working adequately.
1389 Sorry, why are you waving? Can you hear me?
1390 MR. VAN VEEN: I am actually waving at my friends over at PAVED Arts.
1391 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, I see. Okay, fine.
1392 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let me start again.
1393 I sort of detect a common thread that you say our present community broadcasting system is not really working and you seem to point out two things.
1394 One, that access is really controlled by the BDUs and they act as a bit of gatekeepers. And also we heard from them this morning, complete denial of the fact and saying it is open to anybody, et cetera. It seems to be that your personal experience is that you only get access if you fall into a certain type of programming that they want to have.
1395 The second one is production, that you feel that the BDUs insist on having control over the production. They won't let you produce or won't let you use their equipment to produce, et cetera.
1396 Now, the CACTUS proposal is a very revolutionary proposal. They basically suggest take all the money away from the BDUs and put it into the CAMF and have the various local media centres administer and run it.
1397 Do we have to go that far? Could one not just say what is right now the problem is (a) the access and we would have to specialize that -- in effect, as the people before you, the last panel, suggested, they have never had any problems with discrimination. Basically anybody who wants to come can come, et cetera. They don't come by invitation but do they accept all comers? And secondly, that some sort of percentage of production would have to be community-produced productions rather than BDU-produced productions so as to give you access.
1398 So I understand while you may think that CACTUS is optimum, obviously it would be relatively difficult to implement. Is there sort of one way that we can address your problem through what I suggested, in effect ensuring better access and also insisting on a certain amount of non-BDU-produced production, i.e. community-produced production would be mandatory? Any one of you please go ahead and comment.
1399 MR. POLLOCK: I agree with that, that if you feel that the CACTUS proposal is too radical, I would certainly welcome going back to where it was in the days of Dorothy, and for many, many years it worked in a fabulous way, from the late 1960s up until the 1990s, where you could go to a Shaw or a Videon or Rogers and you say, I want to do a show, I want to produce it myself using your equipment, and that would be a fabulous return to the days that we understand public access to be.
1400 So I don't think that somebody has to go all the way to a radical shift. We would actually welcome that back. That is only in our knowledge, so we don't know that much about different things.
1401 I would just like to have Natalie speak.
1402 MS POLLOCK: Yes. When I first decided I wanted to have a show, I had always wanted to be a political interviewer and I watched a show on Videon and I was very impressed. I think it was -- I can't remember what show it was but a political show. I went down there, I watched a video and I signed some papers and boom, I had a show and I was a political interviewer. And I got my stuff together. Next week I've got a guest, a guy named Marty Dolan from the NDP. And we had a fabulous interview and people started watching. And that happened in one week.
1403 And I got credibility and I got confidence and I became a person who ran for mayor three times. I didn't win but the thing is it gave me the confidence to run for politics and I think that without Videon I would have never been -- I ended up on talk shows, on the Phil Donohue show, et cetera, et cetera. And any one of our guests that you talk to will agree with me that many of the people have gone on to be in show business or to be in politics.
1404 Now, if a young person wants to be in politics, they have nowhere to go to gain confidence and to get a following.
1405 MR. POLLOCK: Not only that, she had on -- in the early days before we were a dance show and wild and crazy, she had on Premier Gary Filmon, she had on Manitoba Premier Howard Pawley.
1406 MS POLLOCK: I had John Turner on a remote.
1407 MR. POLLOCK: John Turner on a remote broadcast. So it was fabulous because in those days --
1408 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, I heard you, but let's be fair to the others.
1409 MR. POLLOCK: Yes.
1410 THE CHAIRPERSON: What about Winnipeg? What about Saskatchewan?
1411 MR. POLLOCK: Yes.
1412 MS POLLOCK: Thank you.
1413 MR. VAN VEEN: Hi. Sure. Perhaps Laura Margita would also like to speak to us of PAVED Arts.
1414 But I think the radical shift that we are speaking about, the CACTUS proposal, I think in many ways though it has already happened. The media production centres that I am speaking about exist. They are already in this territory right now. A lot of them are partnering with radio and community television as it is.
1415 The question is: Is now the time when we are going to start supporting this kind of initiative or will it have to wait into the future until community television becomes completely obsolete under its current form? Because that is basically, I think, what is happening.
1416 Now, do we need to go all the way right now? Of course not. I don't speak for CACTUS and the very technical fine elements of this proposal but it seems to me that we are looking at a gradual shift from analog broadcast to digital on the one hand and also towards different simply centres of production. So the question is now: At what level, with this hearing right here right now, can this shift begin to recognize what has already happened?
1417 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Regina?
1418 MS LEONARD: I just wanted to -- sorry.
1419 THE CHAIRPERSON: Go ahead, Ms Leonard.
1420 MS LEONARD: I just wanted to add that in my presentation I talked a little bit about the outspoken programming not being funded. So right now, you don't have a level playing field. You have the funded shows done in-house by the cable company and you have many, many shows that are done out-of-pocket by producers who have nowhere to get funding from because they are not, you know, commercial shows, they are public access shows.
1421 And also, the community channels vary in the cities quite a bit, even under the same cable provider. For example, Vancouver has traditional-length shows but Calgary has a one-hour newsreel that repeats over and over again and some traditional-length shows.
1422 So I think you really need to address the outspoken programs that aren't being funded and what we can do to see that they do get funding or they do -- new producers coming in will get air time for those shows, because there is nowhere for them to get funding. They have been paying for years for tape stock out of their pockets, buying food for volunteers, and the cable companies are just, you know, covering all those costs for their own shows.
1423 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
1424 Regina, did you have anything to add?
1425 MS MARGITA: Yes. I just wanted to say that I think one of the major ways that PAVED can help with this is that -- I don't know how well you know this but pretty much any artistic organization, whatever little money they have leverages a lot more and I think that we could probably do a lot more for the amount of money that cable companies -- this small 2 percent, we could bring a lot more production there.
1426 The other thing is that, as Tobias said, artist-run centres are -- it is our specialty to create and find independent voice. That is what we have always been about. And if this fund is about delivering that voice, I think that we are the organizations that are perfectly placed to do that. It is different than someone who is coming out to deliver access to television from a commercial viewpoint and it is just a completely different understanding of the horizon of broadcast.
1427 THE CHAIRPERSON: By the way, I am not regionally insensitive. I realize you are from Saskatoon but your are in our Regina office, that is why I said Regina.
1428 MS MARGITA: Yes. Yes.
1429 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
1430 Michel Morin, you have some questions?
1431 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
1432 Good afternoon, everyone. As there is a group of you, I will only ask my question to one of you but feel free to jump in to answer if you want to and I encourage everyone to be part of the discussion.
1433 We have seen over the last decade that community channel viewership has shrunk. It seems to be true not only in Canada but in the United States and Europe as well.
1434 A lot of reasons can explain it but from your own perspective, which is the most important one, less involvement for the members, cable operators, new technologies? That is my first question.
1435 MS MARGITA: This is Laura in Regina, but I am really from Saskatoon. I think that in the last few years it began to cost you money to watch cable or it cost us money to turn on our TV and I think that is what changed. All of a sudden it became unavailable to people that can't afford cable and that is quite a lot of people in my neighbourhood.
1436 MR. POLLOCK: I think that the reason that viewership has gone down with community access TV is because in the late 1960s until possibly about 1990 or so there was a lot of personality on community and public access that doesn't exist now and I think that if that was to return to that that the viewership would go up.
1437 We have talked a lot about money today but actually all it is is that the cable companies which exist already could go back in time to when a person like Dorothy Dunsmore was in charge and just open it up again and that would solve the problem because you would see a lot of comedy, you would see dancing, you would see everything, politics, you would see everything under the sun, and people like that kind of diversity.
1438 Right now, nobody watches the community access channels because they are absolutely boring and in no way would anybody choose to watch blandness, especially with all the diversity of the internet and the channels. They are going to have to go back to days of personality and fun a little bit, a little less corporate, a little less about money. They already have the facilities. All they have to do is open the gates and let the people in and return to the golden era, which we are considered part of, but there is no golden era now. So that, I think, would raise it considerably.
1439 MR. VAN VEEN: Just to briefly emphasize, yes, I think Winnipeg has it right. But the public has moved ahead. The public has gone elsewhere. There is a lack of production facilities and space -- I think that is easy to see in the numbers -- and at the same time there's the increasing cost of cable. And so the public still demands a space of discourse. That is why the internet proliferation of all these forums is just massive.
1440 The question is: How do we concentrate what has happened once again into localized sites of civic engagement? Like how can we still keep this kind of broader discourse into a smaller, more regionally oriented focus, which is why continuing to fund on the existing model is only going to sort of accelerate the obsolescence of community television. There are simply so many more conduits and channels that we have to rethink what community television means now and what conduits it is coming through and where it is being made and how it is being made.
1441 I absolutely agree that this kind of content that should be on there should be empowered and expressive and everything. I don't think we need to go back to a golden era. I think we need to take all the best things we have learned from the past 80 years of broadcast media and apply it to what we are moving into.
1442 COMMISSIONER MORIN: So you don't see the internet, the blogs, the social networks, as competitors to the community channels?
1443 MR. POLLOCK: I don't. I see in Winnipeg -- and I assume in most Canadian cities -- Shaw TV in Winnipeg is on Channel 9. That is a very good location and that is where it was in those days too. Twenty, 25 years ago, it was always a good location on the dial and people -- that is where you have your CBC, CTV, NBC. All the major networks are in that and people find you. That is the beauty of being on local TV over the internet.
1444 With 400 million YouTube channels, I mean I have a YouTube channel which is doing well but no local involvement in it, whereas if you are on Channel 9, you get seen. People with the remote controls of today will see you in the lower channels.
1445 MS POLLOCK: And everybody gets excited when they see their neighbours and their friends and their pastor, their rabbi. They say, hey, that is local TV and they all get excited. How can you get excited about YouTube? It is anonymous. You want to see people from your local dance company, your local Manitoba Theatre Centre or your ballet and it encourages those venues to -- it is free promotion for our local theatre, et cetera.
1446 MR. POLLOCK: Yes. The internet is fabulous but it does nothing to encourage -- it actually makes you part of maybe New Zealand or Australia but that is not local. So public access TV and community TV is totally different than that. It is a local thing for your friends and your neighbours and people in high schools and all that and blending different age groups together, and it makes for a smaller world, where actually the world has gotten so anonymous.
1447 MS POLLOCK: And it also makes a venue where handicapped people can get on and that is important --
1448 MR. POLLOCK: Yes. So --
1449 MS POLLOCK: -- where they can't get on anywhere.
1450 MR. POLOCK: So it is a different thing and it is in place already, whereas the cable companies can just go back to a place in time and do it the way they did it, which was very successful and they had a lot of viewers.
1451 Thank you.
1452 MR. PADMANABH: Hi, there. My name is Raj. I am with PAVED as well. I think that what I found is that when I am trying to disseminate to my local community using the internet, the problem is it gets lost in the global market, exactly what you were saying, and what we find is a lot of non-profits that I have worked with that want to get their videos on the Net never get seen locally. They get seen -- again, worldwide, they do get a lot of people involved but the community isn't seeing them. The community that we are targeting isn't seeing them.
1453 While I agree with what you were saying, Commissioner, that we are -- that there is a bombardment of internet and obviously television stations, all of that is going to spread us thin. The focus should be on getting our local focus back so that we can gain, you know, have that entertainment that you were talking about in Winnipeg, have it so that people have a reason to come to our stations again, and if we have individuals and artists reaching out, people will see the value in those stations.
1454 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just on that point, is community TV the only way to do it? Couldn't you create, in your case, a Saskatchewan Facebook, and then through that Facebook drive the people to YouTube where you have posted whatever you have done locally, et cetera? I mean you said the local audience gets lost on the internet but that is just a question of you creating an electronic meeting point for your local audience and then drive them to YouTube or wherever you put the stuff on.
1455 MS MARGITA: Unfortunately, Facebook has very real issues of censorship and YouTube demands that artists release their artistic copyright. So, I'm sorry, those are not acceptable limitations within which to disseminate independent media art.
1456 MR. PADMANABH: The other thing that I would like to add is that a lot of productions that I work with are not -- the medium is not intended to be the internet. It's like we also aren't necessarily making something for a box office theatre. It's intended for television. It's not intended for a credit card size window on a computer. It's intended to be seen in its correct format, which is a television.
1457 MR. POLLOCK: Also, the fact is that they have still TV broadcast networks. Why aren't they then on the internet? If they think that the internet is so great, why do we have any TV at all? But we do have TV, we will continue to have TV, so why not have a true public access channel on the TV format, which is different than the internet. Again, the internet is worldwide. But there are so many -- Facebook, Twitter and YouTube each have about 400 million. So nobody really gets seen locally. That is for the world. It's called the World Wide Web for a reason, it's worldwide.
1458 MS POLLOCK: And we are losing our local identity. There aren't that many cities in Canada but we want to retain our local Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, we want to retain the identity of our cities. We are starting to get totally lost.
1459 COMMISSIONER MORIN: This morning --
1460 MS LEONARD: Oh, sorry. Can I jump in?
1461 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Sure.
1462 MS LEONARD: I guess in talking about YouTube, I consider it to be a big giant BDU that pays nothing for content or very little -- it's starting to -- and there is going to be more and more advertising on the internet. It's coming, you know, they are working on it.
1463 So what there has been is a disconnect, I think, between people participating in producing their own television programs. Before there would be a Community Magazine show, for example, in East Vancouver. People in East Vancouver knew when it was going to be on. They knew the name. It would be on at the same time every week or every month and they could watch it and they would find out what is going on in their neighbourhood.
1464 So now, you don't have that so much. You can't fit everything into a two-minute or three-minute piece, which is sort of, you know, pushing things onto the internet. What I was saying about the content fitting the technology and the other way around. Like with Campbell River, well, you can't discuss the huge issue of the town losing two major industries in five minutes. You need an hour, an hour and a half phone-in show and broadcast TV is still the best way to do that.
1465 MR. VAN VEEN: I think this is a bit of an apples and oranges discussion. I think the way to look at the internet is that it's a broadcast medium for many different kinds of forms. I mean whether TV is analog or digital, on a frequency, a conduit, a stream, this is more or less technical at this point, TV will all be delivered digitally soon enough.
1466 What matters is that we still have local/regional media production facilities and that they send out their concept through any number of possible means, whatever it takes basically today. But again, if you do not have this place, this space, you simply do not have local content and one person in their bedroom making a YouTube show, that is not local content, that is an individual piece of expression.
1467 So what constitutes community media has to be a communal space where a lot of people can get together and meet each other and debate and make things happen. And that's not going to happen through the internet or in the internet; it's only going to happen with high and production facilities that can create audio and visual content.
1468 COMMISSIONER MORIN: I don't know if this morning you were on the internet to listen at the Commission, I raised a question about the membership and none of you, up to now, have talked about the fees or the money -- money is the kind -- how to finance the CACTUS proposal.
1469 The easier way is to take all the amount from the BDU and to scrap 40 years of cable community program.
1470 The other way perhaps, it's a suggestion, perhaps we can have some compromise here between the one per cent out of the two per cent that the BDUs are already collecting from the consumers and if you can match with your own members your own non-profit organization this one per cent, you'll have two per cent to finance the operation that is suggested by the CACTUS proposal.
1471 For us, as regulators, it's a big risk to take two per cent without having insurance that this new model will work. So, I would like to ask you: do you think that it will be a compromise to get one per cent from the BDU and/or less, depending how you can get financing from your members and from the non-profit organizations like a municipality, because in many places in the world the community channels are partly financed by the municipality.
1472 Do you think it would be a good compromise to go away with the CACTUS proposal, but not just with the fees taken from the BDUs to make you real partners in this new adventure?
1473 MR. VAN VEEN: Actually, I just have a question of clarification. If the two per cent is split one per cent towards a camp fund and one per cent towards existing BDUs, would the existing BDUs also have to now go and find an extra one per cent to meet what is now their base level of funding?
1474 COMMISSIONER MORIN: No. The base funding will be one per cent for them and if you raise enough money, you can get from them the other one per cent because right now two per cent, they finance the operations, channel Shaw or channel Rogers, they finance them by the contributions of every subscribers.
1475 MR. POLLOCK: I agree in a compromise that once upon a time in Canada things were right and before you knew it, need to look at around new model, a person like the CRTC and the commissioners can look back at what worked before, including the financial structure at the time and take a look and say maybe the world has gone forward in a huge way towards the internet, but sometimes some things from the past work good too.
1476 For instance, there is a funny story about Facebook where one guy that was in the media had 7,000 friends on his Facebook site so he invited them all to a party and one showed up.
1477 The idea of the internet as on a Maya gossip show channel which is based showing our own clips from our TV show about 22 years ago on public access TV, there is about 4,600 friends, but I know two: one girl in Vancouver Island, I am really good friends with and one in Portland, Oregon. So, out of 4,600 that's two.
1478 I could make more new real friends with a local public access show that went back to the model of when Doherty was in charge of public access in Winnipeg and that we would have more friends in 10 minutes than you would have in three years on the internet.
1479 So, sometimes you can go back and tell whatever the financial structure was at the time, why couldn't we return to that? I mean it was in place from the late 1960s till about -- for at least 25 years. So, whatever the CRTC had in place then, you could go back to what you had then and say: well, it worked then and we don't have to worry about all these new radical proposals or trying to figure out something.
1480 In other words, if a wheel isn't broke, don't fix it, something like that. That's my opinion.
1481 MS. DUNSMORE: May I say something? In the seventies until eighty or the time that I was at Videon, the cable companies gave 10 per cent, had to spend 10 per cent of their base, the base of the money they earned, on community television and so, there was no problem with finding equipment or dealing with anything with regard to the community channel because we had this amount of money.
1482 And then, shortly after I left, it went down to five per cent. So, I am wondering if the cable companies are so poor that they can't afford to pay money for the community channels to operate. Why should they have to be looking for money elsewhere?
1483 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes. Do you want to answer?
1484 MR. VAN VEEN: Yes, sure. Yes. I thank you, commissioner Morin. Yes, I just want to say very briefly that, yes, if a compromise means that the tax proposal goes forward, then I think, yes, it's the way forward. It is the solution.
1485 As much as I want to turn back the clock on the past 40 years of economics and international development and mass competition within media, I don't think it's possible, so I think if the CACTUS proposal is able to be initiated through this kind of compromise, then I think it will provide a broader and sustainable model for various forms of community media into the future.
1486 COMMISSIONER MORIN: And as you were saying --
1487 MS LEONARD: Sorry; are you -- you're asking community groups then to do with less, with less funding from the levy, the levy that's already supposed to be going?
1488 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Because you will have to make your part raising some revenues too, you know. Instead of taking all the two per cent revenue, gross revenue from the BDU, you would have to match this one per cent of the gross revenues from the BDUs.
1489 MS LEONARD: But the money was already allocated, supposed to be allocated the two per cent for community television production. So, I am not really quite sure because if the cable companies are going to have their own channel, would that channel not be out of their own profit?
1490 COMMISSIONER MORIN: In a way, we will have a new competition between the BDUs, their own community channel financed by one per cent and yours with two per cent.
1491 MS LEONARD: Why?
1492 MS DUNSMORE: You see we are trying to work without competition.
1493 MS LEONARD: Well, I don't understand. I mean for example, Manhattan Media or Manhattan neighbourhood network in New York, 1.6 million population has four public access channels in the system quite happily carried on three different cable providers. So, why would you have the cable company doing its own community channel to compete.
1494 I tell you the groups in Vancouver, I have already been told they're competing with the cable companies and they have no access to that levy money, so --
1495 COMMISSIONER MORIN: You can stick to this radical proposals by -- I call it radical because it's a kind of new revolution that you are proposing, in opposition with the system that we already know as it is, but perhaps it will be a new way to make you more responsible about the financing to be partners in raising new revenues for the community channel?
1496 MS LEONARD: Well, I don't think that the levy money is there to provide -- I mean, if you -- I think some municipalities might be wondering. Well, some of them are going to be talking to you later this week presenting here and maybe you should ask them the same question.
1497 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Okay. Thanks very much.
1498 MR. PADMANABH: Hi there, from Regina again. Just to speak to paid involvement. I think that we have -- well, here, because we're very very well set up already to handle such a thing, being in our centre, it does exactly this type of -- handle this type of media. There is some level of insurance already in place, not to say that there isn't a compromise possible, I think that there could be when it comes to that one per cent or when it comes to coming up with some amount of funding, it's possible, provided that, you know, there is funding out there.
1499 We would definitely look forward if there was a possibility that we could get access and even if need be, we would compete and I think that we could compete very well and it would be such a different type of station.
1500 I think from my perspective and I think I can speak for the Board of PAVED when I think we can definitely because we have such a well-run organization take-up and run whatever is available from, you know, from any front.
1501 So, I think what you are saying or suggesting we come up with one per cent to match the one per cent, I am not saying it's impossible, I think that if we have a given time, we may be able to and I think that we probably would be good and we would be willing to accept that as a challenge.
1502 MS MARGITA: But I think if the reason that this system was created in its first place is ten per cent, then it reduced to five per cent and now it's two per cent, is that it was meant to provide other voices besides those that are created and driven by commercial production.
1503 Commissioner, you were asking, you know, how could we support the system, how can we be better than the system while the original system is broken, that's why we are here, you ask us how can we prove they will be responsible with the funding when the reason we are here is because we feel that these founders have not been responsible with their funding for the last ten years?
1504 The answer is: we have never been irresponsible with the funding that we do have and we know that, you know, because all of our funding has been transparent and that we reply to multi level of founders, we know that we can produce this cultural product and we have been doing it for 40 years. It's just we have been doing it as the poor mice.
1505 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thank you very much.
1506 MR. POLLOCK: Can I say one thing about funding? And one lady said about Manhattan Cable. Well, I think in Manhattan Cable you do pay the people who want a show do pay a small fee to get on and that could be implemented in Canada too whereas, let's say, I think it used to be many years ago, $40.00. I guess it has gone up maybe to $100.00 or $200.00, but why couldn't a person pay a yearly fee to Shaw for having their own program and if Shaw had the amount of programs that used to be on in the old days, that would be a considerable contribution towards the public paying for it because right now the public pays for internet at home. I mean, I would just dump my internet at home and pay that money towards having my own public access show. I would welcome that again.
1507 So, I think that there are some solutions and, commissioner, you talked about a compromise, it shouldn't be all or nothing. It should be something that maybe is in place now that with a little bit of, you know, polishing, it could be done and I am sure that a lot of people who pay money for things would be willing to pay $100.0 or $200.00 or whatever a small fee per year to Shaw or Rogers or to any of the cable companies and that would be a way of doing it too.
1508 THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Well, thank you for your submissions. As always, money is the route of everything and if we argue few of the systems isn't working properly and what my colleague was trying to do is explore other ways to compromised participation matching fronts, whatever, et cetera.
1509 You will find out if you're following the proceedings very closely, as you know, we have established May 17th as the last date for written submissions, so as you listen to it and if you have any bright ideas, please share them with us.
1510 Thank you for taking the time to participate and I know it's very inconvenient for you and some of you had to move to our local. I appreciate you took the extra hour to come in and share your views to us. Thank you.
1511 So, that will be enough for today. I think we will commence tomorrow morning at nine o'clock, madam secretary?
1512 THE SECRETARY: Exactly, nine o'clock tomorrow morning.
1513 À 9 h 00 demain matin. Merci.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1646, to resume on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 0900
Johanne Morin Sue Villeneuve
Monique Mahoney Madeleine Matte
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