ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 4 February 2011
This page has been archived on the Web
Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.
Providing Content in Canada's Official Languages
Please note that the Official Languages Act requires that government publications be available in both official languages.
In order to meet some of the requirements under this Act, the Commission's transcripts will therefore be bilingual as to their covers, the listing of CRTC members and staff attending the hearings, and the table of contents.
However, the aforementioned publication is the recorded verbatim transcript and, as such, is transcribed in either of the official languages, depending on the language spoken by the participant at the hearing.
Volume 4, 4 February 2011
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
To consider the broadcasting application by BCE Inc., on behalf of CTVglobemedia Inc. and its licensed broadcasting subsidaries, listed in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2010-926, 2010-926-1, 2010-926-2 and 2010-926-3
140 Promenade du Portage
In order to meet the requirements of the Official Languages Act, transcripts of proceedings before the Commission will be bilingual as to their covers, the listing of the CRTC members and staff attending the public hearings, and the Table of Contents.
However, the aforementioned publication is the recorded verbatim transcript and, as such, is taped and transcribed in either of the official languages, depending on the language spoken by the participant at the public hearing.
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
To consider the broadcasting application by BCE Inc., on behalf of CTVglobemedia Inc. and its licensed broadcasting subsidaries, listed in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2010-926, 2010-926-1, 2010-926-2 and 2010-926-3
Konrad von Finckenstein Chairperson
Leonard Katz Commissioner
Elizabeth Duncan Commissioner
Rita Cugini Commissioner
Louise Poirier Commissioner
Stephen Simpson Commissioner
Lynda Roy Secretary
Stephen Millington Legal Counsel
Rachel Marleau Hearing Manager and Manager of Corporate Analysis and Ownership
140 Promenade du Portage
February 4, 2011
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
BCE Inc., on behalf of CTVglobemedia Inc. and its licensed broadcasting subsidiaries 686 / 3880
--- Upon commencing on Friday, February 4, 2011 at 0905
3875 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, commençons, Madame la Secrétaire.
3876 THE SECRETARY: Merci, Monsieur le Président.
3877 Before we begin, for the record I would just like to indicate that the document filed by the Commission at the end of the day yesterday entitled "Additional Tangible Benefits Initiatives Proposed by Intervenors" has been filed as Exhibit No. 2 and is now available in the examination room and is now posted also on the website of the Commission.
3878 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed with Phase III in which the applicant can reply to interventions submitted for its item.
3879 Please reintroduce yourselves for the record, after which you will have 10 minutes for your reply.
3880 MR. BIBIC: Thank you, Madam Secretary, and good morning, Commissioners.
3881 I'm Mirko Bibic, Senior Vice-President of Regulatory and Government Affairs at BCE. With me today from CTV, first, to my right, your left, Kevin Goldstein, Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs; to my immediate left, Kevin Crull, Chief Operating Officer; and to Kevin's left, Rick Brace, President, Revenue and Business Planning.
3882 To the extent answers to the Commission's undertakings are not covered in our oral remarks, we have filed today our responses in a separate set of documents. There are in fact two sets, one public, one confidential.
3883 To begin, BCE and CTV would like to thank the hundreds of intervenors who sent letters of support for this transaction. The large number of positive interventions is remarkable and we appreciate those who took time out of their busy schedules to appear here in person to share their views. Their concern for Canada's broadcasting system and confidence in the advantages of this transaction, reinforce our resolve to deliver on the potential for innovation and creativity that the BCE/CTV combination will bring to radio and television broadcasting.
3884 I will turn now to valuation.
3885 The Commission's valuation analysis yielded a tangible benefits value of $236.4 million. While we support the expert report prepared by PWC, we are prepared to use the Commission's $236.4 million value as the starting point.
3886 However, it is essential, in our view, to consider the following key factors in assessing the final tangible benefits amount.
3887 First, as we discussed Tuesday, this transaction really is unique, since BCE previously paid $230 million in benefits in 2000 and never exited as a shareholder of CTV.
3888 Second, consistent with the Shaw/Canwest decision, it would be appropriate for BCE to pay a reduced rate on the value of the conventional broadcasting assets.
3889 Third, with respect to the mainstream news and sports services, unless the value of these assets is excluded we firmly believe that the Commission will in effect be reversing its prior policy in order to apply benefits to these assets. The value of this exclusion alone is $78.1 million.
3890 Fourth, expenditures resulting from our proposal are front-end loaded rather than disbursed equally over seven years. This has a net present value benefit of over $20 million to the Canadian broadcasting system which alone is greater than the discrepancy between the Commission's $236.4 million and the BCE initial position of $220.8 million benefits package we had proposed.
3891 Given all these factors, it would be appropriate for the Commission to significantly reduce the amount of tangible benefits payable. Nevertheless, BCE is prepared to submit a sizable and compelling benefits package worth $223.1 million, provided today's revised proposal is accepted. We have attached to this reply our revised proposal, which I'm sure we will go through.
3892 Given the factors I just described, this is a significant concession, particularly on mainstream news and sports. Our amount is calculated using the Commission's $236.4 million as the starting point, but applying a 5 percent rate on the conventional assets, given the other arguments we have raised.
3893 We have very strong arguments which support large reductions, nevertheless we are only asking for 5 percent on the conventional assets. This 5 percent reduction is not based only on the financial situation the conventional assets find themselves in, it is based on all the surrounding circumstances.
3894 Now I would turn it over to Kevin.
3895 MR. CRULL: Thank you, Mirko. Good morning, Chairman and Commissioners.
3896 Our proposed tangible benefits initiatives are entirely consistent with the Commission's policy in Public Notice 1993-68 which requires that proposals be:
"...beneficial to the public served by the undertakings and to the Canadian broadcasting system as a whole".
3897 Indeed, our proposals address several of the key public policy challenges facing the broadcasting industry today.
3898 First, they are directed to sustaining, enhancing and carrying local content while creating new jobs.
3899 Second, they will significantly increase the funds available to programs of national interest that are 100 percent created by independent producers.
3900 Third, they address Canadians' growing interest in having content available to them on multiple screens.
3901 Having heard some of the concerns raised this week, we are prepared to make the following meaningful changes in our proposal which are set out in detail in Appendix 1.
3902 In short, we are prepared to eliminate enhanced local news production in high definition and to reduce the MPEG-4 proposal to $60 million from $84 million. Coupled with the change in the total amount of our benefits package, a total of $50.6 million in benefits is now freed up, which we will redirect to programs of national interest in the majority of $26.8 million, to local news, $13.8 million and to the 'A' channels, $10 million, which require significant support so they can continue to be valuable contributors to local expression in the communities they serve.
3903 Appendix 2 provides the seven year schedule of payments which, as Mirko indicated, are significantly front loaded in period.
3904 I will now address each of the initiatives individually.
3905 First, on MPEG-4.
3906 As we had discussed Tuesday, the MPEG-4 upgrade initiative is not scalable. A large upfront investment must be made before any incremental capacity can be made available. Making a partial investment yields no incremental capacity.
3907 At the same time, making this investment will create more incremental capacity than will be used to carry all of the LPIF-eligible local stations currently not carried by Bell TV. Of course, given Bell Satellite TV's outstanding track record of carrying Canadian services, we do expect a significant portion of this additional capacity will be available for the carriage of Canadian services.
3908 In consideration of this situation of the available capacity made, we are prepared to undertake the MPEG-4 upgrade for $60 million out of the benefits money and Bell will cover any costs that are incurred above that $60 million. However, we are not prepared to proceed with this initiative without the $60 million contribution from benefits.
3909 We are also prepared to extend this program by committing to distribute, in standard definition, first, all local, non-LPIF eligible OTA stations that Bell Satellite TV does not currently provide, as long as they meet the 7-hour minimum local programming commitment; in addition, the existing independent television stations which currently operate in mandatory markets; and, finally, the seven existing non-branded community stations which were identified by CACTUS in their intervention.
3910 Overall, MPEG-4 conversion is an extremely compelling proposal which solves a pressing public policy need. This is why it received such tremendous support from a variety of intervenors.
3911 Next, on the 'A' Channels.
3912 We firmly believe the Commission should approve our 'A' channels proposal, especially given the large number of intervenors who passionately support the stations' ongoing operation and available local programming. As mentioned, we propose to dedicate an additional $10 million to sustaining 'A' channel local programming.
3913 As part of this enhanced benefits proposal, BCE/CTV now will commit to keeping the 'A' channels open for at least three years, despite their long-standing financial challenges and with the knowledge that this support only offsets a fraction of their losses during that period.
3914 These channels serve 330 dedicated employees and 15 million Canadians and I can say to the Commission that we are unwavering in our view that this is an exemplary application of the tangible benefits policy.
3915 Next, local news.
3916 We propose to enhance our local news initiative in the six western Canada markets by extending the commitment from two years to four years, and increasing its funding to $28.8 million. This will be of immense benefit to enhancing local expression and contributing to the diversity of voices in these communities. And it would create an additional 80 much needed jobs for the industry.
3917 Without benefits funding, this investment will not be made.
3918 Next, programs of national interest.
3919 With the modifications we have just described, we will allocate an additional $26.8 million to independently produced programs of national interest, resulting in an overall allocation of $80 million.
3920 This is now an increase of more than 50 percent from our submission that we discussed on Tuesday under essentially the same total commitment envelope.
3921 On vertical integration.
3922 On a final note, we would ask the Commission to resist the efforts of TELUS, Cogeco and Quebecor to turn the current proceeding into "Vertical Integration, Part I". The vertical integration hearing will take place very shortly and, as the Chairman mentioned, a decision will be issued expeditiously following that exercise.
3923 The Commission should clearly reject our competitors' efforts to concoct hypothetical scenarios in which BCE could possibly behave in an uncompetitive manner, given that today's existing regulations can address any issue which arise. The Commission noted as much when it concluded in the Shaw/Canwest decision that:
"- the existing regulatory tools, particularly the undue preference provisions in the regulations, have been sufficient to deal with any anti-competitive issues and have ensured the continued success of the Canadian broadcasting system."
3924 In fact, the industry has functioned effectively for over a decade with massive vertically-integrated competitors like Rogers, Quebecor and Shaw. In addition, as we all know, BCE controlled CTV for years.
3925 During his appearance on Tuesday, Mr. Cope indicated that BCE is indeed "open for business" and that we expect to pursue a business model that continues to distribute CTV's services through commercial arrangements with other players throughout the industry.
3926 With these assurances regarding the business approach that we will adopt, and with the extensive protections that are provided by existing regulations, and with a vertical integration hearing that is scheduled to begin shortly, we believe that it's completely unnecessary to consider regulatory changes related to vertical integration in this forum and that it's even more unacceptable to impose special rules for BCE when other integrated companies are not subject to the same rules.
3927 I would like to add that we appreciate the significant time that the Commission has devoted to this important hearing this week. We are passionately of the belief that this transaction in general and that this benefits proposal specifically are very positive for the future strength of Canada's broadcasting system.
3928 We respectfully ask for your support of our application.
3929 Now we would like to answer any questions you might have.
3930 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think we need some time to reflect on this, but we will do that in a second.
3931 Just walk me through your Appendix 1 for a second. I just want to make sure I understand correctly what you are doing.
3932 So the amount of on-screen and multi-form platform has been increased from $68 million to $108 million, if I understood that correctly.
3933 MR. CRULL: That is correct.
3934 THE CHAIRPERSON: Of which $80 million is PNI and independent, so that means the $28 million will not be independently produced?
3935 MR. CRULL: $28.8 million of the $108 million is for our local news initiatives in the six western markets.
3936 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
3937 Then the MPEG-4 goes down from $84 million to $60 million. I see that.
3938 The enhanced HD you removed, but you didn't remove it entirely, you put $10 million in the news morning production for Regina, Saskatchewan and Montreal, if I understand it.
3939 MR. CRULL: That is correct, Mr. Chair.
3940 As you may recall, in our discussion Ms Freeman indicated that that would support operation for two years for those channels and we felt strongly as we reallocated our benefits proposal that it was appropriate and some intervenors, in particular the CEP, had indicated that they were concerned we would lose support for that initiative, and so we now feel comfortable in committing to it for four years and that that is the best way to get them up and running.
3941 THE CHAIRPERSON: You obviously didn't hear me when we talked yesterday and I pointed out that according to between our calculation and yours there is a $15 million shortfall. I don't see it.
3942 MR. BIBIC: Mr. Chairman, that is going back to my part of the opening statement, there is a $15 million shortfall, but what we did is we took the Commission's starting number and we applied a 5 percent rate on the conventional OTAs given the surrounding circumstances to get to $223.1 million. So our proposal is for $223.1 million, not $236 million on account of the surrounding circumstances, the 5 percent discount.
3943 That is our request of you, our submission to you.
3944 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right.
3945 In the event that we do not accept in fact the same valuation, is there a Plan B?
3946 MR. CRULL: Mr. Chair, naturally we will respect your decision and it's your discretion to apply the total benefits and we would support -- we feel very, very strongly about the elements of this benefits package and if there is an additional amount we would support that being applied on top of the $80 million of PNI and that is presented with respect to maintaining the other elements of our proposal.
3947 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
3948 It's now 9:20, let's take 20 minutes. We will consult and then we will come back.
3949 Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 0920
--- Upon resuming at 0955
3950 THE CHAIRPERSON: We had a quick meeting, and obviously we are not making a decision at this point, we just need some clarification.
3951 But one thing that I can tell you right now, from the bench, so to speak, is that the 5 percent doesn't fly. So I will accept your Plan B, if you point it out and put up in the development, creation, promotional, incremental.
3952 Now, there are a couple of things that we want you to clarify. We should also clarify for you -- apparently, we overestimated something.
3953 Len, do you want to explain that?
3954 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Yes. On Tuesday, I guess it was, your CFO for CTV indicated that we had erred in assuming that you had erred on the sale of an asset, the radio station in Edmonton I think it was. So we are going to go back and re-correct that, as per your initial application. I think the discrepancy is about $11 million, which would add to your benefits.
3955 It's radio, so it would be applied at 6 percent, as well.
3956 It will all just go into the radio fund and, unless you tell us otherwise, allocated the same way as we do normally for radio.
3957 But you were correct.
3958 THE CHAIRPERSON: Secondly, on the MPEG-4 upgrade, there are a couple of small things. You say all local non-LPIF eligible OTAs. Does that meet the 7-hour minimum local programming commitment?
3959 That's for English, right? For French it's five hours.
3960 MR. BIBIC: That's correct, but we don't think that there are any --
3961 THE CHAIRPERSON: I don't know whether there are any French stations --
3962 MR. BIBIC: -- stations that would be affected ultimately.
3963 THE CHAIRPERSON: I don't know, but I just wanted that for clarification.
3964 MR. BIBIC: Correct.
3965 THE CHAIRPERSON: What exactly is the date when this will be done?
3966 MR. BIBIC: We are hoping 12 to 15 months, and if we can do it sooner, then we will try.
3967 Of course, we will need to wait for the Commission's approval. Then there is an order that needs to go in for set-top boxes. Then you have to wait for the set-top boxes to come in.
3968 So it can't be done instantly, but we will start right away.
3969 THE CHAIRPERSON: I assume it's in your self-interest to do it as quickly as possible, because it gives you --
3970 MR. BIBIC: Absolutely.
3971 MR. CRULL: The only constraint -- really, the longest pole in the tent, as they say, is going to be supply. The supply industry runs pretty tight logistically, and this will be a large order of set-top boxes.
3972 THE CHAIRPERSON: Then, you took $10 million out of local HD and put it in to sustain the local programming of the "A" Channel for news and morning programming, which is now $35 million.
3973 Rita, you wanted some clarification on this.
3974 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Yes, thank you.
3975 Mr. Brace, you and I talked about the original $25 million on Tuesday, and I asked you to break that down for me. I didn't get a chance to go through the transcript and find that conversation, but can you now just break down that $35 million for me, please?
3976 MR. BRACE: Absolutely, Commissioner Cugini. The only real change is on the "Maintaining the Existing Programming" line.
3977 Just in review, we have the $10 million for the transmitters, for the transition, we have the $5 million for the master controls, and then we have, now, $20 million to maintain the programming on those stations, as we had talked about the other day.
3978 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Again, even though it has gone from 10 to 20, this doesn't mean incremental hours.
3979 MR. BRACE: It doesn't mean incremental hours. What it does mean is that it will maintain the hours in virtually every case, or a little bit incremental to what the obligation is.
3980 It also comes, of course, with the commitment to maintain the lifespan of these stations longer, as Mr. Crull pointed out earlier.
3981 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Right. From two to three --
3982 MR. BRACE: Exactly.
3983 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: You won't close them for a period of three years.
3984 MR. BRACE: Exactly.
3985 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Then, there is $28.8 million for enhanced local news in Initiative No. 1, and that is the morning news programs that I talked about with Ms Freeman?
3986 MR. BRACE: It is the morning news programs, plus it also includes the noon news program and the 5 p.m. news program in Edmonton and Vancouver -- 5 p.m. in Edmonton and noon in Vancouver.
3987 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Right. So those programming initiatives haven't changed from when we originally discussed this on Tuesday.
3988 MR. BRACE: That's right. The big difference being, of course, that we are obviously going to look to kind of make guarantees to those for a longer period of time, as well.
3989 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay. Thank you very much.
3990 The $10 million for the transmitters is still in the $35 million, which we discussed on Tuesday?
3991 MR. BRACE: That's correct.
3992 THE CHAIRPERSON: How do you justify that $10 million for the transmitters as not being the cost of doing business?
3993 MR. BRACE: Just based on our conversation from the other day, referring back to it, it's true that we have ordered these transmitters, and it is true that we have applied for approval; however, the issue at hand here is the life support of these stations.
3994 I think I will probably turn to Mr. Crull to elaborate on this, but the basic question here was whether or not these stations were going to survive at all, and without this investment, that brings it totally into question.
3995 I will turn to Mr. Crull to elaborate, but that was the basic premise that we spoke from.
3996 MR. CRULL: Mr. Chair, I would reiterate our passion for "A" Channel sustainability.
3997 When I look at my new role at CTV, and the challenges that face us going forward, clearly that is front and centre.
3998 This Commission has spent a lot of time on the economics of local news and local station support, and I would very much regret it if one of the first decisions I had to make in this new role were to significantly remove local expression and diversity of voices in these five communities.
3999 It is a package of $35 million, which includes the $10 million, which is a real cost of maintaining them, and would be considered in a business case of whether they are sustainable.
4000 THE CHAIRPERSON: Your predecessor appeared before me, in the very chair you are sitting in, saying: I need a second set of channels, because when I buy the programs in Hollywood, I have to buy the good with the bad, or the primary choice with the secondary, and I have to show them somewhere.
4001 So it's not only a question of passion, it's a necessity for you.
4002 I am all for keeping them alive, et cetera, and spending money on programming and enhanced news. All of that I find acceptable, but spending on hardware is really a long step from the benefits policy.
4003 MR. CRULL: I understand your position. Mr. Fecan and I have discussed these channels extensively, and it is true that there is a programming strategy that would recognize the value of them as inventory, if you will.
4004 But he has reiterated that he operated CTV in the number one position for 14 years without the second broadcast network, and that it can, and probably should be done, if we don't resolve their financial condition.
4005 THE CHAIRPERSON: I don't think you get the drift of my question. It's not the amount; it's what you spend it on.
4006 Is there any way that the same amount could be spent on programming for the "A" Channels rather than on hardware?
4007 MR. BIBIC: Mr. Chairman, would you give us a second on that one?
4008 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sure.
4009 MR. CRULL: If I understand the question, then we would support the programming with the envelope and not hardware, and we would pay for the digital transition separately. I would support that.
4010 It's the same economic impact on a business case that I would review.
4011 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
4012 Louise, you had a question?
4013 CONSEILLERE POIRIER : Oui, j'avais une question concernant votre premier point, qui est le 108.8 millions. Dans ce montant, vous accordez 80 millions aux programmes d'intérêt national.
4014 Quelle proportion va aller à du on-screen programming par rapport à du multiplatform content?
4015 On aimerait vraiment avoir cette proportion-là. On l'a demandée mardi, et vous n'y avez pas encore répondu.
4016 MR. CRULL: Thank you, Commissioner. It is true, it is very -- regretfully, it is very, very difficult to pin down, and I am afraid that the producers and ourselves would regret locking in 5 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent to digital initiatives because of the evolution of the business, and because viewership is migrating so rapidly to different screens.
4017 I could say, based on today's viewer habits and distribution, that it would probably be about 5 percent, but I believe that in three or four years it could very well be significantly more than that.
4018 I met, as I mentioned, with Mr. Bolen at the CMPA, and talked with others in the industry -- Mr. Broughton -- and they are very, very comfortable -- in fact, I believe they recognize the benefit of leaving that flexible.
4019 MR. BRACE: Commissioner, just to add to what Mr. Crull has said, this really will be a case-by-case situation. We have a program like Degrassi, for example, which may lend itself more to other platform applications than another show.
4020 But what is important to make sure we have on the record is that the initiative will be a function of the independent producer, it will not be something that we are directing. They will be controlling and working with us on developing these applications.
4021 CONSEILLERE POIRIER : Mais je suis certaine... Yes, you better keep them on.
4022 Je suis certaine qu'une compagnie comme la vôtre, avec l'expérience que vous avez, que vous êtes au moins capable d'avoir un chiffre approximatif, qui laisse de la latitude, bien sûr, aux changements dans l'évolution de la diffusion d'émissions.
4023 Alors, on prend le 5 pour cent, mais si on vous donne l'occasion de nous donner d'autres informations, j'apprécierais vraiment que vous ayez un estimé, avec une latitude qui nous permettrait d'évaluer les montants.
4024 Est-ce possible? Oui?
4025 It is possible, yes, to do that?
4026 MR. CRULL: I believe, Commissioner, that we could indicate a range --
4027 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, a range.
4028 MR. CRULL: -- certainly of 5 percent to something.
4029 I would also be comfortable, if it is the Commission's wish in the process, that a "not less than" certain percent be applied.
4030 CONSEILLERE POIRIER : Voilà! Excellent! Ce serait apprécié.
4031 Et ma dernière clarification, c'est que vous êtes passés de 12 millions pour les nouvelles pour CTV à 28 millions.
4032 Alors, je veux juste m'assurer, est-ce que c'est parce que vous avez augmenté le nombre d'années ou est-ce que vous avez augmenté aussi l'enveloppe à chaque année, et de quelle façon cela v"A" t-il se répercuter dans la programmation?
4033 MR. CRULL: The envelope will still produce -- it is a significant amount of new programming, 100 hours of new programming that the envelope will produce in these six markets, and we did extend it from two years to four years. That is the only change.
4034 We were uncomfortable in both our internal allocation and -- as we discussed with the Commission, we believed in our package composition previously, but it did leave only two years funded, and as we reflected on the feedback and the reallocation, we felt that four years was appropriate.
4035 In the Shaw submission, they had funded for seven years, and we felt, on reflection, that we were in better shape with four.
4036 M. BIBIC : Madame Poirier, juste un petit point de clarification. Ce n'est pas un gros point, mais l'enveloppe était 15 millions...
4037 CONSEILLERE POIRIER : Oui. Oui, oui.
4038 M. BIBIC : ...et ça monte à 28.8, et si vous regardez l'Appendix 2, vous voyez que les sommes seront déboursées d'une façon égale sur quatre ans, donc, ce qui indique clairement que la raison pour l'augmentation, c'est qu'on a haussé la période de temps de deux ans à quatre ans.
4039 CONSEILLERE POIRIER : Parfait! Oui, c'est ça. J'avais oublié le 3 millions qui était pour les new platforms.
4040 M. BIBIC : Oui, c'est ça.
4041 CONSEILLERE POIRIER : Mais effectivement.
4042 Je veux juste, Monsieur le Président, faire un dernier commentaire pour les Channel 'A'.
4043 Je supporte tout à fait Monsieur le Président. It has to be incremental. It has to be incremental in programming, to my viewpoint, the amount of money that you want to invest in the 'A' Channels.
4044 MR. CRULL: I appreciate that. I would submit that it is 100 percent incremental, because their likelihood of being on the air is very low.
4045 And I haven't wanted to tell this Commission that, absent this, I would close them, because I think that is a line in the sand that, at this early stage, I didn't want to get into.
4046 But I view it as 100 percent incremental, and there just isn't a business sense for adding -- we already exceed the minimums in serving these communities.
4047 MR. BIBIC: Just to clarify -- and we have said this, and I am sure you have appreciated it -- the "A" Channels exceed their minimum programming requirements. So for the period of time of three years, BCE/CTV would commit to maintain that higher level.
4048 But to require that we go even higher than we currently are makes the business case even more challenging, and probably, in the end, counterproductive to what we are trying to accomplish, which is keeping them open, while maintaining that higher level of programming.
4049 MR. CRULL: I might just mention that in these markets already -- and I am appreciative of the Commissioner's concern of what is being broadcast in these markets, is it incremental.
4050 We know that in Barrie and London there is no other local voice for news, and in Victoria there is only one other broadcaster that is providing local expression and diversity of voices.
4051 As far as drama and comedy and entertainment, there are a significant number of programs that are only available on the "A" Channels, things like the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, All My Children, and Canadian shows like Flash Gordon, Sanctuary, Stargate Atlantis. These are all only available and seen on the "A" Channels, and I could not support their continuation.
4052 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am not asking to make a decision. I am not making a decision, I am asking for clarification, just so you understand.
4053 What I am suggesting is, when you are finished with the clarifications, you may file a slight revision or clarification to what you filed with me this morning by Monday, and that will give us a whole week, and everybody else will have time to comment.
4054 Among those clarifications you might, for instance, talk about the "A" Channel and explain what is your concept of incrementality when it comes to the "A" Channel.
4055 The last point that I want to deal with is the issue of accessibility.
4056 Mr. Bibic, the pink sheets, are they all confidential, or only certain parts?
4057 I am particularly concerned about Question 9. Is the answer to Question 9 confidential?
4058 MR. BIBIC: This is about the $9.9 million --
4059 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
4060 MR. BIBIC: No, that is not confidential.
4061 THE CHAIRPERSON: You say here: As a point of clarification, please note that 5.7 of the 9.9 represents recouped dollars from the initial investments made under BCE benefits which have no timetable relating to their disbursement.
4062 And, then, in the second paragraph you talk about accessibility, and you say that you require all PNI programming to be captioned and described.
4063 Now, you undoubtedly heard the accessibility people who were before us. You are familiar with our accessibility policy, which is something we take very seriously, and the accessibility people, so logically compelling, say that we will all be disabled at some point in time, it's just a question of when we arrive there.
4064 I will be there sooner than you.
4065 THE CHAIRPERSON: What we had thought -- and I would like you to reflect on this -- is that $5.7 million should go to setting up, in effect, what the accessibility people very much want, an independent fund that concentrates on this.
4066 Clearly, it has to be set up independent of broadcasters. They have to be on there as well as the accessibility people, et cetera.
4067 This is something that is very dear to our hearts, and those funds, the 5.7, as you say, are recouped dollars, they are not part of your obligations. On the other hand, those dollars are there.
4068 So I would strongly suggest that you reflect on that, because doing something for the accessibility people solves a major problem for society and it also makes your whole package much more acceptable.
4069 I don't expect an answer right now, I just wanted to leave the point with you.
4070 MR. BIBIC: Mr. Chair, we will reflect on that and give you an answer in writing. I think that would probably be better.
4071 THE CHAIRPERSON: Len...
4072 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Could we also ask you to quantify, in the next paragraph, where you say, with regard to accessibility, that the PNI programming will be captioned and described?
4073 Could you, within the PNI allocation, identify how much of that is the cost of described video, and closed-captioning as well, just so we have that number?
4074 MR. BIBIC: We will work on that over the weekend.
4075 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you for your responses. I think that, by and large, we are closing the gap between ourselves. I would very much appreciate if, by close of business Monday, you could file these clarifications, and we will post them, obviously, to the extent they are not confidential. People can look at them, and then we will ask other parties to make comments on everything that you proposed this morning and on Monday, and we will take those on board. They will have until the close of business on Friday to answer, and then we will make our decision, and I promise that we will stay within the 35 days, as we promised.
4076 MR. BIBIC: Thank you for that, and we appreciate your time, it has been a good week.
4077 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
4078 Madam Secretary, is there anything else?
4079 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would like to indicate for the record that the intervenors who did not appear and were listed on the agenda as appearing intervenors will remain on the public file as non-appearing interventions.
4080 As well, parties to the proceeding that wish to comment or respond to any of the new information filed by BCE during the oral phase of the hearing have seven days, until the end of business day Friday, February 11, to file their comments with the Commission.
4081 This concludes the agenda of this hearing, Mr. Chairman.
4082 THE CHAIRPERSON: And as I did yesterday, prematurely, let me thank everybody who worked on this hearing, especially staff, who did a phenomenal job of briefing us.
4083 And thank you, translators, for your work.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1016
- Date modified: