ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 26 November 2012
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Volume 6, 26 November 2012
TRANSCRIPTION OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
To consider the broadcasting applications for the licence renewals for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s French- and English-language services as listed in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-379, 2011-379-1, 2011-379-2, 2011-379-3, 2011-379-4 and 2011-379-5
140 Promenade du Portage
26 November 2012
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 applications for the licence renewals for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s French- and English-language services as listed in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-379, 2011-379-1, 2011-379-2, 2011-379-3, 2011-379-4 and 2011-379-5
Véronique LehouxLegal Counsel
Aspa KotsopoulosHearing Managers
140 Promenade du Portage
26 November 2012
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
31. Pierre Dionne Labelle, Member of Parliament, Rivière-du-Nord1931 /11237
32. Jean-François Fortin, Member of Parliament, Haute Gaspésie-La Mitis-Matane-Matapédia and Spokesman of communications for the Bloc Québécois1954 /11364
33. Michael Vormittag1977 /11478
34. I Love CBC Peterborough1995 /11573
35. Writers Guild of Canada2007 /11646
36. ACTRA2056 /11997
37. Alberta Media Production Industries Association2096 /12208
38. Directors Guild of Canada2110 /12311
39. Kimberly Townley Smith2129 /12429
40. Québecor Média inc., on behalf of Corporation Sun Media2140 /12524
42. Ontario Association of Broadcasters2169 /12681
41. Stand on Guard for CBC2216 /12953
- v -
PAGE / PARA
--- Upon resuming on Monday, November 26, 2012 at 0831
11232 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
11233 Madame la Secrétaire, s'il vous plaît.
11234 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci. Bon matin.
11235 Nous débuterons la journée en entendant la présentation du député de Rivière-du-Nord, M. Pierre Dionne Labelle.
11236 S'il vous plaît présenter votre collègue, après quoi vous avez 10 minutes. Merci.
11237 M. LABELLE : Oui, bonjour. Mesdames les Conseillères, Messieurs les Conseillers, nous vous remercions de nous recevoir ce matin.
11238 Permettez-nous de nous présenter. Je suis Pierre Dionne Labelle, porte-parole de l'Opposition officielle en matière de francophonie. Je suis accompagné par Yvon Godin, porte-parole en matière de langues officielles.
11239 Nous intervenons aujourd'hui dans le cadre de nos fonctions respectives.
11240 Tout d'abord, nous appuyons le renouvellement des licences de CBC/Radio-Canada.
11241 Toutefois, en tant que représentants politiques, vous comprendrez que nous ne formulerons aucune recommandation sur les conditions de licence que vous étudiez. Pour cette même raison, nous ne commenterons pas les demandes du diffuseur.
11242 Nous sommes ici pour vous parler de nos préoccupations qui découlent des cadres législatifs. Nous voulons aussi vous faire part des préoccupations des Canadiens et des Canadiennes que nous représentons puisque nous sommes élus.
11243 Dans notre présentation, nous vous formulerons les demandes suivantes:
11244 - de prendre en compte les pressions financières avec lesquelles la Société doit composer;
11245 - de vous engagerà mettre en place des mécanismes qui protégeront les avancées réalisées grâce au Fonds d'amélioration pour la programmation locale;
11246 - de vous assurer que CBC/Radio-Canada respecte les exigences de la Loi sur la radiodiffusion et de la Loi sur les langues officielles;
11247 - et finalement, de vous assurer que le CRTC se conforme à la Loi sur les langues officielles.
11248 Mais avant de commencer, nous voulons insister sur le rôle unique et essentiel de CBC/Radio-Canada.
11249 Il y a plus de 75 ans, le Canada choisissait de se doter d'un diffuseur public. Au fil des ans, les émissions culturelles, d'information et de divertissement de la télévision et de la radio publiques ont contribué significativement à façonner notre culture et notre identité, et a permis aux Canadiens et aux Canadiennes de mieux se connaître.
11250 En tant que Québécois francophone, je sens que je dois beaucoup à la Société Radio-Canada.
11251 Une idée circule selon laquelle le paysage médiatique et culturel actuel rend inutile la présence d'un diffuseur public. Nous nous opposons fortement à cette idée.
11252 Face à la diversité toujours plus grande des contenus et des plateformes, une source d'information de qualité, indépendante et accessible à tous est indispensable.
11253 La raison est simple. Des citoyens bien informés contribuent au bon fonctionnement de la démocratie et de notre société.
11254 D'autre part, CBC/Radio-Canada est aussi une source de divertissement incroyable.
11255 Tous les artistes, qu'ils soient écrivains, chanteurs, dramaturges, danseurs ou scénaristes, Radio-Canada, pour tous ces artistes, est une vitrine, un partenaire, un pilier du secteur culturel.
11256 Les pressions financières auxquelles fait face la société d'État.
11257 Nous savons que le CRTC n'a rien à voir avec la prise de décision qui concerne le financement de CBC/Radio-Canada. Cependant, il est impossible de porter un regard éclairé sur les enjeux du renouvellement en les dissociant du contexte financier dans lequel CBC/Radio-Canada doit opérer. Nous souhaitons que la question du financement guide votre réflexion.
11258 CBC/Radio-Canada est mise à rude épreuve par ses opposants. Aux importantes compressions budgétaires des gouvernements libéraux -- 400 millions, rappelons-le -- s'ajoutent maintenant celles des conservateurs. Dans le budget 2012, le gouvernement conservateur a réduit les crédits parlementaires de l'institution de 115 millions de dollars sur trois ans. Aujourd'hui, elle reçoit à peine plus de fonds publics qu'elle n'en recevait au début des années 90.
11259 Ces pertes consécutives de revenus ne sont pas sans conséquence. Ainsi, pour arriver à maintenir son rythme de croisière, CBC/Radio-Canada est contrainte de s'appuyer de plus en plus sur les revenus publicitaires.
11260 Or, de par son mandat, elle doit répondre à différents impératifs qui ne sont pas nécessairement compatibles avec la logique du marché publicitaire.
11261 À ces pertes de revenus dont nous venons de vous parler, il faut aussi compter une perte de 28,4 millions de dollars sur deux ans attribuable à l'élimination du Fonds d'amélioration de la programmation locale, le FAPL.
11262 Nous devons très respectueusement vous faire part de notre étonnement quant à la décision du Conseil de mettre fin au FAPL, alors que sur plus de 1 000 interventions soumises, seulement une trentaine réclamait son élimination.
11263 Nous devons vous parler davantage de la question du FAPL, parce que force est de constater qu'elle n'est pas qu'accessoire aux questions que traite cette audience.
11264 Ce sont toutes les communautés locales du Québec et du Canada qui ont perdu au change avec cette décision. Nous craignons aussi que les communautés de langue officielle en soient les premières victimes.
11265 La programmation locale est un objectif clair du système canadien de radiodiffusion. Le CRTC doit garantir que le système atteint ses objectifs en matière de contenu local et régional.
11266 Dans sa décision de mettre fin au FAPL, le CRTC a estimé que le Fonds n'était plus nécessaire à la lumière de la situation économique actuelle.
11267 Au comité parlementaire du Patrimoine, l'opposition officielle vous a demandé, Monsieur le Président, de faire la démonstration qu'il n'y aurait pas de perte de contenu local avec la disparition du FAPL. Malheureusement, Monsieur le Président, votre réponse ne nous a pas convaincus.
11268 Ainsi, nous vous communiquons notre profonde préoccupation pour l'avenir du contenu local et régional à CBC/Radio-Canada, mais aussi dans l'ensemble du système de radiodiffusion. Nous vous invitons donc à prendre immédiatement des mesures de réparation pour faire en sorte que l'élimination du FAPL ne vienne pas miner d'un trait le travail accompli au cours des dernières années.
11269 Je passerai maintenant la parole à mon collègue qui vous parlera des minorités de langue officielle. Merci.
11270 M. GODIN : Monsieur le Président, Mesdames les Conseillères, Messieurs les Conseillers...
11271 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Désolée, s'il vous plaît ouvrez votre micro.
11272 LE PRÉSIDENT : Votre micro, Monsieur Godin.
11273 M. GODIN : Oh! Je me pensais à la Chambre des communes là.
11274 LE PRÉSIDENT : Oui, mais c'est plus comme en comité, il faut s'assurer que la lumière est allumée.
11275 M. GODIN : Oui.
11276 Monsieur le Président, Mesdames les Conseillères, Messieurs les Conseillers, d'abord, nous aimerions saluer le fait que les langues officielles occupent une part importante de vos audiences.
11277 Nous constatons tous que CBC/Radio-Canada joue un rôle fondamental pour les communautés linguistiques minoritaires, mais il y a des problèmes.
11278 Dans son mémoire, la Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne a très justement identifié les irritants de longue date à l'endroit des communautés de langue officielle.
11279 Un changement de culture s'impose dans la Société pour qu'elle soit un réel partenaire du développement des communautéset qu'elle favorise le dialogue entre les groupes linguistiques.
11280 Moi-même, en tant que député fédéral depuis plus de 15 ans, je ne cesse de recevoir des plaintes de citoyens et citoyennes à l'égard de la mauvaise représentation des Acadiens et des autres communautés francophones du pays sur les ondes de Radio-Canada.
11281 Anglo-Quebeckers are also concerned. CBC could do better to reflect Quebec's English-language regions to the national audience. CBC could also do better to produce TV programming in Quebec.
11282 Il y a donc des problèmes au plan de l'information, mais aussi du divertissement.
11283 On doit, par contre, reconnaître les efforts du diffuseur. « Belle-Baie » en est certainement un très bel exemple. « La Petite Séduction », « Tout le monde en parlait », « La Revue Acadienne » et « Luc et Luc » aussi. Et les stations régionales font du bon travail.
11284 Par contre, c'est dans les représentations de la francophonie canadienne et des Anglo-Québécois dans les émissions nationales que CBC/Radio-Canada échoue trop souvent. RDI, « Le Téléjournal », peuvent faire bien plus.
11285 Par conséquent, nous vous demandons de prendre les moyens nécessaires pour vous assurer que CBC/Radio-Canada respecte son mandat au regard de la Loi sur la radiodiffusion et de la Loi sur les langues officielles.
11286 Nous devons aussi vous communiquer nos préoccupations et celles des communautés concernant la manière dont CBC/Radio-Canada s'acquitte de son obligation de consultation en vertu de la Loi sur les langues officielles.
11287 Alors que la Société doit faire des choix difficiles, il est impératif que de véritables mécanismes de consultation existent.
11288 Ce qui s'est passé à Windsor n'est pas un événement isolé: il est symptomatique du réflexe trop souvent absent de tenir compte des communautés de langue officielle.
11289 Finalement, nous soulignons aussi les obligations du CRTC, car le Conseil, en tant qu'institution fédérale, doit aussi exécuter pleinement les dispositions de la Loi sur les langues officielles. Nous pensons particulièrement à la partie VII de la Loi qui renvoie à l'obligation de prendre des mesures positives.
11290 Nous sommes inquiets que le Conseil, récemment, n'ait pas jugé bon d'évaluer les conséquences potentielles de ses décisions sur les communautés de langue officielle, par exemple, dans le cas du Fonds pour l'amélioration de la programmation locale et pour la fin de l'émission analogique de certains émetteurs de la Société Radio-Canada.
11291 En conclusion, nous souhaitons du plus profond de nos coeurs qu'ensemble, CBC/Radio-Canada et le CRTC, réussiront, à la fin de cet exercice de renouvellement de licences, à trouver des solutions qui rendront fiers tous les Canadiens et les Canadiennes de leur société d'État, de notre société d'État.
11292 Nous vous remercions de votre écoute.
11293 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci bien, Messieurs, et bienvenue de bonne heure cette deuxième semaine de nos audiences.
11294 Premièrement, je suis déçu de constater que vous n'étiez pas heureux de mes réponses devant le Comité de la Chambre. Je me rappelle tout simplement... Je ne me rappelle pas que les gens avaient été frustrés de mes réponses à l'époque. Je ne crois pas que vous étiez là. C'est un de vos collègues qui y était à ce moment-là.
11295 M. LABELLE : Oui, c'était monsieur Nantel qui était là. Mais bon, mettons que la question avait été relativement esquivée dans votre réponse par rapport à l'impact de la coupure du FAPL.
11296 LE PRÉSIDENT : Je comprends. Ce que je me rappelle, moi, c'était qu'il y a eu une petite chicane politique, et donc, on m'a évincé pour avoir un débat politique in camera. Donc, c'est plutôt ça ma récollection de ma comparution plutôt que la question du FAPL.
11297 M. LABELLE : Bien, écoutez, parce que j'ai le verbatim ici. Je ne voudrais pas non plus là en faire une question là de...
11298 LE PRÉSIDENT : Bon, on comprend bien votre position. Vous savez, je vois bien que vous ne vouliez pas parler trop trop de la demande du diffuseur, ni des conditions de licence, mais, malheureusement, c'est la nature de notre audience, on parle de la demande du diffuseur puis des conditions de licence. Donc, si jamais vous ne pouvez pas répondre, sentez-vous à l'aise de dire que vous préfériez ne pas en parler.
11299 Vous avez dit dans votre présentation, évidemment, que le financement devrait guider nos réflexions. Évidemment, depuis de le début de l'audience, ça été une longue discussion.
11300 Une des façons que le diffuseur propose de palier à ses difficulté financières serait d'ajouter de la publicité ou même possiblement de la commandite de prestige sur à la fois Radio 2 et Espace musique. Non seulement ça protégerait, selon la partie demanderesse, la qualité de la production des émissions sur ces deux chaînes, mais ça créerait de la solidité aussi, au-delà de ces services-là, pour l'ensemble du groupe.
11301 Est-ce que vous avez un point de vue sur ça?
11302 M. LABELLE : Vas-y, Yvon, si tu veux.
11303 M. GODIN : Bien, moi, le point de vue que j'aurais, c'est que c'est un diffuseur public, O.K. Si on s'enligne dans la publicité, ça devient quasiment un diffuseur privé. Puis je vais m'expliquer là-dessus.
11304 Le problème avec la publicité... parce que c'est une société d'État, le problème avec la publicité, quand la publicité est payée, disons, un exemple, si elle est payée par... dans les régions des grandes métropoles, on va donner un exemple, Montréal, est-ce que... souvent, la Société Radio-Canada, les émissions qu'ils font, c'est pour la cote d'écoute. Alors, c'est la cote d'écoute que les publicités sont à Montréal. Est-ce qu'ils veulent que Terre-Neuve écoute les programmes de Radio-Canada?
11305 Alors, là, le danger, c'est exactement qu'est-ce que c'est que nous autres, on se plaint, les francophones du reste du Canada. C'est très souvent Radio-Canada n'est pas présent surtout sur les nouvelles nationales, le RDI, ces choses-là, et c'est le grand danger que ça devient plutôt... à cause de la cote d'écoute que ça va se concentrer dans les grands centres plutôt. Puis c'est déjà ça. On se plaint déjà de ça, que c'est là que serait le grand danger.
11306 LE PRÉSIDENT : Et donc, vous avez peur... vous croyez que... Par exemple, on sait qu'à la télévision, il y a de la publicité sur Radio-Canada, puis sur toutes ses chaînes, il y a de la publicité. Vous croyez que cette publicité les empêche de mener à bien leur mandat?
11307 M. GODIN : Mais à chaque fois que la Société Radio-Canada vient au Comité des langues officielles puis on lui pose des questions, la réponse est toujours, bien, la cote d'écoute. Alors, la cote d'écoute, c'est quoi? C'est où il y a plus de monde. Puis la raison de ça, bien, c'est là qu'elle va faire plus d'argent avec la publicité, hein?
11308 LE PRÉSIDENT : Et donc, votre point de vue...
11309 M. GODIN : Alors, l'accentuer, en avoir plus...
11310 LE PRÉSIDENT : Oui.
11311 M. GODIN : ...c'est là que je dis...
11312 LE PRÉSIDENT : Donc, vous êtes contre cette demande-là?
11313 M. GODIN : Bien, je suis contre. C'est à vous... Dans ce temps-là, c'est à vous à prendre la décision. C'est au CRTC. Comme on l'a dit au début, vous avez des décisions à prendre, mais il faut tout évaluer la chose.
11314 Aussi, le gouvernement... je pense qu'il y a des recommandations, qu'il peut arriver que le gouvernement... C'est une société d'État, puis on veut qu'elle marche partout au Canada, pas seulement à une place. Il faut qu'elle marche partout au Canada. C'est une société d'État.
11315 Puis nous autres dans les communautés minoritaires, on l'a besoin là, pas à peu près là. Ce n'est pas le privé qui va venir faire... Je vais dire comme en bon français acadien : Ce n'est pas le privé qui va venir faire la job chez nous là.
11316 LE PRÉSIDENT : Évidemment, parce qu'ils sont dirigés par des cotes d'écoute et puis des résultats. Et puis, évidemment, dans une situation de cote d'écoute, parfois les communautés en situation minoritaire sont perdantes parce qu'elles n'ont pas le poids du marché; c'est ça?
11317 M. GODIN : Oui, puis surtout qu'elle a un mandat... la société d'État a un mandat partout dans le pays sur le côté culturel, divertissement et aussi amener les nouvelles partout aux Canadiens, aux Canadiennes, même dans les régions minoritaires.
11318 LE PRÉSIDENT : Vous savez, Messieurs, je peux vous montrer là, on n'a pas de machine pour imprimer de l'argent, nous, de ce côté-ci de la table.
11319 M. GODIN : Non, je comprends ça. Non, je comprends ça. Elle est l'autre bord du fleuve là.
11320 LE PRÉSIDENT : Possiblement. Je ne sais pas. Je n'ai pas fait d'enquête pour voir où la machine pour imprimer l'argent se situe.
11321 Donc, lorsque fait face à la demande de Radio 2 puis Espace musique, on doit équilibrer les enjeux puis se dire, bien, peut-être que oui, ce n'est pas la situation idéale, mais entre le choix de perte de programmation et les décisions de peut-être faire d'autres coupures qui pourraient affecter les communautés en situation minoritaire, c'est peut-être un mal qu'on doit absorber. Vous comprenez cette possibilité-là?
11322 M. LABELLE : En fait, ce qu'on veut vous partager ce matin, c'est notre tristesse de voir Radio-Canada être mise dans une situation où elle doit faire des efforts supplémentaires pour aller chercher des commanditaires quand les efforts devraient être mis à la production locale et à améliorer la production. C'est un peu ça notre ambivalence par rapport aux positions qui sont défendues.
11323 Effectivement, si ça aide Radio-Canada à se maintenir et à pouvoir continuer, si c'est la seule solution face à laquelle on est placé, bien, évidemment qu'on ne s'oppose pas à ça, mais on partage notre tristesse par rapport à une télévision d'État qui voit ses subsides coupés d'année en année depuis très longtemps.
11324 LE PRÉSIDENT : Oui. Je vous amène sur le terrain de la programmation régionale. Nous, on parle souvent du reflet des régions. On parle souvent de production miroir, c'est-à-dire une production où la région se voit et, par la même occasion, on parle parfois d'émissions qui se trouvent sur le réseau ou de la programmation fenêtre pour partager les régions partout au pays.
11325 Si je comprends bien votre position, c'est que vous voulez qu'on mette de l'emphase sur ces deux aspects-là, que les régions puissent se voir elles-mêmes, mais aussi de partager leur réalité sur les réseaux nationaux.
11326 M. GODIN : Oui, absolument. Puis vous savez, le programme FAPL était un programme super. Je vais vous le dire sincèrement. Chez nous, on a une très grande peur là-dessus parce qu'on a vu la différence. Quand on regarde Luc et Luc, si on regarde La revue acadienne, c'était de la programmation que les gens se voyaient vraiment dedans. Finalement, ils se sentaient ou disaient, finalement, on dirait Radio-Canada produit quelque chose pour qu'on puisse se voir. C'est quelque chose de local.
11327 Si on se plaint, quand les gens se plaignent de ce bord-là, je pense que vous devriez être fiers de ça. Le Conseil devrait être fier de ça, de voir que vous aviez mis un programme qui a amené de quoi de positif. S'ils se plaignent qu'ils l'ont perdu, ça veut dire que c'était un bon programme. Puis là-dessus, je pense que vous devriez le prendre positivement et y penser.
11328 LE PRÉSIDENT : La première journée, lors de la présentation de la part de la Société, on a posé des questions en long et en large justement à propos de l'impact de la réduction du fonds et la réponse semblait être que Radio-Canada, bien que contrainte dans ses moyens financiers, au coeur de son plan 2015, son plan stratégique était de maintenir sa présence en région.
11329 Ce n'est pas quelque chose qui vous rassure un peu?
11330 M. LABELLE : Ce sera un défi pour Radio-Canada, privée des moyens dont on connaît, les coupures qu'il y a eu lors du récent budget en 2012 qui, privée du Fonds FAPL, peut-être que ça fait partie du plan stratégique, mais ce sera tout un défi.
11331 M. CODIN : C'est un défi parce que le FAPL a vraiment amené des émissions chez nous. Avec les coupures de 115 millions, dans les prochains trois ans, il va y avoir des décisions qui vont se prendre et puis normalement, c'est toujours les régions qui ont été coupées.
11332 Alors, on pourra le voir en 2015, mais moi, je peux vous dire et puis vous assurer que chez nous, quand on parle de la péninsule acadienne, par exemple, Moncton, tout le monde je veux dire dans nos régions, les gens étaient fiers de ce programme-là et on ne voudrait pas le perdre.
11333 LE PRÉSIDENT : Oui. Ce n'est pas toujours facile prendre nos décisions, on doit équilibrer bien des éléments.
11334 Mais est-ce que vous avez des recommandations spécifiques à nous faire pour maintenir la production régionale? Nous, nos études, c'est généralement des conditions de licence, des trucs de ce genre. Mais vous semblez ne pas vouloir proposer des conditions de licence.
11335 M. LABELLE : Non, on ne s'avancera pas sur ce terrain-là. C'est vraiment votre prérogative, mais concernant le fonds du FAPL, peut-être qu'il y aurait moyen de relancer ça d'une certaine façon.
11336 Les arguments qui ont été évoqués pour mettre fin à ce fonds-là, c'est que la situation économique s'est améliorée. Si on fait une analyse vraiment macro économique de la situation canadienne, ce qui tourne autour de la crise mondiale et tout ça, je pense que la situation économique est encore très fragile et il faut en tenir compte aussi.
11337 LE PRÉSIDENT : Vous avez mentionné dans votre présentation la situation à Windsor. Je crois que lundi -- oui, c'est bien lundi, les choses se suivent et se ressemblent -- nous avons eu une discussion. D'ailleurs, la première journée de l'audience et la deuxième aussi, on a eu de longues discussions sur le service offert aux communautés. La situation à Windsor a été discutée et, effectivement, on a fait état de l'historique du dossier, mais Radio-Canada s'est dit prête, en réponse à mes questions au paragraphe 3477 de la transcription, qu'elle accepterait une condition de licence de s'assurer qu'il y aurait au moins 7,5 heures de production locale à Windsor, sur la radio de Windsor.
11338 Est-ce que ça vous satisfait?
11339 M. GODIN : Est-ce que ça nous satisfait? Il faudrait aller demander ça aux gens de Windsor. Ils sont les perdants. C'est encore une minorité où il y avait une production qui était là et ils disent, okay, on n'a pas fermé les bureaux, on n'a pas fermé les bureaux à Windsor, mais si tu enlèves les joueurs et puis tu les amènes à Toronto, c'est quoi? C'est bien beau dire on ne ferme pas un bureau, mais une bâtisse, c'est une bâtisse. Et puis ...
11340 LE PRÉSIDENT : Ça serait une production locale, locale, là.
11341 M. GODIN : C'est ça. Ça prend de la production locale et puis ce sont les gens de là qui devraient décider parce que c'est eux qui étaient à la perte et puis ça a obligé d'aller devant la Cour et vous savez le restant des résultats et Radio-Canada a contesté la décision aussi.
11342 Alors, c'est pour ça que quand vous nous demander si j'ai confiance qu'en 2015, que la production va être dans les régions, il faut se poser des questions. Alors, je pense que c'est là que le CRTC a une responsabilité d'imposer.
11343 LE PRÉSIDENT : Bien d'ailleurs, lorsqu'il n'y a pas de condition de licence, mettons que ce n'est que des attentes, le radiodiffuseur public peut faire des coupures parce qu'il n'y a pas de conséquence, mais si on met une condition de licence, ils ont besoin de notre ...
11344 M. GODIN : Là, c'est important, le FAPL est très important.
11345 LE PRÉSIDENT : Oui. Vous revenez toujours sur le FAPL. Mais il n'y avait pas de FAPL pour la radio, là. Je vous parle de la radio à Windsor.
11346 M. GODIN : Non, mais si la Société d'état en reçoit trois, ça risque de passer pour la radio aussi. C'est la même Société d'état.
11347 LE PRÉSIDENT : Monsieur Godin, vous avez mentionné dans votre présentation aussi un mécanisme de consultation. Vous trouvez que le mécanisme de consultation que la Société d'état utilise pour consulter les communautés pourrait être amélioré. Ils ont décrit leur panel et tout ça.
11348 Est-ce que vous avez des recommandations concrètes? Ça fait des années que vous siégez sur le Comité des langues officielles. Vous avez vu des modèles à suivre dans d'autres institutions. Est-ce que vous avez des recommandations spécifiques à nous faire sur quel mécanisme que la Société devrait se doter pour consulter?
11349 M. GODIN : Bien, premièrement, la Société d'état est prise par la partie 7 de la loi.
11350 LE PRÉSIDENT : Absolument, oui, mais pour actualiser ...
11351 M. GODIN : Bien, c'est ça, mais pour actualiser le mécanisme, je pense que Radio-Canada pourrait arriver dans les régions et puis avoir des audiences publiques et écouter la population avant de prendre des décisions plutôt que de venir dire à la population les changements qu'il va y avoir, où est-ce qu' elle s'en va. Il devrait y avoir des audiences de consultation, des vraies audiences de consultation et non pas se le faire dire et après qu'elle va avoir consulté la population -- il n'y a pas 20 manières de le faire, de consulter la population. Tu te présentes dans les régions, tu as des audiences publiques et tu écoutes la population. Tu invites les joueurs et tu es capable de prendre, après ça, une décision plus éclairée et voir qu'est-ce que la population voit de Radio-Canada.
11352 LE PRÉSIDENT : Alors, c'est plus d'être présent et d'aller à la rencontre des auditeurs.
11353 M. GODIN : Bien, pour moi, la définition de « consultation », c'est ça que c'est.
11354 LE PRÉSIDENT : D'accord.
11355 Ce sont mes questions. Ça va?
11356 Merci beaucoup pour votre participation. Merci d'être là très de bonne heure un lundi matin comme ça.
11357 M. LABELLE : Ça nous fait plaisir.
11358 M. GODIN : Merci bien et merci de votre écoute.
11359 LE PRÉSIDENT : C'est bien.
11360 Madame la secrétaire ...?
11361 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci.
11362 J'inviterais maintenant le député porte-parole du Bloc Québécois en matière de communications, M. Jean-François Fortin, à s'avancer à la table, s'il vous plaît.
11363 Vous avez dix minutes pour votre présentation. Merci.
11364 M. FORTIN : Alors, bonjour, Monsieur le président, mesdames les conseillères, messieurs les conseillers.
11365 Je m'appelle Jean-François Fortin, député de la Haute Gaspésie-La Mitis-Matane-Matapédia, porte-parole du Bloc Québécois en matière de communications et je n'ai jamais été journaliste à Radio-Canada.
11366 Je vous remercie de me donner l'occasion de comparaître sur l'importante question du renouvellement de la licence de Radio-Canada. Cette Société d'état joue un rôle absolument essentiel et je pèse mes mots, essentielle pour la communauté bas-laurentienne et gaspésienne que j'ai l'honneur de représenter, mais pour tout dire, je suis d'avis que Radio-Canada joue un rôle fondamental pour le Québec tout entier, rôle que le gouvernement fédéral et le CRTC doivent appuyer le plus possible, ce qui n'est malheureusement pas toujours le cas.
11367 Le Bloc Québécois a plaidé pour un financement stable et adéquat et pluriannuel de la Société d'état à de nombreuses reprises. Nous croyons que, compte tenu de son mandat, la SRC doit pouvoir développer une stratégie à long terme et ne pas être otage à chaque budget présenté par le gouvernement fédéral. Force nous est cependant de constater que le gouvernement conservateur ne semble pas mettre la SRC au coeur de ses priorités et que celle-ci est contrainte de revoir son financement pour remplir adéquatement son mandat.
11368 J'ajouterai que répondre par les spins de communications gouvernementales habituelles comme « aucun gouvernement n'a investi autant d'argent en culture que le gouvernement actuel » ou « le gouvernement fédéral appuie plus que tout autre la télévision publique » relève, à mon sens, de la démagogie.
11369 On sait que les coûts de production des dramatiques ont augmenté considérablement. On sait que l'arrivée des nouvelles plateformes a engendré de nouveaux coûts. On sait aussi que les sources de financement alternatives ont disparu. Le mandat de Radio-Canada, lui, au contraire, s'est vu naturellement élargi. Pensons entre autres à Internet ou la télévision spécialisée.
11370 Bref, je sais que je ne vous apprends rien en vous rappelant que le système de radiodiffusion a profondément été transformé au cours des dernières années, mais la réalité, c'est que les sommes liées à ces changements sont importantes et qu'elles ne sont pas au rendez-vous, d'où la proposition de la SRC d'insérer de la publicité sur les ondes de radio, entre autres, de la chaîne Espace Musique qui est un exemple des moyens envisagés pour augmenter ses revenus.
11371 Il faut dire que le CRTC, en décidant de mettre un terme au Fonds d'amélioration et de la programmation locale, le FAPL, n'a pas simplifié non plus la vie à la Société d'état. Ce fonds, particulièrement utile pour les régions éloignées des grands centres, encourageait une production locale de qualité et stimulait la création. Les raisons pour lesquelles le CRTC a décidé d'y mettre un terme reste pour moi toujours un mystère.
11372 Il faut croire qu'une partie de la réponse vient de cette question, en fait, vient un commentaire de votre vice-président qui semblait, à l'époque, voir le FAPL comme étant rien d'autre qu'une taxe. Je sais que les conservateurs et les caquistes au Québec n'aiment pas les taxes, mais j'ai tout de même été surpris par le commentaire d'un conseiller du CRTC.
11373 Enfin, bref, en dressant un portrait de la situation actuelle du secteur de la radiodiffusion, on en arrive à la conclusion qu'il est plus coûteux aujourd'hui qu'il y a quelques années pour Radio-Canada de remplir son mandat compte tenu de l'éclosion de nouvelles plateformes et de la fragmentation de l'écoute avec le développement de la télévision spécialisée.
11374 Ceci dit, je ne suis pas convaincu que la solution passe par des revenus publicitaires, à part peut-être ajouter un joueur de plus dans les marchés souvent déjà saturés et, du coup, de nuire à la radio privée ou même communautaire. Les revenus publicitaires n'apporteront rien à terme.
11375 Selon votre dernier rapport de surveillance :
« La hausse des revenus des nouveaux services de transmission de données, des services Internet à large bande et des services sans fil ont augmenté de 6,8 pour cent pour s'établir à 28,4 milliards de dollars en 2011, comparativement à 26,6 milliards de dollars en 2010. »
11376 Les télécommunications privées utilisent des ondes publiques. Il faut bien l'admettre, c'est payant.
11377 Parallèlement, la SRC produit du contenu exclusif pour ces nouvelles plateformes et s'inscrit littéralement dans un argument de vente pour les entreprises de télécom. Peut-être pas Radio-Canada seulement, mais on dit aux nouveaux clients des téléphones intelligents ou des tablettes numériques qu'ils pourront regarder leurs émissions partout. Personnellement, comme client, je penserais aussitôt à TOU.TV.
11378 Les grandes entreprises de communications du Canada, Bell, Corus, Vidéotron, Rogers, utilisent de plus en plus les produits de télévision comme un argument de vente pour leurs produits de télécommunication. Ça n'arrivera pas avec Radio-Canada parce que Radio-Canada est un radiodiffuseur, point, une espèce appelée à être de plus en plus rare.
11379 Que le CRTC appuie le diffuseur public par l'entremise d'un fonds financier par des revenus d'entreprises qui utilisent des ondes publiques n'a rien de scandaleux. Je vous invite à réfléchir à la question. Le gouvernement du Canada n'est pas généreux avec la télévision publique, moins généreux par habitant que l'Allemagne, l'Australie, l'Autriche, la Belgique, le Danemark, l'Espagne, la Finlande, la France, moins que l'Irlande, l'Italie, le Japon, la Norvège, le Royaume-Uni, la Suède et la Suisse, mais plus que les États-Unis, la Nouvelle-Zélande, par exemple.
11380 Le mandat de la Société d'état n'est pas mince. Il doit tenir compte des deux langues officielles, doit être présentatif de dix provinces et de trois territoires. Il doit promouvoir un concept absolument abstrait, l'identité canadienne, un concept encore plus difficile à expliquer et à inventer que l'affirmation selon laquelle la Guerre de 1812 aurait pu être un élément fondateur du Canada.
11381 Prétendre que la SRC a suffisamment d'argent pour remplir adéquatement son mandat relève, à mes yeux, de la pensée magique. Les coupes finissent toujours par affecter les régions et c'est les gens de mon coin de pays notamment, qui en paient les frais.
11382 Il est possible de faire davantage. Le gouvernement fédéral a choisi de ne rien faire pour mieux appuyer la SRC, mais vous n'êtes pas obligés de faire de même. Je vous invite donc, vous l'aurez compris, à renouveler le mandat de Radio-Canada et à ne pas lui permettre d'ajouter des revenus publicitaires en radio. Mais parallèlement et conséquemment, je vous invite aussi à mettre en place un fonds dédié aux radiodiffuseurs à statut unique qui ne font pas dans les télécommunications afin d'assurer la pérennité de ces entreprises privées ou publiques. Je vous recommande aussi de vous assurer que la capacité de Radio-Canada à offrir des services régionaux de qualité, avec des budgets nécessaires pour les régions éloignées des grands centres, compte tenu de son rôle primordial.
11383 En terminant, je veux faire un commentaire sur une déclaration faite au début des audiences.
11384 Je suis convaincu que vous faites votre travail sans aucune partisannerie comme un journaliste de Radio-Canada souverainiste, à titre d'exemple. « Distinguer l'opinion personnelle du travail professionnel. » Le CRTC n'a pas à s'immiscer dans la politique. Tout citoyen canadien, quel qu'il soit, quel que soit son métier, quelles que soient ses opinions, à mon avis, a le droit de se présenter pour être député si le coeur lui en dit. À titre d'exemple, je n'ai pas à savoir que le vice-président d'un organisme de réglementation fédéral est un conservateur notoire s'il fait bien son travail. On a le droit d'être souverainiste au Québec et d'exercer la profession que l'on veut si on en a les compétences. S'il fallait que le CRTC empêchait ou recommandait d'empêcher un souverainiste de travailler à Radio-Canada parce que ses convictions ne sont pas celles que le CRTC ou la Société d'état jugent les bonnes, ça nous dirait clairement à nous, les Québécois souverainistes, encore une fois, que nous n'avons plus rien à faire dans ce pays.
11385 Je vous remercie.
11386 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci beaucoup.
11387 Sur ce dernier point, je vous inviterais plutôt de lire les transcriptions et la question que j'ai posée plutôt que les reportages d'une columnist de ce que j'aurais dit.
11388 M. FORTIN : Très bien, merci.
11389 LE PRÉSIDENT : Parce que ma question n'était pas par rapport à des partis politiques d'un côté ou d'un autre, ça comprenait aussi l'indépendance et la crédibilité d'un journaliste qui, du jour au lendemain, pourrait même se retrouver dans un groupe de lobbyistes de peu importe. Je posais la question à la Société et j'ai posé la même question aux journalistes pour voir si eux avaient une réflexion sur le sujet.
11390 M. FORTIN : Merci.
11391 LE PRÉSIDENT : Je n'ai jamais suggéré qu'on s'immiscerait là-dedans.
11392 M. FORTIN : Telle n'était pas mon intention. C'était plutôt une mise en garde éventuelle.
11393 LE PRÉSIDENT : Vous proposez dans votre présentation qu'on mette en place -- définitivement, vous êtes contre la notion de la publicité à Radio Two et puis sur Espace Musique. Ça ne vous préoccupe pas que ça pourrait en fait ajouter à la précarité financière de Radio-Canada?
11394 M. FORTIN : En fait, il pourrait être illusoire à mon avis de croire que ces petits revenus de publicité appréhendés pourraient permettre de combler les manques actuels que Radio-Canada va avoir à subir suite aux coupes gouvernementales.
11395 Et par la suite aussi, le fait d'envisager des revenus de publicité dans un marché qui est déjà complet, qui est déjà saturé, ferait en sorte que, à mon avis, on n'atteint pas l'objectif souhaité et qu'on vient en même temps dénaturer une des caractéristiques principales de cette radio qui est, à la fois, de diffuser de la musique sans publicité et qui est un caractère que les gens qui écoutent cette radio-là aiment et apprécient.
11396 Donc, on viendrait changer la nature même d'Espace Musique, à titre d'exemple, et à vrai dire, de mettre de la publicité ferait en sorte de diluer un peu la nature même de cette radio, à mon avis, et d'engendrer probablement une baisse de l'écoute qui n'est pas déjà nécessairement très grande.
11397 LE PRÉSIDENT : Peut-être pas récemment, mais il y a déjà eu de la publicité sur les ondes de la radio de Radio-Canada et on voit beaucoup de publicités sur les services télévisuels.
11398 M. FORTIN : Oui.
11399 LE PRÉSIDENT : C'est quoi la différence alors?
11400 M. FORTIN : La Chaîne musicale, bien en fait, Espace Musique maintenant, est une chaîne et quand on demande à ceux qui l'écoutent, qui a ses propres caractéristiques et qui a développé une clientèle de gens qui aiment écouter justement parce que c'est de la musique en continu, très peu de blah, blah et il n'y a pas de publicité. Donc, le fait pour les gens d'écouter une chaîne pour des caractéristiques qu'ils apprécient ferait en sorte qu'en ajoutant de la publicité ou, par exemple, on peut prendre un exemple, Archambault qui, lors d'une émission de jazz, voudrait mettre un peu de publicité pour que les gens aillent acheter chez eux à Montréal, bien ça n'apporte rien aux gens qui écoutent Espace Musique dans les régions du Québec et en même temps, Archambault qui prend de la pub, qui a une enveloppe de pub, qui prend de la pub dans les radios privées, priverait les radios privées aussi de certains fonds, de certains revenus parce que c'est la même enveloppe de publicité.
11401 Alors, je pense que le fait de dénaturer une radio qui a ces qualités par l'ajout de la publicité, ça fait croire qu'on peut aller chercher des nouveaux revenus, qui seraient minimes, alors que le problème de Radio-Canada est beaucoup plus profond en termes de financement. Il est lié aux coupes et aussi à l'abolition du FAPL récemment.
11402 LE PRÉSIDENT : La Société, lorsqu'elle a comparu au début de la semaine dernière, a dit, oui, ça ne semble pas être beaucoup d'argent, mais pour eux, vingt millions était une somme assez importantes, étant donné leur cadre fiscal actuel.
11403 M. FORTIN : Oui.
11404 LE PRÉSIDENT : Donc, est-ce que je comprends bien la position de votre formation politique, si vous préféreriez voir moins de captation de concerts et peut-être une baisse du service de programmation dans le système dans son ensemble pour Radio-Canada plutôt que de voir de la publicité sur Espace Musique et Radio 2?
11405 M. FORTIN : Ce que nous souhaitons, c'est un meilleur financement de Radio-Canada par des mécanismes de financement à la fois gouvernemental, ça, c'est ma responsabilité, mais aussi par le fait d'établir un fonds. Et je le recommande dans ma présentation d'aujourd'hui, un fonds qui améliorerait le financement annuel de Radio-Canada, qui lui permettrait de ne pas couper et de ne pas dénaturer sa raison première et sa manière de faire de la radio et de la télévision.
11406 LE PRÉSIDENT : Vous savez qu'on est une créature d'une loi évidemment créée par le Parlement où vous siégez et que la loi nous oblige dans nos décisions de se préoccuper aussi de l'abordabilité des services de câblodistribution, de services satellitaires. Je comprends bien vos commentaires à la troisième page, là, d'instituer une nouvelle façon d'aller chercher des revenus de ces entreprises de distribution.
11407 N'y a-t-il pas un risque qu'ils vont tout simplement chercher ces fonds-là de la poche des abonnés et que ça soulève un enjeu d'abordabilité?
11408 M. FORTIN : Vous avez raison. Effectivement, les entreprises de télécommunications ont, par le passé, abondamment refilé la facture, entre autres du FAPL et même en l'indiquant de façon très claire dans leur facturation aux citoyens, aux abonnés en fait.
11409 Toutefois, je le mentionnais aussi, et d'ailleurs avec votre dernier rapport de surveillance paru au mois de septembre dernier, on constate que les revenus des entreprises de télécommunications sont à la hausse, qu'ils ont des revenus suffisants pour être capables d'absorber une certaine partie d'un fonds qui serait créé. Et il ne faut pas se leurrer, ils sont aussi gagnants du nouveau contenu qui est généré. Le fait que Radio-Canada puisse avoir une programmation de qualité, que ce soit dans des séries et tout, et que ce contenu-là créé puisse être disponible par ces entreprises de télécommunications via, entre autres, la télé sur demande, augmente la qualité des services qui sont offerts par les entreprises de télécommunications.
11410 Toutefois, à terme, qu'un citoyen paie un peu moins d'un côté parce que le gouvernement coupe des investissements dans Radio-Canada et paie un petit peu plus pour avoir une télé publique de qualité, c'est, à mon sens, une orientation qui ferait en sorte que la télé publique pourrait avoir un contenu de qualité et surtout bien financé, particulièrement, et je l'orientais tout à l'heure, pour les services en régions aussi qui sont toujours les premiers à faire les frais des coupures qui sont imposées à Radio-Canada.
11411 LE PRÉSIDENT : Justement, à propos de la production régionale, est-ce que vous avez des suggestions plus spécifiques des conditions de licence à nous proposer qu'on pourrait mettre en place pour s'assurer justement qu'il y ait un reflet régional et aussi une programmation miroir pour retrouver la programmation régionale sur les réseaux?
11412 M. FORTIN : J'aime beaucoup l'épellation « miroir » que vous utilisez, qui est utilisée en fait, là, dans le milieu, compte tenu le fait que l'appartenance au milieu se développe beaucoup par le fait d'entendre parler de nous, de ce qui se passe dans notre milieu et Radio-Canada joue à cet égard-là un rôle fondamental et primordial dans les régions, dans le fait de comprendre nos réalités.
11413 Toutefois, avec l'abolition du FAPEL nombreux sont les exemples de projets qui, justement, permettaient cette programmation miroir-là et qui nous permettait d'avoir un lien avec la communauté. Alors, quand vous dites des exemples de conditions, les conditions vous appartiennent.
11414 Toutefois, les moyens par la création d'un fonds -- puis, là, des fois ça peut paraître abstrait on a mis de côté le FAPEL -- mais la création d'un fonds, vous pourriez un peu faire comme vous l'aviez fait pour la création du Fonds canadien de télévision, créer un comité, puis c'est dans vos pouvoirs, avec des représentants, à la fois des entreprises de télécom, des entreprises de radiodiffusion, des gens du domaine de la culture et évaluer l'impact, justement, d'un nouveau fonds qui s'adresserait spécifiquement, comme je le mentionne, à des entreprises de radiodiffusion à statut unique qui, elles, n'ont pas toutes les plates-formes pour générer des revenus de différentes sources qui leur permettent d'atteindre une rentabilité.
11415 Et la télé publique doit et nombreux sont les exemples d'autres pays où la télé est mieux financée.
11416 Donc, la télé publique doit avoir une capacité de générer un contenu de qualité à la fois en région et dans les grands centres. L'idée n'est pas de faire une lutte urbaine versus une lutte rurale, mais une programmation de qualité se fait nécessairement avec des fonds et le fait de couper le FAPEL, nombreux ont été les interventions, les intervenants qui ont dit à quel point ça venait affecter la qualité de la programmation et c'est indéniable, là.
11417 Malgré ce qu'en a dit même Radio-Canada au début de la semaine dernière quand ils disaient que dans leur programmation ils allaient trouver une façon d'équilibrer et tout, je suis profondément inquiet quant à la réduction éventuelle de la qualité de la programmation en région suite à ces coupures-là qui vont nécessairement se faire sentir.
11418 LE PRÉSIDENT : Et j'imagine que vous avez la même préoccupation face au radiodiffuseur privé?
11419 M. FORTIN : Tout à fait.
11420 LE PRÉSIDENT : Ce n'est pas juste une question par rapport à la Société Radio-Canada donc?
11421 M. FORTIN : Non, non.
11422 LE PRÉSIDENT : La production régionale?
11423 M. FORTIN : La production régionale est une production qui se doit de refléter à la fois les préoccupations des gens. Elle développe l'appartenance à un milieu et, donc, nécessairement, les producteurs privés ont des... je dirais des considérations de financement liées, entres autres, avec de la publicité et tout.
11424 Mais la radio publique se doit, et la télévision publique se doit d'être bien financée par l'État parce qu'elle est aussi, et vous le savez, dans les mandats de Radio-Canada, de refléter toutes les particularités d'un océan à l'autre, bien, nécessairement, ça prend de l'argent pour couvrir un mandat tout aussi large, je le mentionnais, deux langues officielles, ce qui n'est pas toujours le cas, là, dans d'autres diffuseurs privés: 10 provinces, trois Territoires.
11425 Donc, nécessairement, les conditions dans lesquelles Radio-Canada a à rendre et opérer un service font qu'il y a des coûts plus importants que certains privés, là.
11426 LE PRÉSIDENT : Hum, hum. Monsieur Fortin, ce sont mes questions. Des questions du vice-président?
11427 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui, merci. Bonjour, monsieur Fortin.
11428 M. FORTIN : Bonjour.
11429 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Juste pour être clair et pour ajouter à ce que le président a déjà indiqué, c'est que, à bien lire les questions qui ont été posées, il n'y avait aucun parti politique de visé dans nos questions.
11430 Et même suite à un commentaire de nos dirigeants de la Société où il disait qu'il y avait d'autres partis maintenant qui faisaient partie de l'environnement politique au Québec, ce n'était pas le but de notre question.
11431 C'était d'essayer de savoir s'il n'y avait pas de mécanisme par lequel on pouvait créer une distance entre un journaliste qui était journaliste un jour puis le lendemain qui portait les couleurs d'un parti politique, peu importe le parti.
11432 Alors, je ne comprends pas du tout vos commentaires avec lesquels... les commentaires avec lesquels vous terminez votre allocution.
11433 M. FORTIN : Permettez-moi simplement de préciser. Il n'y a pas personne qui était nécessairement visé par ces commentaires. C'était une réflexion qui, suite à un terme, un mot que j'ai vu dans les verbatim comme quoi c'était un fléau.
11434 Je me disais, bien, ce n'est pas un fléau, c'est une richesse qu'un citoyen bien informé et engagé décide un jour, par ses compétences, de se présenter devant la population et d'être choisi par des gens qui vont avoir à porter un jugement si cette personne est la plus appropriée.
11435 Et Radio-Canada, de par sa vocation de représenter toutes les tendances canadiennes, a aussi à représenter l'une des tendances fortes au Québec qui est une tendance d'un mouvement souverainiste et nationaliste.
11436 Alors, ça fait partie des composantes et d'avoir à peut-être limiter... limiter l'accession à la politique à des journalistes vient apporter, à mon avis, une considération très dangereuse et, à titre d'exemple, ça pourrait faire en sorte, et vous l'avez mentionné de toute nature politique confondue, à une personne telle que Michaëlle Jean, de ne pas pouvoir devenir Gouverneur générale ou, à l'époque, Pierre-Elliot Trudeau, à Cité Libre, devenir éventuellement politicien et Premier Ministre, tout comme René Lévesque.
11437 Alors, la part de ces gens qui sont impliqués à un moment donné de leur vie pour leur compétence dans le domaine journalistique, vous savez leur opinion politique tant que leur travail est bien fait, c'est ça qui est important, là.
11438 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et, ça, du jour au lendemain?
11439 M. FORTIN : Bien, du jour au lendemain? L'homme est un animal politique. La politique fait partie de nous. Elle est intrinsèque à l'homme.
11440 Alors, tant que cette personne, tout comme toute personne titulaire d'une charge publique ou d'une responsabilité, fait son travail en lien avec le mandat qui lui est donné, la rigueur qui lui impose un ordre professionnel ou un code d'étique, il n'y a pas de problème.
11441 Mais du jour au lendemain de passer pourrait faire en sorte, par exemple... peut-être que vous faites référence à une période de latence ou...
11442 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Si...
11443 M. FORTIN : ... qui pourrait être mise de l'avant, mais ça peut faire...
11444 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : C'était l'idée de la question, mais je...
11445 M. FORTIN : Oui. Bien, je ne crois pas que c'est une bonne idée.
11446 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Vous ne pensez pas que c'est nécessaire?
11447 M. FORTIN : Je ne crois pas que c'est nécessaire.
11448 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.k.
11449 LE PRÉSIDENT : Et si les journalistes eux-mêmes se dotaient de ce code?
11450 M. FORTIN : Ah! bien il appartient aux journalistes de choisir eux-mêmes via leur organisation, leur syndicat, les règles qu'ils décident d'appliquer, là, dans leur Code d'étique.
11451 Toutefois, à mon avis, d'avoir cette période de latence ou de jaune tampon entre le fait d'occuper une fonction de journaliste et d'aller en politique ferait en sorte que certaines personnes pourraient être brimées dans le fait d'aller apporter de par leur compétence et leurs qualités personnelles un service public qui est fort apprécié par la communauté.
11452 LE PRÉSIDENT : Je comprends très bien. Mais c'était justement le but. Les journalistes eux-mêmes se posent la question.
11453 M. FORTIN : Tout à fait, il y a un débat en cours.
11454 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Si juste vous me permettez une dernière question, monsieur le Président?
11455 LE PRÉSIDENT : Oui.
11456 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Vous avez mentionné ce concept... vous avez parlé de concept à quelques reprises. À un moment donné dans votre texte, vous avez parlé d'un concept absolument abstrait en citant l'identité canadienne: « Un concept encore plus difficile à expliquer et à inventer. »
11457 Est-ce que le reflet d'une identité canadienne est ce que nous... est-ce un gaspillage de ressources de la part de la Société Radio-Canada? Vous avez mentionné la Guerre 1812 et le fait que ça aurait pu être un élément fondateur du Canada?
11458 M. FORTIN : Hum, hum.
11459 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Est-ce que vous avez une opinion sur ces questions-là?
11460 M. FORTIN : Mon...
11461 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et à part le fait que c'est un concept inventé et difficile à expliquer, l'identité canadienne?
11462 M. FORTIN : Mon... en fait, mon allusion à la Guerre de 1812 faisait plus référence à une pointe envers le Gouvernement qu'envers Radio-Canada.
11463 Toutefois, Radio-Canada, de par son mandat, doit refléter la réalité canadienne. Cette réalité-là, qu'elle soit en Alberta, en Colombie-Britannique, dans les Maritimes ou au Québec, elle est différente, elle est très dure à cerner.
11464 Et j'en reviens à mon commentaire précédent, le Québec aussi a une réalité qui lui est propre, celle d'avoir un mouvement qui est souverainiste, qui est indépendantiste et qui est une partie intégrante de sa réalité. Donc, Radio-Canada a aussi à refléter cette réalité-là dans son mandat.
11465 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et pensez-vous qu'il fait bien ça de refléter cette réalité?
11466 M. FORTIN : Bien, je crois que Radio-Canada fait de son mieux pour le faire, mais que c'est un concept qui est très abstrait et qu'il y a autant de définitions de ce qu'est le Canada qu'il peut y avoir d'individus.
11467 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Non, mais je parle du mouvement souverainiste, est-ce que c'est bien rajouté chez Radio-Canada?
11468 M. FORTIN : Bien, je crois que Radio-Canada fait son rôle avec rigueur, effectivement.
11469 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Merci beaucoup.
11470 M. FORTIN : Bienvenue.
11471 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci bien, monsieur Fortin. Ce sont nos questions. Merci pour avoir participé à nos audiences.
11472 M. FORTIN : Je vous remercie.
11473 LE PRÉSIDENT : Madame la secrétaire.
11474 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci.
11475 We will now connect with the Toronto Regional Office. Mr. Vormittag, can you hear me well?
11476 MR. VORMITTAG: Yes, I can.
11477 THE SECRETARY: Perfect. Thank you. You may begin your presentation, you have five minutes.
11478 MR. VORMITTAG: Thank you. Good morning, ladies and gentleman.
11479 Bonjour, mesdames et messieurs.
11480 Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today on this important topic and the comments I submitted on it known as Intervention 2042.
11481 Approximately four months ago, the CRTC handed down broadcasting Decision 2012-384 which allowed the CBC to disassemble its analog over-the-air television networks. While the Commission noted concerns raised on hundreds of interventions, it stated that the CBC had no obligation to broadcast. There was much discussion on social media that day regarding the irony of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation not having an obligation to broadcast.
11482 My presentation today is focused on the notion that the CBC should have at least some obligation to broadcast over-the-air in its conditions of licence.
11483 To be fair, the CBC should have been relieved of the burden of operating over 600 transmitters, many with only a handful of viewers, but to cut it to just 14 English and 13 French transmitters was far too drastic.
11484 I am pleased that the CBC converted all originating stations to digital, and I can empathize with the CBC's challenge to balance its originating stations both geographically and between English and French.
11485 However, two egregious cases emerged from how originating stations have been allocated. The first is in Southwestern Ontario centred around London. The city of London with surrounding cities of St. Thomas, Tillsonburg, Woodstock, Stratford, and as far west as Sarnia make up a region of over 600,000 people that do not lie within a CBC or SRC broadcast contour. The second is the area surrounding Saskatoon with nearly 3000,000 people.
11486 My proposal can be viewed as a compromise. It will require nowhere near the previous number of transmitters, but only a few more than currently exist. And it requires even less transmitters than CBC's own plan from CRTC 2006-5 submitted in September 2006, which was a framework for the digital television transition.
11487 My proposal would return CBC and SRC television to the airwaves to all cities and surrounding areas with greater than 100,000 people by August 31st, 2016 and would be delivered in phases. This approach was chosen so that:
11488 a) CBC has adequate time to plan, budget, and resource the work to be done;
11489 b) larger population centres without services will be placed at the top of the queue; and
11490 c) costs could be spread out over a number of fiscal years so that no one year would be disproportionally affected in CBC's budget.
11491 The good news for everyone is that CBC is already mostly compliant with my 2014 requirements. Adding SRC in Calgary, CBC to Quebec City, and both CBC and SRC to London will eliminate the gap. My proposal would require just a bit more work in 2015 to restore SRC service to Windsor and Halifax, and both CBC and SRC to Saskatoon. The remaining cities would be completed in 2016.
11492 At this point, I suspect CBC management is getting concerned about what all this would cost. But I ask them first, please visit with your broadcast engineers, take a look at their ATSC standards manuals, and open them to the section on multicasting.
11493 Multicasting allows more than one channel from a single transmitter, a much cheaper solution than multiple transmitters. It has been utilized successfully by hundreds of television stations in the United States, both public and private. A 480i subchannel has negligible affects to picture and sound quality of a 720p main channel. There are even a few American stations running with dual 720p channels.
11494 Multicasting could be used to meet many of the requirements of my proposal, and supply French TV service outside Quebec and English TV service within Quebec. Only a handful of new transmitters would be needed to service areas where there is neither a CBC nor SRC presence at the moment.
11495 A sceptic might ask "why bother with over-the-air at all? Many people get their television on a subscription basis." While it's true that about 90 percent of households have a subscription, that still leaves over 2.5 million Canadians with over-the-air being their primary means of receiving television.
11496 On top of that, there are additional televisions using antennae within the subscription households, plus television in community centres, churches, businesses big and small, cottages, recreational vehicles, and also people with tuner cards in PCs and laptops so they don't need a stand-alone television at all.
11497 While it's true that over-the-air television had a steady decline from the early 1970s to the middle of the last decade, with the advent of digital over-the-air television, usage has rebounded at least in areas where some digital signals exist. Some major electronics retailers have resumed stocking antennae and new antenna specialist stores have opened.
11498 Further evidence comes from Canadian broadcasters themselves. There have been numerous applications to the CRTC from broadcasters since September 2011 wishing to change channels or increase transmitter height or power to better serve their over-the-air viewers.
11499 Providing television services over-the-air in both official languages is a big part of CBC's heritage. There is no shortage of Canadian subscription-only television channels or Canadian produced Internet content but in the cities where my proposal would apply, there is a shortage of terrestrial television signals.
11500 Thank you for your time this morning. I welcome any questions you may have.
11501 Merci beaucoup.
11502 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation. Commissioner Simpson will have some questions for you.
11503 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Excuse me; Commissioner Simpson is having a drink of water. Good morning, Mr. Vormittag. Thank you very much for your intervention. I think it's terrific when anybody comes forward with -- who cares enough to come forward with an idea to help this country communicate and its public broadcaster to communicate better.
11504 But let me ask you a question, first of all, it's a personal interest question if you don't mind answering: What is your technical background? You seem -- this is something, you know, you're weighing into the depend of the pool with respect to 80SC and I'm curious why you know about this?
11505 MR. VORMITTAG: I'm an Information Technology Worker, so I'm -- I guess, things like technical requirements or something part of my training. So, yes, I have done a fair amount of research to understand how it all works.
11506 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Ah! Are you a cord-cutter or did you have a BDU or a satellite service into your house tower or you're a hold-out?
11507 MR. VORMITTAG: I am, I guess, a partial cord-cutter if there is such a thing. Yes, we do still have an analog cable subscription, but I am also an antenna user and I receive my HD-TV television from the over-the-air.
11508 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Huh-huh. A couple of things just by way of setting the premier reference for a discussion here.
11509 You, obviously, have looked at the Broadcast Act and it is not specific with respect to how a broadcaster goes about its business of reaching its audience, but it says that its obligation, particularly with the CBC in mind, to be made available through the most efficient and appropriate means and as resources become available.
11510 It doesn't talk about OTA. It talks about a most efficient and effective means within available resources. So, I am curious, you seem to have a stance that the CBC is obligated to stay on-the-air?
11511 MR. VORMITTAG: I am not sure, I am really saying that. I mean, I think where there is a sufficient population concentration that it is an efficient means having, I guess, you know, regions of 600,000 people or more all streaming the Internet to watch CBC programs or whatever, some segment of that they are OTA users, probably all it does is shift the burden on to the Internet traffic at that point.
11512 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Huh huh.
11513 MR. VORMITTAG: I think when you get into smaller concentrations of population that these -- you know, the cost of building an over-the-air infrastructure is probably prohibitive.
11514 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Huh huh, huh huh. The other point I just wanted to throw out for the purpose of setting the boundaries on what we can do or what can be done, you know, ATSC is a protocol. It was developed largely to manage, you know, the ability on a subchannel basis to carry data.
11515 And I think from my recollection it was largely brought about as a result of both analog and digital wanting to be able to carry programming information on a subchannel.
11516 It can, it has been adapted to carry, you know, multi plexing secondary broadcasting and I agree with you it is being done and it does work. But, first of all, do sets -- maybe because ATC is not mandated in Canada, simply --
11517 My other questioning was that ATSC is not mandated, but it is an accepted protocol that is used by broadcasters and BDUs to -- or to broadcasters to be able to get secondary information. And I guess the first question I've got is: From your research do OTA audiences not require an ATSC receiver, something that would essentially, you know, demodulate that second signal or it is on board with setup boxes and TV sets?
11518 MR. VORMITTAG: Oh! Yes. Yes. Either inboard ATSC transmitters which are pretty much standard equipment and almost every HD television set manufactured I think since 2007 and certainly all of the digit, maybe all the digital converted boxes that were talked about in the time of the August 31st 2011 transition would all be able to decode such channels.
11519 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But it seems to counter into if that technology is, you know, on board with an HD TV and someone has an HD TV, it sounds over-the-head a set-up box that can do the same thing with an older television, that they are probably not in -- this is by my odds, not going to be an OTA customer.
11520 I mean, why would they make the investment in an HD TV if they are going to get a signal that is not going to be HD quality under your proposal?
11521 MR. VORMITTAG: Oh! no, they will be. That was --
11522 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: One of the two can't be. One of the two can't be. One will be 720 --
11523 MR. VORMITTAG: So, one of the two can't be. That's right. There are some examples of dual 720p channels, but that's very rare. Yes, one of them is not.
11524 Typically, I would see this, for example, if you have looked at the Windsor Ontario situation where they have CBET on channel 9.1, a number of the people concerned with the shift-down of CBEFT last summer suggested having that as a place on channel 9.2 as a subchannel. I think having a 480i subchannel versus nothing at all would be preferable.
11525 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: In the event that someone doesn't have an HD TV or a setup box that can access and demodulate the second signal, what would in your research an ATSC receiver cost if somebody had to go on and buy one?
11526 MR. VORMITTAG: Well, the setup boxes I guess in nearly everyone of the markets that I've mentioned would have already rolled out to get any signal at all.
11527 For example, you know, Windsor Ontario was named as a mandatory market. London Ontario was, so is Saskatoon and a lot of these markets, particularly in London and Saskatoon, they are getting -- they are already getting ATSC signals from CTV and Global and/or some other broadcaster such as CITY and in London, London's case of TV Ontario. So there would be really no -- there would be no equipment at all to be used or to be acquired by the viewers for this, it would just be another additional channel to their set up. They would probably only need to rescan their tuner to pick it up if a second signal was added.
11528 Yes, there is a few cities, I guess what I would say is in the under 250,000, under and above 100,000, that may be getting its first digital transmitter if they were to proceed this way.
11529 But to go back to your question of how much would they -- the set top boxes, I believe they were mostly around the $50 range. And the price of HD televisions has come down even over the last couple of years. To get I would say a 40-inch HDTV set is probably less than $500 now.
11530 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: That buys a lot of cable, though.
11531 It just seems to me that there are barriers to entry that go against the idea of trying to get your signal over the air which I can't believe wouldn't be more motivated by a cost-saving than making some kind of a statement to the merits of OTA.
11532 Let me move on. You mentioned in your written brief that with respect to over-the-air coverage that CBC doesn't compare to that of the privates.
11533 Now, are you talking about CBC against any of the private broadcasters or CBC against all of the private broadcasters? I'm just trying to understand.
11534 MR. VORMITTAG: I would say of the national broadcasters. For example, there are a number of places where CBC and Global, being I guess it's main counterparts, are available over-the-air and CBC is not. London, Ontario is probably the most obvious example, most local to me. I believe that's also true in Saskatoon. That's why I tried to highlight those cities as being the most affected by this.
11535 You know, to go back, I totally agree with CBC's reasoning to why they wanted to shut down the analog work, it's just that these two cities, above all others, have enough population concentration where I think this is worthwhile.
11536 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: The CBC has a management decision -- this whole thing came about as a result of a mandatory order on our part for digital conversion, this wasn't something that was purely driven out of a management decision of CBC, but parts of what fell out of bed was the operational costs that came with budget cuts that followed up the mandatory order for digital conversion.
11537 Now, CBC shut down the better part of 620 transmitters, which is disturbing to anyone, but they did it because of a cost saving. Now, that cost saving, I have heard anywhere from $10 to $20 million is being saved on an annual basis because this is an operational cost as opposed to a cap cost.
11538 So have you done any work to try and determine what CBC would have to spend on a transmitter-by-transmitter basis to do your proposal or is that something left up to broadcast engineers? I mean do you have any idea what your plan costs?
11539 MR. VORMITTAG: Because I'm not a professional broadcast engineer I can only speak to what I know about what was laid out at the digital transmission.
11540 I believe the cost for the 27 digital transmitters that do exist was in the order of $50 million. So just doing the math, it's roughly $2 million apiece. I know there is variation, some were more expensive than the others for reasons that are local to each transmitter, but if we can use that as a benchmark.
11541 So serving London and Saskatoon, I would say, okay, there's $4 million right there. To add a sub-channel to places like Quebec city, Windsor, Halifax, I believe the cost for that would be quite negligible. It's just a matter of -- there is no transmitter costs, it's just a matter of the payload in the data that's going to be sent from the transmitter.
11542 Some of the other -- you know, I guess there are some other -- in the smaller locations there might be opportunity as well.
11543 One of the ideas I thought might be worth exploring, too, is if -- Saint John, New Brunswick is another city that falls in the third tier of in the 100,000 to 250,000 population. There are digital signals there and perhaps CBC could come to some sort of arrangement to provide a sub-channel on one of the existing digital transmitters operated by a private broadcaster.
11544 Again, I'm not trying to make this some big -- I'm trying to minimize the budget impact to CBC, because I do empathize with their financial situation, but there are a lot of people out there who, you know, still prefer to be over-the-air viewers and not just in their homes but in common places or vacation places where they don't really want to watch a lot of television, but they might want to watch the news.
11545 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes. Yes, agreed. The freedom of choice is I think a cornerstone of a democracy and particularly a democracy that believes in competition but, you know, this is coming down to economics.
11546 I'm still fascinated with your proposal, but I'm not sure the math works, because in keeping transmitters on the air so that they can multiplex, just doesn't make the cost go away.
11547 But that said, this Commission has -- or you may not know -- a narrower scope than some might think with respect to our purview over the CBC, but of the things we can do with respect to making CBC as available as we can, you know, there is a mandatory distribution order for cable or BDU's, as we call them in this business, and DTH, which goes a long way -- not to your point, but to making sure that that 95 percent is getting CBC.
11548 But when it comes to spectrum and spectrum management and spectrum policy this is out of our wheelhouse, this is done by Industry Canada and as much as we might take an interest in it, and even to the extent of offering an opinion that Industry Canada should look at it, it doesn't mean that they will or they can.
11549 But I'm curious as to whether you have talked to the CBC directly about your proposal, whether you have talked Industry Canada about your proposal or even the Broadcast Technical Advisory Committee who kind of take this stuff on because they are always looking at what is over the hill technologically.
11550 Have you talked to any of them?
11551 MR. VORMITTAG: I have talked to CBC, not directly with this proposal, but on the digital television plan itself back in 2010-2011.
11552 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
11553 MR. VORMITTAG: As far as Industry Canada, I don't agree that that's really in play here, because the channel allotments were all determined as part of the digital transmission plans of the allotment exists at the moment, certainly in the cities affected, but it even went even beyond that to there's allotments in cities under 100,000 people which I'm not sure it's in anybody's interest to use.
11554 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
11555 MR. VORMITTAG: But that said, I believe the Industry Canada considers allotments to be vacated at the present time and I know that the Global Television Network has actually applied to use one of the vacated channel allotments.
11556 So I guess as long as this is -- you know, that's why I kind of said that 2016 date, that now is the time, if this is ever going to be done, at that point, yes, Industry Canada could be involved at one point where there would not be enough bandwidth left if other players were to consume the present allotments or if the bandwidth was changed at some point in the future.
11557 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: There is the old bromide about leading a horse to water but not necessarily being able to get them to drink. We can make suggestions, but we can't always get them applied because the way the system works is a broadcaster would make an application to use a spectrum for a proposed purpose and proposed means and that would go to Industry Canada, there would be a technical acceptance of that plan rendered and then it comes to us and so there has to be will before there is way.
11558 I'm just going to close by saying that I commend you again for, you know, really taking the interest in trying to keep our national broadcaster on the air whenever and wherever possible. I think it's of merit in and of itself.
11559 As they said, I don't know that the math works, but CBC has gone on the record as saying that they are not interested in this technology, but I will make a commitment to you that when they come back here this week I will ask them that question one more time and see what they say.
11560 Thank you.
11561 MR. VORMITTAG: I would very much appreciate that.
11562 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much.
11563 MR. VORMITTAG: Thank you.
11564 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
11565 Those are our questions. Thank you for participating in our hearing and enriching our deliberations.
11566 Madame la Secrétaire, le prochain intervenant, s'il vous plaît.
11567 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
11568 So now we will switch interveners in the Toronto office.
11569 THE SECRETARY: Hi, Ms Denton.
11570 MS DENTON: Hello. Good morning.
11571 THE SECRETARY: You can begin. You have 5 minutes for your presentation.
11572 Thank you.
11573 MS DENTON: Thank you.
11574 Members of the Commission, and others, thank you for this opportunity.
11575 I'm Kady Denton, self-employed full-time and belonging to no political party.
11576 I'm part of the group I Love CBC Peterborough. This is the group that was at the eye of the storm that broke in the Peterborough region two years ago when our Member of Parliament commented to the House of Commons Heritage Committee that:
"...maybe it's time we - the government - get out of the broadcasting business."
11577 Ten thousand people in the Peterborough riding took action. Ten thousand messages immediately reached the Prime Minister.
11578 The idea that we would be set adrift without our public Canadian media network and without unbiased information, that was the tipping point. The CBC is loved and trusted because it is a public corporation for all of us.
11579 People in this part of Ontario are deeply suspicious of reduced funding to the CBC which is forcing it to more advertising.
11580 While I can't speak directly for all those thousands who took action, I can speak for the immediate steering group, giving their viewpoint and that viewpoint I think is reflective of the concerns of the much larger group.
11581 Supporters of I Love CBC Peterborough have five concerns with the CBC's proposed future strategy as expressed in "Everyone, Everyway, 2012".
11582 First, we urge the CRTC to deny permission to the CBC to place unlimited advertising each hour on CBC Radio 2.
11583 There is one particular audience CBC Radio 2 serves: all those people who are alone for long stretches of time because of creative or sometimes repetitive work. I have never met any such person in any studio or shop anywhere in Canada without hearing how important Radio 2 is. Radio 2 leads us beside still waters and into green pastures. It's a comfort through the long solitary hours and a support for the necessary focus. Commercials break concentration. Ads would end Radio 2. Those who most rely on Radio 2, people doing creative work, could not listen.
11584 No ads on Radio 2, no ads on Radio One.
11585 And for a second reason: people say to us over and over that they feel what is bought and paid for answers to the buyer and cannot be completely trusted.
11586 Two, we ask that CBC increase its commitment to classical music on Radio 2.
11587 Three, we would like to see less advertising on CBC's television shows. As one of our group said, "in an era of increased corporate control we need CBC radio and television to carry our voices."
11588 Four, no advertising on programs for children.
11589 Five, we would like to see local and regional programming increase in hours per week for both news and non-news productions. How can the CBC reflect Canada to Canadians and the world if it doesn't have a commitment to local and regional programming? Canada is bits and pieces stretched over a vast area, each bit has opinions, sentiments, ideas, talent. We want CBC to help us talk with each other.
11590 In conclusion, the CRTC wants to hear from ordinary Canadians. That's us. The group is called I Love CBC Peterborough. That's in part because we feel a sort of ownership in something very special. The CBC is Canada's public network and we are part of that public so we have a value and we feel valued. We feel bigger than a consumer, bigger than marks on a ratings sheet. I don't think this would be true with more advertising, radio commercials and less non-news regional broadcasting. The CBC would walk and talk like other networks.
11591 We heard at the last election that funding to the CBC would be maintained or increased. Why hasn't this happened? Governments come and go. It's our public broadcaster, our CBC, which has bound us together on this adventure called Canada for over a hundred years. We can't think of a better investment if we are to stay together.
11592 Thank you. Those are the five points.
11593 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Ms Denton, for participating in the hearing, to you personally, but also your colleagues who have worked on this initiative.
11594 Commissioner Duncan will have some questions for you.
11595 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Good morning, Ms Denton. As the Chairman says, it's very nice to have an opportunity to talk to you.
11596 I do have a number of questions for you. I will sort of go in the order I think of the issues the way you have raised them.
11597 First of all, you recommend of course that we deny permission to the CBC to place unlimited advertising on Radio 2 and one of the quotes you included from one of your members was that CBC radio should be -- we must keep CBC radio free of advertising was the quote. I'm wondering your response to the point that last week we asked the Chairman -- sorry, the CEO of the CBC explained to us that without this advertising live programming would be cut back. I'm just sort of wondering what your response would be to the loss of that programming on CBC 2?
11598 MS DENTON: Well, that would be too bad. That would be too bad.
11599 I'm sorry that CBC is in the position it's in, we are perplexed and angry that the CBC is in this financial position and, in effect, unable to meet its mandate. We don't see this as acceptable to Canadians. CBC is a national treasure, it should be supported, it should be boasted about, it should be one of the sources of greatest pride in Canada and the fact that it's now having to hack here, hack there is distressing.
11600 But were there to be advertising on CBC Radio 2 or Radio One, something most special would be lost. The CBC would not seem a public network. There is advertising on CBC Television, but if all that CBC does has advertising it doesn't become -- it isn't public in that sense any more, it is eroded and our faith, our trust, our belief that this is a unique Canadian broadcasting system is eroded. Something irrevocable would be lost.
11601 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I appreciate your comments. So then I take it from that that you would be willing to accept a reduction in some of those live productions rather than have advertising on the network?
11602 MS DENTON: No, our group -- if I'm going to speak for the whole group, I would have to say we would like to see increased funding for the CBC. That's our stand.
11603 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. I understand that and I guess I'm just trying to see what -- maybe we could just explore what might be some other compromise because, as you know, the CBC doesn't have the funds and we are not in a position to give funds. That's not what our role is. We are trying to assess CBC's performance in the future in relation to its obligations under the Broadcasting Act.
11604 In your comments you do refer to "unlimited advertising" and CBC had talked in terms of about 9 minutes. So I think you said that you -- I see you looking, I think you said that we should deny permission to allow them to place unlimited advertising and I'm just wondering, they are talking in terms of 9 minutes. Two possible compromises might be a reduction in those 9 minutes.
11605 Would that more acceptable or less offensive perhaps?
11606 MS DENTON: Well, yes, certainly less offensive. Did I say "unlimited advertising". I don't have that in this document.
11607 Any advertising on Radio 2/Radio One would change the listener's perception not only of those programs but of the whole CBC. That's our main point.
11608 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
11609 MS DENTON: I mean how do you do it?
11610 You see, people who listen to CBC listen for very -- to CBC Radio 2 and One, listen for very specific reasons. If you are constantly interrupted by a non-CBC matter that judges, that cajoles, that amuses or harangues, or whatever, it's a shift. This is not what you have tuned in for. You are -- by introducing this sort of alien element you are destroying the very program. That's my point.
11611 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: All right.
11612 MS DENTON: You are not just tucking something else in, advertising would end, I think, Radio 2 and it certainly wouldn't help Radio One, not that that's being proposed. But it would end Radio 2.
11613 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I think, then, I was going to pursue with you sponsorship ads, but I think that your point is quite clear: No ads is your position.
11614 MS DENTON: No ads.
11615 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: That reference to "unlimited advertising" was in your written submission, if you were wondering where that was at.
11616 MS DENTON: Oh, right.
11617 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes, okay.
11618 Now just --
11619 MS DENTON: Right. Right. I feel I --
11620 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Go ahead, sorry.
11621 MS DENTON: Please. I feel I have to stick true to the feelings of the larger group and no advertising is the message I would like to deliver.
11622 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you.
11623 Now, with respect to television you made the point -- and this is in your written submission, I'm not sure you said that again here today, but that there should be -- yes, you did, that there should be less advertising on television.
11624 I'm just wondering, given CBC's financial constraints, you know, what would you see as a solution to that problem? You know, if they were to reduce advertising, where would they get the funding? What would they cut out?
11625 MS DENTON: Well, we are lucky these aren't our problems in a sense, aren't we?
11626 But there is advertising on CBC Television and there it is. We hope that it doesn't increase.
11627 Our points are what we as viewers and listeners wish for. We quite understand it may not be possible. There are some things, tough, that I feel obliged to pass on to you, to tell you this is what we want whether it's possible or not. This is what the CBC audience is asking for, what they hope for, what they long for. The fact that we don't have it doesn't mean we can't state it. We can't -- you can compromise and compromise until what you have is so fragmented and so like what everyone else has that you have lost the CBC, it's drifted away. That's why I'm here.
11628 There will have to be advertising on CBC Television, of course.
11629 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I notice you mentioned no advertising on programs for children. CBC have agreed there won't be any advertising on programs for children, so they have noticed the comments they have received.
11630 With respect to local and regional programming you would like to see an increase in the hours per week of both news and non-news and I'm just wondering if you had a specific recommendation in that regard?
11631 MS DENTON: When programming comes in from other parts, you know, what interests us isn't -- it isn't just what is shown, it's the manner of the person delivering it and the weather outside and the voice and what amuses them, it's all these little bits that add to our understanding of the other parts of Canada.
11632 If we were to get most of our news and the other programming from just three or four places in Canada, well, we would lose so much. We would lose all the little subtle things that are so important.
11633 And yes, well, I grew up in Ontario and then moved away and that was one of the best things that happened or I might have thought Ontario was the centre of the world. We need to travel within Canada and the CBC is one way we do that.
11634 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Well, thank you, Mrs. Denton, I appreciate your comments.
11635 Mr. Chair, those are my questions. Thank you.
11636 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms Denton. Those are all the questions of the panel, so thank you for participating in the hearing, it always enriches our public record to have people like you that participate.
11637 Thank you.
11638 MS DENTON: Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity.
11639 THE CHAIRPERSON: We will take a short break, until 10:15 at this point.
11640 Donc, une pause jusqu'à 10 h 15. Merci.
--- Upon recessing at 1004
--- Upon resuming at 1016
11641 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary...
11642 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
11643 We will now hear the presentation of the Writers Guild of Canada.
11644 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have ten minutes.
11645 Thank you.
11646 MS PARKER: Good morning, Commission and Commissioners. My name is Maureen Parker and I am the Executive Director of the Writers Guild of Canada.
11647 With me today is Andrew Wreggitt, award-winning Calgary screenwriter of TV movies such as "Mayerthorpe", "The Don Cherry Story", and "The Phantoms".
11648 Also with us today is Kelly Lynne Ashton, Director of Policy.
11649 The WGC is a national association, representing over 2,000 professional, English-language screenwriters across Canada. Our interests generally coincide with the interests of Canadian consumers, who expect to find quality Canadian programming on their televisions and other platforms. They paid for these programs with their tax dollars, whether they are on the CBC or private broadcasters.
11650 There has been a fine tradition over the years of expecting and finding more Canadian stories on Canada's public broadcaster than on private networks. If more flexibility in the CBC's licence requirements leads to less of this type of essential programming, it would be a bad thing for Canadian screenwriters and a bad thing for Canadian consumers.
11651 We look, therefore, to the CRTC to create a regulatory framework that will ensure sufficient choice of Canadian programming on our public broadcaster, consistent with its legislative mandate.
11652 As we represent English-language screenwriters, we will restrict our comments to the CBC's English-language services.
11653 Our members have written award-winning and popular CBC programming like "Republic of Doyle", "Heartland", "Sir John A: Birth of a Nation", and children's programming like "Sesame Park" and "Bo on the Go!"
11654 As our national public broadcaster, the CBC has a higher standard to meet than the private broadcasters. It has a legislated mandate. It is required to offer Canadians an alternative to private broadcasters for the roughly 60 percent of its operating budget supplied by tax dollars. The remaining 40 percent is where the problem lies.
11655 While we understand the incredible fiscal pressure that the CBC is under, we fear that it may lose its way in the pursuit of ad revenue and cheaper non-Canadian programs. Their requested flexibility could open the door to programming decisions that might erode that mandate.
11656 The CBC would like to switch from an expectation of 5.5 hours of drama in prime time to a condition of licence for 7 hours of PNI. While it may sound like an increase, it's not. From 2008 to 2011, the CBC has been airing 7 hours per week of drama alone in prime time. They have been airing almost 3 hours of long-form documentaries per week. That adds up to 10 hours of PNI, not including the original hour of award-show programming.
11657 Regardless of whether it is defined as an expectation or an enforceable condition of licence, the CBC should not be allowed to reduce its commitment below the current levels of programming. This was a fundamental principle of the 2010 TV Policy for private broadcasters, and should apply equally to our public broadcaster.
11658 In response to the Commission's concern about balance between genres, we are concerned too. The CBC has proposed that the 7 hours of PNI would include a minimum of 1 hour of drama and 1 hour of documentaries. If flexibility means 7 hours of PNI instead of the current 10, 1 hour of drama instead of the 7, and 1 hour of documentary instead of the current 3, then we do not see how the CBC will meet its mandate.
11659 If it is not the CBC's intention to cut programming, then why are they asking for such low minimums? The Canadian consumer should not be asked to accept less than the current status quo.
11660 MR. WREGGITT: We also believe that the PNI exhibition requirement must be accompanied by an expenditure requirement. We are concerned that a framework without expenditure requirements would allow the CBC to meet its regulatory requirements through very low-cost dramas and documentaries or excessive repeats.
11661 To ensure sufficient original quality programming as well as sufficient development of programs, we recommend that the PNI requirement also have a floor of spending equal to at least the average of the last three years of PNI expenditure.
11662 Recent experience has also led the WGC to be concerned about what qualifies for PNI hours. PNI was created to give the broadcasters the flexibility to spend their money among three categories -- drama, documentaries, and award shows -- categories not readily funded from the marketplace, but important to Canadian culture and Canadian audiences. But we are increasingly seeing reality programming being categorized as documentaries in order to access financing.
11663 The CBC's projected increase in documentary spending is welcome, as long as they are not reality shows disguised as documentaries.
11664 We ask the CRTC to carefully review feature program logs to ensure that only true documentaries are being credited as PNI.
11665 We would also like to raise the issue about the high number of minority co-productions airing on our public broadcaster. The Heritage Department's co-production framework requires an overall balance between all minority and majority Canadian co-productions.
11666 However, in the last few years, CBC's prime time schedules have been increasingly filled with minority drama co-productions. These co-productions often have only 20 percent Canadian involvement, typically at the post-production stage, but Canada is 100 percent Canadian for regulatory purposes.
11667 Programs such as "The Tudors", "Pillars of the Earth", and "Camelot" are credited as Canadian drama when they are clearly not. These shows take up a prime time slot that should be used to tell Canadian stories.
11668 In the last three years in prime time there have been 6 hours of majority co-productions aired on the CBC, in contrast to 50 hours of minority co-productions.
11669 While we understand the temptation to spend less and get built-in free promotion from the international broadcasters to save money, ratings demonstrate that Canadians are more interested in watching home-grown dramas such as "Republic of Doyle" and "Heartland" than they are "Camelot".
11670 We recommend that the CRTC exclude minority co-productions from the definition of PNI for the CBC, because they do not fulfil the mandate of the public broadcaster as stated by the Broadcasting Act, and in particular that programming "reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences". The public broadcaster has a higher standard.
11671 MS ASHTON: That higher standard should also apply when it comes to serving Canada's children and youth. Generations of Canadians grew up with "The Friendly Giant" and "Mr. Dressup", and became lifelong viewers of the CBC, and later its adult programming.
11672 We have heard evidence at this hearing that today's children and youth are still watching television and have not abandoned that platform for the digital world.
11673 Those kids and their families are still looking to the CBC to reflect their world, their stories and their values.
11674 If we outsource programming for our children, if they grow up watching another country's culture reflected in the shows they watch, why would they seek out Canadian stories as adults?
11675 The CBC, therefore, continues to have an obligation to serve Canada's youngest citizens with new, original, and uniquely Canadian shows.
11676 Accordingly, we recommend a condition of licence requiring 15 hours per week of programming for kids 12 and under, and 5 hours per week of youth programming, provided that 30 percent of each category is original programs.
11677 We are open to discussing with the CRTC, perhaps in a separate proceeding, how "original" would be defined to take into consideration the realities of different platforms and viewing patterns.
11678 As well, any effort by the CBC to meet its obligations to Canadian children and youth through digital platforms cannot at this time be part of the regulatory framework because this platform is exempted from regulation.
11679 We encourage the CRTC, however, to require reporting on that activity, to lay the groundwork for future licence renewal hearings.
11680 Finally, with respect to financial reporting requirements, at a minimum the CBC should be required to file detailed annual reports similar to those filed by the private broadcasters, but adapted to their specific conditions of licence. The public must be able to verify, on a timely basis, where their money is being spent and determine if the mandate is being fulfilled.
11681 MS PARKER: We are not oblivious to the CBC's financial concerns. In fact, we empathize. We love the CBC, what it represents, what it does for our country. It is an essential service, but only when it is fulfilling its core mandate.
11682 We, therefore, ask the CRTC to ensure that the core mandate is preserved.
11683 The WGC recommends that the CRTC impose a regulatory framework on the CBC that includes a PNI requirement of at least 10 hours per week -- namely, status quo -- a minimum expenditure requirement on PNI, the exclusion of minority co-productions from PNI, and a commitment to children's and youth programming, including original programming.
11684 We thank you, and we are available for questions.
11685 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your presentation.
11686 Commissioner Poirier will have some questions for you.
11687 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Good morning. Before we jump into your precise conditions of licence that you want to discuss with the CRTC, and with, naturally, the CBC, I want to thank you, because you are bringing new elements to the discussion, and by that I mean the exclusion of minority co-productions and a minimum expenditure for PNI, as well as other elements.
11688 Before getting into those detailed matters, I would love to know what kind of partnership you have with the CBC. Do you meet often? Is there a relationship between the two organizations?
11689 MS PARKER: Yes, we do meet. I do meet with Kirstine Stewart and Sally Catto, usually in the development and creative ends, fairly regularly, a couple of times a year, and we talk about production, we talk about development.
11690 I have discussed minority co-productions with the CBC as far back as when Richard Stursberg was working there.
11691 So we do have open dialogues. Sometimes nothing changes, but we do try to ensure that our viewpoint is being heard.
11692 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, because you are really tightly linked together. If they need more Canadian productions, for example, they have to rely, partly, on your group to produce them.
11693 I was wondering if you are satisfied with the change in the schedule of the CBC, because they have less and less American programs.
11694 MS PARKER: Yes.
11695 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: So are you happy with the new schedule this fall?
11696 MS PARKER: Yes, we are, actually, and we are very happy with the level of Canadian content. The way we are looking at it is, it's mostly Canadian, excluding "Coronation Street", and my mother would kill me if "Coronation Street" was taken off the schedule.
11697 MS PARKER: So we are fine. It looks good.
11698 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. So you also support the fact that the CBC has to present part of its schedule with foreign programming.
11699 MS ASHTON: Yes, but it's a very small part at this time. They are doing mostly Canadian. I think it's about 5 percent non-Canadian.
11700 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. And we don't want you to be killed by your mother, so --
11701 MS PARKER: No, we do not. She lives for that show.
11702 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. When you talk about the CBC, you always talk about higher standards. Could you define what you really mean by "higher standards"?
11703 MS PARKER: I think, in a very general sense, the CBC -- and just listening to Ms Denton from "I love CBC Peterborough" -- the CBC embodies everything that is Canadian. I loved her last comment, that if you don't travel, you can still hear from people living in Yellowknife, et cetera, et cetera.
11704 The CBC is our national public broadcaster. Their primary purpose is not to make money and increase dividends for shareholders, their primary purpose is to serve Canadians and ensure that our culture is reflected in programming, both for radio and television, and it's something that we pay for, and it belongs to us.
11705 So it is a higher standard than a private broadcaster, where they do have concerns about profit. They have a completely different system, with simultaneous substitution, and they have shareholders to report to.
11706 We are the shareholders for the CBC, so they are held to a higher standard.
11707 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And the more they are Canadian, the more that you employ and they employ Canadian workers, too.
11708 MS PARKER: True, absolutely.
11709 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. Let's talk about PNI. You accept the definition brought by the CBC, with it being drama, documentaries, galas and so on, and you ask for 10 hours.
11710 MS PARKER: Yes.
11711 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Where do those 10 hours come from exactly? Why did you come to that number?
11712 Because we know that ACTRA is bringing another number before us, which is 14 hours.
11713 I would love to see the difference between the two numbers and why that is so.
11714 MS PARKER: Okay. Well, we are going to explain our number.
11715 Our 10 hours is based on the status quo. Currently the CBC is putting forward 7 hours of drama a week -- so part of PNI -- and 2.7 in terms of documentary, so we are up to 9.7. We don't know what they are doing for award shows because there is no record-keeping, but we assume it's at .3.
11716 Therefore, we are saying status quo. That is currently what they are doing. They are asking for less in their 7, and we are saying: No, we will not accept less than what you are currently doing.
11717 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And you are basing that on the fact that you know how many hours they have produced in the last years, and it's the minimum.
11718 MS PARKER: Yes.
11719 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And they have been, also, programming more than those numbers, up to now.
11720 MS PARKER: Yes. They have been going over their expectations, so that's great. So this is a reasonable compromise, sticking with the status quo.
11721 In fact, in their application they are proposing to produce more drama and more documentaries, and we think that's great, but the purpose of PNI is to set a floor. You can't go less than this.
11722 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Why don't you want to comment on the 14 hours from ACTRA? We would love to know why.
11723 Do you feel that 14 would be better?
11724 MS PARKER: I honestly don't know the ACTRA proposal, but I know that they are here behind us, so they can explain that.
11725 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. We got a new condition of licence from the CBC, saying that they would, at least -- it would comprise at least 1 hour per week of Categories 7 and 1 of drama.
11726 What is your reaction to that new proposal?
11727 MS PARKER: As we said in our presentation, we are very confused by that, because if they are really asking for 7 hours of PNI, and they are only proposing --
11728 Now, we understand that these are minimums. They are promising us a minimum of 1, but they are currently doing 7. So why did they set that minimum so low?
11729 What we are most concerned about is the balance between the genres and the total number: PNI at 10, an expenditure requirement, and that that PNI is dedicated to dramas, long-form documentaries, and to some extent award shows.
11730 It's about balance. Those are very, very low minimums. It's basically saying: We will guarantee you, in this world that is changing, this ecosystem where we may be losing financing, that we will at least do 1 hour of drama.
11731 That's not good enough. Not good enough.
11732 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. Let's move to the minimum expenditure of PNI. You are the only one bringing that element, so we would love to know why you need that condition of licence -- I think it's not an expectation that you are looking for, it's a condition of licence.
11733 I am asking the question because the CBC is asking for more flexibility --
11734 MS PARKER: Oh, yes.
11735 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: -- and when you ask that, you are not going in that direction, you are asking for more control of the CBC, and you said at the beginning that you have a good relationship with them. So I wonder why.
11736 MS PARKER: Yes, we do have a good relationship with them, but we are worried for the future. We are worried when we look at trends like increasing minority co-productions.
11737 And, by the way, that is a uniquely CBC problem; not the other broadcasters, CBC, where they are putting on 50 hours of minority co-production versus 6 for a majority.
11738 That's a big problem.
11739 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, but let's keep the discussion on the expenditures.
11740 MS PARKER: Yes. What I am saying is, we are concerned about the future. We know they are in a cash crunch. Where are they going to go?
11741 They are going to be looking at numbers and costs, expenditures.
11742 When we looked at the system that the CRTC put in place for the private broadcasters, the TV Policy, you put in both exhibition requirements and an expenditure requirement.
11743 We think that they have to go hand-in-glove. You cannot have one without the other.
11744 So a PNI of 10 is great, but what if that 10 is filled with hours with very low drama and very, very low documentaries, or maybe reality shows dressed up as documentaries.
11745 You need to have a minimum floor in terms of expenditures.
11746 Our proposal is to look at the last three years, what they have spent on PNI, and average it out.
11747 Now, we have looked at the last two years -- the last year is not available yet, but it looks like it is roughly, about, $88 million. And, again, it's a status quo proposal. We are not trying to bring in something that is harmful.
11748 And if you look at their application, they are actually proposing to spend more on drama and documentaries, and more on PNI.
11749 So if they're proposing to spend more, then bringing in an expenditure requirement which is status quo should actually be fine.
11750 But we have found in past experience that you need both and we can, you know, go back to a problem that we had about five or six years ago with a program called "Train 48" -- I don't know how I could forget that -- but because we didn't have an expenditure requirement on drama with the privates, one year the only drama that was made was "Train 48" and that was made for $48,000 an episode. Abysmal, no one watched it, it was a failure, and that's because there was a loophole in the system.
11751 MS ASHTON: If I could add, we also know that a number of years ago when there was the last NHL lockout the spending by CBC dropped dramatically. It was like $52 million on drama. So we know that when there is an unexpected financial crunch they take it out of drama and that's --
11752 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And this year it could happen.
11753 MS ASHTON: It could easily happen.
11754 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes.
11755 MS ASHTON: So that's where our concern is and why we wanted to set a floor and say you've got choices to make but here's the core mandate, that has to be protected.
11756 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And it wouldn't be difficult for them to meet that requirement?
11757 MS ASHTON: Not based on the last several years.
11758 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Except the few times per decade?
11759 MS ASHTON: Yes, correct.
11760 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. How do you respond to the CBC's stance that PNI is more restrictive than the old definition of priority programming and that any increase in PNI hours would mean more hours from a smaller genre pool?
11761 MS PARKER: Well, PNI is more restrictive and that's because the last system wasn't working. And, you know, as we've just talked about, we had years where we had one drama program made at very low cost.
11762 So we moved to a new system to ensure that Canadians are getting the value for their tax dollars, that they're getting the programming that they're paying for.
11763 And we've been very careful in presenting our PNI number -- which we notice the CMPA has put forward as well -- of 10, which is status quo. It's not restrictive, it's not harmful, it's what you're doing. You may not like the fact that you're in for a licence renewal, but the world has changed and we're moving to PNI.
11764 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes. And do you propose a minimum level of original programming?
11765 MS PARKER: No, not for original.
11766 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: No.
11767 MS PARKER: We feel with the expenditure requirement, combined with hours of PNI in prime time, we should be fine.
11768 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: But if we wouldn't go in the expenditure direction, would you impose a minimum of original programming?
11769 MS PARKER: You would have to look at something then, yes, absolutely, to ensure there are not excessive repeats. But it's not just about original, it's about what's a documentary versus a reality show and what do we do with minority co-productions.
11770 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: So talking about reality shows, you're afraid that they might program more reality shows than good dramas, and do you have a definition to submit to us of what kind of definition you would prefer us to have for reality shows to make sure that they don't go in that direction?
11771 MS PARKER: There are definitions. And we can look at both CMF and the CRTC's -- and we'll get back to you on that.
11772 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, because it would maybe -- yes?
11773 MS ASHTON: I don't know that it's necessarily a problem of redefining because there is a new definition from the CRTC.
11774 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay.
11775 MS ASHTON: I think it's reviewing the program logs --
11776 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay.
11777 MS ASHTON: -- to see that those definitions are actually being applied. It's a question of enforcement, we think, rather than a new definition.
11778 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. Because in your document I saw "redefinition" of it too. That's what I recall. Maybe I'm mixed up with another one.
11779 MS ASHTON: I didn't think we did.
11780 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. I'm sorry. Then I made a mistake.
11781 So let's move into the minority co-productions element, okay.
11782 You don't want the CBC to count the productions qualified as minority co-productions from eligibility as PNI because these include only post-production involvement of Canadian, meaning editing, sound effects and music, and excluding these minority co-productions would exclude many major series, as you mentioned? It will also include this year's "Titanic: Blood," I guess?
11783 MS PARKER: (Off microphone). That's an acquisition.
11784 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: No? That's an acquisition.
11785 MS PARKER: Sorry. That was an acquisition
11786 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. I thought it would include this one too.
11787 So what is the rationale behind that approach that you're the only one to have? Why is that?
11788 MS PARKER: Wow! We're very unique this morning, aren't we?
11789 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, you are,
11790 MS PARKER: The rationale behind this is that we have been tracking minority co-production numbers through many years because we're concerned about it. It's work that our members are not receiving on their public broadcaster. They're not writing, you know, their stories. So we've been tracking these numbers.
11791 And when this policy framework was brought in by the Department of Heritage it was meant to ensure a balance between minority and majority co-productions, and we're fine with that. We're fine with minority and majority co-productions.
11792 What we're not fine with is an imbalance and there seems to be an extreme imbalance at the CBC, not at the other private broadcasters but at the CBC.
11793 So right now, according to our tracking for the last three years, I believe -- four years, we have noticed that there are six hours of majority co-production where the talent is primarily Canadian, the writing is Canadian, lead performers Canadian, director Canadian, versus 50 hours of minority co-production where that 20 percent is primarily spent on post-production services, so not the actors, not the directors, not the writers.
11794 You know, that's part of the problem, but the real problem is that these programs don't meet the CBC's core mandate. That's really the problem.
11795 When you look at the core mandate -- and we have it out here in front of us -- you know, in no way do these programs meet any one of the conditions of that mandate, which, for example:
"be predominantly and distinctively Canadian;"
"reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences..."
11798 Like if we go back to the mandate and look at the mandate, these shows do not belong on the CBC.
11799 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, but Canadians watched them, didn't they?
11800 MS PARKER: You know what, the numbers are not so great. We thought that as well. Actually the numbers for our home-grown dramas are better. So we've checked ratings on both of these.
11801 "Tudors" was the strongest, "Camelot" really started at about 500 and just dropped, and "Pillars" was at 151, "Pillars of the Earth," and dropped like a stone from there.
11802 So we're looking at "Heartland," "Republic of Doyle," and they come in at over a million in terms of audience viewers per week.
11803 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay.
11804 MS PARKER: So, the home-grown gets better numbers, the minority too many, and they don't meet the mandate.
11805 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, but what would happen to those co-productions, would they still be produced without the participation of Canada?
11806 MS PARKER: Well, you know, I'm really not sure. Perhaps they would end up in another broadcaster and we would be here talking to you at another hearing about that. But, you know, they certainly don't belong on our public broadcaster.
11807 And we're not trying to say that co-productions are a bad thing, they're a great thing because it's an exchange of talent and resources and ideas, but there has to be balance.
11808 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Could there be a minimum instead of excluding them completely from the PNI definition?
11809 MS PARKER: Sure. I guess, you know, another way of looking at it is you could look at a balance between majority and minority.
11810 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And what would be a balance in your viewpoint?
11811 MS PARKER: Equal number of hours. So not titles, but hours. So, you know, "Tudors" is one versus -- we have some movies of the week. I'm sorry, I can't remember what the majorities were. But just balancing in hours, not titles.
11812 So "Tudors" was, you know, let's say 13 hours and we had a two-hour movie of the week. So those need to be balanced in terms of 13 and 13.
11813 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay, that's clear. Thank you very much.
11814 Let's talk about children's programming, okay. I think you agree with the new proposal of the CBC, meaning that they accept a condition of licence of 15 hours of children under 12. You do too.
11815 So the only difference is 30 percent of original programming you're wanting us to add to the condition of licence. Why 30 percent? Why not 25, why not 50 percent? Where does that number come from?
11816 MS ASHTON: It just seemed like a reasonable number to us. We had to pick --
11817 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay.
11818 MS ASHTON: -- something that we thought would be manageable, and maybe 25 percent is more manageable, but we were looking at a set minimum because at this point, in the pre-school area, which is where they have focused on the last few years, you know, we're getting about one new show a season and that's not enough. So if it's at 30 percent, maybe we'll get two or three new shows a season.
11819 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. But 30 percent of 15 means close to five hours. Why don't you prefer to have hours instead of percentage?
11820 MS ASHTON: Because they might do more than 15. They've been doing 28. So it's 30 percent of what they're doing.
11821 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. So we would reach a higher number with 30 percent?
11822 MS ASHTON: Yes.
11823 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay.
11824 MS ASHTON: And the other part of what we disagreed with is that we want a commitment for youth, so not just the under 12.
11825 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: That's it. Okay. Well, the youth, you mean between 12 and 17 years old?
11826 MS ASHTON: Yes. Yes.
11827 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And do you really believe they are still watching TV, they are not on the Web or elsewhere?
11828 MS ASHTON: Well, the Youth Media Reliance Report, which I thought was an excellent study, it said, yes, they are, they're watching it, and instead of watching Canadian television they're watching, you know, "Jersey Shore" and "Honey Boo Boo."
11829 And, you know, I think they should be watching -- for example, I know people tend to come up here and talk about their kids, and I'll mention my 16-year-old, who doesn't watch CBC but she watches the original "Degrassi" on Netflix.
11830 You know, I think that's very telling. There's not a lot on television for her that isn't also adult and American values. I mean "Jersey Shore" is not really the values that I'd like her to be emulating. But the original "Degrassi," which was a CBC show, she's enjoying tremendously and there's nothing like that on CBC right now.
11831 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. And what about the specialty channels?
11832 MS ASHTON: There is really very little for the teenage group. There's -- you know, Family Channel goes up to about 14. There is animation on Teletoon that does the teen group but there's very little live action.
11833 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: So you believe there is a real need for youth programming on the CBC?
11834 MS ASHTON: I do. They used to do quite a bit of youth programming. They had shows like "Edgemont," the original "Degrassi." They took seriously the responsibility to all age groups, and that is again the idea that we have to keep kids and youth served by the CBC if we want them to also come back to the CBC as adults.
11835 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: M'hmm.
11836 I'd love to talk about regional reflection. It's not an aspect you developed in your document, but today you mentioned "Republic of Doyle" and "Heartland" in your submission, meaning that they reflect different parts of the country and Canadians really love those programs and they provide a regional reflection naturally on the CBC, our national broadcaster.
11837 The CBC is proposing to delete a condition of licence for six hours of regional priority programming, which includes drama and long-form documentary. So what are your views on that request from the CBC?
11838 MS PARKER: Well, we have with us a writer from Calgary. You know, I suppose they're doing that again in the guise of necessity of flexibility. And we do have -- right now many of our dramas are from regions across the country.
11839 So, Andrew, maybe you could just talk a little bit about, you know, working regionally with the CBC.
11840 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And by the way, my sympathy for yesterday's loss at the Grey Cup.
11841 MR. WREGGITT: It's a sad day.
11842 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: It's a sad day.
11843 MS ASHTON: And he had to prep all night too.
11844 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: I thought you would mourn and be dressed in black, but --
11845 MR. WREGGITT: I am actually.
11846 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Partly.
11847 MR. WREGGITT: In my career -- I started my career in British Columbia writing for "The Beachcombers" and I think in that period of time, between all the movies and miniseries and series that I've worked on, I've probably done shows in every province of Canada except for one or two and it's been a great education for me, but I think for each project that I work on, I try to reflect where we are, you know.
11848 The movie that I wrote that was on last week, "The Phantoms," was set in Bathurst, New Brunswick, a place that, you know, is very unique, is a very special place and it brought a story to the country that I don't think any other network was going to present to Canadians.
11849 And I think that the CBC is able to tell stories that no one else can and, you know, it's very important, I think, for Canadians to keep hearing each other's stories if we're going to stay Canadians.
11850 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: So you're concerned about the deletion of that condition of licence?
11851 MS PARKER: Yes, we want to keep that condition of licence. Yes.
11852 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay.
11853 MS PARKER: I think it's very important. And they're currently doing it.
11854 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay.
11855 MS PARKER: So not a hardship.
11856 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes. It's related to their mandate. Thank you.
11857 Let's move to the reporting aspect of your document, because we wonder what you expect from the CBC. I'm sure there are some nice-to-know and nice-to-have, and they're asking for flexibility, less reporting.
11858 So what is really needed by your organization to make sure that you can follow on the conditions of licence that we will probably ask the CBC?
11859 MS ASHTON: Well, for one thing, it should be annual reporting rather than at the end of the licence term as part of their application. As we know, it may be five years but it could end up being longer than that and we need timely response so that if there is a problem we can raise it and not only at a licence hearing. We'd like to see detailed by genre. So it has to be -- it has to fit with the condition of licence.
11860 So with the PNI we would like to see it actually more detailed because we are concerned about balance, so that we can see the reporting on drama and documentaries and award shows, try to identify where there might be slippage or if there is, for example, all of a sudden a lot of documentaries, maybe that's the time to take a look at the program logs and see if there's some reality shows slipping in as documentaries. If there's a condition of licence on children's, we'd like to see reporting on children's and hopefully youth.
11861 Again, it's what are the conditions of licence -- we'd like to see annual reporting that relates to it so that we're not waiting 13 years to see what the pattern of spending is and whether they live up to it, as we saw with the reporting with this licence application that they had completely abandoned the youth market.
11862 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: So are you asking more than what we're asking to the private broadcasters?
11863 MS ASHTON: Well, actually some of that is still being worked out. We have a coalition of the Writers Guild with ACTRA, DGC, CMPA. We're in conversation with Commission staff to try to work out what that reporting is going to be from the private broadcasters on the first year of the group licence policy so that we can get it detailed enough so that we can tell if the policy is doing what it's intended to do.
11864 So we would actually like very similar reporting for all the broadcasters, to be able to monitor, and if everything is happening the way it's supposed to we'd love to be able to tell our members and the public that the policy is working and it's great. If there are problems, we'd like to be able to identify it on a timely basis and not wait until the next group licence or policy hearing to be able to raise it.
11865 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Is there another way than an annual report to be accountable and to show that they followed their commitments?
11866 MS ASHTON: Not one that I can think of.
11867 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And how transparent do you want that to be? You want an annual report that is published officially on a website or what?
11868 MS ASHTON: It would have to be public for all stakeholders.
11869 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: For stakeholders?
11870 MS ASHTON: Yes.
11871 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Which is?
11872 MS ASHTON: Everybody.
11873 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes. Yes. Canadians.
11874 MS ASHTON: We're not looking for so much detail that they would be releasing confidential information, competitive information. I think we tend to disagree with the private broadcasters on where that line is and that's why we're in conversation with the CRTC staff about what might be possible, because it may have to have some level of aggregation, and I think that is something that, you know, we should work out and we're very confident that we'll get somewhere on this issue and we'll be able to then move forward and get some reporting that we're happy with.
11875 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay.
11876 My last question. Do your members produce Canadian feature films too?
11877 MS PARKER: Yes, we do have jurisdiction over feature films as well. Just a difficult market in that they're difficult to finance and we don't have control over our own screens.
11878 So it would be very helpful if the CBC would air our feature films and give them some form of distribution because it's very difficult to have Canadian features seen by Canadian audiences in Canadian theatres.
11879 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Well, you know what they are proposing on Saturday nights during the summer, at nine o'clock in the evening, to present some Canadian feature films.
11880 MS PARKER: That's fine with us. Yes.
11881 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. It's fine with you.
11882 MS PARKER: Andrew, do you object to that?
11883 MR. WREGGITT: No.
11884 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: So that's okay on my part, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much.
11885 MS PARKER: Thank you.
11886 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, let me prod around three subject matters.
11887 Far be it from me for being an apologist for "Train 48," but an interesting phenomenon when you look at the production sector. Right, it was low budget for you and therefore not particularly useful for writers because it was not a high-scripted production. Sorry?
11888 MS PARKER: It was. There were five writers in the writing room on that show.
11889 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it did create some employment for your members?
11890 MS PARKER: A little employment, yes.
11891 THE CHAIRPERSON: A little employment, perhaps not highly paid employment like other series.
11892 But if I recall, that was a series that was based on a concept that developed in Poland, was used in Australia, was used in France, was used in Italy, at a time when broadcasters were trying to experiment.
11893 In fact, the Australian example was quite interesting because SBS, which is the ethnic broadcaster, was using it to bring the ethnic reality of commuters into the Australian broadcasting system. And you are quite right, the broadcaster there eventually went bankrupt because they couldn't find audiences and sell advertising.
11894 But putting aside that particular example, it seems to me dangerous, isn't it, that if we don't allow broadcasters to experiment with new concepts that we put it -- always think about Canadian or any type of production, drama production, in a way we've nostalgically seen it in the past, don't you think?
11895 MS PARKER: It would be if that's what we were saying, and we're not saying that.
11896 You know, the problem with "Train 48" was that was all that Global did. You know, it was the only show they put forward. If that was a balanced slate with some other dramas, absolutely, you know. I mean we all watched it a little bit. It was about a Toronto GO train commuter group.
11897 But the point is it was the only thing they did and they did that to save money. So they didn't -- it wasn't done, you know, for an experimental purpose to see what kind of new formats were out there. They did it to save money.
11898 And so that's why we're looking at the CBC because they are in a cash crunch. The Hockey Night lockout, terrible. They have serious problems and what are they going to do to solve those, and we're worried that they're going to look at cutting programming.
11899 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And therefore, your view is you need an expenditure backstop to prevent --
11900 MS PARKER: Correct. Correct.
11901 THE CHAIRPERSON: It's not that you're against lower-end experimental --
11902 MS PARKER: Well, so it doesn't become the only thing being done.
11903 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
11904 Co-productions, I obviously agree with you that the philosophy of the co-production treaties was to have balance over a period of time. I'm wondering, however, whether it's the CRTC's role to deal with that. I mean co-productions have since 1963 been the policy ambit of government. I mean, first of all, they are treaties, therefore not within our realm. They are government-to-government transactions and they have a life of their own. The government is currently looking at some issues around co-production treaties.
11905 I understand your concern, but aren't you afraid that if, going down that road as was the case a few years back, Canadian coproductions, the majority of Canadian coproductions are threatened not to be included in the European quota? In other words, there's a retour d'ascenseur, there's a give-and-take here that we have to be careful on.
11906 MS PARKER: Yes, you're right that it is a tricky thing to deal with. We have been talking to the department of Heritage about this as well and to Telefilm. So we are discussing with all the relevant groups.
11907 I guess our concern is, looking at the numbers, the overwhelming disparity between the majority and the minority on our public broadcaster. Maybe just in terms of thinking forward, rather than saying no coproductions, we could just, you know, look at a balance, as Mme Poirier suggested. I think that that's relatively fair for our public broadcaster.
11908 I remember having this conversation with Richard Stursberg and we chatted about "The Tudors" and he said, "Well, Maureen, the only reason we are doing it is because it's cheap, it's cheap." Well, I'm sorry, that's not good enough for our public broadcaster. They have a mandate. They have goals. They are supposed to be Canadian stories about Canadians for Canadians. We understand having to draw an audience, but the homegrown does that, too.
11909 So it's a problem. I'm not sure how you are going to solve it, sorry. But our suggestion is look for some balance there.
11910 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm intrigued, I was going to ask this question, but your answer just helps me build on it, about what is Canadian for the CBC.
11911 I'm hearing things about subjectively Canadian. You know, Yann Martel's book on the "Life of Pi" in the middle of the Pacific about a tiger -- we don't have tigers in Canada -- is it any less Canadian? It's being told by a Canadian. And I would ask you if you have a minority, like a 30-70 copro minority Canadian, but the writer is Canadian, is that not Canadian?
11912 MS PARKER: Let me say first of all that "Life of Pi" absolutely Canadian. Anything written by a Canadian, Andrew, we have always had this position, is Canadian. So if Andrew wants to write a story about, I don't know, somewhere nice and warm, I guess, then it's absolutely Canadian. What we are looking at in defining Canadian is written, directed, performed by Canadians.
11913 Now, when you look to the coproduction element, we are not just looking after ourselves. We work in a system. We work together as a talent pool and what happens when that talent pool isn't working together is it erodes. We look elsewhere for work. So a public broadcaster putting on a great number of minority coproductions means not only writers are not working, but actors are not working, directors are not working. Where do they go for employment? To L.A.?
11914 It's supposed to be a healthy ecosystem. It's not about the content. We are not looking at the content per se, although I did talk about the content of the -- that's because there is a mandate. As I look at that, there is no way those programs fulfill that mandate. But it's also about we have a partnership with the CBC. They are our public broadcaster. We are their talent pool.
11915 THE CHAIRPERSON: I just was wondering whether it's more an issue of balance rather than absolute --
11916 MS PARKER: Absolute balance, that's my point.
11917 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
11918 MS PARKER: It's not whether there is a writer, but again, a majority should be a majority, 60-40.
11919 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. But the philosophy of the copros, knowing a little bit about this, the idea was --
11920 MS PARKER: You know a lot about this.
11921 THE CHAIRPERSON: ... the origin was to have balance over a period of time which --
11922 MS PARKER: Fine.
11923 MS PARKER: -- the joint Commission was supposed to look at, the Treaty commissions, and one could see that if indeed the treaty is supposed to be balanced, that over time, you could look as well as the broadcasters, generally, not just CBC, but all broadcasters should also have a mix of copros.
11924 MS PARKER: We are fine with that, looking over time.
11925 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
11926 MS PARKER: The problem is when you look over time at the CBC, there is a complete imbalance and someone needs to address that.
11927 THE CHAIRPERSON: Except that that's not what you propose. You've actually said an exclusion of minority coproductions.
11928 MS PARKER: Yes, but maybe we are softening our position now --
11929 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
11930 MS PARKER: -- because you have been so convincing.
11931 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, I was just trying to figure out what the position exactly was because it seemed a bit, as I understood it, it could --
11932 MS PARKER: Well, it was last night, we were working hard and that's where we came up --
11933 THE CHAIRPERSON: And the beer and the pretzels were at work as well while you were watching the game.
11934 MS PARKER: Yes.
11935 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, I understand. Well, that was very helpful, thank you very much.
11936 MS PARKER: You're welcome.
11937 THE CHAIRPERSON: The Vice-Chair has a --
11938 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Just briefly.
11939 We have heard a lot during the week about percentages and the CBC put out this 75 percent figure and 80 percent figure in terms of Can con overall. I would just like the Guild's position on a fixed Can con level globally and then I would like to speak to you more specifically on primetime.
11940 MS PARKER: Well, I think right now, our stats are saying they are well over 80, maybe closer to 90, 95 in primetime and we are okay with that. So we are not looking for any change to make that 100 percent because again, as I said, that's Coronation Street and we can't touch that.
11941 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: So even during primetime, there is no need for sort of a 100 percent figure to be thrown out there.
11942 MS PARKER: No. I mean we are almost there. Personally, I think there would be a riot in the streets if they took Coronation Street off, but you know?
11943 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And Titanic, you said was an acquisition, not a coprod, right?
11944 MS PARKER: That's correct, yes.
11945 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And the numbers on Titanic, I haven't looked at it recently.
11946 MS ASHTON: I don't believe they were that fantastic, no.
11947 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Not that significant ...
11948 MS ASHTON: No. I think everybody tuned in to check it out and then it kind of went --
11949 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: You don't have a sort of an ambitious feature film asked, I was somewhat surprised. I don't know if we can blame the beer or pretzels on everything, but ...
11950 MS PARKER: Well, because it's a public broadcaster, it's a television broadcaster, so absolutely should our feature films be exhibited, there are second runs, sure, absolutely. The Saturday night idea, we like that. Our movies need to be seen, so absolutely. But it is a TV broadcaster, so ...
11951 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: A TV broadcaster, but you understand, obviously, the --
11952 MS PARKER: Oh yes, absolutely.
11953 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- the health and --
11954 MS PARKER: And feature films, we are all in favour of getting our feature films seen any night of the week. It's all good.
11955 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay, thank you.
11956 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are not suggesting we go so far as requiring Coronation Street to be broadcast on the CBC, I hope. That would be a bit odd.
11957 Commissioner Duncan has one question.
11958 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I just have one question and maybe you could help me understand.
11959 In talking about the PNI and the wording that CBC suggested is category 7 drama and comedy, and they would commit to one hour per week, at least one hour per week, of the category 7 programming, and category 7 includes theatrical feature films.
11960 So if we were to address the point raised Friday, I guess it was, by the Canadian Export group, CAFTE, about who suggested maybe 12 films a year that CBC commit to, is there a risk or a concern or should it be over and above the PNI requirement because they might use those films to satisfy this drama requirement or commitment?
11961 MS PARKER: I am just looking at the math. So that's 24 hours out of the year. That seems reasonable to us.
11962 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: For theatrical films?
11963 MS PARKER: Yes.
11964 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: But you don't have a concern that it would satisfy this point here.
11965 MS PARKER: Sorry, the minimum?
11966 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: That it would take away from other dramas.
11967 MS PARKER: Well, you know, I don't think 24 hours a year would take away from other dramas. If it became a very big number, then we would absolutely be concerned because television employs a lot of our members. Feature film is one writer. So we definitely are most interested in television production, but we support our feature film writers and we think that the 24 number is sufficient, it's fine.
11968 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: All right, thank you. I appreciate that.
11969 MS PARKER: Except for the minimum, yes.
11970 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes.
11971 MS ASHTON: I think that the problem with the math is that if they stick to the one hour.
11972 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes.
11973 MS ASHTON: Then the 24 out of 52 is a bit of a problem.
11974 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So then you would want to see this worded somewhat differently.
11975 MS ASHTON: Well, we don't believe in the one hour. That's the thing.
11976 MS PARKER: Yes, but we should be careful, though.
11977 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes.
11978 MS PARKER: We should be careful. So yes, we do think we need to look at the wording. Thank you for that.
11979 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So you're going to come back to us with something, then?
11980 MS PARKER: Yes, we are going to come back to you on that.
11981 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you very much.
11982 MS PARKER: Thank you.
11983 THE CHAIRPERSON: When could you do that by?
11984 MS PARKER: When would you like it by?
11985 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, we are pretty late in the process. To give a fair opportunity to the CBC to react, could you do it by first thing tomorrow morning?
11986 MS PARKER: Yes, yes, we could.
11987 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
11988 MS PARKER: Thank you.
11989 THE CHAIRPERSON: We will take that as an undertaking for tomorrow morning.
11990 Thank you.
11991 Those are our questions. We will now move on to the next presenter.
11992 Madame la secrétaire, s'il vous plaît.
11993 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
11994 I would now ask ACTRA to come to the presentation table.
11995 THE CHAIRPERSON: Welcome, Mr. Waddell, Ms Downey. Take your time to settle in there, fresh glasses of water. I don't want to be the cause of a pandemic of some sort with used glasses of water. Once you have settled in, just introduce yourself for the purpose of the court reporter and make your presentation.
11996 Thank you.
11997 MS DOWNEY: Thank you, Mr. Chair, vice-chair, commissioners and staff.
11998 My name is Ferne Downey and I am a professional actor and I'm the National President of ACTRA, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists.
11999 With me today is Stephen Waddell, our National Executive Director and Marit Stiles, our new Director of Public Policy and Communications.
12000 We speak on behalf of 22,000 professional English-language performers, members of ACTRA.
12001 Today, we are all here to talk about the licence renewals for CBC/Radio-Canada, a world- renowned and respected national public broadcaster.
12002 ACTRA cares about the CBC. Indeed, our histories are closely intertwined. Our precursor, the Radio Artists of Toronto, also known as RATS, was the first Canadian recorded media performers' union created at CBC in 1941. Thanks to RATS and other locals across Canada, ACTRA's first collective bargaining agreement covering performers was negotiated with the CBC in 1945. We've come quite a long ways since then and our relationship with the CBC has undergone many changes.
12003 Given our historical relationship with the CBC, it is hardly surprising that ACTRA has always felt a kinship with our public broadcaster, supporting it, advocating on its behalf and, when appropriate, criticizing management's decisions.
12004 Our position has always been very clear. ACTRA supports a strong national publicly-funded broadcasting service operated at arms' length from the government. We support a public broadcaster that understands it has a duty to represent the public interest, to share our unique experiences and perspectives to the whole world.
12005 Above all, ACTRA believes that the CBC is an institution that should be showcasing programming, written, directed, performed and produced by and for all Canadians, programming that should define who we are as Canadians and what we aspire to achieve.
12006 Just as ACTRA's relationship with the CBC has transformed over the years, so has the broadcasting landscape. In the 13 years since the CBC's last licence renewal, a number of issues have come to dominate the Canadian regulatory environment in ways we couldn't predict in 1999, like the concentration of media ownership and the rapid technological advances.
12007 I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the really excellent work the CBC is doing in the digital world.
12008 In comparison to some of the other media companies out there, the Corporation clearly understands the benefit to Canadians of maintaining a strong online and interactive presence. Whether it's through their wide variety of apps, their seemingly endless selection of podcasts and clips from popular television shows or the new streaming music service, the CBC is committed to providing Canadians with the content they are looking for in their format of choice and ACTRA has been very proud to work with the CBC to ensure that our collective agreements allowed them to make that content available on these new digital formats while ensuring that the rights of performers were protected.
12009 So part of why we are here today is to get the CBC to raise the bar with their television and radio services, to show as much dedication and zeal with their conventional offerings as they do in the realm of digital media.
12010 The foundation for our reimagining of the CBC is the belief that the Corporation has a fundamental responsibility to serve the interest of the public. The CBC should be a real alternative to private broadcasters whose addiction to American products sidelines and marginalizes Canadian programming. If you tell your neighbours that their neighbourhood park is being closed, they know immediately what that loss means to them. Canadians treasure public spaces. In that public park, there is space for everyone to undertake activities that might not have the ability or opportunity to engage in elsewhere. Public parks are open, accessible and welcoming spaces. As a public broadcaster, the CBC must also be an open, accessible and welcoming space for Canadians. It must support citizens of all economic and ethnic backgrounds by giving them a voice and sharing their stories, by being a place where they can connect with one another and exchange ideas and they should be able to do this in a space where the focus is not on selling goods in exchange for advertising dollars.
12011 These licence hearings provide an excellent opportunity to re-imagine the future of the CBC. While the Corporation continues to be a crucial element in Canada's broadcasting landscape, we do not believe it can simply afford to maintain the status quo. The CBC must change and adapt with the times. It must fulfill its role as an indispensible Canadian economic and cultural generator and it must become a leader within Canada's digital economy.
12012 The way to achieve those goals comes, in our view, through the adoption of three core principles:
12013 First, the CBC must aspire to be Canada-first in their approach to programming.
12014 Secondly, it must capitalize on investment in Canadian content.
12015 Third, and finally, it must speak to be commercial-free.
12016 The CBC should not be placed in a position where its programming choices are being driven primarily by ratings. As our public broadcaster, the CBC should produce and acquire Canadian dramatic programming that is distinctive, interesting and engaging to Canadian audiences.
12017 That is why it is so discouraging to see the CBC management backing away from its responsibility to be the distinctive voice of Canadians, watering down or outright abdicating its obligation to air unique, high quality Canadian dramatic content.
12018 In its submission, the CBC is seeking several conditions of licence that could potentially result in the Corporation airing less Canadian content than they currently exhibit. I cite, for example, the Corporation's proposal to devote 75 percent of the broadcast day and 80 percent of primetime to Canadian programming.
12019 Why should Canadians accept that their national public broadcaster is seeking to devote nearly one-quarter of primetime programming to foreign production already readily available on other conventional specialty and online services?
12020 To us, the CBC is clearly offside with this proposal. The CBC should be striving to air more Canadian content, not less.
12021 We urge the Commission to impose the condition of licence that sees the CBC devoting 80 percent of the broadcast day and 100 percent of primetime to Canadian programs.
12022 Also disheartening is the CBC's proposal to weaken their responsibility to air programming for children and youth. Despite the Commission's urging, the CBC has been increasingly reluctant to fulfill its obligation to provide youth programming. Private conventional broadcasters long ago abandoned young audiences and it seems that the CBC is now seeking leave to do the same.
12023 Commissioners, deserting young Canadians is simply counter-intuitive to the CBC's role and mandate. In its reply to comments, CBC management claims it can meet its responsibility to youth audiences by shifting that programming online. We find this idea to be misguided. New media programming should complement conventional undertakings, not be a replacement for them. Importantly, moving youth programming to an unregulated platform provides no guarantee that the CBC will maintain its commitment to this vital audience. As a public broadcaster, the CBC should not be released of its responsibility to offer programming to an entire segment of the Canadian population.
12024 Without the CBC providing much needed programming for children and youth, the format will be largely abandoned and become the exclusive purview of expensive paid-for specialty channels.
12025 We strongly urge the Commission to impose the condition of licence requiring CBC Television to broadcast a minimum of 15 hours per week of programming directed to children, but further, we urge that they be required to broadcast at least five hours per week to youth and that 30 percent of that should be original programming.
12026 I will now ask Stephen to share some forethoughts on the CBC's proposal to allow commercial advertising on Radio Two.
12027 MR. WADDELL: Thank you, Ferne, and thank you, Commissioners, for allowing us the opportunity to present at these hearings.
12028 I would like to start by talking a little about that second principle we mentioned, maximizing investment on content.
12029 Canadians are well aware of the fiscal restraints under which the CBC currently operates. Budgets are razor thin. Every dollar must be accounted for and spent where it will do the most good. In fact, all it takes to put a serious dent in the Corporation's finances is the current NHL lockout. Given this unfortunate reality, we believe it is incumbent on the Corporation to spend its money where it will have the greatest impact, creating content that Canadians want to see and eliminating wasteful and unnecessary administrative overhead.
12030 At this point, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the CBC's relationship with Canada's independent producers.
12031 As Ferne noted, the CBC contracts out much of their production to independent producers. In doing so, they have helped grow a mature film, television and digital media industry in Canada.
12032 This relationship between the CBC and Canada's independent producers matters to ACTRA and to Canada's professional performers. Unfortunately, in the absence of prescribed terms of trade, this relationship faces obstacles that directly impact performers and their ability to make a living.
12033 ACTRA urges the CRTC to direct the CBC to return to the table for terms of trade discussions with the Canadian Media Production Association to include those critical discussions. Without clear, fair terms of trade and a mature business relationship with the industry, the CBC risks undermining the very industry that they have helped nurture over so many years.
12034 Nowhere else is the negative impact of the government's cutback of the CBC finances seen more clearly than in CBC management's reactive proposal to put commercials on Radio Two.
12035 In our view and in the view of many who have appeared before the Commission in the last week, Canada's public broadcaster shouldn't turn to advertising on Radio Two to supplement its parliamentary appropriation. ACTRA has long advocated for a fully commercial-free public television and radio broadcaster. We are disheartened that CBC management feels it has no choice but to commercialize yet another of its services.
12036 The pressure on the CBC to seek advertising revenues has negatively affected its programming choices in the past. There is little doubt that we have seen an increase in sports programming and a reciprocal decrease in arts programming in part because sports is considered more valuable to traditional advertisers. To suggest that commercials on Radio Two will have no impact on programming choices is disingenuous and wrong.
12037 Canadians seek out programming on Radio Two to a great extent because it is commercial-free. Canadians like knowing there is an oasis where they can find the content they want without having to listen to advertisers trying to sell some product or other. Allowing advertising on Radio Two will destroy one of the key qualities of the service and make it unique and refreshing the notion of advertiser-driven playlist-dictated homogeneity.
12038 We say again that the long-term objective of the CBC should be to become commercial-free in all its services. We should not let fiscal pressures open the door to a fiery sale of public spaces. Approving advertising on Radio Two would take the public broadcaster in a direction it cannot afford to go. We urge the Commission to reject this request.
12039 The CBC is more than just another broadcaster. It's an essential service for all Canadians. It is the mirror we hold up to ourselves to learn about our past, to contemplate the future and to tell stories that help to define who we are. This is not the mandate of the private broadcaster. Private broadcasters are beholden only to their shareholders.
12040 As Canada's public broadcaster, the CBC has a higher calling. The CBC is responsible to this country citizens. The Corporation must live up to its responsibility to devote 80 percent of this broadcasting and 100 percent of it prime time to Canadian programs. The Corporation must follow through on its commitment to provide programming to all Canadians, especially children and youth, audiences who are historically under-served by all broadcasters.
12041 And finally, CBC management must resist the urge, the behaviours and choices of the private sector counterparts.
12042 Increasing advertising is not the cheerful carrier of the corporation, broadcasting high quality, distinctive Canadian programming that Canadians want to listen to and watch will attract audiences to and public support for the CBC, allowing it to flourish as an important economic driver and the incubator for Canadian stories and talent that we all cherish.
12043 Thank you very much. We're happy to answer your questions.
12044 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you very much for your presentation.
12045 I take the opportunity to congratulate you for your recent election to the --as the President of the International Federation of Actors, Ms Downey. That's an honour to you and in fact to the Canadians, I believe, as a whole.
12046 Commissioner Simpson will have some questions for you.
12047 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Mr. Waddell, welcome back, Ms Downey, welcome back, Ms Downs, welcome. It's good to have you here.
12048 I am intrigued or it seems that as we continue to debate the public broadcaster over my time on this planet, the debate has been it seems in past largely ideological, but my sense is that to all concerned with the public broadcaster, including yourself, it's moving from rhetoric to a different level of intensity.
12049 There is -- economics are playing a much larger hand in that which we would like to have versus that which is affordable to have and I am struck by your comment on public spaces because I think public spaces have always been a nice barometer to measure the functionality of a society. If a society can afford to have public commodities that are free and available to all, it says something good about how we are functioning as a society.
12050 But what's striking me, and again this is not to debate the issue, but just to make an observation before I get in to my questions, what's somewhat distressing is that the use of public space is down.
12051 You know, I was in New York about four weeks ago and couldn't help but to reflect that between two types of public spaces, Time Square and Central Park, there were not a lot of people in Central Park and there were always a lot of people on Time Square.
12052 One is the bastion of commercialization with, you know, 150 foot high advertising and other forms of commercialization, but it seems to be a space that gets used a lot and Central Park, as I was talking to a lot of the volunteers, is getting used less and less.
12053 And to finish this point, what is unfortunate is that I personally will believe a public space again as a barometer of how we are functioning as a society, but public space like that, and to draw the analogy to a public broadcaster, public spaces under enormous land economic pressure now because there is so many of the things that you could or should do with that space, given its usage relevant to the size of the population.
12054 So I am trying to frame the arguments here for what is wrong with the public broadcaster and try and get the debate to be focused more on what can be done rather than what should be done because we can't go back and yet, you know, we all amend the times that seem better than the times ahead of us.
12055 So, I would like to first ask a few qualifying questions to help me out because it has been a while since I have worked with ACTRA as a producer, but I certainly know the job you're doing representing your 22,000 talents, which I find very interesting, given that if you look at after in the United States, you've got one third representation, 22,000 versus their 65 or so and yet, the population of the U.S. you know, the metric always has been ten times greater than that of Canada. So, it seems that they should be doing a lot better than they are or you are doing a lot better than they are.
12056 But the CBC have working agreements with the Writers' Guild, IATC, ACTRA, AFM, the Association of Professional Supervisors and CMG, and I would like to sort of get under the hood of what the present relationship with ACTRA, as described in your collective agreement is given where CBC is today.
12057 They are not a producer, but a purchaser of programming and it seems -- and please correct me if i'm wrong -- that CMG is representing the on-air staff and there is quite a high percentage of on-air staff that are not employees, but contractors.
12058 So, I am curious if you could describe what that commercial agreement is today and why it's so important to you to see it carried on?
12059 MR. WADDELL: Thank you, Commissioner Simpson, for that question. We've had a collective bargaining relationship with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as Fern has pointed out, since the 1940s. I think our first collective agreement was in 1947, and we have re-negotiated that agreement on a consistent and ongoing basis ever since.
12060 We had jurisdiction over performers, broadcasters, analysts and writers up until the early nineties when there was a global reorganization within the CBC lengthy ten-year process of the Canadian Labour Relations Board in which ultimately the Canadian Media Guild won the jurisdiction for the employees at the CBC and ACTRA and the Writers Guild, we're left with our traditional jurisdiction.
12061 And at the same time, of course, the Corporation then began priming out to independent producers production. We have a collective bargaining agreement as you already know with the Canadian Media Production Association, the APFTQ in Quebec, that governs production by independent producers for the CBC and other broadcasters and film digital media.
12062 So, what's left with our collective bargaining agreement with the CBC is production which the CBC undertakes on its own, which is very limited, predominantly children's programming, and up until CBC's management recent unfortunate decision to kill radio drama, we had radio drama.
12063 So, the earnings at CBC have dropped significantly since the eighties, but that notwithstanding, we continue to have that collective bargaining relationship with them and just renewed our collective agreement again for another year.
12064 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you. I really appreciate that.
12065 With respect to terms of trade, another question that will enlighten me and I am sure the Commission, is a question we have been asking CBC with respect to what makes the CBC different with respect to their Terms of Trade Agreement between -- as measured against the one they have with the private broadcasters.
12066 From your experience in this industry, what is making the CBC, in their eyes, different, that they have to have a separate terms of trade?
12067 MR. WADDELL: Management's intransigence.
12068 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Could you be more specific? Now, I'm just asking --
12069 MR. WADDELL: Sure. I mean, they are not negotiating in good faith, in my view. They are not -- they are not coming to a deal.
12070 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
12071 MR. WADDELL: You could easily apply the deal that's been negotiated with the private broadcasters of the CBC, there is no reason why it shouldn't be and we would ask the Commission to so order.
12072 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Huh, huh. I have got lots of notes here.
12073 With respect to the broadcaster going to the production market, I want to ask two lines of questions; first, on pure Canadian productions.
12074 The question I asked the other day and I wish I could remember, I don't, had to do with percentiles of how Canadian should a Canadian production be and it seems that we wish and I think frankly are seeing more and more Canadian content being consumed in the International market and I guess my first question is: Within the framework of this question of how Canadian should a production be to satisfy ACTRA, Writers' Guild criteria?
12075 Is it necessary to get into co-production agreements to get our stuff out beyond exposure through private and public broadcasters in Canada into the world market?
12076 Are these production agreements necessary and do we have conflicting objectives here?
12077 MR. WADDELL: Well, again, our view on what is Canadian is -- what is a Canadian production is one which is written by, directed by, performed by and produced by Canadians. So, we are consistent in that position and always have had that position.
12078 So, it doesn't matter where the -- what the location is and what the story is about, if it's written by, directed by, performed by and produced a Canadian, Canadians, it's Canadian.
12079 With respect to co-productions, we understand the need for co-productions because of the financing challenges on -- particularly on many years large budget of productions, but to take the Chair's point, there should be a balance overall between minority and majority co-productions and, unfortunately, our experience is in the recent number of years that it has been predominantly minority, so that you've got fillers of the year, you get "Borges", you've got "Camelot" and so on, and well, including "Vikings", by the way, which is probably not on anybody's rate or year, which is being produced as a Canadian co-production right now in Ireland, right, in which there are virtually no Canadians involved in that production, so --
12080 But it's another production that's going to hit our airwaves and it's produced for Canadian broadcasting and the U.S., right, and foreign broadcasting.
12081 So, it's -- we need a balance. We need a balance overall. That's what we are looking for.
12082 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Going back to my opening comments where I was trying to set the stage for what I think is a point in time that we are at today where we have to square cultural arguments with economic arguments, to figure out how we get through this patch in time that is not -- I think, is desirable as any of us would like.
12083 With respect to Canadian content in prime time, co-productions, is there any -- have you done any economic analysis on the spend side of what a co-production brings to the kraft and trade here in Canada, being of the creative arts, that contributes to paying mortgages and food bills versus the ideal circumstance of having a pure play Canadian production.
12084 Are you doing any economic analysis that might cause you to rethink some of your PNI ambitions to include co-productions and to the point that you would recommend them to us to -- because what broadcasters are asking for right now and up until this point it was only the private broadcasters, you are asking for flexibility.
12085 I am trying to figure out what that means because if you wrap it in the play, I certainly understand everyone's argument as providers of content. But I am not so sure I understand what the broadcaster means.
12086 If you take away commercial objectives, ratings, revenues, and make it a pure Canadian exercise, do you not kill the goose without giving some thought to economic arguments that might cut them some slack and flexibility that they need of a financial nature when you're always arguing of a cultural nature?
12087 MR. WADDELL: Commissioner Simpson, to my knowledge, we haven't done any economic analysis, but you may give us that -- your question may give us an idea to do such an economic analysis and which is -- it's actually a good idea and we should be looking at doing that.
12088 The problem with International co-productions as I have just outlined and certainly in terms of the recent past is that it has been predominantly minority, predominantly produced in Ireland and Hungary and Austria. So, they are not even located in this.
12089 I mean, there is no production in this country. Limited engagement of performers and writers and directors and crew, obviously, are, you know -- are not being engaged, except for maybe the keys to go overseas. So, there is limited employment as a result of these co-productions.
12090 So, that's our concern and again, we are not arguing against co-productions. We are simply looking for a balance overall.
12091 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And I am looking for a balance too. Just not to put -- to find a point on this, but when someone comes calling to Canada, whether it's trying to sell a helicopter or a widget, in a perfect world, we would like to be making helicopters and widgets, but we don't always find ourselves being able to do that.
12092 And as a result, we fall to other means by which we can look for benefits including employment and it seems to me against to drive the steam home that there is an economic argument that sits on the table and it's one that is about paying mortgages and grocery bills, so that I worry about the Canadian cultural industry as much as I worry equally about cultural content by percentage and I just want to get that out there that I think we are in different times.
12093 With respect, and I guess really what we have done is danced around the issue of prime time programming in PNI, but so let's get into the numbers. You know you are saying that CBC is falling back on its commitment to go to a reduced number of hours on PNI and you're actually saying, you know, that margin should be raising going the other way.
12094 Are you talking about moving "Mansbridge" to eleven o'clock?
12095 MR. WADDELL: No, no, no. Well, part of this issue, I think, relates to our definitions of prime time. We think prime time starts at seven.
12096 So, and just to explain because I imagine we are going to get the question of how we come up with 14 hours. Obviously, if we say prime time starts at seven, that gives us an extra few hours, five hours per week in our calculations.
12097 We don't think that, you know, you have to run "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" in that time, that you could put "Degrassi", for example, in that time, in that time slot, in that seven to eight period. And then we look to, you know, filling the rest of the hours with programs of national interest. Now, so I think that our position on 14 is sustainable.
12098 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes, and I understand too that as the Corporation makes his commitment to walk away from "Jeopardy", then other problems ensue, which is why not a Canadian Game Show. We know a Canadian Game Show does not employ actors because, you know, the last time I think there was scripted as when somebody went to jail back in the sixties for --
12099 MR. WADDELL: Yes, but it does employ host --
12100 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: It does.
12101 MR. WADDELL: -- and hosts and voice performers and so on, yes, and judges.
12102 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: It does. It does. And so that, you know, that option is on the table.
12103 Sorry; I am just -- there is so much stuff I would like to get through and we have quite a day ahead of us.
12104 When it comes to -- one of the things that I have been troubled by is that not only is drama off the books with respect to radio, but there has been significant cuts in local programming by way of recording, which is showing up in the music side of the arts, but what does that do for your constituency?
12105 And I ask this question in the context that you are saying that you're relatively happy with the fact that CBC is committing itself to production, but it seems that you're perfectly fine in that just centralizes itself in Toronto and perhaps Montreal, but I don't see you asking for a heck of a lot in terms of raising the bar in the regions and I am just wondering why and what the impact is on your fill-up powers?
12106 MR. WADDELL: Well, we certainly support local programming, regional programming, national programming, programming of any nature.
12107 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes, yes.
12108 MR. WADDELL: We support continuation of programming, not the cutting of programming which CBC management has intent on.
12109 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But, one hour is -- it looks like a lot of support and you don't even really care where?
12110 MR. WADDELL: We -- and in respect of local programming, we represent 22,000 members across this country. We used to have ten offices across this country, yes, those offices based upon where CBC was based, right.
12111 Unfortunately, we had to close our office in Edmonton because there just wasn't any production left and we couldn't justify keeping Edmonton open.
12112 Newfoundland, right, is a difficult -- difficult to justify if it weren't for "Republic of Doyle", thank goodness for "Republic of Doyle".
12113 So, we certainly support local and regional production, it keeps our members engaged, working across the country and we are a national organization and, of course, we support production in the regions right across this country.
12114 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: What I find interesting is that it seems that regional identity is on the rise and I'm not talking about vulcanization of our country, but the fact that you look at something like "Hartland", it's an entirely different story of what Canada is all about to Canadians as well as those who look at it abroad.
12115 But with that said, I'm frankly a little surprised that both the Corporation and the Trade Union Movement that represent all these collective agreements isn't arguing for more decentralization because we are getting to the point where there is -- if we're looking for balance, we keep talking about that -- it seems like we are getting heavily weighed towards the two production centres in Canada.
12116 And again, are you looking at this as just being an aberration or a trend or is this something that's becoming a fit complete in a new world, in the new economy?
12117 MR. WADDELL: Well, to begin, just to go back to your point about, you know, "Hartland" and other productions as -- One of the reasons why "Republic of Doyle" and "Hartland" are so engaging to Canadians is because they are distinctively Canadian and they speak about the regions in which they are set, so -- And that's what, and of course that's our big point, is that, you know, the Corporation should be spending money making distinctive high quality dramatic programming because it speaks to Canadians and Canadians want to watch it. They will attract audiences.
12118 In respect of -- I'm sorry, what was the second part of your question? It faded in the first part.
12119 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Are we getting -- is this the final chapter in --
12120 MR. WADDELL: O.k. It's the point about Toronto and Vancouver. Well, there is a function of scale, which is part of this issue as there are clusters of creativity and in the larger centres and obviously opportunities in larger centres with cruise and producers and so on.
12121 But also, let's get down to it, it's tax credits, I mean the tax credits that are available and right now they are very attractive in Quebec and Ontario, less so in B.C. and we see, therefore, production growing in Toronto and, you know, kind of holding its own and declining in British Columbia, unfortunately.
12122 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Huh huh.
12123 MR. WADDELL: So, it's -- you know, production is to a great extent through tax credits and where the best deal is available to the producer and the broadcaster.
12124 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I've got just three or four more questions. I would like to go right to the number of your asks and the pre-course of paragraph to these three asks on page 3 of your oral testimony this morning was that CBC must change and adapt with the times.
12125 So, it's a two-part question: Are they not changing, which is one of the reasons why you're here today?
12126 And number 2: What are in your mind the times we're in that is causing you to disagree with the way they are adapting? They seem to be asking for flexibility. Is it the times we are in that they are needing to find replacement revenue, which means ratings, which means flexibility that doesn't always square with your goals and, if so, are they not doing what they have to do in the times we are in?
12127 MR. WADDELL: We think there are other ways in which they could do it. I mean, that's our point, right. Let's look at --
12128 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But you are saying that you don't want them to make a buck. You would like them to be non-commercial.
12129 MR. WADDELL: I meant it's just, as we said, it's disingenuous of management to come here and argue to cut programming -- in fact cut programming. Cutting radio drama was insane. They are losing an audience there. It's not expensive programming to begin with.
12130 You want to look at cuts, cut in other areas, cut administration, cut the overhead, cut --
12131 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Sports?
12132 MR. WADDELL: -- get rid of the buildings, right.
12133 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Sports?
12134 MR. WADDELL: Sports has its place in this country. Sports is important to Canadians. We are not suggesting that sports be cut. Again, we are looking for balance between sports programming and arts programming and news and documentaries.
12135 We think that there is a place for everyone in the system. Don't cut programming, cut overhead, CBC management. Cut at the top. Let's start there and work down.
12136 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Have you ever in your experiences with the Corporation -- institutional memory is unfortunately something that is getting lost a lot, but have you ever seen anything that bears credence financially or statistically on how much CBC -- how many dollars CBC puts in front of the camera versus how much is held behind?
12137 MR. WADDELL: I don't know. No.
12138 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Because anecdotally we hear all the --
12139 MR. WADDELL: It would be really interesting to see that, yes.
12140 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: We hear all the stories about how CBC is bloated and not enough goes to programming, too much goes to administration, but I have never, ever seen anything on that and I was curious if you had.
12141 MR. WADDELL: We haven't. It would be great if the Commission so ordered.
12142 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Over to you.
12143 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: On the three asks, and then I think I'm done, you said:
"... CBC must aspire to a Canada-first approach to programming."
12144 Now, it seems that they are doing that by percentage, but not necessarily by volume.
12145 Would you comment on that again? Just fill out that statement a bit to the extent that they are not Canada-first enough. You are saying 80 percent is not enough, 100 percent is enough?
12146 MR. WADDELL: In primetime, yes.
12147 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
12148 MR. WADDELL: We are looking for 100 percent in primetime.
12149 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I'm answering your questions.
12150 MR. WADDELL: Yes, thank you.
12151 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I have a tendency to do that and I shouldn't.
12152 But that is essentially it?
12153 MR WADDELL: Yes.
12154 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: That we shouldn't stop this march until we are at 100 percent?
12155 MR. WADDELL: Absolutely. Absolutely. The private broadcasters are filling their primetime with U.S. programming, rebroadcasting U.S. programming or simulcasting U.S. programming. Let's have a Canadian alternative.
12156 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: You have been very complimentary to them with respect to their digital efforts and I agree with you, I think they are doing a bang-up job.
12157 But your second point is that it has to capitalize on the investments it's making in Canadian content.
12158 How are they not doing that right now? I mean, they are not a vertically integrated organization, they have limited distribution systems by contrast to a Bell or a Shaw.
12159 What aren't they doing?
12160 MS DOWNEY: Well, they are doing quite nicely, but I didn't like that they asked for only 7 hours. I didn't think that going down from the status quo that we have right now of 10-plus to seven was a very sensible movement. We are not looking for a meager modest, you know, below the floor ask, we are looking for a public broadcaster that believes in Canadian content.
12161 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I think they do believe in Canadian content. They are the highest by percentage of any broadcaster in the country, but I'm just trying to understand what you mean when you say "capitalize".
12162 Are you saying hang onto the properties for the longer periods of time before they turn it back to the procedure and more exposures on the air of that content?
12163 Is that what you are saying? Because to me capitalizing on an investment means you have already made a commitment, you are just trying to squeeze as much as you can out of it. So that's different than more Canadian content.
12164 MR. WADDELL: Yes. And by repurposing it and putting it on multiple platforms and by, we suggest as well, opening up the CBC archives to Canadians online, which they haven't yet done.
12165 We have over the years, over the past actually 6 years, negotiated collective agreements with the CBC which would allow the Corporation to put their archives online. We encourage the CBC to do that. People want to see programming from the '40s, '50 -- well, from the '50s and '60s, sorry -- not in the '40's --
12166 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
12167 MR. WADDELL: -- '50's, '60's and so on. People want to see that programming, but it's locked up.
12168 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
12169 MR. WADDELL: And the CBC is not putting it online. We say they could. We have done a deal that allows for those rights to be purchased at a modest sum, and we are looking -- and if they sell it we get a modest amount of income as a result. But, you know, open up the archives and let Canadians see those great shows like Wayne and Shuster, and so on, that I grew up on -- that we grew up on.
12170 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Going right back to my opening statement and your third ask, which is for CBC to be commercial-free, it's back to that question that plagues us all: What is the measurement of success in terms of success as a public broadcaster?
12171 Hope is not a strategy, neither is feeling good, so in the times we are in, which is my opening statement, is that money, revenues, ratings are a way of keeping score for both public and private broadcasters and when you are a commodity that is a hot commodity -- even in your business you go from working for scale to two or three or four times scale, and you do that because your bankability, your metric has changed.
12172 CBC is finding, I think, itself caught in an ever-widening gap where they either stay on one side of the canyon or the other and if we encourage them, by your instruction, to not be commercial, what does that do for their ability to purchase programming, to keep everybody at one and two and three times scale and the collapse of the production industry to the point where everyone is working off rate card, off contract because the times go the other direction?
12173 MR. WADDELL: Well, to begin with, we always put in our ask to government, which we do constantly, to provide adequate and increased and stabilized funding for the CBC, Telefilm Canada and National Film Board and the Canadian Media Fund. I mean those are -- we do that all the time. We are arguing for that and we are urging this government, previous governments, opposition parties and so on, to provide stable, long-term enhanced funding for the CBC. So we believe the a public corporation is on which is properly funded by the government, which unfortunately this government and previous governments have not. So that's our first position on it.
12174 And then moving forward, you know, there have to be all types of programming available. We don't have a quarrel with the "Train 48" style programming, just to go back to the Chair's points on that. I mean that "Train 48" engaged Canadian performers on that series.
12175 By the way, just to get your point about ratings, yes, ratings are how advertisers determine the value of the platform on which they are purchasing and there is not currently many other formulas for determining audience satisfaction, but there could be and should be, in our view.
12176 It's not all about ratings and for the Corporation to -- for the CBC particularly it shouldn't be all about ratings, otherwise they are just going to turn into a private broadcaster who loses $1 billion a year, to quote my friend Ian Morrison, which is a disaster for this Corporation. It seems like CBC management is going to walk into that trap.
12177 So we are pretty strong -- as you can tell -- on the government having to step up to the plate and give the CBC proper funding.
12178 We are also strong in the position that it's not all about ratings, that there are other factors, there are other -- and we have heard it from -- I love Ms Denton from I Love CBC Peterborough. Boy, she was singing our song and I think there are so many -- thousands, you know, hundreds of thousands of Canadians out there that feel the same way. The Corporation is -- the CBC is special.
12179 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I appreciate your comments and I sincerely appreciate it every time you come to the table --
12180 MR. WADDELL: Thank you.
12181 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: -- it always brings that voice that needs to be heard and it's heard well and I thank you.
12182 MR. WADDELL: Thank you.
12183 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Duncan...?
12184 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Good morning and thank you for your comments. I just have one question.
12185 I was reading the submission by the Directors Guild and they point to the 2000 decision and they say: "The Commission also encourages" -- this is the wording in the decision" -- addressing the money available to CBC."
"The Commission also encourages the CBC to explore other sources of revenue capable ..."
12186 So we talk about expense reduction, but here they are saying:
"...other sources of revenue capable of reducing its current dependence on advertising revenue."
12187 And it suggests:
"Possible alternatives include capitalizing on its program inventory, more aggressively marketing its expertise and programs internationally, and making optimal use of production funds that now exist or could be created."
12188 Finding other ways. Of course in the interim we have all of these new platforms that are coming available and the opportunity to sell, as you hear, to Netflix and the others.
12189 In your view, do you think that it's fine to say to CBC cut costs, that's an easy one, but do you have any view on this? I mean, are they maximizing their revenue potential instead of looking to adding advertising revenue on a radio station, Radio 2?
12190 MR. WADDELL: Well, as we said, you know, they could get rid of some of that real estate that they own, or lease it out and get some money back for that. You know, let's chop the top as well as the bottom and don't cut programming is our basic position.
12191 But as I mentioned earlier with Commissioner Simpson, they have, what, 60 or 70 years of programming locked up in the archives which Canadians are not seeing and people around the world are not seeing.
12192 For a modest investment they could make money selling that product internationally. Yes, they put some programming on Netflix, they could put more, and they could open up the archives and make significant sums from selling that product.
12193 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So we agree there are other options.
12194 MR. WADDELL: Oh sure there are other options. Let's get creative.
12195 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
12196 MR. WADDELL: Thank you.
12197 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just one question. I take it -- you know, primetime is when most people are watching. I know you want 100 percent, but help me understand how that is consistent with our statutory mandate which says it has to be predominantly Canadian -- that's the paragraph that deals with the Corporation -- and then the general provision about programming that applies to all broadcasters that should be drawn from local, regional, national and international sources.
12198 So how is 100 percent consistent with that?
12199 MR. WADDELL: That's a good strong negotiating position, Mr. Chair.
12200 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, I understood. Thank you very much.
12201 THE CHAIRPERSON: Those are all our questions for now.
12202 We will take a short break for about 10 minutes and then we will come back with the Alberta Media Production Industries Association and then we will take our lunch break
12203 Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1201
--- Upon resuming at 1209
12204 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
12205 Madame la Secrétaire, s'il vous plaît.
12206 THE SECRETARY: Merci.
12207 We will now hear the presentation by the Alberta Media Production Industries Association. Please introduce yourself and your colleague and you have 10 minutes. Thank you.
12208 MR. EVANS: Thank you. Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and Commissioners. My name is Bill Evans, I am the Executive Director of the Alberta Media Production Industries Association and with me today is our President, Joe Novak.
12209 Thank you for the opportunity to present to you today some additional thoughts on the role we would like to see the CBC play in Alberta and to give you a perspective from the regions.
12210 We are pleased to tell you that over the years we have had a very positive relationship with the CBC in our province. The regional office was always part of our television community and has ensured that local independent production thrived alongside in-house production.
12211 In fact, our local CBC stations in both Edmonton and Calgary were places where many of our producers, directors, writers and actors began their careers. There was a time many documentaries, culture and arts programs and even dramas about Alberta were produced and broadcast in our province.
12212 MR. NOVAK: In essence, our CBC in Alberta was the place to see not only Canadian programs and stories, but also Alberta programs that no private broadcaster would commission or air.
12213 In many cases these regional CBC shows are where the seeds were sown that helped create the outstanding reputation of CBC's documentary, arts, children's and drama programming, as well as its strong relationships with local and regional audiences.
12214 We realize times have changed. In Alberta we are very cognizant of the budget cuts the CBC has endured and of the work that has been done trying to accommodate those cuts while still providing programming of relevance to Canadian audiences.
12215 So the question has become: In the midst of all this change for viewers, broadcasters, funders and us as independent producers, how does CBC meet the challenge of continuing to be relevant to Canadian viewers in the regions as well as across our country?
12216 As we stated in our written presentation, we believe part of the answer is that this is an opportunity -- an opportunity for the CBC to reconnect with its core viewers at a local and regional level.
12217 While CBC has a responsibility for providing the best national service that encompass regional reflection, unfortunately, through budget cuts it has abandoned its local and regional non-news programming, in English and in French.
12218 "Heartland", which is produced in Alberta, tells local stories that reach and touch Canadians in every area of this country. Similarly "The Republic of Doyle", which has been mentioned here repeatedly, plays out its east coast stories, while striking a chord with Canadians across Canada. These are great national shows about our country.
12219 MR. EVANS: But we know that in Alberta there is a hunger to see more of our own stories on our television screens, to see ourselves reflected, with our diverse and evolving Albertan sensibilities. We are proud to see ourselves through arts programs such as "The Secret of the Nutcracker" or documentaries like "The Tipping Point". But these are national programs and amount to only a few hours in a given year, and these numbers appear to be shrinking.
12220 In a report jointly commissioned by AMPIA, SMPIA and On Screen Manitoba, which will be tabled later this week during On Screen Manitoba's presentation, Alberta Film and CRTC data show that the share of CBC/Radio-Canada licence fees declined from 16.4 percent in 2008-'09 to 8.7 percent in 2010-'11.
12221 We find this challenging because we believe the CBC is essential to the makeup of not only of our Canadian culture, but also of our Alberta culture and communities. However if CBC behaves no differently than the private broadcasters, it loses its stake in our communities and, more important, we are in danger of losing the ability to see who we are.
12222 MR. NOVAK: Put another way, there must be more local reflection about who we are as Albertans than simply news broadcasts. The passion, the creativity, cultural richness and diversity of our province and our people in Alberta are much more than just one-minute thirty-second news reports.
12223 We are creative entrepreneurs in Alberta and we pride ourselves in that and we believe we can offer and continue to offer a true partnership to produce programming that, while local and regional in nature, can also potentially play on the national stage. We have proven this in the past with our regionally-based award winning documentaries, arts programs and dramas.
12224 In another area, we share the concern that the Documentary Organization of Canada brought forward, the decline of commissioned documentaries on the main CBC Network. We are also concerned about the disappearance of most of the arts programs.
12225 These are the very kinds of programs that were once at the heart of the CBC and most certainly reflected who we are as Canadians, in our case Albertans.
12226 To be clear, we are not seeking status quo or a trip back to the future, but rather suggesting that the regions are proven incubators and producers of new, fresh and innovative ideas. In other words, to be really clear, what we think should happen is the CBC should go back to having local airtime that is non-news programming.
12227 MR. EVANS: What made the CBC uniquely relevant as a public broadcaster at one time was each of the regions commissioned and produced its own non-news programming that was broadcast in those regions. Many of those shows were aired nationally in early or off-primetime and became a talent pool for the network decision-makers in Toronto.
12228 For example, a resourced CBC Alberta Development Office would be able to partner with the independent production community to 'incubate' new non-news ideas and produce some of those programs in Alberta for Albertans on CBC Alberta. Currently the local office has the ability to produce only six hours a year of programming that is non-news.
12229 Finally, we also support the CMPA and the Terms of Trade that they are negotiating with the CBC and ask the Commission to encourage a positive outcome to create a more stable business climate and clear set of rules for independent producers.
12230 In closing, we are here to support the CBC in their application for renewal.
12231 MR. NOVAK: We respectfully ask the Commission to ensure that there are tangible commitments from the CBC to increase non-news programming with independent producers in the regions and maintain its commitment to national programming that reflects Alberta.
12232 We believe such programming initiatives will significantly increase new and distinctive local content for viewers in Alberta, provide opportunity for a wide array of artists and give more Alberta talent exposure to decision-makers at the national CBC network but, most important of all, having this local and regional reflection will enhance Alberta's voices on the new digital pipelines of communication.
12233 MR. EVANS: We thank you for your time and welcome any questions you might have.
12234 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation.
12235 The Vice Chair will have some questions for you.
12236 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Good afternoon, freshly minted afternoon.
12237 You mentioned in your document today and in your initial document from a month back that you have had a great relationship with the CBC and things working out quite well and still are.
12238 MR. EVANS: Yes.
12239 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Given that, that on the ground you are quite comfortable and happy with the relationship, what would terms of trade change?
12240 MR. NOVAK: It depends.
12241 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Practically speaking.
12242 MR. NOVAK: Yes. In a regional context, because of focus is on programming that is not being done now, the non-news within CBC in Alberta. The terms of trade would provide a framework for that relationship between regional independent producers and the regional CBC and much mirror the national terms.
12243 But right now it's unclear and when you are a regional independent producer it's really tough to negotiate with the CBC. With terms of trade at least there is a framework and there's an organization we can go back to and have more meaningful discussions. Right now we don't have that.
12244 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay.
12245 MR. NOVAK: So it's about clarity and it's about agreed set of principles and guidelines that we follow.
12246 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And that's not there on the ground as we speak?
12247 MR. NOVAK: Well, we are not producing a lot of independent programming non-news in Alberta. It's 6 hours a week.
12248 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: How will terms of trade change that?
12249 MR. NOVAK: Again, it will provide a framework so everybody has a clear set of rules.
12250 I'm not privy to the six hours and what the details of the arrangements were, what the distribution rights were, what the online rights were, but if we are doing it with the private broadcaster we do have a set of rules, although, to be clear, we are not doing it regionally -- and I emphasize that -- in Alberta with private broadcasters.
12251 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Back to your document of the day, you mentioned that regions are a proven incubator --
12252 MR. NOVAK: Yes, sir.
12253 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- for fresh innovative ideas and we can all use more of those. What isn't the CBC getting about that reality that you spoke of?
12254 MR. NOVAK: Why are they not going down that road?
12255 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yes.
12256 MR. NOVAK: Money. It's very simple.
12257 So the question really becomes: Is the CBC a public service or is it a business?
12258 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: But if they are producing and the majority of those productions are probably in Toronto, as an example, it wouldn't be more expensive to produce in Alberta than it would be to produce in Toronto?
12259 MR. NOVAK: No, with all due respect, I think it really depends on working with independent producers on the funding system. Alberta has a pretty good funding system to help support.
12260 So if regional producers -- I want to come back to regional producers producing for CBC and Alberta. So if a program costs $1 million for 13 episodes, independent producers are able to bring up to 40 percent of that money to the table because we are independent producers, through Alberta money and through CAVCO.
12261 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: I understand that. So why isn't the CBC taking advantage of that?
12262 MR. NOVAK: I think you would have to ask them that.
12263 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay.
12264 Do we need some kind of regional quota system in place?
12265 MR. NOVAK: I don`t believe there should be a quota system with numbers and dollars. I believe there needs to be a guiding principle, because at the end of the day good stories have to rise to the top.
12266 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And if the guiding principle doesn't give us the results we are asking for? I mean what other means do we have but quotas?
12267 MR. NOVAK: Commitment and conditions of license I guess.
12268 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Licence.
12269 MR. NOVAK: Certain hours. We expect, for example, the CBC in its regions -- and CBC can define that through its regions or through 14 major city centres.
12270 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yes.
12271 MR. NOVAK: We expect two half hours per week, 13 episodes each, to begin and they are to be aired in early prime, 6:30 to 7:00. Two half hours per year, 13 episodes each, aired in early prime and off prime and can be repeated as much as CBC deems appropriate for its schedule.
12272 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Sounds a little quota-esque.
12273 MR. NOVAK: Fair enough.
12274 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay.
12275 MR. NOVAK: But just to be clear on the quota system, I was really looking at sometimes what can be the negative side of quota systems where you are forced to do something for inappropriate reasons.
12276 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay.
12277 MR. NOVAK: Stories.
12278 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Well, you know, one person's appropriate reasons are another's inappropriate reasons --
12279 MR. NOVAK: Sure. Fair enough.
12280 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- but in this case you are asking -- it's a hard ask, right.
12281 MR. NOVAK: Yes.
12282 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay. That's clear.
12283 Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
12284 Mr. Chair...?
12285 THE CHAIRPERSON: I realise you don't want a firm ask, but do you have a definition to help us if we ever were to go in that direction of non-news?
12286 MR. NOVAK: In terms of genre, in terms of how it could work.
12287 THE CHAIRPERSON: I take it it could be any genre?
12288 MR. NOVAK: Yes. It could be comedy performance, documentary, yes.
12289 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just everything, okay.
12290 You and others have come and talked about the status quo that existed beforehand and I'm always a bit concerned of the status quo because, as you know, production takes a little bit of time and what we are seeing onscreen now and what we are seeing as spend now may actually have been decided a few years ago when perhaps times were financially less challenging. When you and others look at this, are you actually taking that into consideration when you are making your requests?
12291 MR. EVANS: Yes. Yes, actually were in communication with our local CBC office to get a list of programs from them that have been produced over the last seven years --
12292 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Right.
12293 MR. EVANS: -- and also ones which are currently in the pipe, coming down the pipe as we say, and we are confident that our numbers are correct.
12294 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay. Very good.
12295 I think those are our questions. Thank you very much.
12296 MR. EVANS: Thank you.
12297 MR. NOVAK: And if I may, as a final comment, I would like to extend an invitation to the Chair to visit Alberta.
12298 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Well, I welcome that invitation. As you know, I have had the opportunity to do a first round of visits with parties back in the summer and it's my hope to do so again. We are a bit busy these days with hearings, but in between the hearings I should be able to sneak away and see what is happening throughout the country, so I appreciate the invitation.
12299 And of course we won't talk about anything before us at this time, which is my usual practice.
12300 Thank you very much.
12301 MR. NOVAK: Thank you.
12302 MR. EVANS: Thank you.
12303 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
12304 So it's a little past 12:00 here, so why don't we adjourn and come back at -- I will be terribly generous and say we do have a lot of intervenors this afternoon, so I'm going to say we will come back at 1:30, 1 h 30. Merci.
12305 We are adjourned. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1225
--- Upon resuming at 1331
12306 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary...
12307 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
12308 We will now hear the presentation of the Directors Guild of Canada.
12309 Please introduce yourself and your colleague, and you have ten minutes.
12310 Thank you.
12311 MR. BARR: Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Commissioners and Staff, my name is Gerry Barr and I am the National Executive Director and CEO of the Directors Guild of Canada.
12312 With me today is Peter Murphy, the DGC's National Policy Manager.
12313 We recognize the exceptional job that the CBC does, in tough financial circumstances and with a demanding mandate to pursue, but the national broadcaster's reliance on ad revenues to bolster its budgets has a weakening effect on its programming decisions and raises questions for this Commission.
12314 We think that regulatory guidance is necessary to help the Corporation with its activities and with servicing its national public mandate.
12315 Last week the CBC referred to Programs of National Interest as the "jewels in the crown", and identified 13 hours a week of deep prime time optimal for airing this programming.
12316 They then, however, offered the view that these jewels were worth only about half that time, and though a rationale for this proposal was discussed, it was never, in our view, made clear.
12317 When fixing the expenditure requirements for PNI for the private broadcast groups, one of the key factors was to ensure that they would not be set at a level below historic averages. That principle should be no different with respect to CBC's PNI hours.
12318 Our analysis shows that an average of 7.1 hours of drama a week in prime time over the past three years and 2.7 hours of documentary programming has been ordinary for the CBC. As such, we believe that 10 hours a week should be the opening of the discussion between the Commission and the Corporation in respect of programs of national interest in prime time.
12319 But, of course, the number of hours alone isn't enough to guarantee that Canadians will get original programs of national interest. In order to ensure that the PNI hours are not dominated by repeat programming, the DGC recommends that the Commission set a dollar floor for this programming, set at the average of the last three years' spending on drama, documentary and award shows. Aspirationally, of course, the Corporation should find ways to increase the amounts they spend on these genres, but a floor would at least ensure that we do not lose ground.
12320 CBC has strayed from its mandate when it comes to feature films. CBC's responses to questions about their commitment toward feature film were a plain demonstration of the public broadcaster's focus on commercial revenues ahead of their public service mandate. Asked why they had not committed to air Canadian films in peak periods, the response was that it does not generate enough of an audience to maximize advertising revenues. That is the response of a private broadcaster, not one we would expect of our public broadcaster.
12321 As Commissioner Poirier noted last week, 90 percent of Canadians feel it is important to have access to Canadian films, and that television remains the primary access point for watching them.
12322 The CBC has the reach to make Canadian films accessible to all Canadians and, we would argue, it also has the mandate to do that. Summertime Saturday nights, when many Canadian families are not in front of their televisions, is not a sufficient commitment to this vitally important cultural art form.
12323 In the last licence renewal process, the CBC committed to spending $30 million dollars on the production of Canadian feature film. Ultimately, the Corporation fell short of its commitment and has made no offer this time around. That is a worrying sign for Canadian filmmakers and Canadian audiences, and indeed, our submission would be, for the CBC itself.
12324 Madame Poirier spoke of Heritage's desire to better brand Canadian cultural products. Film is one of Canada's greatest cultural products. It represents our international calling card to the world.
12325 By investing in the production of Canadian film, the CBC would be able to further its own, and Canada's, cultural brand, a pretty key element in any long-term strategy for a sustainable future.
12326 We think that the CBC has an important role to play toward the goal of building Canadian cinema. As such, we support the call by CAFDE for a minimum 12 new films commissioned by CBC annually, which might be aired one a month, on top of the Saturday night summertime film slot. A stable, peak time film slot which can build an audience and an expectation by Canadian audiences that the CBC is a destination for great Canadian film would be a significant step toward that goal.
12327 MR. MURPHY: As the Commission noted in the last licence renewal in 2000, the CBC has a special responsibility to offer programming tailored to young people. The DGC believes that the CBC is not living up to this responsibility.
12328 In their presentation last week, the CBC described its focus on preschool age children over the last five years. Indeed, over this time period the CBC averaged almost 25 hours a week of children's programming, well over their expectation of 15 hours, and we commend them for this. The average of original hours over this time, however, was only 1.2 hours, or less than 5 percent.
12329 While we understand that this type of programming has a long shelf life, today's kids should have the exposure to fresh new programs to one day call their own, much as many of us refer to the kids' programs of our childhoods.
12330 The DGC is also greatly concerned about the CBC's decision to effectively eliminate programming for youth audiences from its television screens. The claim that youth audiences are no longer tied to television in favour of digital platforms was not backed up with any proof from the CBC. In fact, the excellent presentation last week by the Youth Media Alliance cited studies rebutting this position.
12331 One of these studies, "Are the Kids All Right?", also points out the danger of eliminating programming to youth audiences. According to the study, children up to 7 or 8 years of age are loyal to Canadian programming, but the lack of programming for the 9 to 12 age bracket serves to remove this attachment.
12332 As such, CBC's move out of youth programming represents a great danger to its own long-term future. If you lose the audience at this age, it might become difficult to incite them back.
12333 Simply put, we do not believe that the CBC, in light of its mandate and this "special relationship", should have the flexibility to abandon a segment of the Canadian public. To that end, the DGC urges the Commission to set clear commitments for the CBC for children's and youth programming, including a requirement for original programming.
12334 Just as expectations or conditions of licence are necessary benchmarks to ensure that the CBC adheres to its mandate, detailed reporting is vital to assess compliance with these goals. Indeed, it makes little sense to have one without the other.
12335 At a very minimum, the CBC should be reporting the same level of detail as the private broadcasters are required to do under their licences. The DGC believes, however, that a greater level of detail can be expected from our public broadcaster by its very nature as a public service provider. And while the CBC may make numerous reports for other reasons, this seems like no excuse for eliminating reporting requirements for analyses by the CRTC and its various stakeholders.
12336 We urge the Commission to ensure that the CBC's activities are as transparent as possible. Ultimately the Corporation is accountable to the Canadian public, who deserve to know just how their investment is being used.
12337 And lastly, we would like to reiterate our support for Terms of Trade between the CMPA and the CBC. As we understand it, a final deal has yet to be completed, despite some 18 months of effort and a clear desire expressed by the Commission to see a deal in place before the commencement of this proceeding.
12338 As a result, we encourage the CRTC to follow through on its plan to ensure that Terms of Trade are completed in some capacity, whether through mediation or the imposition of the same terms currently in place between the CMPA and the private broadcaster groups.
12339 This concludes our oral remarks, and we would be very pleased to respond to any questions that you may have.
12340 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
12341 Commissioner Duncan will have some questions for you to start off.
12342 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Good afternoon. I don't have that many questions, but I do have a few. To start off with, I am interested in your comments on the revised COLs that the CBC proposed with respect to programs of national interest.
12343 I am interested in your comment on that. I noted when I read your submission that --
12344 I would ask you to go ahead, and I will come back to the other point in a minute. I would be interested in your comments on their proposal with respect to programs of national interest.
12345 MR. BARR: Commissioner, I think the thing that was most puzzling about the CBC's response last week to the request -- I think it was your request for a rationale -- was that you got the rationale for why peak prime time hours, or deep prime time, was the significant area to look at, but there was virtually no reason or rhyme for the 7-hour proposal. It was essentially a half-a-loaf comment and had no real policy rationale behind it.
12346 In our view, the policy rationale here, the one that is closest to hand, is the one which attaches to the practice that was decided with private broadcasters, and the idea is: Not less than you do.
12347 So if it's not less than you do for private broadcasters, and if that is applied in the CBC context, then the beginning of the conversation between the Commission and the Corporation, in our view, ought to be 10 hours.
12348 It is just shy of 10 hours now, if you take dramatic programming and documentaries together, so, for all practical purposes, we are at a 10-hour number.
12349 And, in the case of the CBC, there may well be strong reasons for going beyond 10 hours. But, plainly, it ought not to be less.
12350 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: They have allowed an hour each for drama and comedy, and for long-form documentary, per week, of the 7 hours.
12351 MR. BARR: I think that we just ought to let the 7 hours go by the board. It is plainly -- it's a little bit like Mr. Waddell's comment to the Chairman, when he was asked about how one gets 100 percent Canadian programming if you also have international programming, and Mr. Waddell said: Well, it's a strong opening position.
12352 I think that 7 hours is plainly in the same role, but from the other side of the room. It's a strong opening statement of a minimum position and, plainly, it's not appropriate.
12353 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Did you note that they had specified that they would confirm that 1 hour of the 7 would be for Category 7 programming, and a minimum 1 hour for Category 2(b) programming?
12354 MR. BARR: If anyone had noted that, it would be my research director here on the left.
12355 MR. MURPHY: Yes, it's a very strange thing to see, really. Like we said, they have averaged about 7.1 -- just over 7 hours a week now, for the last three years. So, now, to commit to 1 hour a week seems very strange to us.
12356 I understand that they have wanted to come in with less, but that is almost a ridiculous amount less.
12357 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. I was interested to hear what your thoughts were on that, and that's clear.
12358 It is clear to me, also, that you want standards based on the previous -- on what they have actually been experiencing over the previous five years, as you point out, as is expected of the private broadcasters.
12359 MR. BARR: Minimally, yes.
12360 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: With respect to the co-productions -- because you touched on that in your submission, as well, and there was some talk about that this morning -- are you agreeable that --
12361 You were suggesting, I think, in your paper -- how I understood it was that you were leaving it to the Commission to decide how that should be treated, but did you agree with the discussion this morning that a balance of --?
12362 MR. BARR: I think that Peter will have something to say about this, but broadly, yes, just to say it quickly. Broadly, yes.
12363 MR. MURPHY: I think that we came in with the position that there were some questions around minority co-productions and PNI qualifications, but I think that the key really is just a balance.
12364 There are difficult issues. When it's an excessive amount of minorities, that becomes the problem, really.
12365 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I'm sorry, I missed the last part.
12366 MR. MURPHY: Sorry. When it's an excessive amount of minority co-productions, that's where the problem lies.
12367 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: With respect to Canadian feature films, you are agreeable to 12 per year?
12368 MR. BARR: Yes.
12369 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: How do you see that, then, fitting into the PNI approach here?
12370 Those feature films, because they are Category 7 -- feature films fall under Category 7. So, in your view, is the 12 feature films a year to be over and above the PNI or part of it?
12371 MR. BARR: No, we see it as PNI, and a perfectly legitimate part of it.
12372 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So, then, another reason why PNI might be higher than 7 hours, or 10 hours.
12373 MR. BARR: Yes.
12374 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Is that your point?
12375 MR. BARR: There you go. I hope that's the beginning of the conversation, yes.
12376 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I noted that, on the CanCon levels -- that was another point that you made, that CBC was suggesting minimums that were below what they are currently achieving. So your suggestion was, based on the three-year average, 83 percent in prime time and 82 percent in the broadcast day.
12377 MR. BARR: Right. The narrative that runs through all of this is "Not less than before", and it would be really hard to take a policy approach and come up with a different narrative.
12378 And "Not less than before", of course, doesn't mean to suggest that it ought to be set at what it was before.
12379 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: No, they would all be minimums.
12380 MR. BARR: "Not less" doesn't --
12381 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes.
12382 MR. BARR: And I think there may well be room in some of these areas for discussions that reach beyond prior practice.
12383 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: In coming back with the PNI, they did specify 75 percent to independently produced programs.
12384 MR. BARR: Right.
12385 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So I assume that you were happy to see that.
12386 MR. BARR: Well, yes. I think "Not less than before" is the règle en fer here.
12387 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So, would it have been higher than 75 percent independently produced before, or do you have that information?
12388 MR. MURPHY: No, I don't, but they didn`t have an expectation, I believe, on 75 percent of the programming that they were doing before. But I think that 75 percent is a fair amount for PNI programming. It's in line with the private broadcasters. I think that's the way to go.
12389 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: The children`s programming, they have come back with just 15 hours a week of children's programming under age 12, but it's clear that your position is that it should be children's and youth, as well, separate.
12390 MR. MURPHY: Yes. My problem with the 15 hours to 12 and under is -- when they were here last week, they talked about how their focus was on preschool-age children, and how they had geared everything toward that.
12391 Now, in the last five years they have averaged about 25 hours of children's programming, with most of that going toward the preschool age. So to drop to 15 hours, and then to gear that all toward -- to say that is going to be to under 12, my fear is that you would see nothing really in the sort of 9 to 12 age bracket that we were talking about was important.
12392 Fifteen hours, I think, is too low, and without perhaps putting in the youth category -- maybe separate hours for youth programming over children's programming, you might just lose that bracket still.
12393 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So, actually, based on your thinking, your philosophy here, if you like, or your approach that it should be no less than what they had previously been doing, 15 would not be sufficient, it should be 25, even if it was divided between the two groups.
12394 MR. MURPHY: Yes, that would be preferable.
12395 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. The original programming there -- did you make a comment on the original programming for children?
12396 MR. MURPHY: Yes, we didn`t come up with a number. We have been listening to -- I think it was ACTRA and Writers that had 30 percent as a possible number. That may be the right number to go with. We haven't really analyzed if 30 is the right number, but as a percentage, it is probably a wise choice, depending on how many hours are done, rather than to pick a certain set of hours.
12397 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I guess that I have come to the conclusion perhaps that sometimes the reason parties are not more specific is because the information is not necessarily available in the reporting that you have had access to.
12398 Is that correct?
12399 MR. MURPHY: Yes. We had numbers for original with children's programming. With youth programming, the last few years have seen almost none, or none at all, so no repeats or original programming.
12400 And the original programming was too low. I think it was 1.2 hours over the last five years of original programming, which, I think, is very low, considering the 25 hours. So less than 5 percent of the programming is original for children.
12401 I think that we would agree with the very good comments made the other day by the Youth Media Alliance about the world changes, things change, and children should have sort of a fresh look to see the world they are growing into.
12402 So, as much as we liken it today to Google Doodle is Mr. Dressup, there are probably some things that today's children can call their own. In 20 years they might see a Google Doodle, if you will, still around doing these things, which attaches to them more than to somebody else.
12403 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes, I appreciate that.
12404 I take it, as well, that you are not in agreement with giving the CBC the flexibility they are asking for with respect to their conditions. You think that it's important to have specific conditions over and above the PNI.
12405 MR. BARR: I think it falls to the Commission to give life to the Act, and the way to give life to the Act is to set out conditions of licence.
12406 And, in particular, if there are things that have been undertakings in the past where there has been slippage or going sideways, then that is a kind of inherent argument for advancing the conversation to a condition of licence.
12407 So I think that is what you do, and rightly so. You ought to do it, and we are happy to see that it's underway.
12408 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you very much.
12409 Those are my questions, Mr. Chairman.
12410 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Poirier...
12411 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: I only have one question. I wonder what kind of a relationship you have with the CBC. Do you meet quite often? Do you discuss these kinds of issues?
12412 MR. BARR: Well, we don`t have a bargaining relationship with the CBC. The Directors Guild of Canada negotiates with independent producers, the CMPA. So, tangentially, of course, the decisions made by CBC have an important impact on our members, and we acknowledge them as, really, a kind of landmark content provider in the country, and an important part of the screen-based industry.
12413 Film and television production is what our members do and, for that reason, all that happens at the CBC, and their decisions, matters to us.
12414 But our relationship is not one of negotiations.
12415 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Thank you very much.
12416 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I believe those are our questions.
12417 Thank you very much for participating in the hearing.
12418 MR. BARR: Thank you.
12419 THE CHAIRPERSON: As the hearing progresses, we have fewer and fewer questions, because the record clarifies itself. So it's not by lack of interest, it's just the nature of the beast.
12420 So, thank you.
12421 MR. BARR: Thank you.
12422 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary...
12423 THE SECRETARY: I would now ask Kimberly Townley-Smith to come to the presentation table.
12424 THE CHAIRPERSON: Hello, and welcome to our hearing.
12425 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Thank you.
12426 THE CHAIRPERSON: You will have ten minutes to make your presentation, and I probably should point out that you also should be careful about what you say at the hearing, because I am reading your presentation, and you are allowed to say what you want, but you have to live with the consequences of what you say.
12427 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Well, the purpose of being at this hearing today is to have this matter on the public record, since these statements have not been heard before, and that is the point.
12428 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Go ahead.
12429 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Good morning, Commissioners, Monsieur le Président. I am Kimberly Townley-Smith, and I am here on behalf of myself, as a Canadian citizen, with a story to tell about why it is important to me, as an example, why we need the CBC to be free, free from governmental and political interference.
12430 Democracy depends on choice, and choice depends on accurate information. I am here today to demonstrate why Canadians cannot depend on private media to tell us the truth, the truth about our governments, our banking institutions, and our democracy.
12431 I was a lawyer and, happily, no longer so. I caught Jean Chrétien's law firm, Heenan Blaikie, lying in testimony. This was perjury and a criminal offence. And they were about to be exposed on an international stage because the case happened to be about Harry Potter and Warner Brothers.
12432 I then caught Heenan Blaikie getting favours from the presiding judge, Justice Colin Livingstone Campbell.
12433 Matters went on and on, and more and more judges and court staff became involved in what appeared to be a cover-up.
12434 We eventually sued Justice Campbell, not because we expected to win, but to make it stop.
12435 By this point we had suspicions that this was related to politics. Liberal judges, including Chief Justice Heather Forster Smith, wife of Senator David Smith, appeared to be doing favours for Liberal law firms, their friends, Jean Chrétien and Heenan Blaikie.
12436 So I went to Stephen Harper because, after all, he was elected on accountability, and in fact he, himself, had accused the Liberals of partisan court control by appointing Chief Justice Smith.
12437 I sent him the evidence about Justice Campbell and the monkey business that was going on in the Ontario Superior Court, thinking that perhaps the Conservatives would want to expose a concrete example of the Liberal court control that they had so often complained of. This was in January of 2008.
12438 The next thing that happened was that Justice Colin Livingstone Campbell was appointed to the ABCP case. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty brokered a deal to save the $32 billion ABCP market. Widely criticized, the deal essentially meant that investors, mostly the pension funds of Canadians, bore the loss, while the banks, who had created the mess, lost nothing.
12439 In fact, since the ABCP deal went through, Canadian banks have and continue to report record profits. In contrast, pension funds have lost billions.
12440 For example, the Caisse de Depot, one of the largest investors in ABCP, alone has lost $40 billion in the four years following the ABCP fiasco. That is a lot of hungry Quebec seniors.
12441 The problem is that I noticed. I noticed the juxtaposition of Justice Campbell on the ABCP case. "What are you doing putting a judge who has just been freshly sued on a $32 billion case? Are you crazy," I asked. "Now you are really going to have to cover for him, and that's not something you are going to be able to do, at least not legally."
12442 Well, noticing has a price, I suppose, although it was not one that I ever expected to have to pay.
12443 I have been asked repeatedly why I risked my career and the rest of my life for the right to tell the truth. My answer always was: This is Canada, I shouldn't have had to.
12444 But, under this government, apparently I did, because I knew that Justice Campbell had been corrupted before he presided over the ABCP case, and more, because I had figured out, or guessed --
12445 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry, there are a lot of allegations here --
12446 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Yes.
12447 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- and, frankly, I don't know if they are true or not, but --
12448 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Right, but this is the story --
12449 THE CHAIRPERSON: We are here to do the renewal of CBC/Radio-Canada --
12450 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: That's right, and I will --
12451 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- so could you address how --
12452 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Yes, I will get to that.
12453 THE CHAIRPERSON: I will be tolerant only to a certain degree.
12454 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Right, but in order to get to the point, you have to hear the story, and then I will explain how the media --
12455 THE CHAIRPERSON: But, you see --
12456 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Because all of these things were reported in the media.
12457 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please make the --
12458 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: So without my -- without the ability for me to respond.
12459 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please make that part of it -- we're not here to try --
12460 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Yes.
12461 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- those facts as they were before.
12462 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: I'm not asking you --
12463 THE CHAIRPERSON: So get to the point of the CBC renewal, please.
12464 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: I'm asking you to -- I will tie it into how the -- it relates to the CBC renewal, but in order to make that point I need to go into what happened because the media reported this at various points and did not ask me. So --
12465 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Well, that, as far as I'm concerned, is all we need to know, is that --
12466 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Right, but --
12467 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- the medias have not reported on it. So now address the question of the CBC renewal, please.
12468 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: I would ask for your indulgence in order for me to make it clear because, you know, the purpose of me being here today is to demonstrate how because the private media did not tell the truth, this is my story that I was never able to tell.
12469 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but aren't you --
12470 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: So I would like to finish --
12471 THE CHAIRPERSON: Our hearing is not a place for you to get on a soapbox --
12472 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Correct.
12473 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- and make accusations --
12474 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: I'm not making --
12475 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- of individuals that are not here --
12476 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: I'm telling --
12477 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- that aren't on the record. What's in this doesn't even reflect what was in your written submission.
12478 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: But it is --
12479 THE CHAIRPERSON: It goes well beyond.
12480 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: It is -- all these --
12481 THE CHAIRPERSON: So we're here -- just allow me.
12482 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: All of these matters are a matter of public record.
12483 THE CHAIRPERSON: Allow me to finish. We're here to address the renewal of CBC/Radio-Canada.
12484 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: That's correct.
12485 THE CHAIRPERSON: So I do not want to have a long discussion about what your perception of events had been in the past. Those people you're making allegations about are not in this room, are not aware of it, cannot defend themselves, and it's not germane to the matter before the Commission today.
12486 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Unfortunately, I would disagree with you, Monsieur Blais. I'm not asking for you to try these issues. I am telling you the story. So if you would indulge me, I will just finish with what --
12487 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm afraid --
12488 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: The point is --
12489 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm afraid that I've read forward and I don't think we can have you say the sorts of things you're saying here. If you wish to address issues with respect to the renewal --
12490 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Okay.
12491 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- of CBC --
12492 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Well, my --
12493 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- please do so.
12494 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: I am here today to say I was never given a chance to say what happened to me, and to demonstrate how important this is I need to continue through. So if you would, Mr. Blais --
12495 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm afraid not. If that's what you want to say, unfortunately, we're going to have to cut it off there.
12496 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Because you will not allow me to tell what happened to me, to demonstrate to you why that is. I did --
12497 THE CHAIRPERSON: As I said to you, the purpose of this hearing is to consider --
12498 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Right.
12499 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- the renewal of CBC/Radio-Canada's --
12500 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Correct.
12501 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- licence.
12502 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: Correct.
12503 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are putting into evidence unsubstantiated, uncorroborated evidence that we haven't -- and it's not germane to our proceeding today.
12504 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: My presentation is about what happened to me and that it was not reported by the private media.
12505 THE CHAIRPERSON: But we're not --
12506 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: So I can't make that point without telling you what happened to me --
12507 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. I think --
12508 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: -- to discuss how outrageous this was.
12509 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think we understand that you felt that your perspective was not carried out by the private media. So I only have one question for you and I'll give you an opportunity to answer that.
12510 How are those events -- let's not deal with it -- germane -- what is your point with respect to the renewal of the CBC?
12511 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: My point with respect to the renewal of the CBC is that I was in a position -- and I would note for the record that I continue to be in the position -- of not being able to tell my side of the story because the private media -- because all of these issues became highly politicized.
12512 I got caught in the middle of accidentally finding out that this -- because I happened to be the person who was on the case, that a judge appeared to have been -- who already had gone bad, got put onto a big case, and when I said, hey, why did you do that for, is that because you knew you could get him to do things for you, I ended up getting attacked.
12513 Part of those attacks, which have included, I mean, the allegations which you're not allowing me to go into detail, but what it appeared to have been, the message to Canadians ought to have been, even before Justice Campbell got onto the APC case, is that judges are not independent and subject to political influence and it appeared that that was being repeated with the ABCP case and it was with the banks.
12514 Now, the next thing that happened is the banks --
12515 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you very much for your --
12516 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: No, I'm not finished.
12517 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, yes, you are.
12518 MS TOWNLEY-SMITH: I'm getting to --
12519 THE CHAIRPERSON: You're finished. Thank you very much. We're done. Thank you very much.
12520 Madame la Secrétaire, on va demander le prochain présentateur.
12521 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Parfait!
12522 I would now ask Québecor Média to come to the presentation table. Thank you.
12523 THE SECRETARY: Please introduce yourself and you have 10 minutes. Thank you.
12524 M. SASSEVILLE : Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Vice-président, Mesdames les Conseillères, Monsieur le Conseiller, bonjour.
12525 Je m'appelle Serge Sasseville, je suis Vice-président principal, Affaires corporatives et institutionnelles de Québecor Média.
12526 Permettez-moi de vous présenter les collègues qui m'accompagnent aujourd'hui. Il s'agit, à ma gauche, de Julie Tremblay, Chef de l'exploitation de Corporation Sun Media, et de maître Michel Drapeau du Cabinet juridique Michel Drapeau, expert en matière d'accès à l'information.
12527 Je remercie le Conseil de nous offrir l'occasion de réagir à propos de certains aspects de la demande de renouvellement des licences des services de télévision de CBC/Radio-Canada.
12528 Notre présence aujourd'hui s'inscrit dans le cadre de la volonté exprimée par le Conseil d'assurer la transparence et la réceptivité au public de CBC/Radio-Canada, de même que son imputabilité envers le Conseil, enjeux qualifiés d'importants dans le cadre de cette audience publique.
12529 Il nous paraît donc fondamental de porter à votre attention les profondes lacunes qui, depuis des années, caractérisent l'attitude de CBC/Radio-Canada en matière d'accès à l'information. En effet, notre filiale Sun Media ainsi que ses journalistes se sont heurtés, à maintes reprises, à la piètre performance de CBC/Radio-Canada dans ce domaine.
12530 Je cèderai maintenant la parole à Julie Tremblay qui vous fera une brève présentation des activités de Corporation Sun Media et du travail de ses professionnels de l'information.
12531 MME TREMBLAY : Merci Serge.
12532 Une filiale de Québecor Média, Corporation Sun Media est le plus important éditeur de journaux au Canada, publiant plus de 10,5 millions d'exemplaires chaque semaine.
12533 Elle publie 36 journaux quotidiens payants, dont « Le Journal de Montréal », le « Ottawa Sun », le « Calgary Sun », ainsi que le plus vieux quotidien publié de façon continue au pays, le « Kingston Whig-Standard », six quotidiens gratuits et plus de 250 journaux régionaux, aux quatre coins du pays.
12534 C'est avec fierté que les journaux de Sun Media défendent les intérêts et les valeurs des Canadiens de classe moyenne en jetant, notamment, de la lumière sur la façon dont les gouvernements et les corps publics gèrent les fonds provenant des impôts qu'ils paient.
12535 Or, un des principaux outils à la disposition de nos journalistes pour arriver à cette fin est le dépôt de demandes d'accès à l'information.
12536 En tant que société d'État recevant la plus importante subvention de la part du parlement canadien, soit plus d'un milliard de dollars, il va sans dire que nos journalistes ne peuvent accorder de traitement de faveur à CBC/Radio-Canada.
12537 Lorsque CBC/Radio-Canada est devenue assujettie à la Loi sur l'accès à l'information, en 2007, il est tout à fait compréhensible et légitime qu'une organisation comptant plus de 1 000 journalistes, et ayant le journalisme d'enquête au coeur de sa mission, ait démontré un grand intérêt envers les activités de CBC/Radio-Canada.
12538 C'était notre devoir et notre droit le plus strict d'en faire autant.
12539 Ce qui a suivi a déjà été bien documenté, ayant fait l'objet de plusieurs rapports virulents de la Commissaire à l'information, ainsi que de plus d'une commission parlementaire,avec, en bout de ligne, bien peu d'informations révélées aux Canadiens sur la façon dont le diffuseur public dépense leur argent.
12540 C'est sans parler des procédures judiciaires instituées par CBC/Radio-Canada afin, comme l'a signalé l'honorable juge Boivin de la Cour fédérale, de se réclamer « juge et partie en ce qui a trait aux demandes d'accès qu'elle reçoit. »
12541 Bien que le diffuseur public ait heureusement été débouté à deux reprises par les tribunaux, il n'en demeure pas moins que CBC/Radio-Canada a gagné de nombreux mois de sursis dans sa guerre contre l'accès à l'information.
12542 D'autre part, non seulement les efforts de nos journalistes ont-ils fait l'objet d'un blocus tout azimuts de la part de CBC/Radio-Canada, mais ils ont aussi valu à notre organisation un lot de critiques tout aussi injustifiées qu'insensées de la part de la société d'État et de ses alliés qui ont reproché à Sun Media d'être guidée par des motifs de concurrence et non par le droit du public à l'information.
12543 Or, bien que notre démarche était et a toujours été dictée par l'intérêt du public à l'information et le droit des citoyens de connaître comment l'argent de leurs impôts est dépensé, il est bien établi que le motif derrière une demande d'accès à l'information n'est aucunement pertinent et l'intention du législateur est claire à cet effet.
12544 Plutôt que d'inventer fallacieusement des faux-fuyants, CBC/Radio-Canada devrait au contraire déployer tous les efforts nécessaires pour incarner les valeurs de transparence et d'imputabilité qu'elle réclame d'autrui.
12545 Malheureusement, cela demeure un espoir lointain lorsqu'on connaît comment la société d'État traite ceux qui osent la critiquer à cet égard.
12546 Sun Media l'a d'ailleurs appris à ses dépens en octobre 2011, la veille de la comparution de notre président, Pierre Karl Péladeau, dans le cadre d'une audience du Comité permanent de l'accès à l'information de la Chambre des communes qui se penchait sur la performance de CBC/Radio-Canada en matière d'accès à l'information.
12547 Le diffuseur public, dans le but manifeste de nuire au témoignage de monsieur Péladeau, a alors publié sur son site Web des informations fausses, biaisées, sans lien aucun avec une quelconque réalité, au sujet de ce qui fut qualifié faussement et malicieusement d'aide publique reçue par Québecor Média, notamment de fausses économies au montant de 333millions de dollars en coûts reliés à l'achat de spectre en 2008.
12548 Malgré les rebuffades et les affronts répétés qu'ils ont dû essuyer de la part du diffuseur public, nos journalistes continueront de multiplier les demandes afin de faire la lumière sur les activités de CBC/Radio-Canada et de ses dirigeants.
12549 Je cèderai maintenant la parole à maître Drapeau, qui fera état des enjeux auxquels nous avons fait face en matière d'accès à l'information avec CBC/Radio-Canada.
12550 M. DRAPEAU : Merci, Madame Tremblay.
12551 En guise d'ouverture, permettez-moi de me présenter.
12552 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Désolée, s'il vous plaît ouvrez votre micro.
12553 M. DRAPEAU : Pardon.
12554 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Parfait!
12555 M. DRAPEAU : En guise d'ouverture, permettez-moi de me présenter. Je suis professeur auxiliaire à la Faculté de Droit de l'Université d'Ottawa, où j'enseigne un cours sur le Droit de l'accès à l'information. Je suis aussi le co-auteur d'un texte sur le Droit de l'accès à l'information au niveau fédéral. Et finalement, je fournis également des services à plusieurs entreprises et organisations en matière d'accès à l'information.
12556 Lorsque, à l'instar de plusieurs autres sociétés d'État, telles Postes Canada et Via Rail, CBC/Radio-Canada fut assujettie à la Loi sur l'accès à l'information en septembre 2007, mon cabinet a fait le nécessaire pour assister Sun Media et ses journalistes dans leurs démarches visant à connaître les tenants et aboutissants de l'administration de chacune de ces institutions en soumettant plusieurs demandes d'accès à l'information.
12557 Plus particulièrement, au cours des cinq dernières années, nous avons soumis un total de 880 demandes à CBC/Radio-Canada. Afin de mettre ce chiffre en perspective, au cours de la même période, la British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, a reçu, elle, quelque 1 500 demandes d'accès chaque année.
12558 Mon cabinet a pris soin de ne faire aucune demande de renseignements touchant aux domaines du journalisme, de la programmation ou de la création, sachant que ceux-ci ne tombent pas sous la Loi sur l'accès.
12559 Nos demandes ont porté sur des sujets tels que des dépenses de dirigeants, des procès-verbaux de réunions du conseil d'administration de CBC/Radio-Canada, des rapports d'absentéisme, des rapports de vérification sur le projet VISION qui, à l'origine, devait coûter 12 millions de dollars et a plutôt engendré à ce jour des coûts de plus de 62 millions, des détails sur les flottes de véhicules, et caetera.
12560 En l'absence d'une quelconque réponse de la part de CBC/Radio-Canada à ces demandes, nous avons été obligés de porter plainte, en raison de refus présumés de répondre, dans 400 de ces dossiers. Or, il semble que nous n'ayons pas été les seuls à subir un tel traitement. En effet, en lui décernant la note « F » en mars 2011, la Commissaire à l'information a constaté que CBC/Radio-Canada affichait un taux de présomption de refus de 57,7 pour cent. Du jamais vu.
12561 Pendant ce temps-là, outre-Atlantique, la BBC, qui faisait face à un plus gros volume de demandes, a réussi, elle, sans grogne ni excuses, à répondre à plus de 85 pour cent de ces demandes à l'intérieur du délai statutaire de 20 jours ouvrables.
12562 Force est de constater qu'il a fallu plus d'un an et demi pour que CBC/Radio-Canada fasse finalement l'inventaire de ces 400 demandes et daigne commencer à y réagir. Il a fallu plusieurs mois additionnels pour qu'elle divulgue, au compte-gouttes, certains des renseignements demandés, soit les moins sensibles.
12563 Pendant cette période, CBC/Radio-Canada a tout fait pour retarder, sinon empêcher, la divulgation de la plupart des renseignements demandés. Elle a réclamé de façon invraisemblable, pour près de 500 de nos demandes, une gamme d'exemptions ou d'exclusions auxquelles elle donnait une portée qu'elles n'ont pas. Et elle a exigé des frais de recherche totalisant près de 60000 dollars relativement à 187 de nos demandes, pour lesquelles nous avons accepté de payer près de 25000 dollars, dont près de 10000 dollars furent d'ailleurs remboursés par la suite, ce montant ayant été jugé excessif par le Bureau de la Commissaire à l'information. Avec pour résultats, après cinq ans d'efforts, que 340 de nos demandes sont toujours en traitement.
12564 Les enquêtes menées par la Commissaire à l'information suite à nos plaintes se sont avérées, elles, extrêmement lentes, car, selon celle-ci, il existe une pénurie de personnel chez CBC/Radio-Canada ayant l'expérience et les qualifications requises pour faire face au volume de plaintes en retard tout en répondant dans les délais aux nouvelles demandes d'accès.
12565 Étant donné que CBC/Radio-Canada possède une expertise reconnue dans le domaine de l'accès à l'information, puisque qu'elle dépose, à bon droit, de nombreuses demandes d'accès dans la poursuite de ses activités journalistiques, nous sommes franchement étonnés du manque de performance -- sinon de l'insolence et de l'absence de respect envers l'autorité législative et les Canadiens -- démontré par CBC/Radio-Canada à l'égard de ses obligations en vertu de la Loi sur l'accès à l'information.
12566 Depuis son entrée en vigueur en 1983, la Loi sur l'accès à l'information n'a jamais été défiée de façon aussi outrageante par une institution fédérale. Il appert que CBC/Radio-Canada refuse carrément de se soumettre aux impératifs de cette loi. Il faut le dire, CBC/Radio-Canada est une institution qui semble avoir une volonté ferme et les moyens, tant financiers que légaux, de faire obstacle au droit des citoyens de jeter un regard sur sa gestion des fonds publics.
12567 M. SASSEVILLE : Pour conclure, nous avons démontré au Conseil par nos témoignages que le diffuseur public ne remplit pas ses obligations de transparence et d'imputabilité, en plus de déroger à la Loi sur l'accès à l'information.
12568 Compte tenu du mandat et du rôle important de CBC/Radio-Canada, nous sommes convaincus que les intervenants de l'industrie des communications sont en droit de pouvoir s'assurer que les actions entreprises par la société d'État grâce à son financement public se fassent dans le sens de la préservation et de l'essor de cette industrie et du système canadien de radiodiffusion dans son ensemble.
12569 Conséquemment, afin de remédier de façon urgente aux lacunes de transparence et d'imputabilité dont fait preuve CBC/Radio-Canada, nous demandons au Conseil de soumettre le diffuseur public à des obligations de déposer des rapports de conformité trimestriels relativement au respect de ses conditions de licence et de ses obligations en matière d'accès à l'information, de transparence et d'imputabilité, permettant ainsi tant aux citoyens qu'à l'industrie d'obtenir les informations nécessaires pour se faire une opinion éclairée sur les activités de CBC/Radio-Canada.
12570 Nous espérons sincèrement que le Conseil sera un allié dans cette démarche cruciale.
12571 Nous vous remercions de votre attention et serons heureux de répondre à vos questions. Merci.
12572 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci.
12573 Monsieur le Vice-président.
12574 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Merci. Bon après-midi.
12575 Commençons par le commencement. Je vais vous lire la première phrase d'un communiqué de presse issu du bureau de monsieur McKinnon, Angus, en date du 16 novembre :
« Les progrès continus réalisés par CBC/Radio-Canada au chapitre de la transparence, de la responsabilisation et de l'accès à l'information ont valu au radiodiffuseur public une place parmi les finalistes des prix de leadership dans le secteur public de 2012 décernés par l'Institut d'administration publique du Canada/Deloitte. »
12577 M. SASSEVILLE : Je suis convaincu que dans sa grande clairvoyance le Conseil va être en mesure de juger d'un communiqué de presse, qui est émis le vendredi après-midi précédant le début d'une audience du CRTC sur le renouvellement des licences de CBC/Radio-Canada, qui dit que Radio-Canada est non pas gagnant mais est finaliste d'un concours qui porte le nom d'un consultant régulier.
12578 Je vais laisser le colonel Drapeau vous donner plus d'informations à cet égard.
12579 M. DRAPEAU : Permettez-moi de reculer quelques instants pour vous mettre ça en contexte.
12580 Alors, lorsque je parle lors de mes propos que 50 pour cent... 57,7 pour cent des demandes qui avaient été adressées à Radio-Canada durant la période qui a fait l'objet d'un rapport par Madame la commissaire avait essuyé un refus, un refus présumé, en l'absence d'une réponse, la loi exige d'une institution fédérale de faire deux choses.
12581 Dans un premier temps, de recevoir une demande et d'y répondre à l'intérieur de 30 jours. La réponse peut prendre différentes formes : de dire tout simplement que nous avons reçu votre demande et nous allons lui donner suite en temps opportun, de s'autoriser une prorogation, de réclamer des exceptions, des exclusions, réclamer des frais additionnels ou une prorogation. C'est tout ce vous devez faire à l'intérieur des 30 jours.
12582 Vous pouvez prendre le temps nécessaire, qui peut être quelques mois, et dans le cas de Radio-Canada presque cinq ans, avant d'effectuer une divulgation de documents.
12583 Or, dans ce cas-ci, ce que ce prix suggère, c'est que Radio-Canada a amélioré sa capacité de répondre aux demandes à l'intérieur de 30 jours. C'est vrai. Alors, de 57 pour cent, c'est tombé à quelques pour cents.
12584 C'est tout comme si on disait qu'un étudiant qui a reçu une note « F » lors de son rendement scolaire, tout soudainement, parce qu'il se présente à ses cours et il a une assiduité, qu'on lui donnait un prix d'excellence scolaire.
12585 Ce que Radio-Canada fait maintenant, c'est qu'elle a répondu à l'intérieur de 30 jours pour faire l'aperçu des demandes. La divulgation est toujours en souffrance, continue à ce jour.
12586 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et la réponse peut être aussi simple qu'un simple accusé de réception, si j'ai bien compris?
12587 M. DRAPEAU : C'est tout.
12588 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
12589 M. DRAPEAU : Alors, faut-il que le demander, à ce moment-là, lorsqu'on fait une réclamation d'une exemption, d'exclusion, de prorogation ou des frais additionnels, à ce moment-là, il doit porter plainte, et Radio-Canada, c'est comme la personne qui vous parle, que ça va prendre au minimum deux ans au Commissaire avant de faire enquête.
12590 Alors, durant ce temps-là, il y a un sursis, aucune divulgation de documents ne se fait. Le résultat, c'est que de nos 880 demandes originales, 340 d'entre elles n'ont encore reçu aucune divulgation de Radio-Canada.
12591 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Si on regarde brièvement votre document, quand vous parlez de la BBC, il y un délai statutaire de 20 jours ouvrables.
12592 M. DRAPEAU : C'est ca.
12593 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ce délai est fixé par...?
12594 M. DRAPEAU : Par la loi.
12595 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Par la loi...
12596 M. DRAPEAU : Anglaise.
12597 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Anglaise.
12598 M. DRAPEAU : Qui, pour fin pratique, est la même chose que la loi canadienne. La loi canadienne dit que c'est 30 jours.
12599 La loi britannique dit que c'est 20 jours ouvrables. Et on s'aperçoit que BBC répond et a répondu durant les cinq dernières années à l'intérieur de 10 à 15 pour cent... 10 à 15 pour cent de ses demandes n'ont pas été faites à l'intérieur de 20 jours ouvrables, mais 85 pour cent, 90 pour cent le font.
12600 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais là aussi, la réponse peut être aussi simple qu'un accusé de réception?
12601 M. DRAPEAU : Exactement.
12602 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K. Et qui a l'oversight, si vous voulez, de ce délai-là? Est-ce que c'est le régulateur britannique ou est-ce qu'il a un commissaire à l'accès à l'information qui voit...
12603 M. DRAPEAU : Il y a, effectivement...
12604 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : ...à ce que délai soit respecté?
12605 M. DRAPEAU : Il y a un commissaire à l'information en Angleterre aussi.
12606 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Semblable à la nôtre?
12607 M. DRAPEAU : Semblable à la nôtre, oui.
12608 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
12609 On continue notre lecture et j'attire votre attention sur la réplique de Radio-Canada, page 56 dans la version française, 52 dans la version anglaise, paragraphe 64 :
« CBC-Radio-Canada continue d'améliorer son bilan [et je cite] en ce qui a trait aux obligations découlant de la Loi sur l'accès à l'information. La Société a répondu à 1 612 des 1626 demandes qu'elle a reçues au total, en date du 13 août 2012, depuis qu'elle est assujettie à la Loi. »
12610 Ça, Monsieur le Professeur, est-ce que ça correspond à vos résultats?
12611 M. DRAPEAU : Je n'ai aucun problème là-dessus, mais, Monsieur le Vice-président, je vous rappelle encore que c'est une réponse, et un demandeur, ce qu'il recherche, ce n'est pas une réponse, c'est, effectivement, les renseignements qui sont portés sur les documents à laquelle ont fait l'objet de sa demande.
12612 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais avouons que c'est semblable aux résultats de la BBC...
12613 M. DRAPEAU : Présentement, oui.
12614 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : ...et que... Alors, voilà! Alors, est-ce qu'on peut conclure qu'il y a amélioration?
12615 M. DRAPEAU : Absolument. Il y a amélioration dans la réponse qui se fait. Ce qu'on s'attend, c'est un travail purement administratif, qui est clérical. Alors, présentement, Radio-Canada rencontre les normes de faire l'aperçu à l'intérieur de 30 jours. Aucun problème là-dessus.
12616 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Est-ce qu'on peut expliquer... Bien, on va juste continuer sur une autre partie de la réplique.
12617 M. SASSEVILLE : Si vous permettez, Monsieur le Vice-président...
12618 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui, Monsieur.
12619 M. SASSEVILLE : ...juste pour que ce soit clair, là, la performance de Radio-Canada s'est améliorée au niveau des accusés de réception des demandes. Mais quant à fournir les renseignements, les documents demandés, ça ne s'est pas amélioré du tout. C'est seulement au niveau procédural préliminaire que ça s'est amélioré.
12620 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Sur le fond, vous ne voyez pas d'amélioration.
12621 M. DRAPEAU : Sur le fond, aucune amélioration. C'est le reflexe, le reflexe, c'est qu'on s'attend au minimum d'une institution qu'elle fasse ceci. Alors, une institution dont la tâche est de répondre à la demande du public, qu'elle réponde à l'intérieur de 30 jours, qui indique aux demandeurs qu'est-ce qu'elle fera avec cette demande-là spécifique. Elle le fait maintenant, bravo, mais ça ne mérite pas un prix d'excellence.
12622 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : C'est une astuce plus qu'autre chose, d'après vos dires, c'est une façon de détourner ou de contourner le sens de cette loi-là.
12623 M. DRAPEAU : Mais de la façon que c'est écrit, je vois ça, et j'essaie d'être le plus charitable possible, mais un peu un tape à l'oeil. En d'autres mots, on rencontre maintenant à ce qu'on s'attend de nous. Non. Ce qu'on s'attend de vous, c'est divulguer, protéger ce qu'il y a à protéger, mais divulguer dans les délais voulus et le délai original, c'est 30 jours. Ce n'est pas 30 jours avec les prorogations et tout le reste. C'est 30 jours. L'exception, la prorogation, les frais, c'est une règle d'exception. Alors, les documents devraient être fournis aux demandeurs à l'intérieur de 30 jours.
12624 Dans le cas de Radio-Canada, on est très loin, très loin de ça.
12625 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Très loin de rapport sur le fond.
12626 M. DRAPEAU : Sur le fond, absolument.
12627 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui.
12628 M. DRAPEAU : On parle d'années.
12629 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Si on peut juste continuer, même paragraphe, et je cite :
« Le taux de présomptions de refus de la Société est passé de 80,47 devrait être pour 2007 à 4,24 pour le 31 mars 2012. »
12630 Est-ce que ça reflète votre ...
12631 M. DRAPEAU : Bravo, ça mérite une main d'applaudissements. Maintenant, qu'on s'est mis d'accord que la procédure doit être suivie, une réponse, 30 jours, d'accord, mais on continue à vouloir les renseignements. C'est le but d'avoir soumis ces demandes-là.
12632 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et vous serez d'accord également que le nombre de jours pour y répondre est passé de 187 en 2008 à 36 en 2012?
12633 M. DRAPEAU : Oui, je n'ai pas de difficulté là-dessus.
12634 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : On tombe toujours en deçà de 30 jours exigés. Est-ce exact?
12635 M. DRAPEAU : On dit 37 ici, je crois.
12636 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Trente-six jours.
12637 M. DRAPEAU : Trente-six jours, oui.
12638 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : On entre dans un autre domaine. Est-ce que la commissaire à l'information n'a pas une responsabilité, est-ce qu'il n'est pas attendu de cette commissaire-là à ce qu'ils mettent plus de détails parce que quand on regarde Bulletin sur la transparence et la responsabilisation, on voit que même la commissaire à l'information a reconnu dans son dernier bulletin le rendement annuel que nous avons fait des progrès constants depuis 2007, que les choses vont beaucoup mieux. Est-ce qu'il y a mention ... oui, Monsieur Sasseville ...?
12639 M. SASSEVILLE : La commissaire à l'information, dans son dernier rapport, a noté, effectivement, des progrès au sein de Radio-Canada et puis c'est un rapport d'ailleurs qui date de mars 2011. C'est le dernier rapport qu'elle a fait sur la performance de Radio-Canada en matière d'accès à l'information. Elle a malgré tout accordé la note « F » parce que ce n'est pas tout à fait complet, le paragraphe, la réplique de Radio-Canada.
12640 On y réfère, nous, et dans notre mémoire et dans notre allocution aujourd'hui au rapport de mars 2011 qui est le dernier rapport que la commissaire à l'information a fait sur la performance de Radio-Canada en matière d'accès à l'information.
12641 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Je pense que ce vous demandez quant à l'accès à l'information est assez clair.
12642 Si on peut regarder votre mémoire, également, il y a plusieurs paragraphes où vous semblez dire que -- et on peut commencer par l'alinéa 12 -- vous pensez que la Société est en train d'usurper la place des télés privées. Vous continuez pour dire qu'ils rentrent dans les créneaux qui sont les vôtres et qu'ils pensent que plus tard qu'ils vous voient, faussement, comme des concurrents.
12643 Est-ce qu'ils ont vraiment les moyens quant à vous de concurrencer ou de s'immiscer dans les domaines qui sont les vôtres et quels sont ces créneaux-là? Est-ce qu'on doit exclure Radio-Can de certains créneaux?
12644 M. SASSEVILLE : En fait, les paragraphes auxquels vous référez sont dans une section de notre mémoire qui s'appelle « Mise en contexte » et le seul but de cette section-là, c'est de dire qu'il y a plusieurs -- en fait, on n'a pas à justifier une raison pour faire de demandes d'accès à l'information. La loi est assez claire là-dessus. Mais on rajoute que dans le cas de Radio-Canada, qui bénéficie de subsides parlementaires qui vont au-delà d'un milliard de dollars, on a remarqué que la Société est entrée au cours des dernières années dans des créneaux de programmation, créneaux de programmation qui étaient traditionnellement occupés par le secteur privé. Alors, ça rend d'autant plus pertinent des demandes d'accès à l'information pour vérifier si la Société Radio-Canada remplit bien son mandat.
12645 Mais on n'est pas devant vous aujourd'hui pour faire des représentations quant à la programmation de Radio-Canada. On n'est pas ici au nom du groupe TVA. On est ici au nom de Sun Media qui est l'entreprise de journaux de Québecor.
12646 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Merci.
12647 Vous avez également dit qu'à l'époque, qu'il y avait une équipe qui était nettement insuffisante qui était mise sur pied, on parle de 2007. Est-ce qu'on ne peut pas les excuser en disant qu'ils ne s'attendaient pas à autant de demandes qu'ils ont reçues?
12648 M. SASSEVILLE : L'équipe est encore insuffisante en date d'aujourd'hui et puis je vais laisser le Colonel Drapeau ...
12649 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ça ne se serait pas amélioré ...
12650 M. SASSEVILLE : ... vous donner plus de détails à ce sujet-là.
12651 M. DRAPEAU : Je ne peux pas prendre la position des cadres de Radio-Canada lorsqu'on fait l'analyse des besoins et les réponses, mais quand même, lorsqu'ils sont tombés sous la loi, la loi est en existence depuis 25 ans et le British Broadcasting Corporation était déjà en existence. Alors, il y avait des points de repères que Radio-Canada aurait pu prendre.
12652 Est-ce que le nombre des demandes a dépassé leur plan? Probablement que oui. Ils ont commissionné au mois de décembre, alors trois mois après être assujettis à la loi, un rapport spécial de Mme Delagrave qui les a informés immédiatement au fait de prendre les mesures nécessaires pour aller chercher le personnel et en quantité et en qualité, et ça leur a pris un certain temps avant d'y réagir.
12653 C'est une question de planification, une question de contingence. Est-ce que Radio-Canada a fait le travail voulu pour bien se préparer? Je vais laisser ça planer. Mais une des choses que Radio-Canada pouvait certainement faire à ce moment-là, c'était de répondre de façon le plus rapidement possible à l'intérieur des 30 jours à chacune des demandes plutôt que de faire sourde oreille et faire tout comme si elles n'existaient pas.
12654 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais y a-t-il un manque de personnel? Y a-t-il un manque de moyens au niveau de la Société pour ...
12655 M. DRAPEAU : Monsieur le vice président, je crois qu'il y a un manque des deux côtés. Alors, il y a un manque de moyens, je pense qu'il y a un manque de ressources d'une part, et la qualification, l'expérience du personnel qui est sur place n'est pas aussi peut-être reluisante pour répondre de façon exceptionnelle à deux choses : répondre à la demande qui continue quand même, c'est leur but premier, mais maintenant qu'ils ont un arriéré de quelque 500 plaintes, 340 des nôtres et je ne sais pas combien d'autres d'intervenants, alors, ce personnel doit avoir une vision double. Il doit dans un premier temps répondre aux nouvelles demandes et d'autre part, assister la commissaire à répondre, à identifier la raison pourquoi on bloque la divulgation de certains renseignements demandés.
12656 Mes contacts personnels auprès de la commission de l'accès à l'information m'indique que, justement, la commissaire, même si elle voulait dédier plus de personnel d'enquête, Radio-Canada en fait est le maillon faible de cette chaîne-là, ne peut pas répondre à cause de sa petite équipe et le manque d'expérience de l'équipe d'être capable de faire les deux choses simultanément.
12657 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais Monsieur le professeur, d'après votre expérience, en termes de chiffres, ça coûtera combien pour mettre en place une équipe qui sera prête à faire face à la tâche?
12658 M. DRAPEAU : Vous dire avec tout le sérieux que je puisse apporter à votre question, je pense que c'est des coûts qui sont relativement minimes. On parle de démocratie, on parle de réputation de Radio-Canada comme diffuseur public. On ne parle pas de 150 personnes ici, là. Je pense que leur équipe actuelle est de cinq. Est-ce qu'on doit la doubler de façon temporaire pour répondre aux arriérés? Je crois que oui. Est-ce que Radio-Canada pourrait affecter d'autre personnel qu'elle a dans d'autres tâches administratives pour venir donner un coup de main de façon ponctuelle pour répondre aux demandes? C'est le genre de choses qu'une gestion éclairée et certainement convaincue de ses responsabilités sur la Loi de l'accès à l'information devrait prendre et ça me surprend en fait que ça n'a pas été fait jusqu'à maintenant.
12659 Alors, je ne pense pas que la question est de coûts. La question est de volonté, est-ce qu'on a la volonté de répondre et de prendre ses obligations au sérieux et par-dessus tout, je me répète, intentionnellement, de protéger la réputation de Radio-Canada comme diffuseur public lorsqu'elle se sert elle-même de façon répétée de cette loi-là, elle veut au fait, lorsqu'elle diffuse les nouvelles que ses messages soient crédibles. Une des façons de le faire, c'est de s'assurer elle-même, pas seulement qu'elle ait une performance hors-paire, mais exemplaire dans le domaine que lorsqu'elle-même répond à des demandes d'accès à l'information. Présentement, ça ne se fait pas. Alors, ça cloche.
12660 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Alors, merci, Monsieur le professeur.
12661 Monsieur Sasseville, ais-je bien compris que vous n'êtes pas intéressé à répondre à d'autres enjeux qui ont pu être soulevés quant à Radio-Can ni dans votre capacité de EDR ou de télédiffuseur?
12662 M. SASSEVILLE : Je n'ai pas de mandat à ce sujet-là. On est devant le Conseil aujourd'hui uniquement au nom de Sun Media, notre entreprise de journaux.
12663 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Merci beaucoup.
12664 LE PRÉSIDENT : Juste une petite question.
12665 Je comprends bien que votre frustration est par rapport aux demandes d'accès à l'information. Évidemment, lors du renouvellement, on se penche toujours sur l'enjeu des rapports, de la transparence. Mais vous allez un petit peu plus loin. Vous demandez des rapports aussi par rapport à la Loi sur l'accès à l'information.
12666 Comme vous savez, vous êtes l'expert, d'ailleurs, il y a tout un régime pour la Loi sur l'accès à l'information, y compris une structure pour porter l'attention d'un manquement à la commissaire et puis des recours devant la Cour fédérale.
12667 N'est-il pas dangereux d'avoir deux systèmes en parallèle?
12668 M. SASSEVILLE : En fait, on ne demande pas au CRTC de prendre des sanctions contre Radio-Canada en matière d'accès à l'information comme la commissaire à l'information peut le faire. Ce qu'on demande, c'est que dans les rapports qui sont soumis au CRTC, qui permettent au Conseil de vérifier comment la titulaire de licence se comporte face au système juridique. Il y a également un rapport sur l'accès à l'information, d'ailleurs, ce rapport-là existe sur une base annuelle, il est soumis non pas à la commissaire à l'information, il est soumis au Conseil du Trésor. Il est même en ligne sur le site de Radio-Canada. Ce rapport-là pourrait être fait sur une base trimestrielle plutôt que sur une base annuelle et soumis au Conseil.
12669 LE PRÉSIDENT : Et vous considérez que ça fait partie de notre mandat législatif.
12670 M. SASSEVILLE : On croit que si vous voulez vous pencher sur la transparence et l'imputabilité et puis la réceptivité au public de Radio-Canada, la performance de Radio-Canada en matière d'accès à l'information en fait partie.
12671 LE PRÉSDENT : D'accord. Votre position est claire, merci beaucoup.
12672 Merci. Ce sont nos questions. Merci beaucoup.
12673 M. DRAPEAU : Merci.
12674 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just before we get to the next intervenor, just for the record, the intervention number 4434 dated October 25, 2012 of Miss Kimberley Townsley-Smith will form part of the record. However, the text of her presentation this afternoon will not be added to the public record. It has no bearing with the intervention she filed and we will not consider it part of the record.
12675 I just wanted to put that in the transcript so everyone knows what we are up to.
12676 We will now proceed to the next intervenor.
12677 THE SECRETARY: Perfect.
12678 I would now ask the Ontario Association of Broadcasters to come to the presentation table. After, we will do the intervenor from Vancouver, they are not there yet.
12679 Please introduce yourselves for the record and you have ten minutes. Thank you.
12680 M. BRUNEAU : Merci.
12681 MR. KIRK: Good afternoon, Chairman Blais, Vice-Chairman Pentefountas, commissioners Duncan, Poirier and Simpson.
12682 My name is Doug Kirk. I am President of the Ontario Association of Broadcasters and President of Durham Radio Incorporated.
12683 The OAB represents privately-owned Ontario radio and television stations on issues of common concern. Durham Radio operates radio stations in Ajax, Oshawa and Hamilton, Ontario.
12684 To my right and your left is Rob Brignell. Rob is Chairman of the OAB's Government Committee which oversees activities of legislative and regulatory entities that pertain to our association. Rob has many years' experience in operating radio and television stations in mid-sized Ontario markets.
12685 Here we are, I guess in the words of Stephen Waddell, commercially-driven, program-consulted, music repetitive purveyors of homogeneity.
12686 Anyway, we're delighted to be here to talk to you, present our members' concerns regarding the CBC's request to recommercialize its radio services and we thank you for the opportunity to talk to you.
12687 I will let Rob review the highlights of our intervention.
12688 MR. BRIGNELL: The Ontario Association of Broadcasters has represented radio and television broadcasters in Ontario since 1950. While there have been many significant broadcasting events which have occurred during the OAB's 62-year history, we can think of no single issue with more potential direct impact on our radio members than the application by CBC Radio 2 to air commercials. The OAB therefore appreciates the opportunity to oppose the CBC's licence renewal application and specifically, the proposed amendments that would allow radio advertising on CBC Radio 2.
12689 While the OAB members understand why the CBC would wish to look to advertising revenue to alleviate their funding deficit, we would ask the Commission to carefully consider the overall cause and effect of approving such a massive change to radio broadcasting in Canada. In particular, we would ask that you consider the impact on all of the smaller and medium-sized market radio stations across the country that provide local programming to their communities day in and day out that would find themselves in direct competition with a national network player with the stature of the CBC.
12690 The CBC states in their letter to the Commission dated April 20th, 2012 that their audience share will remain stable as the stations are mature and have loyal audience bases. As you know, advertisers base their selection of their station buys on market share.
12691 Collectively, Ontario-based transmitters provide CBC 2 with extremely broad geographic coverage of the province and total coverage of all major medium and even small Ontario advertising markets. It would be too simplistic to simply say that CBC 2 has a 2.6 percent share of English tuning and, therefore, should generate 2.6 percent share of English revenue which would equate to $34,057,400. The impact in specific markets could well be much worse say in smaller markets where the CBC's share is larger and there are fewer radio choices.
12692 The CBC has told you that the impact of their service on private broadcasters will be minimal because they will only be selling national advertising. As the Commission is aware from its own data, approximately 25 percent of total English language radio advertising revenue is generated from national sales while 75 percent comes from local sales and so one might ask if the CBC proposal to sell only national advertising will really have a significant impact on local stations. The answer is definitely yes.
12693 The addition of any new station in a market will have an impact on the supply-and-demand curve in that market which is one reason that advertising agencies will always support the addition of new media opportunities. They know that an additional competitor will reduce market costs at least in the short term. CBC states in their application that:
"Despite having a premium brand, CBC/Radio-Canada will not have the leverage of the multi-station ownership groups operating in these markets. Therefore, the rates we can command are not at the top end of the scale and we have used competitive intelligence in the market to place our rates appropriately at the mid to low end of the current rate scale."
12694 MR. KIRK: Stephen Sienko, President of Target Broadcast Sales, Canada's only independently-owned and national radio sales organization, representing privately-owned radio stations in all sized markets from as large as Toronto and Ottawa to as small as Wawa, Hawkesbury and Marathon says:
"The attempt by CBC Radio 2 to allow advertising on its network will have a detrimental impact on many radio broadcasters across Canada, specifically mid- to small-sized market operators. If allowed, this could impact significant amounts of national business going into a market."
12695 In summary, we recall back to 1974 when the CBC Radio was required by the Commission to stop selling commercials, thus creating a unique service that the CBC is today. It is the strong belief of the OAB that by approving this application, the Commission will do two things.
12696 First, the uniqueness of the CBC will be gone in that their programmers and producers will begin chasing audience that advertisers want just like every other commercial radio station.
12697 Secondly, the CBC will start down a path that will syphon money directly from the pockets of local broadcasters across Ontario who serve their local communities.
12698 Allowing commercialization of the CBC's radio services will result in a material diversion of millions of dollars of radio advertising revenues from private-sector broadcasters to a taxpayer-funded organization. Without the provision of new services, i.e. new format choices, there will be no discernible increase in radio consumption and, therefore, no additional revenue attractive to the radio medium. Therefore, the CBC's gain will end up being the private sector's loss.
12699 Ontario's private broadcasters in small and medium markets where margins are lower will find their programming resources at risk and may very well have to reduce local programming commitments. This is a very probable result of allowing the taxpayer-funded CBC to unfairly compete with private-sector broadcasters in Canada. It's not in the public interest. The OAB is steadfastly opposed to the proposed change to CBC's radio licences.
12700 MR. KIRK: We have a couple of additional points to discuss with you. First, it regards the commercialization of CBC Radio.
12701 The fact that the CBC is non-commercial currently, is not by accident. In fact, it was the result of much analysis and debate in the early 1970s and hearings in February 1974 which culminated in a CRTC Decision 74-70 on the 31st of March, 1974. This very significant document traced its reasons back to the very fundamental principles of the Broadcasting Act. The then CRTC Chairman prefaced the hearing with a statement that emphasized the importance of the CBC to Canada and called it the cornerstone of the national broadcasting system.
12702 In its top-down examination of the CBC's role within the Broadcasting Act, an entire section, Section 3 of the decision, was devoted to the commercial context. It cited a 1972 CRTC public announcement concerning CBC Radio policy which stated that, and I quote:
"The CBC's plans appear to exhibit a concern with audience ratings which is influenced more by standards of commercial popularity than by standards of programming distinctiveness and excellence."
12703 The conclusion of all of this was that the CBC committed at the 1974 hearing to eliminate commercials from CBC Radio by the end of 1974. Since then, the fact that the CBC has been non-commercial is one of the key factors that makes it a unique service to Canadians.
12704 The CBC has found it necessary to abandon this uniqueness which has been the cornerstone of its service in the face of modest fiscal restraint being imposed by the current economy. We see this as a very fundamental redirection for the CBC's radio services. In our view, it will move the CBC into a directly competitive position with Canada's private broadcasters. This is unfair in that the private broadcasters, in effect, pay taxes and operate their businesses to support our direct competitor.
12705 Our second additional point is the suggestion for a mandate refinement for CBC Radio to reduce costs. Notwithstanding all above that we have mentioned, the CBC seems to have confused its own mandate. We reviewed various Broadcasting acts back to 1950 and cannot find any requirement for the CBC to provide local service. Its mandate has always been national or regional.
12706 In spite of the evident fiscal restraint being imposed on the CBC, CBC Radio is continuing to expend its costs through the role of new services. Let's look at the Ontario communities of Hamilton and Kitchener.
12707 Very recently, on November 7th, the Commission in Broadcasting Notice CRTC 2012-616 published the CBC Application to provide new local service to Kitchener-Waterloo by asking for a distinct licence for their current repeater, CBLA-FM-2.
12708 There will be significant incremental costs to establish the station: space, equipment, staffing and so on, which are not readily determined from this application.
12709 The Kitchener market, it has seven local commercial stations and a CTV television station, not to mention daily newspaper and some campus college stations. And one question is why this initiative is necessary, in other words, to duplicate local service already in the market?
12710 I guess as well from a policy point of view, if that was the case, why wasn't there a call for new applications to serve Kitchener-Waterloo?
12711 Turning to Hamilton, Hamilton has seven originating commercial radio stations, THREE-AM, FOUR-FM, a local television station, CHCH-DT, and which all originate local programming, including news and information.
12712 It's not worthy that CHCH produces the largest amount of local programming of any television stations in the country.
12713 Because of its proximity to Toronto, Hamilton has always been covered by CBC Toronto Radio and Television services. In fact, this is -- it was this overlap which first lead CHCH-TV to disaffiliate from the CBC in 1961 and become Canada's first independent station.
12714 In our view, adding local Hamilton CBC Internet stations will add minimal incremental benefit to local Hamilton radio services, at substantial additional costs to the CBC.
12715 To save much needed resources, the CBC must reevaluate expenditures on local radio services. Rather than competing with the private radio in local markets, the CBC should conform to its mandate of national and regional service.
12716 Considering the scale of local service offered by the CBC across Canada, we expect millions of dollars could be saved, thus offsetting the need to commercialize radio services.
12717 Those are the conclusion of our formal remarks. Thank you for listening and we will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
12718 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, gentlemen. The Vice-Chair will have some questions for you.
12719 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Good afternoon. Your presentation is quite clear, so some of what I ask you may seem redundant, but bear with me.
12720 MR. KIRK: We just hope our answers won't be redundant.
12721 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yes; no, no. Listen, let's sort of start with your last paragraph. The idea that if you stop providing local information basically, you could save enough money to make up potentially for what you get from advertising on Radio 2.
12722 MR. KIRK: Yes.
12723 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: But the people that are listening to Radio 2, be it in the Toronto area or, you know, even Ottawa, would they have to sort of switch channels to get local news and weather if they were -- if we were to sort of delocalise Radio 2?
12724 MR. KIRK: I don't see that at all as being effective and it's interesting when you look at the new Kitchener application in its context.
12725 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Huh-huh.
12726 MR. KIRK: And Robert and I were just comparing notes a little earlier.
12727 In Ontario, you have overlap of CBC-Toronto with Kitchener, to a great degree.
12728 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yes.
12729 MR. KIRK: And just north of Toronto, you have the other CBC repeaters of Radio One and Radio 2 in that area. And conceivably, you could have a situation where if you were in a spot just north of Toronto and East of Kitchener, you could be getting three different CBC programs on three different CBC Radio One transmitters.
12730 In other words, Toronto which has its own local morning show. They run a regional radio program, "Ontario Morning" in the same time slot for the transmitters outside of Toronto. And if you were in the Kitchener area, you would be listening to "Kitchener Waterloo Morning" or whatever they are going to call that local show.
12731 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Right.
12732 MR. KIRK: And to us, you know, you have high local intensity of radio in those markets all such of local information there and you can regionalize a weather forecast, it's not that different from Toronto and you could add that on.
12733 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And
12734 that --
12735 MR. KIRK: It's issues of for one show and regional importance could be covered. It's really, I think, a bit of overdoing it to have all these local services.
12736 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And that would allow your local broadcasters to breathe?
12737 MR. KIRK: Well, it's what local broadcasters do. I mean, that's the whole question.
12738 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And is that the principal reason why you are of the opinion that the people that would be the most adversely impacted by ads on Radio 2 would be the smaller and medium-size markets? Do you want to perhaps expand on that?
12739 MR. KIRK: Yes. I'll let Rob do an analysis of that and how it impacts. It's
12740 not-- it's not just the revenue effect of the revenue coming out. It's also a depletion effect and a pricing issue that evolves when you add more inventory to those markets and I'll turn it over to Rob.
12741 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Well, there is no -- supply demand, you've got greater supply, it has a downward pressure on the pricing of that inventory?
12742 MR. KIRK: Yes.
12743 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: So, it's not straight up listenership that will be -- that's the issue. It's also the revenues and given the fact that there will be another door that advertisers can knock on, it will never -- there will have a downward effect on the pricing of that, of those ads.
12744 MR. KIRK: Yes. You know, we are talking here assuming nothing much changes in terms of programming.
12745 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: All of the contents being equal.
12746 MR. KIRK: Listenership should not -- for that, to make a simplifying answer on this, listenership should not change a whole lot. But the pricing effects for inventory will change and the effect in the local markets where they may not be the first or primary buy for national advertisers, if the CBC can feed national advertising into those markets may really deplete the amount of money when going into the markets and depress the price of the advertising that's bought in those markets because they don't have to buy as much.
12747 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yes. And would not there also be a negative impact in the larger markets for the smaller players? In other words, people that don't have the bigger ratings. I mean the impact on the big markets for the top three or four, they will certainly feel the impact of Radio 2 advertising in their markets, but the smaller players in the bigger markets would feel that.
12748 MR. KIRK: I think there is two points to the answer there. If national advertisers are considering Radio 2 in this case and I guess down the road if the logic works out, it might be requested for Radio One. I know that's not a point of discussion at this hearing.
12749 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: It's not the « sujet du jour ».
12750 MR. KIRK: But if it were Radio 2, Radio 2 has a share about a three percent audience share.
12751 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: 2.6 you have here, yes.
12752 MR. KIRK: And it will -- it will be purchased for the audience that it delivers for national advertisers, that's clear and that will come out of the pool in Toronto. That's first and foremost.
12753 So, if were the general buyers, you know, the big General Motors buyers or auto or Home Depot or something, they would buy that for the audience that they deliver.
12754 More specifically where -- to get to your second point on smaller or smaller niche oriented format, say, classical, I think you are seeing "Ems Ed" and "Jazz 91" are here later in the hearing, but I think in their case CBC has some specific programming, classical oriented programming and they may have a direct substitution effect in that they will say, I want Radio 2 classical and I'll take it against your station or jazz and I'll take it against out of your station, because those national advertisers are not necessarily looking for the broad demos, just to get the number of points they need for their marketing plans, but they will be looking for specific niche oriented audiences.
12755 And I think that's why they could have a slightly different view of this and as you call it the "big guys" in the market.
12756 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Right, the niche players, the jazz, the classical and it may be, you know, in the --
12757 MR. KIRK: Yes, where you are looking for a specific type of either age profile or a consumer interest profile, if you wanted to sell high cost pianos, you might want to use Radio 2 specifically.
12758 Now, it's a fine line whether that comes into national advertising I guess, it's whether the company operates nationally or not. And we get in the fine definitions of what's national and what's not when we get into this game, it's pretty slippery.
12759 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: To the argument that was put forth last week to the effect that advertising on Radio 2 would bring in new money, new advertisers, advertisers that aren't part of that pool already in place, how would you respond to that or that the pool is a pool is a pool and there is no growing that pool?
12760 MR. KIRK: In the short to medium term, the pool is a pool is a pool and you put a new service in there and you will be taking money out of the pool. And there would be offer -- they would just put themselves if you are looking at national advertisers and where there is specific national advertising campaign, that's the format, in other words, they want the demos that Radio 2 provides them, they will buy it.
12761 The longer question is whether could -- the longer run, it's whether there are some unique advertisers that would commit to radio just to use CBC 2, for example, for a specific audience. I think that's a pretty hard log bizarre really at this point.
12762 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: You also spoke to us about the sort of this -- I was going to call it "alleged", but I think the proof is kind of putting with respect to sort of multi stick approach and the fact that I think part of CBC's argument was to the effect that they wouldn't have sort of that multi stick advantage that most broadcasters have in markets.
12763 And you are telling us that that's not sort of the -- they won't be able to put a balm on the wound, so to speak, that there is an advantage for the CBC even though they don't have multiple frequencies in one market. And you mentioned the Toronto area, example.
12764 But can you apply that to other parts of the country? Or do you even have to give in the fact that there is so much revenues derived from that greater Toronto area?
12765 MR. KIRK: Well, the greater Toronto area is the biggest radio market in the country by a multiple -- yes, it's very large and they may be able to assume that out of the pack, CBC, KBN and competing against all the other stations in Toronto, it's not going to have too big an effect on the individual stations,
12766 But it certainly could in markets with fewer choices where that audience would be highly demanded by advertisers in that market. There is no question.
12767 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: No question. Would it also be your contention that the estimates, the revenue estimates are under-estimated on behalf of the CBC, that the actual dollar amount that they perhaps will get at would be greater than what's advertised, pardon, upon?
12768 MR. KIRK: That's a hard question to answer. You know, radio revenues are not linear. If you look at the Toronto market, for example, the top rated stations achieve much higher revenue.
12769 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yes.
12770 MR. KIRK: Than their market shares. And again, you know, you go through a median point and the lower rated stations get less than their market shares and in the CBC's case in Toronto, they would be in that lower half, if you draw it at the half, they would be in the lower half and they might not achieve revenues equal to their market shares.
12771 But, you know, overall I think there would be a significant amount of revenue. Obviously, the CBC has projected it and we have reviewed it.
12772 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Would you agree with those estimates because we are last week from --
12773 MR. KIRK: Yes, I think they were --
12774 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- they were low.
12775 MR. KIRK: -- they forecast, I think, 18 and a bit million in their first year or full year, I've heard anywhere from, you know, 10 to 20 million and that's quite possible.
12776 It may take a little longer than that first year to ramp it up. In other words, if you're a new player in the market often you assume just because you're there it will start to roll in. It may take a little while to ramp it up.
12777 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yes.
12778 MR. KIRK: But overtime, they should be able to get, you know, reasonably a part of that market share.
12779 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- their estimates.
12780 MR. KIRK: Because it's a younger audience, it may be a bit of a unique audience. It may have attributes where it's, you know, higher than average income and they're good consumers and it's a demanded audience.
12781 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Would you qualify the CBC Radio 2 audience a younger audience?
12782 MR. KIRK: Yes, certainly, for the -- maybe not the classical, but a lot of the new programming that's on outside of the classical period, it's very --
12783 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Attracts the younger audience.
12784 MR. KIRK: It's very much oriented to a younger audience.
12785 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And given the fact that --
12786 MR. KIRK: With a lot of new music and a lot of eclectic music that's not heard and it's targeted at people lower than 60.
12787 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And just briefly to close on the estimates, given the fact, you know, as you mentioned, I mean if you got a 50 market share, you're probably doing 30 or 40 percent of revenue, there isn't a cause and effect kind of situation.
12788 It's not causal necessarily and if you are a one or two percent market share, you're probably going to be doing less than one percent of the revenue in that market and that would be the place that Radio 2 would find itself in.
12789 MR. KIRK: Well, yes.
12790 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And that would lead credence to the estimates that the CBC put forward?
12791 MR. KIRK: Yes, yes, it would because you could take the broad assumption of two and a bit percent of revenue equals 30 million, they are obviously targeting that ratio down below a hundred percent gearing to that audience share.
12792 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: You also sort of spoke about the CBC 2 being allowed to sell advertising as being -- would you describe that as being the equivalent of adding another frequency in the medium sized market?
12793 You talked about the potential for a call and the impact being the equivalent of having a new station. I mean, it may not be the case in Toronto, but some of the smaller markets in Ontario, that would be the case, would you agree with that?
12794 MR. KIRK: Oh! Definitely. You are injecting a new player in the market open for business to take commercial advertising and as you know we were together at the Toronto hearing back in May.
12795 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yes.
12796 MR. KIRK: And you saw that the projected audience shares of many of those stations was significantly below what the CBC Radio 2 market share would be. So, the impact of CBC Radio 2 would be higher than likely of the new licence that was just given in Toronto, because they were not projecting market shares that were as high.
12797 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And the call, there is an -- how that goes through and sort of have to be some kind of assurances that the new players can be absorbed in the market and all this analysis and the metrics that go into those analyses would have to be --
12798 MR. KIRK: Well, this application sort of sized this; doesn't it?
12799 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yes.
12800 MR. KIRK: It's just that it's avoiding all that and market by market, it would be like introducing a new commercial player.
12801 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And the impact --
12802 MR. KIRK: Every market across the country would see --
12803 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And the impact of that should be taken into consideration before.
12804 MR. KIRK: Absolutely, absolutely. And some markets in Canada, you know, I have seen some revenue projections and I think the CBC had cited a projection in their application with their expecting four percent revenue growth across Canada.
12805 It was a study that they did and I can tell you right now and I'll cite the tram numbers which you may have heard of, it's the CAB Consolidation of 18 markets. It's 18 of the top 20 radio markets. And last year, the revenue growth in those top 18 markets in Canada, first it's 2011 was less than one percent. It was 0.7 percent and you will see all this because as of Friday we will all be filing our returns.
12806 And I can tell you here to date, this is for the nine weeks ending in October this year, versus last year, across the country, the first two months of the new fiscal year 1213, revenue is only up 1.1 percent.
12807 You know, at that kind of revenue growth and people will say, well, I mean at least it grows, looks what's happening to print and other media, still at one percent revenue growth, it's hard for radio operators to keep up with the costs. Staff want more, the power company wants more. We can't negotiate. That's all the while we are only getting one percent revenue or else. So, how about if we just pay you one percent more per kilowatt; that argument doesn't work. You have to pay that.
12808 So, we're adding here a potential dilution by adding a new player in the market when radio is struggling very hard to stay even because revenue growth is flat right now.
12809 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yes.
12810 MR. KIRK: Despite what their projections that were filed and forecast, the reality of it is that radio advertising is soft.
12811 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And you're on part with Canadian JDP growth for the year, but your costs are increasing above that, be it utilities or personal.
12812 MR. KIRK: Well, certainly the demand for wages and other outside costs that are not negotiable other than one off deals you might be able to work here cost down for certain services that you've got, that's what we do every day.
12813 But that's not keeping pace with, you know -- but those are running higher, the demands, the cost demands are running higher and the private operators are facing that every day, having to try and do more.
12814 I am telling you these are the results for the top 18 markets. Private -- smaller markets that I am aware of, they are not in this total, some of them are behind in Ontario. They are running one to two to three percent behind last year and you can say, well, that's behind, but certainly their costs aren't going down.
12815 So, they're having to look at their businesses every day and see how they are operating and trying and save money to keep any bottom line at all.
12816 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Well, thank you very much, gentlemen.
12817 Monsieur le président.
12818 THE CHAIRPERSON : Just one last question from myself. I realize you would rather not have increased advertising, but assuming that we were going down the route, I have tried to figure out options here, and would it not be better to have a gradual ramp-up of the number of minutes that CBC could put on its services rather than going a flash cut from zero to 100 percent?
12819 MR. KIRK: You know, I think the -- I think it puts nine minutes per hour into their request.
12820 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
12821 MR. KIRK: That kind of loading is basically what commercial broadcasters are doing now.
12822 THE CHAIRPERSON: What I am suggesting though is --
12823 MR. KIRK: You are saying if you could do it --
12824 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- if perhaps we put a cap on that, so in other words, they could only grow by a certain percentage of minutes -- well, a number of minutes over a longer period of time. So, the private sector gets to adjust to it.
12825 MR. KIRK: Yes. Well, I'll answer it in two ways. The answer is: No, we prefer no commercialization of the CBC. In the face of an option which says you'll ramp it in over three years, you know, two minutes, four minutes, six minutes, an hour or whatever over time, that's obviously better than going to nine minutes immediately.
12826 THE CHAIRPERSON: Huh, huh.
12827 MR. KIRK: But I think that's just mathematics. It doesn't -- it doesn't change our view that as a policy matter it should be not commercial.
12828 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand that. I am just seeing that --
12829 MR. KIRK: Well, sir, I mean we--
12830 THE CHAIRPERSON: It says an alternative. Obviously you would rather --
12831 MR. KIRK: As an alternative, sure we would take a graduated approach first.
12832 THE CHAIRPERSON: It might not be the second, third or fourth choice, but it is a choice that's available down the list.
12833 MR. KIRK: And if I may just conclude on the cost side and, you know, I may be jumping off into something here. But, you know, we did a little mat on the CBC. They had a -- they received a parliamentary appropriation, this is the radio side and this is from the CRTC radio financial summaries, it's all public, so it's nothing new, but they received a parliamentary appropriation of $327.3 million in 2011 in their 2011 fiscal year to operate their AM and FM services.
12834 In that, they had an average staff count per station of 30 and average salaries of $94,000.00. That's the CRTC's mat, the average of cost per staff of $94,000.00 and that compares to about $52,000 for FM small market operators in Canada. It's just the same metric compared to that other cut that you do on markets below 250,000. So it's almost two-to-one in terms of cost per staff member.
12835 In looking at new services -- and this is just an example we did -- if you said the average was 30 positions for a new service, at those kind of staff levels, and then you have to add in occupancy costs and transmission and everything to operate a new service, it quickly goes through $3 million or more to put on these new services in the CBCs.
12836 As I say, we haven't been able to get the specific information because it isn't in the applications, but if it was just the average staff per reporting unit that they have, that's the kind of expenditure and it doesn't take too many of those to fix the contraction in the appropriation -- their parliamentary appropriate to them.
12837 THE CHAIRPERSON: So your view is that you could do it for less?
12838 MR. KIRK: Well, we have to.
12839 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
12840 MR. KIRK: That's what we do every day.
12841 If you look at, say there is a $15 million, maybe a $20 million impact from the cuts as it applies to radio, that is really talking about a approximately 5 percent of their parliamentary appropriation. If I knew my revenue was going to be down 5 percent -- and I think I can speak for most of the private operators -- you could work with that and prioritize and figure out how to run your business for that to maintain your bottom line.
12842 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
12843 I believe Commissioner Duncan has a question for you.
12844 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Just a couple of quick questions.
12845 Just following up on your statistics there where you talked about the average salary, did you also look at the average number of employees per station as compared to the private broadcaster?
12846 MR. KIRK: Well, I --
12847 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I guess you wouldn't.
12848 MR. KIRK: I can tell you specifically the CBC data on their AM service for 2011 showed 20 reporting units, 632 staff, for an average staff count of 32 per station or reporting unit, and the FMs were 62 reporting units at 1,846 staff or 30 per unit.
12849 I can tell you, our average staff counts that we just filed in our annual returns this year for the Durham radio stations are 17, 17, 17 and 23.
12850 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So quite a big difference in salary and numbers of employees to run the stations.
12851 MR. KIRK: Exactly.
12852 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: The other thing I was just curious, so in other words, if you had to look within, as the commercial broadcasters claim that they have to do if they are faced with decreases in revenues, this is the kind of thing you would look at if you had to do that in your own business?
12853 MR. KIRK: In a broad statement, if I were the CEO of CBC Radio and I knew this year I was going to have $300 million instead of $327 million to run the business, how would I prioritize the business? What things are most important? What creates the most value to Canada?
12854 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes.
12855 MR. KIRK: It was very touching this morning to hear Kady -- I forget her --
12856 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Denton.
12857 MR. KIRK: -- Denton from Peterborough saying, you know, it binds us together, but that's the thing. I listen to CBC Radio and I love lots of things about CBC Radio, "Cross Canada Checkup" and the news perspective and the programs on politics and "Quirks & Quarks" and all those things that are very unique, and "Cross Country Checkup", which is the connection to bind us together, but that's national mandate, that's not local. That's not local, duplicating local radio.
12858 I think that's the sort of thing if you were in that position at the CBC, what are the most important, most highly valued things and take it down from the national to the regional mandate and you can probably rework it all to come out with the answer you need without going commercial and destroying the uniqueness, which is the real reason why a lot of people like Kady like the service.
12859 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Just if we did, as the Chairman said, we are just exploring options so if advertising was to come about would a restriction on playlist size or a percentage of special interest music give you any comfort?
12860 MR. KIRK: Well, you know, it would depend what the playlist size was and if you wanted to enforce a format constraint on Radio 2.
12861 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes, that's what I'm asking. Would those kinds of things give you comfort?
12862 MR. KIRK: I mean obviously to have Radio 2 look like Radio 2 and look like Radio 2 going forward would give the private operator some comfort and that it wouldn't -- it couldn't veer into the more commercial stream all of a sudden, "Ah-ha, after we have commercial availability we can drive it down into Class Rock Radio 2 or something like that.
12863 So that would be a comfort to say that they are going to do what they say. We want that they are going to provide a service which they construct this way and want to stay that way and putting COLs on obviously it keeps them between the double yellow lines.
12864 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So are you in a position or do you want to even go there to recommend what that would have to be, what those would have to look like in your view?
12865 MR. KIRK: I guess, it's not something we contemplated, but if you would like us to propose something -- I haven't done research and our group hasn't done the research on what the format is. It has a lot of Category 3 music in it I know, the classical obviously. They have really put that in a certain more or less early morning time blocks.
12866 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I understand that an advertiser would find that one-stop shop for national ads that would reach -- what did hear the other day -- two and a half million audience would be quite attractive, but from a listener's point of view, you wouldn't be listening -- if you like country music you're not going to be listening to Radio 2. Like I don't -- it's hard for me to understand how big the threat is.
12867 MR. KIRK: Yes. Rob has some comment to try and maybe quantify what the size of this -- how the threat would work.
12868 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Sure. That would be helpful. Thank you.
12869 MR. KIRK: And I will come back on the programming.
12870 MR. BRIGNELL: It really comes down -- when we are talking advertising it comes down to a numbers game at the local level. My home market is Owen Sound, so it's small market Ontario, a lot of private competition and we get both CBC Radio One and 2 in the marketplace. So if we look at -- these numbers are based on our local rates and market share and that kind of thing.
12871 So if we look at an advertising purchase in the Owen Sound market by a fast-food restaurant, they typically want to achieve 150 gross rating points in the market place. In order to achieve that they would buy two FM stations, whether they were two of Bayshore's or on of Bayshore's and one of Larch's, and they would run 20 commercials per station per week to achieve the 150 gross rating points.
12872 Now, commercial rate is about $40 per commercial, so that's about $1600 a week that they would receive in revenue from this fast-food client.
12873 Now, if we assume that there is advertising on CBC Radio 2 and the agency is convinced to purchase and they want to purchase 25 gross rating points on CBC Radio 2 and their share says that you can achieve that by purchasing four commercials, the private broadcaster has now seen his commercial run drop by 10 percent, because they are going to take $160 of his revenue to put on CBC 2 and we are going to get that $160.
12874 If that rate was negotiated based on a 52-week buy, before CBC came into the market the amount that the private broadcaster would receive would be $83,000 and change.
12875 So if you then look at as well what CBC said, is they are going to come in and they are going to have rates that are lower because they are a new entity, and let's assume that they sell for $30, that now pushes the local broadcaster to match rate in order to preserve his buy. So he has lost 10 percent on the run, he has now lost 25 percent on the value of the buy, so his original buy before CBC is $83,000, his revenue after the CBC is now $56,000. So that is a loss of $27,000 in just one client with one commercial running four times a week.
12876 Now, if there were four national clients that bought CBC 2, you can see where that leads to. In small market radio $27,000 is a full-time job.
12877 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Just on the point -- and that's all very helpful. Just on the point that it is a new station, it's not really a new station, it has an established market.
12878 MR. BRIGNELL: That's correct.
12879 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So do you agree that they would have to discount their rate?
12880 MR. BRIGNELL: Well, the CBC is telling us that they are in their own application.
12881 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: But I asked what you thought.
12882 MR. BRIGNELL: Pardon me?
12883 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Because they are established in the market, they are not new.
12884 MR. BRIGNELL: But there is no foundation for what their audience share is right now because they are not rates, so in order to -- what every player does, a new station, whether they are -- if it was a new station coming into the market or an unrated station, you discount your rate because you can't substantiate what you are going to charge, right.
12885 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. I understand, okay. Yes.
12886 MR. BRIGNELL: So you will see that pressure come down and that pressure -- and I'm saying $30, they could say, "Well, we are a small market, we have a very minor share, it's $20." Well, now you have pushed the rate down even further. So the private broadcaster has to survive. We don't have the government appropriation to fall back on, we have to, in our terms, drop our drawers, to remain viable, to keep that money --
12887 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Belt tightening.
12888 MR. BRIGNELL: -- money flowing in.
12889 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Belt tightening.
12890 MR. BRIGNELL: Belt tightening, dropping your drawers, you know, whatever.
12891 MR. BRIGNELL: There are a couple of other phrases we won't introduce today.
12892 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. We won't go there.
12893 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: I might have heard too much detail about this.
12894 MR. BRIGNELL: But that's what happens at the local market. So if this is one fast-food chain and then General Motors does the same thing and then Home Depot does the same thing, all of a sudden that $27,000 becomes $100,000 out of the marketplace.
12895 If I look at Owen Sound as the example and we look at the way we would have to replace that money then is to go out into the local market and try and find a $27,000 -- or if it's two stations a $13,000 client. Those clients don't exist in small town Ontario, at least not very many of them, and to replace that revenue locally is almost impossible. When I look at Owen Sound, we have approximately one station for every 10,000 people servicing that market and now we are going to add yet another source of inventory that's going to split that pie even smaller. So our advertising pie locally isn't getting larger, it's just getting divided up amongst more people, more players, which means that the local guy is really struggling.
12896 MR. KIRK: I just wanted to come back to your format question.
12897 You are right in that country listeners wouldn't be going to CBC 2 because they are not playing country music.
12898 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Well, even another format. I just picked that one because it seems to be the most extreme end, but if not --
12899 MR. KIRK: Country is a great format.
12900 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Oh, I like country.
12901 MR. KIRK: It's the best format on radio right now.
12902 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I like country.
12903 MR. KIRK: But to your point, it does have an established following and listeners and, who knows, if it did become commercial they might tune it up a bit and try and increase their share. That's the obvious expectation once you get that because, oh, now that's a source of revenue and we can work that up.
12904 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
12905 MR. KIRK: Hut it would not be competitive in specific markets, in, say, Toronto, unless it went after another format. They wouldn't be taking directly from other stations. Probably even in Owen Sound at the moment it has a following because it is what it is, unless it changes format.
12906 It's just you are saying at this moment it's a neutral element, it's not a factor in the commercial market and by opening that door you are going to create the kind of pressures directly from taking revenue out and potentially dilution pressures on inventory.
12907 I think I can speak from experience, we have an interest in Pineridge Broadcasting from Cobourg and they operate -- they have a relatively new station that started a year and a half ago in Peterborough and Peterborough is undergoing that problem right now. With the new station in the market, it's added a lot more inventory and rates have -- combined with a fairly soft economy adding new inventory has just dropped rates severely, I will put it that way, and it is very hard for any of the stations, even the existing leading stations to maintain their pricing. There is a country station in Peterborough that has been the number one station for a long time, it's owned by Bell, and even they are having -- they have dropped rates because everybody in the market has --
12908 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN:
12909 MR. KIRK: -- pulled rates down because of additional inventory coming in at the bottom and you have this relatively fixed short-term pool of dollars that now gets spread over more stations and the quickest answer to getting someone to buy the advertising is drop the rate, and that's just what happens until you get growth to fill in the market. As we said, that growth isn't really apparent in the economy these days.
12910 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you very much.
12911 Those are my questions, Mr. Chair. Thank you.
12912 MR. KIRK: Thank you.
12913 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Simpson...?
12914 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much.
12915 Mr. Kirk, national spots sell for more than retail spots; correct?
12916 MR. KIRK: No.
12917 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: They don't? The same rate?
12918 MR. KIRK: No. No, it depends. National spots, it depends on the market.
12919 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
12920 MR. KIRK: In some cases it depends how the stations are, what their situations are in the market.
12921 There are examples I will tell you in Oshawa right now they are fairly close, but in history we have been able to get more from our retail clients out there because of the local impact that the stations have versus the national.
12922 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
12923 MR. KIRK: In some cases the national rates are higher and people will sell their retail for lower than the national rate, so it's a bit case-by-case.
12924 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So in a small market the retail would be more.
12925 What I'm getting at is, you would have -- a small market radio station would have to sell more spots to make up for the revenue loss of a national ad?
12926 MR. KIRK: Generally, yes. That would be the right.
12927 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
12928 The second question, it was brought up the other day by the CAB and Mr. Grierson I think who runs a national rep house --
12929 MR. KIRK: Yes...?
12930 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: -- that between he and Mr. Goldstein, they were of the belief that the calculation on market share that the CBC had offered were low and in fact the market share might be higher.
12931 Is that your opinion as well? I'm thinking again that market share would give them more selling opportunity than what they are currently projecting.
12932 Is that correct?
12933 MR. KIRK: A couple of points to that I think differentiating it by markets. Certainly the PPM numbers in Toronto and Vancouver and Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal you would see the CBC market shares and they are what they are. It's hard to determine some of that market share in smaller markets that aren't rated.
12934 Our point here is that this expansion of inventory through the CBC Radio 2 for now might have a more negative effect than you think in a market where there might only be one or two local stations, yet they get the CBC and the CBC in that market they don't know because they don't have ratings for it. At this point it's not a rate market. But if you were in a smaller market and it was only one or two local stations and the CBC, the CBC could be getting a 20 percent market share and as a vehicle to carry national advertising they would look at that and say, "That's pretty efficient in that small market if we wanted it."
12935 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: My last question is to do with our process for licence applications, when a radio station or a new operator applies for a frequency we often do a call, the call will result in an economic analysis to try and determine what the positive and negative impacts of a new station is going to be in a market and the resulting effect is that if competition is increased with the addition of a new station, the incumbents have a chance to adjust their own selling tactics and competitiveness as that new station finds its way into the marketplace.
12936 But my concern at this point is that this is an existing service, it has been operating and the impact, although not specifically known, will be sudden if they do go on the air with commercials.
12937 I'm just again curious if you have any final words with respect to any economic analysis because we haven't done one.
12938 MR. KIRK: Right. It's a new station for commercial broadcasters. CBC Radio 2 starting up in virtually every market in Canada is the equivalent of licensing a new station and in --
12939 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But they are already on the air, that's my point.
12940 MR. KIRK: I understand they are already on the air, but they are not a factor commercially in the marketplace. You are delivering audience there, yes, they are there, but you can't use them. It's crossing the line. You have now gone from the public broadcaster competitive for tuning and listenership, but not competitive for commercial revenue.
12941 And that's the line you cross by making this decision in their favour, and that's the thing that drives the private broadcasters crazy because, you know, basically you will license a new station in virtually every market in the country, it will be in the pool taking it out, it has not gone through a process, it has not gone through a process, it has not gone through market evaluation.
12942 I know you said that you do a market analysis and quite often -- sometimes in history, I won't say that often, but once in a while in history you have said no licence. Why? Because the market cannot support a new licence. None of that has been done.
12943 For Peterborough, which has a CBC Radio 2 service and if the market is very weak, if I had come to you and said, "I want a new licence for Peterborough", you would say, "No, the market has a new licence, it hasn't fully accommodated and grown into that licence." In fact, the market is a mess, now you are putting another licence on top of another licence and I think it's very, very premature to come up with that conclusion.
12944 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, gentlemen. Those are our questions.
12945 MR. KIRK: Thank you for your time. We appreciate it.
12946 THE CHAIRPERSON: We will just continue with our next and last intervenor for the day.
12947 Madam Secretary...?
12948 THE SECRETARY: Hi, can you hear me well?
12949 MR. BRUNEAU: I can hear you well.
12950 THE SECRETARY: Perfect. Thank you.
12951 So now we will hear the presentation by Stand on Guard for CBC who is appearing by videoconference from Vancouver.
12952 Please introduce yourself and you have 10 minutes. Thank you.
12953 M. BRUNEAU : Merci. Messieurs et mesdames les Commissaires, Monsieur le président, ladies and gentlemen, my name is William Bruneau. I represent a national coalition of concerned citizens called Stand on Guard for CBC.
12954 This coalition began work in the spring of 2008. At the time, the CBC Radio Orchestra ceased to exist. It was a victim of cutbacks, as I'm sure you know. Our campaign to save the Orchestra was, in the end, unsuccessful. But this is just one of the objects -- or was one of the objects of our coalition, we added a couple of others and a crucial one today concerns the governance of the CBC.
12955 We were and are deeply concerned also by unwelcome changes in the format or Radio 2, particularly a movement away from classical music and arts broadcasting.
12956 These changes weren't just matters of format, not just the mere elimination of an orchestra, the cancellation of a national competition, an end of generous competitions of new works of art. Those certainly were frustratingly bad ideas, but it wasn't just these ideas and schemes that bothered us, it was the sense that we had no reliable way of knowing how the CBC board and administration made its decisions.
12957 In the absence of adequate evidence we concluded that the CBC administration had decided in the early 2000s to do whatever it had to do to increase listener statistics, and whatever they must do to make friends with the new media.
12958 The Corporation has gone on to produce expensive advertising campaigns to persuade us on these two points.
12959 Yet the contrast is remarkable. With the legislated mandate of the CBC, which is about encouraging national unity, about respect for regional and cultural difference in the nation, about the creation and diffusion of our cultural patrimony, the kind of patrimony that helps Canada retain and maintain its identity in a globalizing world, and of course it's about entertainment of a truly lasting value.
12960 So the mandate is not exclusively about doing what the broadcast marketplace demands. This point has been made repeatedly by other intervenors, so I just want to move right along to emphasize a separate but important point, and that is the number of people who have been involved in this campaign to draw the attention to the public and particularly the Government of Canada, and ultimately you, the regulators, to the problems that I have outlined.
12961 There were thousands of people who were involved particularly in 2008, '09 and '10 who are still involved. It may help you to see a sample of their letters. I'm going to flash in front of you a great big pile of paper. Here it is. Actually, it's not as impressive onscreen as it is here in the CRTC office in sunny Vancouver, but believe me, there are hundreds of pieces of paper here.
12962 After a successful request to the federal privacy Commissioner -- just to return to the point of governance -- one of our members last year was able to obtain heavily redacted minutes of the Board of Directors of the CBC. The minutes for selected meetings ending in 2010 added up to about 1,800 pages of text, of which we were able to see possibly two-thirds, because the rest were blacked out.
12963 At page 787, according to my computer's pagination, Mr. Lacroix informed the Board that the number of our letters was beginning to decline. That single reference was the only documentary proof we had that the Board and senior CBC staff have paid any attention whatsoever to our input since the early 2000s.
12964 I don't wish to sound like a spoiled child exactly, but it did seem to us that several thousand citizens and their worries ought to have been a more systematic concern to the board than that.
12965 Thus, our main argument today is about CBC governance.
12966 We say that the licence for CBC Radio 2 should be renewed, but with a strong requirement -- a very strong requirement that the CBC accept reliable and binding mechanisms for public input. A moral framework already exists, it is provided by the Broadcasting Act and by legislation enabling your work in the Commission, but adequate mechanisms for feedback and true accountability do not yet exist at the CBC.
12967 Our paper makes much of the contrast between the Canadian situation and that of other public broadcasters. One of them is the BBC. The BBC Trust, although imperfect, offers a glimmer of hope, at least in that country and possibly in this one if we were to adopt the example. It is a broadly consultative and participatory body whose findings cannot safely be ignored by the BBC's governors or by the BBC's senior staff.
12968 Thanks to decades of hard work and reasonably generous funding produced by license fees, the Trust has weathered recent political storms. I'm thinking of the storm of last week particularly. In the U.K. the BBC is not seen as just another licensed, it is a special case funded and governed in its own way.
12969 Listener and viewer feedback has become a routine basis for BBC decision-making on programming, administration, and finance and listeners and viewers are generous in their support and in their assessments of the BBC, and tough, too, including those many listeners who do not spend their lives watching and listening to the BBC on the Internet.
12970 The dominant opinion inside and outside the BBC is this: reliable feedback, corporate transparency and reasonable levels of accountability have made the BBC great -- not just good, but great.
12971 Our paper therefore suggests the wisdom of reviewing British practice, but also considering mechanisms in two other countries, Australia and the United States.
12972 I'm not going to repeat the sections of the paper that deal with that, but pass on to our four specific recommendations, just to make sure everybody recalls them.
12973 One is to create or to recommend the creation of an independent supervisory entity for the CBC that includes experienced artists and broadcast professionals;
12974 To adopt a binding public value test for programming changes;
12975 Third, to agree a way of sustaining effective relations between the CBC and the arts and culture community in Canada; and finally,
12976 to walk the talk of cooperation, consultation and transparency in governance.
12977 We like to think that one day a transformed CBC Board of Directors will meet routinely and transparently in public, dealing in private only with personnel and real estate matters.
12978 At the University of British Columbia -- of which I was a staff member for several decades and whose budget is almost exactly the same as the CBC's -- the governing Board and Senate have met in public for generations, the transcripts of their meetings are available to you and to everybody, why can't the CBC do likewise, at the very least.
12979 Thank you very much.
12980 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Bruneau.
12981 Commissioner Poirier will have some questions for you.
12982 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Good afternoon, Mr. Bruneau.
12983 May I ask you the question both in French and in English?
12984 M. BRUNEAU : Comme vous le désirez.
12985 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. We will start in English then.
12986 Okay. So I want to tell you first that I learned a lot reading your application, mostly the differences between public broadcasters throughout the world, so I really did appreciate you reading your application. It's an in-depth documents, so thank you very much for that.
12987 The second thing, I was wondering, how many members are in the Stand on Guard for CBC group?
12988 MR. BRUNEAU: Yes. Like many coalitions it's composed of many fragments, that is segments of public opinion and people spread right across the country and we do not have a formal organization. No one ever had to pay a fee to be a member so I have no evidentiary proof of the exact number of people who belonged or joined in our work.
12989 We can say that we have several thousand, probably as many as 10,000 people who have signed onto our various websites and who have provided some of those pieces of papers, letters which I have shown to you, some of which I have shown to you. I'm going to guess that we are in the thousands and that is as much as I dare to say.
12990 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Thank you very much. It helps to understand how big the group you represent.
12991 MR. BRUNEAU: Yes.
12992 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. The name, "Stand on Guard for CBC", my first perception was that you would love CBC to stick to the status quo and keep everything as it is or as it was a long time ago.
12993 Is it what you are aiming at?
12994 MR. BRUNEAU: Oh, no. No.
12995 First of all, on the point of governance of course we do want change. Some people would call it a relatively modest change, others would call it radical. We do want transparency, we want accountability of a certain kind. I don't mean accountability the marketplace of course, I mean accountability to the mandate as its laid out in the Broadcast Act.
12996 Our view is, of course, that the CBC has begun to move, to some extent, away from the full expression of that mandate and that is one of the things that bothers us. So we would like change in the sense that the CBC would return to a full expression of the mandate.
12997 The second point I would make is about programming.
12998 No, we do not necessarily want classical music to rule the roost, which might be the impression you would get from what we say. Intelligent, capable, well-curated, well-organized broadcasting of Canadian art, music in all its forms are what we are after, not just something which is likely to please the marketplace or to raise ratings, but rather which expresses intelligently and ably the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's ability to meet the mandate.
12999 So I think that means change in content, it means change in format and it means change in governance. So if I may I would like to suggest that we don't want the status quo.
13000 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Thank you very much.
13001 I was wondering, because you received many complaints, you gathered them, did you have any discussions with the CBC, formally or informally?
13002 MR. BRUNEAU: We tried in a variety of ways apart from the several thousand letters we sent to the Chairperson of the Board asking for a reply and to various members of the board, sometimes individually and sometimes collectively, over the last four years to get a significant response from them, that we were not able to do.
13003 Occasionally we would send missives and missionaries, as it were, to meetings where we knew Mr. Lacroix and Mr. Stursberg, the person who was in charge of a significant part of the operation at that time, to ask questions, questions that might have been perceived as helpful or, in other cases, slightly embarrassing, at various times and places across the country.
13004 That was the best we were able to manage most of the time. There were a couple of semi formal occasions when the leadership of the CBC answered questions specifically, but there was no sustained, committed response from the Corporation to us at any time.
13005 And the answer to your original question has to be no.
13006 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. So it was more of a monologue instead of a dialogue.
13007 MR. BRUNEAU: I'm afraid so.
13008 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. Some of your requests are more pointed at the government than at the CRTC directly. I am thinking of appointing a director, a representative of the general public or the civil society to the Board of Directors.
13009 You agreed with that?
13010 MR. BRUNEAU: Yes. We did get a good hearing with the relevant committee of the House of Commons. Ten of us were heard, in fact, on a video link rather like this one, three years ago.
13011 That was an important moment, and it was the appropriate place to make a claim for a change in the way that appointments to the Board of Directors are made.
13012 The question of what is intra or ultra vires -- that is, what is legally possible for the CRTC to do -- I realize is going to come up today.
13013 I am going to guess that regulators do have a role to play, not necessarily in the actual structuring and functioning at the highest levels of the governance of the CBC, but in respect of whether or not it can carry out the mandate. That is the CRTC's job. It is to ask the question: Do the methods and the means that are at the disposition of the CBC -- are they sufficient to carry out the mandate.
13014 So, in that sense, governance, administration, regulatory practice, and their ability to pay attention to feedback, really matter, and they are within your rights to ask about them, it seems to me, and to deal with them.
13015 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: We asked a lot of questions about the Ombudsman, and in your file you talk about the Ombudsman that CPB has in the United States.
13016 We have two Ombudsmen, one at the CRTC and one at the CBC.
13017 Have you been in touch with the Ombudsman?
13018 MR. BRUNEAU: Yes, we have. We discovered that the Ombudsman's primary task, as he sees it -- I believe it is still a he -- is to regulate cases where journalists have been found to have been in conflict of interest, not to be carrying out their duty, or in some way to have flouted regulations either of the CRTC or of the CBC, and to have gotten into trouble one way or another.
13019 This seems to have to do with journalistic ethics more than it does with quality of programming.
13020 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: That's true, but would you like the Ombudsman to widen his --
13021 You understand what I mean. Thank you.
13022 You would be willing for that to happen, to widen the scope.
13023 MR. BRUNEAU: Absolutely. That could be part of the solution to the problem that we outlined.
13024 My own view is that that would not be enough, but it's a fine first step.
13025 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. Let's go through your recommendations, one by one.
13026 Create an independent supervisory entity for the CBC that includes experienced broadcast professionals and artists.
13027 What do you exactly mean?
13028 MR. BRUNEAU: At the moment, we have the impression that the Board --
13029 Now, I have to tell you that it is just an impression, because we have been unable to have close and direct relations with the Board. You understand that this puts us in a position of considerable difficulty, but our impression is that the Board is concerned with matters of business, real estate, financial detail and, to a surprisingly small extent, with the larger objects and objectives of the CBC.
13030 Those three things that were mentioned in the 1991 mandate seemed to come up very rarely in those minutes which I mentioned a few minutes ago, as I was talking at the beginning of our conversation.
13031 We wondered whether this was because there are too many lawyers and too many business people on the Board, and it could be that there are, that a few more artists and a few more generally concerned citizens might have a role to play on a renewed Board of Directors, and that the criteria for deciding who ought to be on the Board should be made more precise and more expansive at the same time.
13032 So I do believe that there is a problem with the kinds of people who somehow manage to get on the Board, but I hesitate to say it because, what do we know? We have no way of understanding exactly what goes on at Board meetings. We don't know, in fact, if there are passionate defences on all three fronts, of all three parts of the CBC mandate, because the thing operates in a black box.
13033 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, but the Board reports yearly.
13034 MR. BRUNEAU: Yes. I imagine that you have had a look at those reports, and I have too.
13035 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, the last one was in St. John's.
13036 MR. BRUNEAU: Yes.
13037 I mean, they are beautifully printed, nicely written, and they tell us almost nothing about the detailed arguments, pro and con, about the various steps that have been taken, whether it be format change or whether it be this crucial question that was raised by the previous intervenor about advertising on Radio 2.
13038 It would be lovely to know what the pros and cons are, and how they are discussed on the Board.
13039 I would like to have a little bit of input, too, that is reliable, into all of those discussions. I guess that I would put more emphasis on content and format than I would on advertising at this particular moment, because that is the nub of our brief.
13040 But you take my point.
13041 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, I do.
13042 The second item is: Adopt a binding public value test for programming changes.
13043 Tell us more about the binding public value test, which I think is used by the BBC.
13044 MR. BRUNEAU: It is. It might be worth just reminding listeners -- I know you have read this, but I am not sure that everybody else who is watching or listening to this has seen it.
13045 There is a four-part description of what counts as value.
13046 Maybe I don't have to go over it. It is important, though, to say that it does mention, in the case of the BBC, the things that are listed in its mandate, and in some detail. It revises that list of mandated objectives in such a way that they can be put into practise, because mandates are high-flown, abstract, value-laden things. They are almost like documents that describe theological arguments or high political arguments.
13047 What we want is something that is practical, that can be interpreted quickly by broadcasters, to decide how they might best choose a new format, what the content of broadcasting should be.
13048 The advantage of the public value test in the BBC is that it is precise. It's not vague. It asks about the various kinds of populations who will be listening, about the immediate political necessity, to make sure that all of the regions of the nation are taken into account when you are taking programming decisions, that the arts, in their broadest definition, are all considered when you are making programming, and that you don't get yourself run over, by accident, in the street when you take a wrong turn in the world of broadcast marketing.
13049 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: So programming cannot be changed on the CBC or SRC without doing a test like this.
13050 MR. BRUNEAU: That would be my view.
13051 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. Your third element is a bit similar to the first one. It's having a relationship between the CBC and the arts and cultural community.
13052 I think you have already spoken about this.
13053 And walk the talk of cooperation, consultation and transparency in governance.
13054 Are there specific things that you would love the CBC to do to help you in that recommendation?
13055 MR. BRUNEAU: Yes. At the very least, they could tell us exactly when they are going to meet next. That would be lovely. And thereafter, if we knew where Board meetings were to take place, and to make sure that they are entirely open, except when they deal with real estate and personnel matters, so that I can be there if I feel like it.
13056 I'm not sure that I want to travel to St. John's, or to Saint John, New Brunswick, or to Halifax, tomorrow morning, but --
13057 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Why not?
13058 Okay. We understand the point. This is an element --
13059 MR. BRUNEAU: That would be an easy and obvious practical step.
13060 It seems to me that the records of the Board should be fully available, and that arguments, pro and con, so that we can see reasoning on both sides of cases, should be made available to us, as well.
13061 Those are simple, practical steps, which would help to make more transparent the work of the Board.
13062 My anxiety about this partly is that we suspect that the Board has been sidelined in too many cases by extremely effective and rather energetic higher administration folks at the CBC. They are pretty good at running rings around the Board by times.
13063 So we think that the Board should be taken seriously. I am not entirely sure that the highest reaches of the administration of the CBC actually do take their own Board of Directors all that seriously.
13064 I know this, of course, from long experience, because at UBC and all of the big public universities in the country, administrators are famous for finding ways to get their way, without having to pay too much attention to Board and Senate, and I expect that the CBC is no different.
13065 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: So you would love the CBC to have similar governance as a municipal council, to hold public meetings and --
13066 MR. BRUNEAU: Given what happened this morning in Toronto, I'm not so sure.
13067 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. I was trying to make a link to something that is close to citizens.
13068 MR. BRUNEAU: I don't know if that is the analogy. The problem with that is the analogy, because I am not suggesting that we appoint, through a system of indirect election, the members of the Board of Directors of the CBC. If that is what you were trying to get at --
13069 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: No.
13070 MR. BRUNEAU: -- my answer is no.
13071 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. And the last issue that is important to your group, I think, is advertising on Radio 2.
13072 You are against that.
13073 MR. BRUNEAU: Yes.
13074 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: You didn't talk about it a lot in this presentation. Why are you against it?
13075 MR. BRUNEAU: Well, there is an argument from governance, for one thing. If, in the course of taking decisions about format, and the way you are going to reach out to the various populations in Canada -- if, when you take those kinds of decisions, you have to look over your shoulder at your advertiser, it is not a good thing.
13076 If your mandate is the three-part mandate laid out in 1991, it seems to me that there really is no room for that kind of backward looking, sideways looking consultation with advertisers. The consultation should be with the people of Canada, with artists, and with the regions.
13077 That's what the consultation should be, it should not be with General Motors, Canadian Tire, marvellous organizations though they are, but rather -- I have made my point already.
13078 It would be a distraction, and it would be bad for governance in that sense.
13079 I am also concerned with a point that was made by an intervenor on Friday, Professor Schuetze, who suggested that advertising and advertising income would have the effect on journalism of raising the question of impartiality and bias. That is to say, the question of whether or not money talks, and whether or not you would be as free as you should be to engage in deep research on socially difficult and politically difficult questions if you have to be looking over your shoulder from time to time.
13080 I think that's enough perhaps for now. I have lots of detailed worries about advertising. I was really interested in the previous intervenor's claim that it would be bad for them, because it would be an unfortunate form of competition with private enterprise.
13081 I hadn't thought of that one, but I will take that point, too.
13082 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Thank you very much. I have asked all of the questions I wanted to ask you, but maybe some other panellists will have questions for you.
13083 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, thank you, Mr. Bruneau, it would appear that the Commission was able to read your brief and, with those questions, we have no further questions for you.
13084 Thank you very much for participating in this hearing.
13085 MR. BRUNEAU: Thank you.
13086 THE CHAIRPERSON: That ends our intervenors for today, so we will adjourn and reconvene tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1601, to resume on Tuesday, November 27, 2012, at 0900
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