Transcript, Hearing October 17, 2017
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Date: October 17, 2017
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Attendees and Location
Terrasses de la Chaudière
- Chairperson: Ian Scott
- Vice-Chairperson, Broadcasting: Caroline Simard
- Commissioners: Yves Dupras, Linda Vennard, Christopher MacDonald
- Legal Advisors: Jean-Sébastien Gagnon, Adam Balkovec
- Secretary: Lynda Roy
- Hearing Manager: Sylvie Julien
--- Upon commencing on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 8:59 a.m.
1644 THE SECRETARY: Good morning, everyone. We will be ready to start in 30 seconds.
1645 Yes, merci, monsieur le président. And now we'll hear the presentation by Cogeco Connexion Inc. Go ahead. You have 20 minutes for your presentation.
1646 MR. SMITHARD: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission. I am Ken Smithard, President of Cogeco Connexion. I’d like to take a moment to congratulate you and the Vice Chair on your appointments and we look forward to working with you in the coming years.
1647 I’d like to introduce my colleagues today. To my left is Tim Caddigan, our Senior Director of Programming and Community Relations for Ontario; and to his left, Daniel Picard, Senior Director of Programming and Community Relations for Québec. To my right is Nathalie Dorval, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Copyright for Cogeco; and to her immediate right, Bianca Sgambetterra, Senior Advisor, Regulatory Affairs, Cogeco Communications.
1648 We are pleased to appear today at this public hearing in support of our application to renew all of our broadcasting licences for broadcasting distribution undertakings that we operate in the provinces of Québec and Ontario. Through our licensed and licence-exempt BDUs, we currently serve approximately 730,000 video customers. We seek to renew our licences for a full seven-year term.
1649 This licence renewal process provides us the opportunity to look at the current state of broadcasting distribution business in Canada and how we think that business will evolve over the next seven years.
1650 Broadcasting distribution today is more complex, sophisticated, and competitive than ever before, and each passing year brings more challenges. The Cogeco Group has been a participant in the Canadian cable industry since 1972. Our business has therefore changed considerably over the 45 years, and so has the Commission’s regulatory framework for broadcasting distribution.
1651 Recently, the Commission completed a comprehensive review of its regulatory framework for broadcasting distribution as part of the Let’s Talk TV proceeding and also a comprehensive review of its Community Television policy. Cogeco has since worked diligently to fully implement the Commission’s new policy requirements within the specified deadlines.
1652 We will first address compliance with small basic and flexible options, then the operation of our community channels, and finally, Cogeco’s participation in the set-top box industry working group.
1653 Firstly, small basic and flexible options: We consider it fundamentally important for our business to fully understand our customers’ wants and needs, to offer them the widest possible array of video programming both through linear and on-demand channels, and to enable them to pick and pay for the individual services and packages of their choice.
1654 As the Commission knows, the competitive market for the distribution of video programming services in Canada is not limited to competition with other Canadian terrestrial and satellite distributors, but increasingly involves competition with over-the-top distributors operating on the internet worldwide.
1655 As a result, we have experienced over the past few years -- and will likely continue to experience throughout the next term of our licence –- some cord cutting and cord shaving from Canadian consumers for our traditional broadcast video distribution services. Nonetheless, we are confident that by expanding the range of choice we offer and by listening and being responsive to our clients’ needs, we will continue to endeavor to satisfy and retain our subscribers.
1656 Cogeco believes that it must continue to adapt to this new market reality. We have decided to adopt and make available to our Canadian customers the TiVO platform, which offers them unparalleled freedom to find and view the programs that best suit their interests and needs, including the programs from some over-the-top distributors.
1657 We have also fully embraced the new small basic and flexible packaging options. As a non-vertically-integrated BDU, Cogeco conducts all of its distribution activities solely with a view to delighting its video customers in a very competitive consumer-driven environment without any preference on who provides the video programming.
1658 As an example, the small basic service was offered by Cogeco from the beginning and is the only entry-level service that is offered since. Bundling discounts for video subscribers are available to those choosing to subscribe only to the small basic service.
1659 Small flexible packages include the ability for the customers to build their own package through a combination of “My Mix”, select premium packages, or small theme packs. Information on the basic service and flexible options is always easy to find and can be accessed on our web site, through our call centers, or in our stores.
1660 While we no longer promote our legacy packages, we respect our clients’ choice and have grandfathered these offerings. Should a client wish to migrate to our new options and have second thoughts, they can revert back to their previous package within a 30-day period.
1661 With respect to community channels, I'll turn it over to Tim Caddigan.
1662 MR. CADDIGAN: With respect to the second matter of compliance, we view our community channels as a very important part of our service to the communities we serve and to our customers. While we will address in more detail some of the interventions and comments directed specifically at our community television activities during this meeting, we consider that we are fully in compliance with the Commission’s regulatory framework for community television.
1663 Last month, our community television channels, which were known as Cogeco TV, were rebranded to YourTV in Ontario and NousTV in Québec, so as to better reflect the fact that what they offer is a true community service involving first and foremost the members of the communities we serve.
1665 MR. PICARD: Nous sommes extrêmement fiers du service que nous fournissons grâce à nos 34 canaux communautaires locaux et nous savons que nos collectivités apprécient grandement la programmation que nous offrons ainsi que l’implication de Cogeco dans les communautés qu’elle dessert. Ce message nous a été clairement communiqué à travers les 925 lettres d’appui que nous avons reçues lors de l'examen du cadre réglementaire pour la télévision communautaire tenu très récemment.
1666 Pour la dernière année de rapport allant du 1er septembre 2016 au 31 août 2017, 957 bénévoles dans les collectivités que nous servons en Ontario ont contribué 44,179 heures de bénévolat aux activités de nos télévisions communautaires. Grâce à cet engagement des citoyens et groupes, nous avons pu diffuser 4 966 heures de programmation d'accès en première diffusion. YourTV a diffusé en total 32 349 heures de programmation d'accès, représentant 79 pourcent de toutes les émissions de télévision communautaire diffusées sur nos canaux communautaires.
1667 Pour ce qui est du Québec, également pour la plus récente année du rapport allant de septembre 2016 à août 2017 inclusivement, quelque 373 bénévoles dans les 15 communautés que nous desservons ont contribué 38 523 heures de leur temps à la production de 3 915 heures de programmation d’accès originale, et NousTV a consacré au total 29 796 heures à la diffusion des émissions d’accès, soit 63 pourcent des heures totales de diffusion. Nous avons de plus travaillé de concert avec 15 entreprises de télévisions communautaires autonomes actives dans nos collectivités.
1669 MR. CADDIGAN: YourTV and NousTV accurately reflect how we view the community channels of which we are the proud stewards. It is a role that we have taken seriously for many decades and we look forward to continuing to do so.
1670 We ask that the Commission’s regulatory framework respecting community television remain stable and predictable, since it has just recently undergone a complete and thorough review. It would, in our view, be inappropriate to add more regulatory constraints to our community television activities through new conditions of licence as a result of this licence renewal proceeding.
1672 MS. DORVAL: In this notice of hearing, the Commission has also expressed its desire to evaluate progress made by the industry working group on the collection, aggregation, confidentiality, and use of audience data through set-top boxes used by the industry.
1673 Cogeco is quite satisfied with the progress accomplished, considering that the audience measurement model contemplated is unprecedented. It requires establishing a system receiving anonymized raw data files from different set-top box models and different BDUs, developing software that can fuse this raw data with current PPM demographic data and create a trusted industry audience measurement service.
1674 Cogeco has been actively involved in this working group and I was pleased to chair it for the first year of its activities from April 2015 to June 2016. The working group, which is now chaired by TELUS, has made considerable progress to date, issuing requests for information to seven third party's aggregator, reviewing their response and meeting with them, selecting Numeris, meeting with the office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and other groups to hear about their needs and concerns, and conducting a small-scale test in the Toronto region to validate the feasibility of integrating set-top box data from multiple BDUs. Cogeco was one of the 3 BDUs who participated in the small-scale test.
1675 Cogeco is pleased to report that it met with Numeris at the end of September, that it adheres to the working group progress report filed with the Commission on September 20th, including the detailed timeline for completion of the proof of concept to be conducted by Numeris and that we are confident in moving to the next steps.
1676 Looking forward and considering the numerous policy reviews recently undertaken, we hope for stability and predictability of the regulatory framework under which our licensed terrestrial BDUs must operate. We are operating in a very highly competitive market in Canada and as business will continue to experience attrition from over-the-top distributors not subject to regulation or supervision by the Commission, we urge the Commission to be attentive to the regulatory requirements of our remaining licensed terrestrial BDUs.
1677 We thank you for hearing us and we will now be pleased to answer your questions.
1678 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Merci.
1679 COMMISSAIRE SIMARD: Alors, bon matin. Merci d’être avec nous aujourd'hui. Merci pour votre présentation qui a mis en lumière des points dont nous pourrons discuter dans la prochaine heure.
1680 Évidemment, le focus ce matin sera sur la programmation communautaire. J’ai quelques petites questions sur les pratiques liées au service de base, puis par la suite, mon collègue, le conseiller Chris MacDonald, pourra s’entretenir avec vous sur les questions des décodeurs.
1681 Alors, pour commencer avec, donc, le petit service de base et les options d’assemblage souples, de façon générale, j’aimerais savoir comment… comment vous avez vécu l’expérience là de vous conformer aux pratiques exemplaires.
1682 MR. SMITHARD: So, today, since we've launched the basic service about 18 months ago, it always has been front and center for us. So our new packaging strategies is actually quite simple. Everything starts with the basic service and then the customer has the ability to build on top of that by adding either what we call our "mixed packages" where they can, you know, select themselves a predetermined number of packages. So we have a mix 10, a mix 20, mix 30, mix 40 in Ontario and a mix 10, a mix 15, a mix 30 I believe in Quebec.
1683 So the customer can build their own packages or they can pick from preassembled packages. In addition to that, they can add premium services such as sports, movies, et cetera. So all of our packaging starts with the base and then you build on top of it. So in all of our marketing material, websites, the basic package is front and centre.
1684 COMMISSAIRE SIMARD: Okay. Thank you. My next question in French -- I have prepared my questions in French so ---
1685 Y’a une intervention qui a été faite par l’Union des consommateurs qui a souligné une pratique de Cogeco qu’elle jugeait préoccupante, c’est concernant, donc, l’enregistreur TiVo MD5, alors… – je sais pas comment on l’appelle plus simplement –, alors, j’aimerais mieux comprendre, c'est-à-dire que j’ai compris, donc, que la préoccupation, c'est que le service de télévision de base ne peut être jumelé aux offres promotionnelles et aucun rabais n’est applicable sur l’enregistreur. Alors, encore une fois, nous aimerions avoir des clarifications peut-être à ce sujet.
1686 MR. SMITHARD: Et peut-être je vais reprendre en anglais, c’est le même bureau.
1687 So our box pricing strategy is such that customers receive a discount on the decoder or the box, whether it's a TiVo or a Legacy HD DVR or HD box, depending on the level of packaging that they pick. And it's above our mix 10 package that they receive that. So the basic service and My Mix 10 combination wouldn't be eligible, but anything above that is eligible for a discount. And our box pricing for non-discounted ranges anywhere from 7 to $15 depending on the type of decoder. The other way to be eligible for decoder discounts is to subscribe to all three services.
1688 MS. DORVAL: If I may add, so Ken discussed the discount on decoders but the bundle discounts are available to all subscribers, including those who only subscribe to the basic service.
1689 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you, and ma dernière question concernant les options d’assemblage souples. On en a parlé hier, alors c’est la même question concernant les ententes d’affiliation. Alors, on aimerait que vous nous décriviez vos négociations quant aux ententes d’affiliation avec les services de programmation depuis la présentation de nouvelles exigences relatives aux normes d’assemblage.
1690 MR. SMITHARD: So just at a high level, the nature of the negotiations with program suppliers today has changed in light of the new packaging. Obviously penetration rates and penetration levels now become much more germane to the conversation when discussing wholesale fees. And as a result, the complexity has gone up a little bit in terms of the negotiation and there is cost pressures as penetration rates go down to maintain a revenue stream that's acceptable to the programmers which puts cost pressure on our overall gross margin picture.
1691 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you. Anything to add on this topic of the “petit service de base”? Non? Alors, on va entrer dans le coeur du sujet qui est les exigences règlementaires concernant la programmation communautaire et locale.
1692 Alors, dans un premier temps, j’aimerais qu’on discute des défis au niveau de l’identification souvent des… c'est-à-dire de la tenue des registres là puis des petits problèmes qui peuvent survenir en pratique. Alors, de façon générale, nous aimerions vous entendre sur les défis qui entourent la tenue de ces registres-là. Alors, pour illustrer par exemple ces… on a compris qu’il peut y avoir des défis pour identifier certaines… certains programmes. Est-ce que ce sont, donc… est-ce qu’ils appartiennent à une programmation locale ou d’accès ou des trucs comme ça.
1693 MR. CADIGGAN: I don't know that it's fair to say that it's a difficulty that -- and I'll say, with all due respect, that if you're referring to the audits that were undertaken, I think it's fair to say that the audits were a bit of a surprise in the volume that were requested. And what complicated matters, at the outset was that the requests that came in changed the coding for the programs that had been used for decades. So literally an A program, which would be licensee produced, in the request that came out in the audit was now identified as -- I forget the exact thing but maybe it was a C, and B was an A. And so it was like trying to learn a new language in fulfilling the audit requirement.
1694 Through some discussions with other BDUs and the Commission, the audit was -- the codes were reverted back to the traditional approach. In addition, the logs that we would typically provide the Commission if there was an audit, which had been industry accepted for, again, decades, were not acceptable. We needed to provide a new format. So, all of the administrative things to start the audit were complications but certainly not the record-keeping. The record-keeping is solid.
1695 And I think what we're heard over the last few presentations, the presentations yesterday, was a universal desire on the part of the Commission and the BDUs to come to some common format. We were really caught I think a little bit off guard with the change in the format of the audit papers.
1696 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you. Il a été mentionné, donc, dans le dossier que Cogeco était d’avis qu’il était difficile d’évaluer les activités d’un canal en ne se fiant qu’au registre. Alors, j’aurais aimé mieux comprendre en fait ce que vous suggérez qui serait au-delà des registres ou peut-être plutôt les problèmes que l’on peut vivre avec… en ne se limitant qu’aux registres.
1697 MR. CADDIGAN: I think our suggestion was really around the fact that it's difficult for somebody -- in this case it was a Cactus member, I think, from British Columbia who reviewed our content on websites. And then- what's published on websites is not done in any way to obscure or hide information, but rather it's intended for the viewers in that area.
1698 So for example, you know, I live in Burlington, Ontario which is heavily served by Halton Region. And so if you're not from that area, to understand what Halton is is very difficult. So if you're looking from a distance and we say that we're going to present a program that is of valued information for residents of Halton, that makes sense if you live in Burlington. But from outside it sounds like we're programming to another community.
1699 So I'm not sure the level of detail we can get to when in -- you know, the goal or the -- I think the aim is to try to provide information to potential viewers in that specific area. Certainly, I guess, more information could be provided although I start to question some of the privacy issues around trying to, you know, provide addresses of our access producers and information like that, that it seems that Cactus was really eager to have.
1700 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay. On va y venir plus tard à cette question-là.
1701 So I have question about potential disclosure of information but for now I will just continue with my questions because I don’t -- I just want to be sure that I'm not missing any.
1702 Alors, avez-vous d’autres… d’autres choses à dire pour ces points-là, généraux là, de la conformité?
1703 MR. CADDIGAN: Well, I think we have a solid track record of being compliant. It's unfortunate that the complaints registered by Cactus were largely misinformed, and of no fault of their own. They're well intentioned. I've talked to a few of them. It's not that they're -- they have some hidden agenda against us specifically, but there were simply mistakes.
1704 It's -- I don't know that we could ever get to a level of information that would answer every question from somebody not in the viewing area.
1705 So for instance, in Burlington was one of the systems that they included in their intervention. They had a program called "The Issue" and I'm not sure what indicated this to them but they decided that it was a Cogeco format and not produced by an access producer. But it is. It's produced by a resident of Burlington. He hosts the show. He decides the guests. He decides the frequency. All we do is provide the facility. So there were mistakes in virtually every audit that they did of our systems.
1706 I'm not saying we're perfect. It's very possible we will make a mistake and you know, miscode something. There are a lot of hands that are involved in our operation. But overall from a compliance perspective we're very confident that we are compliant.
1707 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you. I have specific questions about, you know, the example you just provided.
1708 So -- but before, j’avais une question concernant la non-conformité alléguée là concernant la zone de… c'est-à-dire le canal de Georgetown/Milton. Donc, j’ai compris que y’avait eu des petits défis pour identifier ce qui appartenait à la programmation d’accès versus la programmation locale.
1709 Alors, j’ai compris, donc, que vous aviez, donc, d’emblée fait mention d’une non-conformité d’accès alors qu’il s’agissait d’heures insuffisantes pour la programmation locale, alors ça nous amenait à… en fait à nous poser la question au niveau peut-être du personnel en place : est-ce que ils sont bien formés, est-ce qu’il y a des défis de ce côté-là au niveau, donc, du personnel. Je sais qu’on a parlé en introduction de… en fait du fait que vous faites cet exercice-là depuis des années et que vous êtes de façon générale en conformité, mais pour ce petit exemple-là qui nous a été rapporté, on apprécierait des éclaircissements.
1710 MR. CADDIGAN: So with Milton and Georgetown, yes, it's fair to say there was an issue during one of the audit periods. We had a manager that left our employ and went off to start his own business. And so there was a gap in resource at that station but it was very short.
1711 We're fully staffed, the staff are fully trained. There's a manager that's -- that oversees the operation. We have more contacts now in that area than we did obviously during the audit period. And it is a fairly unique community for Cogeco and we do have to make some inroads into some communities that we are still emerging.
1712 So that area up until most recently was the fastest-growing community in Canada. And we've had a very diverse population that has emerged and we're engaging with them for some programming that we're doing.
1713 But overall, some of the things in the audit were simply mistakes. So I don't know if you want to get into specifics of those now or if you wanted to hold those until you -- you mentioned you had some specific questions.
1714 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Yeah, like, by topics, so yeah, maybe we could just -- or if you want to just to share, you know, this examples and after that I will just keep them later on.
1715 MR. CADDIGAN: Okay. So I'll give you one specific example for that channel. There's a program there that's -- we're not doing it any longer but it was an access program called JustMove. And it was hosted by a young man from the area that is very active in anything to do with video. So he's probably proposed three or four or five shows to us over the last few years and we've done all of them.
1716 He hosts them, he produces them, he gets the guests. He's -- I guess maybe you'd call him somewhat of a local celebrity in that he's worked with some college kids to appear in their films. He's -- I think he's been in one commercial. He's done some theatre, I believe. But that's the extent of his experience.
1717 In the Cactus assessment, he's a professional broadcaster and as such, he's not able to be an access producer. I can tell you, having met him, he's not a professional broadcaster but he's a very energetic and enthusiastic consumer of media. And I don’t think that should be discouraged.
1718 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Yeah. In the examples I have here, actually, they were referring to Queen's Park Report and Municipal Matters.
1719 MR. CADDIGAN: So again, it's difficult to assess from a distance. Queen's Park Report is a program that we produce in many communities but they're original to those communities. The only thing they have in common is the title.
1720 So the fact that somebody produces that in Kingston with their MPP and in Milton with their MPP, there's no relation other than the fact that they call the show by the same title. There's nothing shared between it, there's no common video between it, the hosts are different, the way that they're structured, everything about the show is unique.
1721 And your other one was -- sorry, I missed the second show.
1722 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Municipal Matters.
1723 MR. CADDIGAN: Oh, okay. And again, a common title. Perhaps we're not as creative as we need to be in our titling of programs. It kind of captures it all. It's matters from the municipality and it is, again, hyper-local, involving people from various groups and organizations affiliated with the city. It's a common producer who decides the content but again, how that show works in one community versus another can be entirely different but the title is the same.
1724 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay, but what I'm hearing now is that they were no professionals at all in those shows, right?
1725 MR. CADDIGAN: No. That's exactly right.
1726 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay, good. Thank you.
1727 Si nous revenons à la question précédente de la tenue des registres, qui fait la tenue des registres? Est-ce que ce sont des bénévoles ou ce sont des employés formés par l’entreprise?
1728 MR. CADDIGAN: They're all done by employees. It's a very complicated program. I know that we're not the only BDU that invested in that program. We did it based on again, what traditionally the Commission has asked for. The layout of the log was to the standard that the Commission requested. And again, it would take hours to train somebody to be able to log.
1729 So logging is done at each local system by employees. It's then fed into a central area where it's scrubbed, I guess you would say, and looked at for any errors or inconsistencies. But they re all staff input.
1730 COMMISSAIRE SIMARD: Parfait. On a parlé dans les… avec les autres intervenants des parties de hockey, donc avec les lignes junior majeures. Alors, je comprends que vous diffusez de telles parties de hockey?
1731 MR. CADIGGAN: Yes, we do.
1732 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Puis vous les classifiez de quelle façon, accès, local ou autre?
1733 MR. CADIGGAN: We do classify them as local obviously because they are local to those markets. We have classified them as access because we feel that we have a relationship at the local level with the team who’s requested us to be there.
1734 I think for us, you know, we would separate a licensee produced program where we put on the event, we organize it, we decide the content. We have the ability to do it without really having to partner with someone else.
1735 In this case, we’re there at the invitation of the local team.
1736 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay. So I’m hearing that there are classified local either way, like either the match is brought -- I guess the match is in, you know, the local territory or elsewhere. Is that ---
1737 MR. CADIGGAN: No. So if we import it -- so let’s say the Kingston team is playing the Sarnia team ---
1738 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Yeah.
1739 MR. CADIGGAN: --- if we’re producing that game in Sarnia then in Sarnia it is a local game.
1740 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Yeah.
1741 MR. CADIGGAN: In Kingston it’s an import.
1742 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay.
1743 And do Cogeco or its affiliates have any interest in those teams?
1744 MR. CADIGGAN: From a home town level you hope they win but no, no interests.
1745 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: And do you -- does Cogeco generate any revenues from ---
1746 MR. CADIGGAN: No, we have the -- obviously we’re allowed by regulation to raise sponsorship dollars so -- and the idea behind sponsorship dollars is that it goes to support the local production.
1747 So I would say, off the top of my head, that for our markets we might have made $5,000 in each market. I can tell you we’d spend more than that just on volunteers. We buy them shirts, and jackets, and we buy pizza, and we try to take care of them. So it certainly is not even a cost recovery.
1748 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Puis est-ce que c’est des cotes d’écoute aussi qui sont les plus importantes si on compare aux autres programmes?
1749 MR. CADIGGAN: I think it’s -- well, it’s an interesting question. I think it depends on the market. So in some markets hockey’s very popular and yes it does very well. In other markets it would be second to city council coverage. It also is very tied to the performance of the team.
1750 In junior hockey, you know, the idea is that it’s a training ground for potential professional hockey players. So there’s a cyclical performance of most teams and so, you know, once every three years or so the team is typically very good, and so yes more people would watch then than they would when the team is not performing as well.
1751 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Puis est-ce que vous diffusez ces matchs-là également sur le web?
1752 MR. CADIGGAN: No.
1753 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: No. Okay. Ça nous amène à la question des émissions de type télé-magazine. Alors je comprends que... on en a parlé tantôt, vous faisiez référence je pense à ces émissions là, « TV COGECO Presents or The Issue », alors ce type d’émissions télé-magazine je comprends qu’elles sont diffusées sur vos canaux communautaires, et j’aimerais mieux comprendre qui est derrière là les idées créatives de ces émissions-là.
1754 MR. CADIGGAN: So it really depends on the show. With the program -- the issue that you mentioned, it’s not really a magazine style show. There’s a gentleman, his name is Mark Kar, and he’ll pick a local issue, whatever it may be, and maybe it’s the city’s budget, or maybe it’s -- I don’t know -- some development issues or something like that, and he’ll invite some guests in and he’ll interview them. So that’s an entirely different -- that’s completely his program it’s not ours.
1755 We do do some other shows that we classify as licensee produced. They’re A’s. So, for instance, in Burlington we do a nightly program that looks at various issues in the community. I wouldn’t quite classify it as a news program. If anything, I might say it’s a soft news program.
1756 And where we’ve done programs like that it’s been because there’s been an absence of other media doing that. So I don’t want to keep coming back to Burlington just because I live there, and it is probably the greatest community in Ontario, but there’s an absence of media. We’re between Hamilton and Toronto. There is no TV station other than us. There’s no radio. There is a very good local newspaper but it’s not a daily.
1757 If we look at our North Bay market where we do do news it’s the only market where we’re as into news as we are in North Bay. It’s a nightly newscast. And that was the result of a broadcaster leaving the market and not doing daily news so we started to offer that.
1758 And so it’s outside of the traditional community television. It’s produced by broadcast journalists, the same as would be if it was a CTV or a Global broadcast, and it’s coded as such. It’s coded as a licensee produced. So it’s not affecting our access -- our ability to produce or provide access to the community in any way.
1759 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: But they are qualified as access programs?
1760 MR. CADIGGAN: No.
1761 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: No?
1762 MR. CADIGGAN: No, they’re qualified as licensee produced. So they’re A’s. They’re not access.
1763 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Oh, okay.
1764 MR. CADIGGAN: So the differentiation for us would be this. If we own or hold the editorial control it must be licensee produced.
1765 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: M’hm.
1766 MR. CADIGGAN: And in that case -- in the case of those programs we do own the editorial control. We decide what goes on it.
1767 Now, we may -- we’d obviously invite people to submit ideas to us, but if we are producing them, if we are deciding at the end what goes in those programs, its licensee produced.
1768 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you.
1769 And is it right to say that these type of shows gives an opportunity to kind of bundle like micro, like tiny programs all together that could not be like broadcast otherwise?
1770 MR. CADIGGAN: No.
1771 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: No?
1772 MR. CADIGGAN: So in the case of the programs you’re referring to, they’re complete programs.
1773 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay.
1774 MR. CADIGGAN: So, you know, we would say welcome to -- we’ve just recently retitled the program in Halton to Halton News. It’s produced in the Burlington studio, and it’s a half hour of content ---
1775 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay.
1776 MR. CADIGGAN: --- local. So we talk about what happened in the city that day -- the area actually not even the city because it’s with Oakville. So we would talk about issues of the day in that market. We’d talk about things that are upcoming in that market. We would talk about -- you know, it’s specific to that. But it’s a half hour fully contained ---
1777 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: I see.
1778 MR. CADIGGAN: --- program.
1779 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: I see. Thank you. Ça nous amène à parler du dernier point là des pratiques liées à la tenue des registres concernant la programmation communautaire et locale. Donc, les émissions de COGECO dans lesquelles apparaissent les élus peuvent-elles être considérées comme des productions gouvernementales? Alors c'est la question là qui sont... qui est dans mes notes, mais en fait c'est pratico-pratique, ça réfère aux émissions « Burlington Matters » puis « Oakville Matters » dont vous avez discuté précédemment. Alors y a eu évidemment des préoccupations qui ont été soulevées parce que des élus apparaissaient dans ces émissions-là, je voulais clarifier... et ce qui était préoccupant pour nous, c'était est-ce que ces émissions-là sont financées par les organisations municipales?
1780 MR. CADIGGAN: No, they’re not financed. I mean, we would -- we provide the facility.
1781 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: M’hm.
1782 MR. CADIGGAN: We provide the staff required to produce the program.
1783 In the case of those programs specifically, I can tell you in Burlington it is -- it does involve the mayor. The mayor had a program with us prior to his election -- not in relation to municipal government or anything like that -- and so he’s continued to want to be involved in the channel.
1784 Typically the show would be he would come on and he would bring people from various organizations in the city that he wants to profile and talk to them about what they’re doing. So it’s a variety of topics. It’s not specific to the city’s activities, or their budgeting, or that sort of thing.
1785 So there’s no money that changes hands whatsoever. It’s strictly a proposal from the mayor and that’s how he’s communicating to his constituents in a market again where there’s a bit of an absence of media. And the same would be true for only Oakville. The Oakville Mayor also participates and does the same thing, so literally, they would do a half-hour program where they might talk about a play that's going to be put on at the local playhouse and they want to profile the fact that it's a great community organization and celebrate them.
1786 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: So in these cases, the Mayors are the host of those programs; right?
1787 MR. CADIGGAN: That's correct, yes.
1788 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay. Et où est la limite? Parce qu’évidemment, y’a des campagnes électorales qui surviennent, est-ce que… où placez-vous la limite puis comment donnez-vous accès évidemment aux autres candidats puis aux autres personnes qui potentiellement pourraient poser leur candidature pour des postes de maires et…
1789 MR. CADIGGAN: We are extremely careful, so there are requirements that any elected official not appear on air unless it is in a debate format, for instance, with other candidates.
1790 We adhere to that and then some, so we know when the next municipal election is coming. While we don't have to take them off air at the start of the season in September, we would. They would not appear on air at all, and we -- basically they understand that, that we won't do any type of programming with somebody that's in office to give them any advantage whatsoever.
1791 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: And have you received any requests from other potential candidates to, I don't know, host some programs, and ---
1792 MR. CADIGGAN: I can't think of any that come to mind off the top of my head, but I think, you know, if somebody came to us with an access proposal that was -- that was, you know, a good proposal, we would -- we would certainly consider it.
1793 They would not necessarily -- and I guess if they were smart, they wouldn't declare their candidacy until closer to the election. But certainly we would look at their access proposal.
1794 COMMISSAIRE SIMARD: Merci. Alors, ça nous amène à parler maintenant de la communication des renseignements. Ç’a déjà été abordé au début de notre entretien, alors y’a cette question-là de tenter de déterminer si ce que vous pensez de la possibilité d’augmenter la transparence là dans les renseignements qui concernent la programmation locale et d’accès, alors est-ce que… que pensez-vous de ça puis quelles seraient les limites d’une telle communication?
1795 MR. CADIGGAN: Well, I think that there's no doubt we'd probably need to flesh out our descriptions. Again, that certainly wasn’t in any way trying to hide anything or obscure anything, but perhaps we could flesh out our descriptions.
1796 I hesitate to think, though, that we're going to somehow publicize that Joe Smith is an access producer and he lives in the community and, you know, those sorts of things.
1797 That's never been of interest to anybody in the past. It's been that they're from the community.
1798 We certainly ask more questions than we have in the past. If we assume somebody lived in the community but we find out they're, in fact, one concession away, you know, there's a fine line.
1799 And so we've been tripped up by that a little bit, so we're internally tightening things up a little bit. But I think that the discussion yesterday around trying to come up with a common format that works is a good one.
1800 Perhaps that's more on the back end in our reporting to the Commission rather than trying to muddy how we promote a program for an access producer versus trying to make sure that anybody looking at it can verify it from a distance that it is an access production.
1801 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: So what I'm hearing is that the limit would be, of course, with privacy matters like personal information, but it is more than that. It could be like cumbersome to a certain extent, and you -- and I understand that you would be a bit reluctant to -- is that correct?
1802 MR. CADIGGAN: Yes and no.
1803 So it's not the cumbersome part. We want to do as much as we can to make it evident.
1804 I'll give you an example. And I can't talk to who made this type of contact, but one of our access producers had a phone call received at their place of work to ask where they lived.
1805 That's not really a comfortable situation for them. They don't want their private lives to be promoted to verify that it's an access program. I think we'd start to see access producers disappearing on us.
1806 So should we somehow more eloquently describe the program? Perhaps yes. And we'd be more than willing to do that.
1807 But I think anything else needs to be more on the back end. So if we're going to say that so-and-so is an access producer, perhaps confidentially to the Commission we would provide their address and their residence.
1808 COMMISSAIRE SIMARD: Puis… donc, si on parle de la communication en général de renseignements au public pour les rapports annuels, on a abordé cette question-là hier, que pensez-vous de cette possibilité d’avoir une plus grande ventilation des renseignements qui concernent les dépenses et les heures de programmation par source de programme?
1809 MR. CADIGGAN: I think like the other presenters, we'd certainly be interested in discussing that further. I want to watch that it doesn't become an administrative burden.
1810 Certainly the audits were very extensive and very time-consuming, but I think for our filing that if we could provide further information to help the Commission in its analysis, I think we'd be open to that.
1811 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you. Est-ce que vous avez reçu souvent de telles demandes d’accès à l’information pour ces informations-là?
1812 MR. CADIGGAN: No, we've not received any asks.
1813 COMMISSAIRE SIMARD: Je vais revenir deux questions en arrière juste pour préciser pour le dossier. Donc, le type d’informations qu’on pourrait voir décrites de façon plus en détail pourraient être… la grille horaire, je pense qu’elle appa… elle… cette information-là apparait déjà, mais sinon, on pourrait parler d’une plus grande description des émissions, des catégories de programmation locale et d’accès, puis là où je vois… où j’entends des limites, c'est concernant les renseignements sur les individus. Est-ce que j’ai bien compris?
1814 MR. CADIGGAN: Yeah, I think that's -- that's a fair assessment.
1815 So the basic way that we promote our programming would be on our web site. We've just redone our web site. We were certainly on an old platform that had many, many limitations, so I think we've remedied that to a great extent.
1816 It's still rolling out over the next little while.
1817 I guess the question I would have, though, is of what interest to the viewer is it that the type of program is somehow communicated. If it's of interest to the viewer, I suppose we put it in there. But we've always looked at our web site as a vehicle to communicate to the potential viewer.
1818 I think what you're asking, really, is that it has two purposes. One is to the viewer, but then one is perhaps to the regulator.
1819 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Yeah. For compliance-like issues.
1820 MR. CADIGGAN: Right.
1821 Mme DORVAL: Si je peux ajouter, je pense que toute cette discussion-là autour du format aurait avantage à peut-être faire partie d’une consultation. Je pense qu’au moment où la vérification nous a été demandée, ç’a fait partie des discussions qu’on a eues avec le Conseil de demander de standardiser ces informations-là. Ça nous fait plaisir de les fournir, mais dans la mesure où ce sont des informations qui sont récurrentes, qu’elles sont codifiées de la même façon, ça nous permet aussi de développer des logiciels qui nous permettent d’automatiser une certaine portion de ce… ce « reporting ».
1822 Donc, c’est certain que, au moment où on nous demande un peu à la dernière minute ou sans qu’on s’y attende de changer les catégories d’un système qui est déjà informatisé et de demander à nos gens dans les télévisions communautaires de reformater ça à la main avec des heures et des heures de programmation, c’est certain qu’on peut pas envisager dans le futur que ça soit régulièrement effectué de cette façon-là.
1823 Je pense que le cri du cœur que vous entendez de tout le monde, c’est un peu de se dire, ben, est-ce qu’on peut s’asseoir, regarder ce qui est requis par le Conseil, si c’est pour des raisons de conformités, assoyons-nous, regardons ce qui est demandé, puis dans la mesure où ça peut après nous permettre à nous, à l’industrie de s’organiser pour informatiser une partie de ces informations-là pour rendre la tâche plus facile à tout le monde. Merci.
1824 COMMISSAIRE SIMARD: Les dernières questions concernent les dépenses directes et indirectes. Alors, je comprends qu’une incohérence a été relevée concernant la politique relative à la télévision communautaire, en particulier l’obligation relative à la prépondérance des dépenses directes par rapport aux dépenses indirectes. Alors pourriez-vous commenter les raisons de cette incompatibilité?
1825 Mme DORVAL: En fait, si je me souviens bien, c'est arrivé dans un système à Trois-Rivières, est-ce que... et donc le pourcentage... ou c'est arrivé dans deux systèmes...
1826 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Oui.
1827 Mme DORVAL: ...où le pourcentage est vraiment très, très proche du seuil. Donc ça été à quelques décimales, donc une question de calcul ou d’erreur humaine là au sein de l’entreprise. Par contre, ce qu’on vous a fourni comme information et que vous pouvez voir, c'est qu’en moyenne on dépasse largement les ratios de dépenses directes et indirectes qui sont requises. Et à ce titre-là, on pense qu’on a quand même démontré qu’on est un bon citoyen, mais on n’est-pas à l’abri des erreurs humaines qui peuvent arriver de temps à autre.
1828 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Puis c'est plus pour le futur, étant donné que ces pourcentages-là vont monter comme vous le savez. Comment anticipez-vous être en mesure de respecter ces nouvelles exigences règlementaires-là?
1829 Mme DORVAL: Nos équipes ont été dûment informées des changements règlementaires. Et je pense que si vous regardez sur une période - ça faisait pas loin de 13 ans que nos licences ont pas été renouvelées - que c'est pas un type d’erreur qui est récurrent ou qui est habituel, donc c'était vraiment... je pense pas qu’on doit s’inquiéter de cette exception-là à titre d’erreur qui soit arrivée là dans... à une occasion.
1830 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Oui, je comprends que dans ce cas-ci on parle d’une petite... un petit exemple, mais le pourcentage est bien en deçà par exemple du 75 pour cent qu’on va atteindre dans quelques années. Ma question c'est comment anticipez-vous être en mesure de rencontrer ces nouvelles exigences-là dans le futur?
1831 Mme DORVAL: Oui, mais donc... pour reprendre ce que vous dites, au moment où on parle du pourcentage qui a pas été...
1832 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Oui.
1833 Mme DORVAL: ...atteint, on est en terme de décimales. Pour la suite, nos équipes de finance ont été informées, nos équipes de télévision communautaire aussi des différences de pourcentage de dépenses directes et indirectes. Et donc dans les activités des télévisions communautaires, ils réorganisent leurs activités pour être en mesure de répondre à ces nouvelles exigences-là.
1834 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Parfait. Alors moi ça fait le tour des questions que j’avais pour les pratiques liées à la conformité concernant la programmation communautaire et locale.
1835 Avant qu’on passe aux questions concernant les décodeurs, avez-vous d’autre chose à ajouter?
1836 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Good morning and welcome.
1837 I want to start off by thanking Cogeco for your participation in the working group, and in particular, Ms. Dorval, for the extra effort that you put in as the first chair of the group. I know that's in addition to a demanding day job, so that is appreciated.
1838 And I do have some questions and it comes from I think a shared desire to advance the project as most efficiently as possible. But I'd start off by asking, following Let's Talk TV we established five guidelines, five objectives for what the working group and an audience management system would accomplish. And hindsight being 20/20, now that we're 2 1/2 years into this project, do you think those objectives still remain relevant or do they perhaps need to be reconsidered, expanded, reduced moving forward?
1839 MS. DORVAL: I think they still remain relevant. I certainly do not think they need to be expanded. Now I think that we need to collectively understand that it's a challenging task that the Commission has to group to deliver on, I would say.
1840 First of all, it is a wide complexity to come up with the system. As you've been hearing yesterday and for a while and all the report that we've submitted to the Commission, this system does not exist, to start with. So each BDUs has its own architecture. There are different models of set-top box out there. They don't retrieve the same type of data. Some of them don't retrieve data at all. So it's an extensive exercise to try to map that, understand how we're going to be able to work around all of these difficulties.
1841 And the other thing is that such a vast data gathering takes time. I don't think that we can realistically expect that we're going to go through -- we just did the small scale test and it already was a challenge. So to expand that with more BDUs, more set-top box, more different system, takes time.
1842 So I guess that things are going as well as they can. I consider that a lot of movement and a lot of progress has been made to date, but I would definitely not think that expanding the scope or the objectives should be on the table.
1843 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Understanding the complexities involved with this, because it really is the first time anyone has tried to do this, so I don't want to make light of the challenges, but is it taking longer than you expected since you've been involved with this since day one?
1844 MS. DORVAL: Parts of the project has been longer than we would have thought collectively. I think even for Numeris. When we did the small scale test we were expecting the result, the analysis of these data that we would -- we were all expecting it would come sooner than it did. But again, I think it's a matter of complexity for everyone. And as it's never been done before, you would hope that things will unfold within a certain date, but these are, you know, software development. It doesn't always, you know, end up exactly as you have planned it with -- it would unfold.
1845 So I think it's advancing at a good pace and we've had challenges. I think we pretty much overcome them, and that things are on path to progress and stay on track.
1846 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Do you think any of the delay has perhaps happened because all of the individuals that need to be engaged within the BDUs to help facilitate this system, perhaps they haven't been leveraged to the greatest extent? Before joining the Commission I spent 10 years in telecom. I know firsthand that all of the BDUs have significant talent within their organizations and very talented individuals. Do you think that the BDUs just aren't bringing all of their internal resources to bear to help facilitate development of a system?
1847 MS. DORVAL: Definitely not. I think we've had amazing participation from the BDUs and the group as a whole. We've all really came to the table hoping that we can get something out of this. Again, it's good faith, I would say, challenges that we had because we're -- I think Commission must also realize that around the table regulatory staff is not necessarily -- are not necessarily expert in measurement system, and most of us have never worked on developing a, you know, a measurement development -- measurement system.
1848 So we all come with good intention. We need to rely on third parties that have the expertise. And that is also -- and here I just want to make clear, I'm not saying that Numeris has not been a good participant. That's not what I'm saying at all. It's a challenge for them as well, in a sense, because they are moving in a field that's unprecedented in Canada. So we're all trying for the best to make this thing happen but it's been time for -- times it's been challenging.
1849 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Is that an argument for more participation around the table? You know, you mentioned that a regulatory affairs individual may not have experience in audience measurement, may not have experience in engineering or analysing big data, is that -- if that expertise is not around the table, is that an argument for bringing in more resources from the organizations that participate?
1850 MS. DORVAL: No, I think at this point really with Numeris and the letter of intent and the proof of concept that are coming and the detailed roadmap that you have with the deadlines, I think we're in really good shape to move to the next step. It's been mapped. We understand where we're going. They have the expertise, so I think at this time, we need to let them do their work and continue to fully participate when they need our input to be able to move forward. And I think that's really what everyone around the table is doing.
1851 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. You sit around the table and I don’t so I approach this as somewhat of an outsider. So I'd like to ask, how confident are you in the most recent schedule of activities that have been presented by the working group to the Commission, because we've seen dates in the past which have not been met. So I'd like to get some assurance from you as to how confident you are that moving forward, this is a realistic timeframe.
1852 MS. DORVAL: I am very confident that it's a realistic timeframe.
1853 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And from a Cogeco perspective, are you already on track, having signed your letter of intent with Numeris?
1854 MS. DORVAL: We met with Numeris at the end of September. We've received a letter of intent. We are reviewing it. Actually, our legal counsel and Chief Privacy Officer are looking at it. And after this hearing is done we should be on track to sign the letter of intent.
1855 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Once you're actually allowed to go back to your office.
1856 What would be the approximate timing of that? Is that something you expect to have closed off by the end of the month, by the end of the week, by the end of the year?
1857 MS. DORVAL: You mean the letter of intent?
1858 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: The letter of -- yeah, the signed letter of intent.
1859 MS. DORVAL: I think it should be on track within the Numeris deadline which is, I think, in a week or so.
1860 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: It was last weekend, but ---
1861 MS. DORVAL: The signing, I think ---
1862 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: The signing.
1863 MS. DORVAL: --- yeah, it was the -- yeah.
1864 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: From your understanding participating in the group, there's a significant number of activities that need to happen. Are they going to happen in a linear fashion, meaning, okay, we're going to solve this issue and then move on to the next or are people going to be working in multiple swim lanes at the same time?
1865 MS. DORVAL: I was listening yesterday to these -- the discussion on this topic and I'm not sure I agree that they were -- many of those different steps, we'll be able to do it in parallel. I think that many of those different steps are a map on the list of Numeris with dates. And the thing I hope for is that we collectively will be able to follow this list and these steps and these deadlines.
1866 So for sure I wouldn't want to take some of them and start to move them around so we ensure that we try to go faster and we -- I think we should just, you know, do what's there, respect the deadline, and make sure we get to the bottom line of it.
1867 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: But would you think some activities can proceed in parallel? While technical issues are being addressed someone can be over meeting with the Privacy Commissioner to ensure that all guidelines are being met with respect to privacy while someone else is working on governance?
1868 MS. DORVAL: Yeah. Maybe, and if we can do that we will. But as for an example, when we look at what we had to report on, that had to be collected, the governance structure, privacy protection, technical standards, and cost sharing, somehow they're all linked together. So if we want to meet again with the Privacy Commissioner -- because we've already done that once -- and I think we were -- we intend to meet again -- that's described in our next steps -- we certainly need to be sure of what data needs to be collected.
1869 So there are some of these things that are linked that we need to be sure of what needs to be collected before we meet the Privacy Commissioner. So I think whatever we can do in parallel, we will certainly do, but I think there are some steps here that needs to be respected and that are mapped in the Numeris document, and that as much as possible we should really try to follow them.
1870 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Why has it been so long to develop a business case to ensure that this is actually a viable product? I might have thought that that might have been an earlier step than it appears to have been.
1871 MS. DORVAL: I'm not sure I understand why you would think it was that way. Again, as I said, this system doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. It's the first. Only the small-scale test required to get data from different BDUs, different set-top box that do not retrieve the same type of data. So when you put all this together and you then wonder can this be -- does these data be fused with the current Numeris data, it's not something that can be done within a month or so.
1872 So I actually -- maybe it's because I've been at each of these steps. I really wonder how we could have done it faster.
1873 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, thank you. That's helpful because like I said, I'm looking at this from the outside.
1874 MS. DORVAL: And maybe if I can add, within each BDU -- and I think someone alluded to this yesterday during the discussion -- we're all -- we're not all at the same place and do not use set-top box data in the same way. For example, at Cogeco, we participated to the small-scale test but internally we don’t use these data other than for channel network management.
1875 So you heard some BDUs yesterday talking about their network management with SVBs, switch digital, video, and broadcast, so that's the only reason why we use these data at Cogeco. So that meant for us that we needed to retrieve raw data that cannot be understood unless they are for us, dealt with a third-service provider that's going to help us manage or organize these data, then find a way to provide this in the right way to Numeris at that time.
1876 So it's a complex endeavour, can we say that, endeavour, yeah.
1877 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Cogeco's been quite generous with the working group to advance this file. They freed up some of your time to chair the group; you participated in the -- or maybe just you did it in addition to everything else. Cogeco participated in the initial test.
1878 Is there anything else planned that your organization is planning to contribute over and above to the activities of the working group beyond your continued participation?
1879 MS. DORVAL: I think at this point we're good for the continued participation with the others.
1880 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. So in your opening statements you said that Cogeco was quite satisfied with the progress. I'm assuming you're not a fan of the imposition of either the conditions of licence that IBG has presented as an option?
1881 MS. DORVAL: Actually, we're not a fan, and because the reason is because this is a collective undertaking, so I really -- we all really -- it's like an ecosystem. We all depend on one another to make this thing happen. And in addition, we heavily rely on a third-party provider that is Numeris. So I don’t see how effective a condition of licence on a single licensee could be, taking into account the context and the environment of this project.
1882 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Yesterday Shaw seemed to allude to the fact that a condition of licence might actually in some way slow the work of the group or act as a deterrent versus an incentive. Do you have any thoughts on that, because I'm struggling to see why it would slow or stunt the progress as long as the timing of the condition of licence aligned with the schedule of activities that the working group has put forward and what we've said in our three-year plan?
1883 MS. DORVAL: I don’t really have any comments on the Shaw proposal. Actually, I didn’t hear it. I was working to prep this -- our session. But my fear is more that it would be a condition of licence that would risk being ineffective. And we don’t really look forward to having conditions of licence that we may not be able to comply with. I think when we have control of the operations or of our business it makes sense to have a COL. But when we rely on someone else and we may or may not be able to achieve what's required from us, I would certainly not recommend that we get a condition of licence on this.
1884 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: But is it all -- with conditions of licence, is all that unusual that you would have to rely on a third party, be it outside professionals, a consulting firm, an equipment vendor? I think of conditions of licence that are on radio stations for public alerting systems. They didn’t build the public alerting system but they still carry the condition of licence.
1885 MS. DORVAL: Yeah, but the system existed. This one is non-existent.
1886 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Yesterday Shaw also indicated that they thought that the group should largely be -- continue to be driven by BDUs as opposed to some of the other members of the -- of the group.
1887 What are your thoughts on that? What is the rationale?
1888 I mean, I get that BDUs own the relationship with your end customers and that it's your data, so is that the entirety of the argument or are there other factors at play?
1889 MS. DORVAL: Well, I think they're pretty much linked to this. We have the end relation with our customers. We own and guarantee the security of their data. We have, obviously, privacy rules that are in place, so for these reason I think it would -- it should stay within the BDUs.
1890 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So following that same logic, doesn't it -- if BDUs are driving it, does it make sense for BDUs to carry the condition of licence?
1891 MS. DORVAL: Again, I think I'll come back to what I said. It's a non-existent system that you're asking us to develop, so I mean, I don't know how you would phrase your condition of licence to make it effective, but I -- I don't see how it would help getting to the end result.
1892 The real thing about -- the situation with this file is that we need to get to a proof of concept to see if there is a viable solution that we can put in place for measurement in Canada.
1893 So we need to then understand, is it cost effective. So if it's a best effort to get there, that's one thing. If it's the end result with the system that's in place at a certain date, I personally don't think it's realistic.
1894 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: There's -- there's only certain times that we can easily impose a condition of licence. Please don't think by me saying "easily" that we don't fully weigh the consequences when we choose to do so. But it will be a number of years before another opportunity may present itself.
1895 Wouldn't it make more sense to impose the condition of licence and then we could remove it in October 2018 after the working group has completed its good work and the system has been developed?
1896 MS. DORVAL: Again, this would really not be my recommendation.
1897 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Just one final question.
1898 If we didn't do a condition of licence as IPG suggests, is there anything else the Commission should be doing to try and advance or expedite the work of the working group?
1899 How can I help you help me?
1900 MS. DORVAL: I think we should all have the same objective here, and it's to end up with development of a product that will make sense for measurement in Canada.
1901 So to me, the end goal is not absolutely to get that system, whatever it does or does not. It has to help us. It has to be useful. It has to respond to certain objectives.
1902 So we must determine that it's technically feasible. We want a robust system that's reliable. It should provide an enhancement measurement.
1903 What if, at the end of the trial and the proof of concept, we arrive at the conclusion that it doesn't bring anything more than the current system brings?
1904 There must be -- there must be a final objective to this, and I think that's where we're putting our effort and that's what we're really trying, collectively, to determine.
1905 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Just a couple of final thoughts.
1906 Does Cogeco ever receive requests from programming services or other groups for access to any of your set top box data, and how do you treat those requests?
1907 MS. DORVAL: I think it has been asked once in a while to our affiliation team. But as we said, we don't -- we don't use it. We don't have it, so obviously we can't provide it.
1908 So no, there's no -- and we've never provided the -- any data to any third party other than to Numeris for the small scale test trial that was done in Toronto.
1909 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you very much. Those are my questions.
1910 MS. DOYLE: Thank you.
1911 THE CHAIRPERSON: I believe Commissioner Simard has a couple of follow-ups.
1912 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: On vient d’attirer à mon attention que nous devons prolonger un peu le plaisir. Des petites questions ont été omises. Alors elles concernent l’accessibilité, sous-titrage, vidéo-description et d’autres enjeux comme les messages d’intérêt public sur les disponibilités locales.
1913 Alors dans le dossier de cette instance, des Canadiens ont soulevé leur désir d’avoir la disponibilité d’appareils plus accessibles et ont noté que dans certains cas les boitiers ayant le plus de fonctions d’accessibilité semblent n’être mis disponibles qu’en lien avec un abonnement à un forfait plus coûteux.
1914 Alors quelle approche préconisez-vous face à de telles demandes a sujet des boitiers disponibles et compatibles avec votre système ayant le plus de fonctions d’accessibilité?
1915 MS. SGAMBETTERRA: So in terms of our set top boxes, we have quite a number of models out there, and they are all available to our subscribers with visual impairments free upon request. They all pass through the closed captioning and the video description.
1916 We also offer a remote that is -- that works with all the models of our set top boxes. It's the one-button remote which makes activating the described video very easy.
1917 And we also have the "set and forget" function available on all our models.
1918 So all our set top boxes are accessible, whether it's the high end or the lower end.
1919 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: And for the record, I have to ask you the questions about the clicks.
1920 MS. SGAMBETTERRA: Yes.
1921 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Dans votre réponse à la demande de renseignements supplémentaires du 16 janvier 2017, vous faisiez état du nombre de « clicks » nécessaires avec les boitiers décodeurs de votre EDR, donc de Cogeco, pour activer la fonction de vidéo-description et activer la fonction de sous-titrage.
1922 Étant donné la variabilité des réponses des EDR, le personnel vous demande de clarifier quel nombre de « clicks » vous semble raisonnable pour activer la fonction de vidéo-description et activer la fonction de sous-titrage, ainsi que le raisonnement portant à considérer ces réponses comme étant raisonnables?
1923 MS. SGAMBETTERRA: So we -- depending on the model, we -- either three or four clicks involved. And we are in discussions with one of our suppliers to make this easier in terms of no clicks so that it would be voice activated, but we're not there yet. But the maximum is four and minimum is three, and we simply can't make it any easier for the moment. So that would -- so we consider that reasonable.
1924 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: So the easiest you can get is two or three?
1925 MS. SGAMBETTERRA: Three.
1926 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Three.
1927 Maintenant les questions concernant les autres enjeux soulevées par des intervenants, donc messages d’intérêt public sur les disponibilités locales.
1928 En ce qui concerne les disponibilités locales, les autorisations générales permettent à une EDR de les utiliser pour faire la promotion d’émissions canadiennes originales. Parmi les 75 pourcent des disponibilités locales qui doivent être offertes tous les jours de radiodiffusion à cette fin, quel pourcentage est utilisé par les radiodiffuseurs afin de faire la promotion de leurs émissions?
1929 Mme DORVAL: Vous nous demandez quel pourcentage? Excusez-moi, pouvez-vous répéter juste la fin?
1930 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Oui. C’est-à-dire qu’on me demande ici la question : « Parmi les 75 pourcent des disponibilités locales qui doivent être offertes tous les jours, quel pourcentage est utilisé par les radiodiffuseurs afin de faire la promotion de leurs émissions? »
1931 Mme DORVAL: Donc en moyenne, on a énormément d’invendu. On est autour de 23 pourcent de demande pour de la promotion des émissions canadiennes en première diffusion et donc nous avons, dans nos réponses aux questions du Conseil et interventions, demandé... donc supporté la proposition de Shaw de pouvoir insérer des messages d’intérêt public dans la portion du 75 pourcent de disponibilité, compte tenu de l’ampleur des invendus. Je devrais pas dire « invendus » parce que c’est « cost recovery » mais du peu d’utilisation qui est faite de ces disponibiiltés locales.
1932 On est d’accord que c’est vraiment une opportunité manquée pour les organismes d’intérêt public au Canada quand on pourrait diffuser leurs annonces plutôt que de diffuser des publicités américaines. Récemment, on a eu la… par exemple avec Pelmorex, la deuxième campagne d’annonces d’intérêt public pour les messages d’alerte, c’est un des exemples où malheureusement, ben, on peut pas les insérer dans cette portion de 75 %-là. Même chose pour le CCTS, pour le CBSC, et pour tous les autres là qui… ce sont trois exemples qui viennent… qui me viennent à l’idée là, mais y’en a évidemment plusieurs autres.
1933 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Merci. Alors, justement concernant les messages d’intérêt public, y’a une deuxième question : si le Conseil approuvait une condition de licence, donc cette condition de licence, comment garantira-t-il que les EDR ne limitent pas d’une quelconque façon la capacité des services de programmation canadiens de faire la promotion de leurs services au moyen de ces disponibilités locales?
1934 Mme DORVAL: Ben, de toute… tout d’abord, je pense que les EDR, on n’a aucun intérêt à réduire la disponibilité pour la promotion des services canadiens en première diffusion. Je pense que l’intention était probablement vraiment bonne, mais on voit que c’est peu utilisé, et dans la condition de licence, le Conseil peut dire qu’on doit prioriser la diffusion d’émissions… de promotion d’émissions canadiennes en première diffusion. Je pense que ça pourrait régler le… régler la question.
1935 COMMISSAIRE SIMARD: Puis enfin, les questions concernant la haute définition. Faites-vous la distribution de tous les services facultatifs en HD? Puis sinon, pourquoi?
1936 Mme DORVAL: Oui, on fait la distribution de tous les services de diffusion en HD qui sont disponibles, donc on les distribue tous. Oui.
1937 COMMISSAIRE SIMARD: OK. Donc, vous avez pas à décider quels services de programmation seront distribués en HD parce qu’ils le sont tous.
1938 Mme DORVAL: Exact.
1939 COMMISSAIRE SIMARD: Parfait. Je vous remercie. Ça met fin à la série de questions. Merci.
1940 Mme DORVAL: Merci.
1941 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Dupras?
1942 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui, Madame Dorval, bon matin.
1943 Sur les disponibilités locales, comment expliquez-vous que les services de programmation les utilisent si peu ? Est-ce que y’a des contraintes ? Est-ce que c'est trop couteux ?
1944 Mme DORVAL: Non, je pense pas que ce soit… un, c’est pas couteux parce que c’est sur une base de recouvrement des couts. Je dois franchement vous dire que j’ai pas d’explications aux raisons pour lesquelles c’est peu utilisé. Peut-être parce que c'est tellement limitatif des émissions canadiennes en première diffusion, les premières diffusions n’arrivent qu’une fois, hein, par…
1945 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mm-mm.
1946 Mme DORVAL: …donc, ça limite déjà le bassin d’émissions qui peuvent utiliser ce mécanisme-là pour faire la promotion. Je…
1947 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Ils ne trouvent pas que c’est un moyen valable pour faire la promotion?
1948 Mme DORVAL: Écoutez, encore une fois, je suis pas la personne qui gère les disponibilités locales, donc j’ai pas de… j’ai pas d’explications là de première ligne à vous fournir.
1949 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: OK.
1950 Mme DORVAL: …pour… en ce qui a trait aux raisons.
1951 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
1952 Et Monsieur… and, Mr. Cadiggan, you said for the hockey games we’re asked by the teams and we do everything, and you also say that you qualify these programs as access. Can you complete more your question -- I mean your answer as to who has creative control over these programming?
1953 MR. CADIGGAN: That’s an interesting question. So there’s different hockey. If we’re referring specifically to major junior A hockey, that’s somewhat different than some of the smaller local teams in smaller cities.
1954 With major junior hockey it’s -- certainly it’s a partnership. I mean, we work with them. They provide people to us to include in our intermission. They provide information. In some cases somebody from the team may appear on air.
1955 But it depends on the market. There’s not a uniform approach in every market.
1956 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
1957 And aside from major junior league, the others, how is it done? Do they participate in the show, making the interviews, being the hockey host, or ---
1958 MR. CADIGGAN: Yes. And so ---
1959 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I mean, who’s ---
1960 MR. CADIGGAN: I mean, again, there’s no uniform answer to that, but in a smaller community you can imagine that the team with the younger kids playing probably has parents involved, yes they would appear as maybe the play-by-play person, or they might do the interviews at intermission. Certainly they’re involved, because it’s the same as -- think of it as an extension of their booster club almost. They’re just trying to promote their kids playing hockey, and not just hockey, other sports as well, and so they’re very involved in the actual production of it.
1961 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And how do you decide when it -- I mean, what criteria -- how does it meet the access criteria, the broadcasting of these programming? How do you make the decision that it’s access or local?
1962 MR. CADIGGAN: So typically it’s the team or the organization approaching us with the request. It’s their involvement in the program.
1963 For us, it would come down to, you know, are we available to do it, because a hockey game, or a soccer game, or a football game is a lot more involved than going out to tape a presentation that’s done at a podium for instance. There’s a lot more resources required to do so. So we would have to look at whether or not we can actually resource it properly to meet their request.
1964 But typically when we say it’s an access program it’s the request is coming from that organization. They’re taking a substantial role within that production, and they do have input to the creative direction of that program.
1965 Sports is a little different than maybe an interview show, because, you know, how do we define the creativity of it. Somebody is selecting which camera goes to air when. They’re deciding, you know, those sorts of things. So we tend to need to be more involved in that.
1966 But when I say “we” I’m including a complete volunteer crew. So if we’re talking a small town hockey team, we have one staff go out but there might be eight, nine, 10, 12 volunteers that are involved in addition to the access producer.
1967 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
1968 And its community members that appear on air mostly, not necessarily commentators from the BDU?
1969 MR. CADIGGAN: Oh, no. So it’s typically always the -- somebody from the community. We do have -- on our OHL coverage I think there are maybe two staff in different cities that appear. I’m trying to think off the top of my head.
1970 Typically, you know, we look at that as, when we say that the OHL is a training ground for hockey players, it’s a training ground for everybody. So if a volunteer wants to get into a career in sports production that’s a great place to learn. Likewise, for commentators, I mean, these are people that they might be a carpenter by day but their secret passion is that they’d like to commentate on a hockey game, so we provide that opportunity.
1971 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Perfect.
1972 Thank you very much.
1973 MR. CADIGGAN: Thank you.
1974 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commission counsel?
1975 M. GAGNON: Merci, Monsieur le Président.
1976 J’aimerais revenir à la discussion sur l’utilisation de professionnels des médias dans la programmation communautaire. Si j’ai bien compris tantôt la discussion au sujet de certains programmes en particulier là – je pense qu’on a nommé Queen’s Park Report, Municipal Matters et No… Northumberland –, est-ce que Cogeco a bien indiqué que dans le cas de ces programmes-là, y’a pas eu d’utilisation de médias pour… de professionnels des médias?
1977 MR. CADIGGAN: I’m sorry; I lost just the last part of your question. Could you repeat that?
1978 COUNSEL GAGNON: Yeah, I’m just wondering if it was said earlier by Cogeco if those programs whether there was the use of media professionals or not. I thought I heard you said there wasn’t.
1979 MR. CADIGGAN: No, that’s typically not the case. So to be classified as an access program or -- the Commission’s been very clear that it can’t be somebody who’s had access to -- a different definition of access -- but has had the ability to be involved in the broadcast system previously.
1980 COUNSEL GAGNON: Yes, that’s in the new policies.
1981 MR. CADIGGAN: Exactly. So that is not something we do.
1982 MR. GAGNON: Because I had read a response from Cogeco when -- your written responses back in March, and in those responses it was said that, for example, Burlington will have a new producer who is not a major professional. So is that a change in approach or ---
1983 MR. CADIGGAN: So I guess in some cases we may have had somebody that is involved or has been involved in the media previously that had historically hosted a program. So in those cases, you know, we’ve said that can't continue. There was some confusion around what the definition of somebody who's had access to the broadcast system previously, what that is. So, for instance, one of the points that was found in the Cactus audit involved a gentleman who -- his only broadcast experience was with us, but I think on his LinkedIn profile he said "local broadcaster." Well, he is a local broadcaster because he appears on our channel, but he has no other access to the broadcast system, nor has he ever. I think he, in that specific instance, had written a couple of Op Ed pieces to the local newspaper that's produced once a week or something; certainly not somebody that I would classify as having had access to the broadcast system.
1984 So where there were a couple of instances, in the past, like in the history of our operation, we've changed those hosts.
1985 MR. GAGNON: Perfect. Thank you. That's all, Mr. Chair.
1986 THE CHAIRPERSON: And thank you very much for your presentation. Merci beaucoup.
1987 We'll take a break now, returning at 10:45.
1988 THE SECRETARY: Merci.
--- Upon recessing at 10:30 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 10:45 a.m.
1990 Mr. Chairman will now hear Item 6 of Agenda with TELUS Communications Company. Please go ahead and you have 20 minutes.
1991 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Madame Vice-Chair, Commissioners and staff. My name is Ann Mainville-Neeson, and I am Vice-President of Broadcasting Policy and Regulatory Affairs at TELUS. Let me take this opportunity to first congratulate the Chairman and Madam Vice-Chair on their appointments, and welcome you to your very first hearing in these roles.
1992 With me today are, to my left, Dan Page, Head of Content Acquisitions and Programming for TELUS. On his left is Kim Guise, Director of TELUS Local Programming. On my right is Lecia Simpson, Director of Broadcasting Policy and Regulatory Affairs.
1993 TELUS appreciates the opportunity to appear before you today to elaborate on TELUS' not-quite-ordinary application in this license renewal hearing.
1994 At the outset, TELUS would like to confirm that it fully complies with all of the Commission's policies and new obligations for providing greater choice to consumers. Choice has been a hallmark of TELUS' TV marketing strategy right from the start. As a new entrant in the television distribution market, TELUS sought to differentiate itself from the incumbent cable and satellite providers through its offering of a small basic package and a variety of theme packs which enable our subscribers to tailor programming they receive in their households in order to meet their preferences.
1995 TELUS has not stopped there. In its continuing efforts to better serve customers, TELUS has launched many new offerings and services which are industry leading.
1997 MR. PAGE: TELUS is the first and currently the only western TV provider providing a 4K viewing experience. With four times the picture detail of HD, and deeper, richer colours, 4K delivered much more realistic viewing experience. To satisfy the customer demand for this better experience, TELUS not only offers 4K content from Canadian programming services and from major motion picture studios, it also offers 4K content from other digital media services such as Netflix and YouTube through apps on our set-top-box.
1998 Another viewer-friendly feature that is unique to Optik TV in Western Canada is the ability to restart live TV. Optik TV subscribers can restart a television show from the very beginning of the episode, even if they tune in late.
1999 The TELUS customer experience for Optik TV also extends to viewing on any device, anywhere, anytime. As part of their Optik TV subscription, subscribers can also watch and record on the go with the Optik TV app. Customers can access over 100 live TV channels and thousands of on-demand titles from their Smart phone and tablet. Moreover, subscribers can set recordings while they are out so they never miss a Hockey Night in Canada ever again.
2000 On the packaging front, TELUS has launched Pik TV, a new value package through which subscribers can enjoy 5 channels of their choices as well as the small basic package of up to 23 local and regional channels for a mere $20 per month. Pik TV provides an alternative package to more -- to the more premium Optik TV packaging. It is a package tailored to be attractive to cord-cutters and cordnevers who are seeking better value in a TV subscription.
2002 MS. GUISE: TELUS is also an innovator when it comes to community programming where we are constantly redefining and raising the bar.
2003 As we presented in the hearing last year, Optik Local is not your traditional cable community channel.
2004 Programming on Optik Local is offered on-demand and on multiple platforms. It is not only available to Optik TV subscribers; rather, we make it all -- we make all Optik Local content available to anyone online. This enhances the reach of this content and its discoverability.
2005 TELUS' strategy of partnering with local independent producers and incubating new creative talent through innovative funding methods (or platforms) such as STORYHIVE has resulted in engaging and, in some cases, award-winning programming and in invitations to screen at national and international festivals.
2006 TELUS launched Optik Local as an on-demand service to differentiate itself from the traditional, linear community channels operated by incumbent BDUs. But on-demand access is merely the starting point for further innovations to meet viewers where they are today and where they will be in the future.
2007 In TELUS' view, the Commission made the right decision many years ago when it authorized community programming services to operate on BDU's video-on-demand services. Now TELUS submits that the Commission must further evolve the regulatory framework to include digital media distribution for community programming. Linear television channels and traditional half-hour or one-hour programs, while still relevant for some viewers and for some types of programming, are no longer the predominant platforms and formats that viewers turn to for local content. This reality underscores the need for a new vision of the future of community and local programming.
2008 We believe that online distribution of local programming is beneficial in many respects. For the creative community, it enables them to work within running times that lend themselves better to digital distribution and/or new platforms, and their work benefits from wider distribution and discoverability. For Canadian audiences, they are given the opportunity to view this content on a non-regional and non-subscription basis and on the digital platforms where they want to consume content. And the system as a whole benefits from the advancements in innovation and the increased efficiencies online distribution offers over traditional platforms.
2009 TELUS' digital strategy has been a major success so far, significantly increasing both its online and VOD viewership of community programming. While TELUS would like to further expand its innovation by putting even more content online, we must note that not all content is suitable for all platforms. For example, projects involving virtual reality or 360 degree experiences, or content produced specifically for platforms such as lnstagram or Facebook where we know Canadians are consuming content.
2010 We believe that flexibility must be given to allow community programming to evolve and attract new audiences and new creators. And this is why we believe that the regulatory support for community programming should not be tied to traditional television platforms.
2012 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: As I alluded to at the beginning of our presentation, TELUS' application in this license renewal hearing is not a straightforward renewal application. TELUS is, in fact, not seeking the renewal of its province-wide regional licenses it currently holds. Instead, TELUS is seeking to surrender these licenses in favour of serving-area specific licenses for the areas in which TELUS serves more than 20,000 subscribers. For the remainder of TELUS' serving areas, the ones in which we serve fewer than 20,000 subscribers, TELUS would operate on an exempt basis.
2013 This is a simple matter of fairness and equitable treatment. Over the past years since TELUS has been operating pursuant to its regional licenses, the Commission has significantly changed the regulatory framework in favour of exemption. In accordance with this new framework, Shaw, the incumbent cable operator in TELUS' western markets, has been able to revoke some of its licenses where it now meets the simple subscriber threshold for exemption. Inexplicably, regional licensees must meet a much more onerous criteria in order to "carve out" serving areas from their regional licence.
2014 This asymmetrical regulatory treatment has led to some aberrant results whereby the incumbent cable licensee can now operate under exemption whereas the company that has brought competition to the area must continue to be licensed and thus operate under a more burdensome regulatory regime.
2015 When TELUS first entered the distribution market in 2003, the regulatory framework required that a new entrant be licensed on the same basis as the incumbent cable company already operating in the serving area. Accordingly, at that time, TELUS was required to apply for a Class 1 BDU licence.
2016 This meant that TELUS was required to go through the nearly year-long public licensing process which provided significant advance notice to our competitor of our intent to enter the market. Note that no similar requirement ever existed for cable companies to enter the telecom market.
2017 In light of this requirement to be licensed, something which no longer exists today, the Commission urged TELUS to apply for its licence under the newly-established regional licensing framework, which would purportedly reduce its regulatory burden. Regional licences were also thought to assist with masking the details of specific market entry plans.
2018 Fast forward to today: TELUS remains licensed where Shaw now operates on an exempt basis. TELUS' serving areas are also significantly larger than Shaw's because the only way to avoid a public process -- and thus provide notice to a competitor of our market entry -- was to expand an existing serving area. This is why TELUS' Vancouver serving area, for example, includes the surrounding areas of Surrey and Burnaby, each of which are separate serving areas for Shaw.
2019 These are very large serving areas which put TELUS at a significant disadvantage in regards to how it is treated by the Commission. Clearly these larger serving area maps have caused some confusion with the Commission as evidenced by the fact that when the Commission launched its "Service Provider Near You" online tool, it failed to recognize many of the areas in which TELUS provides TV service, instead showing Shaw as the only service provider in those areas.
2020 Accordingly, in this renewal hearing, TELUS is seeking to be licensed in the exact same manner as Shaw, with a remapping of some of the extremely large areas such as Vancouver into separate serving areas as described in our application.
2021 To be clear, TELUS does not want to renew its regional licences to serve Western Canada. We emphasize this because Commission staff has requested, through the deficiency process, that TELUS replicate an application for renewal of its regional licences. TELUS was told this was to "complete the record" of its application.
2022 While TELUS has complied with these requests, we note that Shaw was not similarly asked to file an application for a regional licence to complete the record of their application.
2023 TELUS sees no public policy rationale for treating terrestrial competitors differently. But surely if there is to be a regulatory asymmetry, shouldn't it be tilted towards greater regulation of the incumbent service provider? The new entrant that has brought the first real competition to the market should not bear a greater regulatory burden than any other current provider in the areas in question.
2024 There is also no administrative law principle that says that a party cannot opt to apply for a different type of licence. TELUS notes that the Commission has previously granted licence conversions to distributors operating under area-specific licences. Those licensees were able to convert their area-specific licenses into regional licences. Today, TELUS is requesting a similar conversion, but from a regional licence to area-specific licenses.
2025 Finally, TELUS has also sought some conditions of licence to operate zonebased community programming outlets. To be clear, this is a new flexibility we are seeking for those areas. TELUS is not currently and has not been operating a zone-based community programming service on an unauthorized basis. Although TELUS groups programming in the menu of our video-on-demand service, TELUS has always invested the correct amount of its contribution in the serving area where the revenues were generated.
2026 TELUS' grouping of community programming under broader headers in our video-on-demand library just makes it easier for our subscribers to find great programming from their local community as well as discover programming from surrounding communities which they may also find interesting.
2027 In most cases where TELUS has grouped community programming libraries under a single menu header, the communities involved have few subscribers and thus have very few programming titles. TELUS' presentation of combined libraries simply assists with the discoverability but in no way short-changes the communities of local programming specific to them. It is no different, in fact, than if TELUS operated a linear programming service which would include both local and regional programming.
2028 TELUS thanks the Commission for the opportunity to present its application. We would now be pleased to answer any questions, both on behalf of TELUS and in my role as Chair, current Chair, but soon to be relieved of the duty of the chairmanship of the set-top box working group.
2029 Thank you.
2030 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation. Commissioner Vennard will start.
2031 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Good morning, and thank you for coming to talk to us today. As the Commissioner for Alberta, it's -- I really appreciate this opportunity to discuss with you what's going on in our region.
2032 As you accurately point out, it's a pretty complicated application with many different threads going all over the place. So throughout the conversation that we'll be having we will probably circle back a few times and no doubt I'll probably end up missing a couple of things and have to go back even further. So please bear with me on that.
2033 Now, your -- you operate -- I want to start with the community channels. You operate on demand. That's basically -- that's the whole thing. So there's kind of a key starting question, a key starting point and then our discussion will go in these different directions.
2034 But the place I want to start is, can you describe how you meet your obligations for local and access programming on an on-demand platform, okay? And here, your requirements for the community channels -- oh, I guess -- what's wrong with this one?
2035 Just shift over here. Can you hear me? Okay. Practically sitting on top of my colleague here. Well, just shift over a bit.
2036 Okay, so we will start over here. As I mentioned, what I want to do is start with one question and then have our discussion kind of go out from there.
2037 And the question is, can you describe how you meet your obligations for local and access programming on an on-demand platform, okay, so keeping in mind that the requirements for the community channels offered on an on-demand basis essentially parallel those applicable to linear community channels, which is of course, minimum of 50 percent access programming and 60 percent local programming.
2038 Okay, so how do you meet your demands for that kind of programming on an -- those requirements on an on-demand environment?
2039 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So certainly the big difference between an on-demand platform and a linear channel is that there's no scheduling.
2040 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Right.
2041 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So we count titles in the menu. So you're able to see how many titles you would have that are access and that are licensee-produced on -- in the menu for that particular area in any given time.
2042 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, and can you tell -- can you please tell us how -- how do you go about doing that? How do you decide?
2043 Maybe I would just like you to -- probably a good starting point would be, can you describe what you have? I guess I'm kind of looking for you to start with the starting point and what you think is the most significant feature of the on-demand. And then we can sort of take it ---
2044 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Absolutely.
2045 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- into (inaudible).
2046 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And I'm going to let our expert here, Kim, take that because she's a very enthusiastic head of our Community Programming and we've been doing some innovative things. And describing our platforms is definitely something that she can best do.
2047 MS. GUISE: So as you know, it's a digital-first strategy at TELUS. We presented that the last couple of times we've appeared before you. And part of that is having our content available to our customers when, where, and how they want to consume it. So the video on-demand platform, we actually feel assists greatly with community programming and enabling people to find content that they want to watch when they want to watch it.
2048 So to answer your question, we work really hard at making sure we work with all the internal TELUS departments to know what our budget is for each of the licenced areas whether it be a town or a region. We make sure that we are going out to those communities to make sure those communities know that were there to help support access programming. And then once we see the amount of programming we have that is access, we then can determine if we're able to even make any BDU-owned programming, because sometimes we simply can't because there isn't the demand and/or the subscribership is so low we just don't have the funding available to do more than say a couple of STORYHIVE projects that are $10,000 each.
2049 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And perhaps I'll just add to that because it's something that we've said before but it bears reiterating, we don't operate any studios for our community programming.
2050 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Right.
2051 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: We have relied on independent producers in the various communities to -- and, you know, community members to provide programming to us. Our strategy is very different in that way that we don't neither operate a linear channel, but we also don't operate the traditional bricks and mortar studio that people can enter into, which makes outreach more difficult for us, a greater challenge, but our team is up to the task on that outreach.
2052 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, just picking up on that point for a moment, it provides challenges for you and it certainly provides challenges for us with respect to monitoring. Now, there were no complaints against TELUS so you weren't part of the monitoring exercise. But when it comes to the license renewals -- pardon me -- we have to see where you've been before we can really see where it is that you're going.
2053 And in that sense, perhaps you could suggest to us what would be a fair way or what suggestions would you offer in terms of monitoring so that -- I noticed when I was looking at your applications that there's a lot of back and forth. And I would say there -- in my view, it looked like there was maybe even a little bit of frustration mounting over some of the correspondence that was going back and forth. How do we monitor something like this? Can you help us out with this? Because it is something that is very, very different than -- it seems like in a lot of cases we're trying to put the square peg in the round hole here.
2054 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes, thank you, Commissioner Vennard. It's absolutely true there is -- there's a lot of difficulty in trying to be innovative and having been authorized to operate on this video-on-demand platform, and yet the forms that we have to return on an annual basis are not conducive for presentation in the way that we actually are entitled to operate; right? And so it makes it very difficult in our reporting and a lot of head scratching, which has made that difficult.
2055 I think you've heard many of my colleagues mention that I think the forms do require a greater dialogue to understand how we can report what it is that ---
2056 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
2057 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: --- will help you with the monitoring exercise.
2058 And as for, you know, when you say you have to see where we've been to understand and to better monitor, I think it's also important to understand that we are very nascent in many communities.
2059 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
2060 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So we did not -- even though we obtained the regional license in 2003, we did not at that time launch a community programming service. When we did launch, we launched in certain communities, not throughout the province. And so some of the communities that we are now required to report on because we've since received undertaking numbers for numerous community serving areas, which essentially is the equivalent of an individual specific license, the -- for those undertakings, some of them have only had, you know, a very few years experience of running a community programming service.
2061 And the other thing to keep in mind is we are the new entrants, and perhaps "new" is no longer the appropriate word, but we are still not the incumbent. So we are entering a market with a few subscribers and not necessarily the recognition from community access producers. And so outreach is significant on numerous fronts. And we have very little money to spend in a new community oftentimes, which makes it -- that task even more onerous.
2062 But we've risen to that challenge through various quite innovative programs such as STORYHIVE. And perhaps I could ask Kim to describe a bit what that is?
2063 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes, I think that we should go there. Yes.
2064 MS. GUISE: Absolutely. So STORYHIVE is our online -- we like to call it a "community-powered funding platform." So it's like a kick starter, if you're familiar with that type of funding program. So instead of asking people for money online, you upload a pitch for your project and you ask for votes and there's a voting mechanism. And then we -- and that is how we empower the community to help tell us what should be funded. It's not TELUS telling people what they -- we think they should be watching in their area. It's what they think that we should be making.
2065 Now, to counter that, we also -- to prevent it being a pure popularity contest, we also have a jury system, also to make sure it's within broadcast standards, those kinds of things but ultimately ---
2066 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Can you tell me a bit about your jury system?
2067 MS. GUISE: Yes. So we have people from across the TELUS business, sometimes also stakeholders and industry experts from outside of TELUS come in and help make decisions based on the top voted projects.
2068 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Do you have community member -- pardon me -- do you have community members as well in that -- on that jury?
2069 MS. GUISE: Community members in the jury.
2070 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
2071 MS. GUISE: Well, I would call stakeholders also community members.
2072 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Okay.
2073 MS. GUISE: We have had also STORYHIVE alumni in that room, absolutely.
2074 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
2075 MS. GUISE: And so that is one of the ways that we have innovated in terms of how to pick programming.
2076 And in terms of specifically assisting small towns or smaller towns outside the main regions, we've done things like had a STORYHIVE specifically targeting outside of the main center. So, we did a small town music video edition and you weren't allowed to qualify if you did not have either a producer or a musical artist from one of our small towns that is our -- within our serving areas.
2077 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So that producer or that artist has to come from within the community and that's how you attach it to the ---
2078 MS. GUISE: Absolutely.
2079 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- being community programming.
2080 MS. GUISE: And then in terms of training and outreach, we specifically run free public information sessions ---
2081 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
2082 MS. GUISE: --- in those small communities as well to make people know we're here and we're here to help you increase the diversity of voices and access the broadcasting system.
2083 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So could you give me an example just to -- you know, just to -- so we have something sort of specific. Let's say that you were going to do community programming in, oh let's say, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray.
2084 MS. GUISE: M'hm.
2085 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: What would that look like in terms of STORYHIVE -- or Kelowna or somewhere, anywhere?
2086 MS. GUISE: So we have between three and four normally STORYHIVE we call them "editions" per year. And for -- before each STORYHIVE edition is launched, we have done our budgeting exercise where we figure out how many grants per area we can accommodate based on subscribership revenues. And so we will know going into that jury room we have the ability to fund up to two or three projects from Victoria, two or three projects from Grande Prairie, maybe two from Fort McMurray. Hopefully we have enough applications that we can fulfill that. And when we don't get enough applications, we know that we have some work to do in the outreach and communication.
2087 So whether it be ---
2088 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: If I could just -- if you could just pause for a moment there. So would you have -- when you have three auditions a year, does that include everybody within the two regional licensing areas?
2089 MS. GUISE: B.C. and Alberta?
2090 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: B.C. and Alberta?
2091 MS. GUISE: Yes, that is correct.
2092 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
2093 MS. GUISE: Yes.
2094 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: And so how do you manage that, like from a practical point of view? How -- what does that look like? How do you do that?
2095 MS. GUISE: A lot of spreadsheets, a lot of collaboration. I'm serious, a lot of collaboration amongst teams. So we have a very detailed, as I said, budgeting process. And then we sit down and we make sure that we know how many grants per region or per city that we have available. And then when we launch, we call to -- and we're a bit more established now where people have signed up for notifications from our website. We send out our notification keep -- you know, we're open for web series pilots in three weeks. Get your applications ready. We let creators know their deadlines. Everyone applies. And then we go into the moderation jury process.
2096 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So those budgets are based on the amount of money in the serving areas, so you do -- so do you switch it around and put money somewhere else or is it that nice and neat?
2097 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes, so the way it works -- so you were asking ---
2098 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes.
2099 MS. GUISE: --- our STORYHIVE editions are, in fact, launched in both B.C. and Alberta and they're province-wide large initiatives, which then are targeted to individual communities, either because, as Kim will say, sometimes we recognize that that community we never get enough programming coming from that community, so additional outreach, training, events will happen for various communities.
2100 Then once we have -- everyone has the same deadline and we all use the same platform because why reinvent the wheel on the platform. So we get all the submissions. When the jury decides -- of course, they will be looking at the number of votes that any particular program has -- or pitch has obtained, but then the jury is also aware that we need something from Fort McMurray. And so it's not that -- that project from Fort McMurray is not necessarily judged against the project from Victoria, right? So that's how we know that this is one that we are going to select because we need programming from Fort McMurray and we were able to suss it out through this process.
2101 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Through their process. Who gets to vote? Does everybody get to vote on everything or is it ---
2102 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Absolutely.
2103 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah?
2104 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yeah. It's -- the voting process, it's a web-based voting which is why we don’t want to leave it entirely to the voting process because some person might have more friends than others, right?
2105 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah. So if I lived in -- let's say that I lived in Grande Prairie then, I can vote on a project that was being proposed in Medicine Hat?
2106 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Absolutely.
2107 MS. GUISE: Absolutely, and I would top up what Ann is saying about preventing it from being a popularity contest. As we use STORYHIVE as a really effective tool to increase the diversity of voices, we have learned from listening to our creative community that people coming from different places or newcomers to Canada or from different ethnic backgrounds, sometimes voting on an online platform is just not a way to indicate how important their story is or how it might engage with other community members.
2108 And so that is also a really important function that the jury serves, is to make sure that it is not an echo chamber and that it's very diverse in the programming that we are supporting.
2109 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So the community reflection, the people that live in the communities, then that the -- this is handled by the jury? The jury makes the decisions as whether or not the ideas being funded reflect the community? Is that -- like, who is responsible for ensuring that the community is reflected?
2110 MS. GUISE: It's a balance between a -- what we call a social score which is something I don’t know the formula for off the top of my head, but it is a combination of votes, how a community creator had what we called a social campaign, how they connected or tried to connect and build their audience. And how the public interacted with that campaign -- did they share it, did they like it? (Inaudible) sentiment is another term for it.
2111 So we look at that total social score in addition to votes and then we also consult with the jury which often has experts in the industry and people from across different business units within TELUS to say, you know, "What do you think of this pitch and is this reflective of the community that it's coming from?"
2112 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So you have like a -- almost like, a scorecard that you keep for the ---
2113 MS. GUISE: That is very -- I hesitate using the word “scorecard” for working, yeah. But yes, we do have ---
2114 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: You see where I'm going with this?
2115 MS. GUISE: We have guidelines, yeah, that we ask our jury members to follow. That is constantly evolving as we test and learn and see what works and what doesn’t.
2116 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Would you provide one of those to us so that we could have a look at it?
2117 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Absolutely.
2118 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you. So that would be an undertaking please.
2120 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Something that would be sort of generic so we -- or maybe even two or three so that we could get a sense of how you do that and how it's evolved over time as well. And that would be on both sides of it with a -- you know, the funding coming in and the money going out.
2121 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Right.
2122 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Right. (Inaudible).
2123 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Absolutely. When you say "evolved over time" I'm not sure how far back we keep these types of scorecards.
2124 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
2125 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So we'll definitely provide a good sampling.
2126 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah, I leave it up to you to figure out what you think would be useful for us in understanding your process and your system.
2127 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Sure. I'd like to emphasize though that while we have these scorecards and we have these juries, we also have community programming staff who are tasked with specifically looking at the -- you know, someone is looking at how -- are we making sure Fort McMurray is getting its proper representation? Are we getting the same thing from Grande Prairie? And so ---
2128 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Could you tell me a little bit about -- tell us a little bit about your staffing? Who actually does it? Is it in an office in Vancouver, in Calgary, in communities? Like, who ---
2129 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: We have a few staff; I'll let Kim pick this up but certainly they're throughout or regional -- various serving areas.
2130 MS. GUISE: Currently we have a staff of 11 based out of Vancouver which is the Community Programming Department within TELUS. We also collaborate very closely with outside producers, independent producers, and consultants such as the National Screen Institute, who helps us with our training initiatives because we are not experts in training people in this area.
2131 And as I mentioned, we do work with independent producers located in many of the other towns outside of Vancouver and the lower mainland to make a lot of this content.
2132 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So how much money goes through on these -- on this, or is that something you don’t want to mention? In this STORYHIVE, like, how much money are we talking about here for it to go towards community programming?
2133 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: That certainly has evolved over time and I'd be willing to take an undertaking obviously, due to the confidentiality of the information. But it used to be a smaller initiative and then more in different types of community program was produced. But I think we're increasingly enjoying the success of STORYHIVE and so that is increasingly a larger part of the budget.
2134 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
2135 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: But as for additional detail, we'd be happy to take an undertaking to ---
2136 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, so that would be a second undertaking then. Thank you.
2138 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Well, it sounds like it's quite an innovate idea that you have with the STORYHIVE and it sounds like from your perspective for sure it's working -- it seems to be working fairly well. Do you plan on expanding that out and if you are planning on expanding that out and you do end up getting a different type of licencing, how is that going to work?
2139 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, in fact, if we are able to obtain the regional or the area-specific licences, other areas will be exempt which means that we will be able to contribute the entire 5 percent which is extremely important for us because a 1.5 percent budget when you're a -- you know, a very small portion of the entire BDU subscriber market in a new area is very, very small.
2140 So the full five percent that we would be able to enjoy under exemption will certainly enable us to entrench our community presence, something that we're just not able to do on the very small-size budget that we have in some of these communities.
2141 So yes, we will be expanding STORYHIVE and hopefully as our presence grows, outreach becomes -- you know, will bring in new, you know, other access producers that come to us with great ideas as well. And we're having to put less effort into sussing out these -- you know, these creators and they start coming to us. So we need that creative presence which we'll build by creating more programming.
2142 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Now, in terms of output, how large is the output of the -- of the money that goes in?
2143 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So certainly it depends on the area, right?
2144 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
2145 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: I know that Cactus had attempted to do this analysis where it took our entire budget amount and divided it by 10 serving areas. Clearly that's not how it works, right? And so Fort McMurray or Grande Prairie has a significantly smaller budget than Edmonton or Calgary.
2146 And in those small areas, there are very few titles that are being produced. In part it's because of the small budget. It's also because we're new into the community programming area and we're trying new things out. We're experimenting. We're doing a lot more outreach, a lot more training which doesn’t necessarily produce programming in these first years but we're investing and incubating new talent.
2147 So we're certainly hoping that our investments will pay off in the future, even if in our first or second year we don’t see that many titles in any area.
2148 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah. Now, I -- you know, I hear what you're saying but from our perspective, we have to always be looking at the -- as regulators, we always have to be looking at monitoring to make sure that things are running smoothly from our perspective as well and from a policy perspective and so on.
2149 So maybe we could just sort of circle back to this whole idea of in your -- from your point of view, how should we be monitoring you?
2150 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Certainly counting titles is a start. But it doesn’t show the full picture. And showing our -- you know, seeing our budgets we -- you know, the annual returns that we provide show -- our direct and indirect expenses show a variety of things.
2151 And when you see the amount of outreach and you see the -- you know, looking at our creative ideas, I think, is also part of your monitoring responsibility. And I think it bears saying that it's also important not only to monitor but to give permission to be creative. If we all do community programming the same way, unfortunately, it may not thrive in the same way as if we continue to innovate.
2152 And that's one of the reasons that Kim and her team have been doing an awful lot of promotion on Instagram, on Facebook, on media, all kinds of social media, which that kind of promotion you don’t see on traditional community channels, perhaps because they don’t need to. Everybody knows there's, you know, that channel is there and people will ultimately tune to it.
2153 When you're an IPTV service like Optik TV with hundreds and hundreds of channels. People don’t surf, and we don’t have a linear channel, in any event, so we need to make sure that people find our programming.
2154 And the efforts that we do in that regard should also be considered by the Commission in its monitoring of have we met our obligation. Do not take only an approach of meeting the obligation is spending your money on programming and if you don’t have enough titles and you need to meet some type of quota I’m not sure that that’s necessarily meeting the objectives of the Act where we want to make sure that our programming is seen, that it’s a high enough quality that is of interest to other viewers and that ultimately has some success in viewership.
2155 So what’s great about the STORYHIVE process is not only because it helps us in determining the funding, it also builds and audience, because if you’ve voted on something you might actually be invested enough to watch the program if it gets made.
2156 So there’s a lot of thought that has gone into how we do this, and I hope that the Commission will take that kind of comprehensive approach in monitoring whether or not we have fulfilled our obligation to provide community programming that is representative of the community and that it addresses a need in the community.
2157 And when I talk of need in our communities, I think, Commissioner Vennard, as being a westerner, you might appreciate that there’s a concern that independent producers in the west don’t have access to the same amount of funding that they would otherwise -- or opportunities they would otherwise have if they were in the east.
2158 And so some of our independent producers really see the STORYHIVE and other funding initiatives when they come to us with projects, whether or not it’s part of a STORYHIVE initiative or series, they come to us with these great projects that might seem professional, because they’re really good, and yet they are not professional broadcasters they’re just people in between the grassroots person who has no knowledge whatsoever but they have this desire to enter the broadcasting system, and frankly could do so over the web with a webcam, versus, you know, professionally produced linear programming, you know, Canadian television station. That in between group needs to have that voice. And I think that we are filling a need for those independent producers in our western markets.
2159 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Is anybody being left behind or left out in this? Like can anybody contact you? In these smaller communities I’m wondering is anybody left behind? Is there -- or is this directed at people that are maybe very much more thinking in this direction compared to somebody who -- compared to people who are used to the linear world?
2160 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Right. And I’m going to ---
2161 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: And I’m not going to -- I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be moving out of that linear world if that’s what you want to do, but the reality is that there are some people there that ---
2162 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Of course.
2163 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- maybe we should be concerned about.
2164 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Of course. And I am going to pass this off to Kim. But I think that, you know, it’s interesting that we’ve not had access producers bring us programming in the same way that others have, and perhaps it’s because we’re not sufficiently well-known and perhaps, you know, we’ve been criticized by some of these organizations which seem to really be stuck on this idea that if you don’t have a bricks and mortar you’re not providing those opportunities, despite the fact that we’ve, you know, indicated again and again there are so many different opportunities.
2165 Take the Vancouver Public Library that provides opportunities for those who want to enter and produce and need access to equipment and facilities. There are other facilities available.
2166 So we -- you know, it’s interesting that despite this -- you know, these concerns expressed that somehow Video On Demand is not meeting the requirements of a community programming service, you know, that’s been one of the criticisms, or that we don’t have studios and therefore how can they possibly produce, well, I think we need to throw it back to them and say well why aren’t you taking advantage of these other solutions, other opportunities that are out there in the community. And as for the on-demand platform, how can you not recognize that you perhaps are enhancing the discoverability of your content and consumers will -- are able to watch it with a greater convenience so that you’re not on at 3:00 in the morning. Maybe you have the opportunity to be seen by anyone who actually wants to see your program.
2167 But I’ll leave it to Kim ---
2168 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: This would be a good time for you to tell us a little bit about the initiatives that you have in place and that you -- in order to make sure that community members are reflected.
2169 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Exactly. And I’ll pass that over to Kim to answer.
2170 MS. GUISE: And if I can just top up on your question about is anyone being left behind. I would say that STORYHIVE is open to everyone. The fact that the programming is on a VOD on like an on-demand service in and of itself is not compatible with certain types of programming. So I would say that is probably the major deterrent.
2171 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
2172 MS. GUISE: Something like a city council meeting or a sporting event is not -- does not do well on VOD. People don’t want to watch a basketball game that they know the score from that happened, you know, a week ago, because, you know, with closed captioning, which we do for all of our programming, encoding -- the technical steps we have to take to get the programming up on the service it’s just not feasible. So I would say I don’t think they’re left behind but we’re not for that type of programming.
2173 In terms of -- are you specifically wanting to know our outreach efforts into ---
2174 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yes. Yes, you provided us with a list of initiatives and I’m wondering if you would say a few words on that to tell us ---
2175 MS. GUISE: Absolutely.
2176 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- how the community is reflected and your outreach.
2177 MS. GUISE: Absolutely. So I mentioned we run these public workshop series, which we have done in conjunction with the National Screen Institute, who has expertise in this area, where we specifically go to our smaller serving areas to ensure that they know that we’re there, that we’re supportive, and that we want them to apply.
2178 As we get more and more information from our community members about the different make up of those communities we also have to fine tune that outreach to be accommodating to Indigenous storytellers, people of different ethnic backgrounds, new Canadians, different linguistic groups, and so we will be continuously, and have been continuously tweaking those outreach efforts because there is not a one size fits all in those outreach efforts.
2179 And as I mentioned, when we get into the moderation of a STORYHIVE edition we can see quickly when we have not perhaps been doing enough outreach in a certain town because we don’t have enough applications.
2180 In addition to that, we attend as many events as we can, often as speakers, to small regional film festivals or film co-ops.
2181 We also -- and I know I’m missing -- I have so much information in my head. I’m trying to think of what’s the most important outreach we do.
2182 We also have -- at TELUS we have something called community investment boards. We’re one of the most philanthropic companies in the country if not the world. We also utilize those boards as a way to appear before them. Those boards are led by very influential community members of the large cities who then can also connect us with other groups in the surrounding areas and smaller areas. So in Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver we actually also utilize those community members who are outside the film and television industry, communication industry, to help us also connect with perhaps other community groups or community members who have stories or might not know about us in those communities.
2183 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Perhaps I’ll just mention some of the initiatives that you -- in the list just to refresh your memory.
2184 MS. GUISE: For sure.
2185 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Female Directors Edition, Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers ---
2186 MS. GUISE: That’s right.
2187 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- Herland Video Production ---
2188 MS. GUISE: Yes.
2189 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- Workshop, the United Way of Lower Mainland’s annual program to support students films made by at risk youth, What Generation Gap, and Intergenerational Film Production Workshop for youth in Surrey, B.C., ---
2190 MS. GUISE: Yep.
2191 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- Women in the Director’s Chair, Career Advancement Module Workshop, and Vancouver International Women in Film Festival Workshop and Event.
2192 MS. GUISE: Absolutely.
2193 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: And that’s only I think a sampling of what ---
2194 MS. GUISE: That is only a sampling.
2195 And, you’re right, I was focusing on things that were STORYHIVE or TELUS led. Those are -- most of that list are initiatives that are run by community members that we then support. So they either invite us to come as speakers or just to attend.
2196 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
2197 So community members would they have to travel to go to some of these workshops, or how would you decide where to have a workshop, or is this something you would attend and support financially?
2198 MS. GUISE: So if -- so quite often the applicant would come from the town where they’re holding the event.
2199 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I see.
2200 MS. GUISE: So, for example, we just supported some training workshop events specifically targeting Indigenous storytellers, and those were outside the main city centre. So their community members might be grouped around that area but we would travel to that to appear either to be an attendee or to actually speak at the event ---
2201 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
2202 MS. GUISE: --- and participate.
2203 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
2204 MS. GUISE: And I would top up that with every STORYHIVE edition we have something called a Winners Workshop. So every single production team that retains a STORYHIVE grant is then invited to a Winners Workshop normally in Vancouver, or Calgary, or Edmonton, and we would provide the resources for those teams to travel to a city that might not be their own.
2205 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Okay. It's possible that some of my colleagues may have further questions on the STORYHIVE model or we might return to that as well.
2206 But I think I would just like to -- I seem to be sort of stuck on this idea of monitoring because that's one of the things we actually have to do, so how do we monitor something like this? Can you offer some suggestions for us?
2207 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So, first off, some of the challenges that our model presents for monitoring is, of course, the on-demand nature. And so this makes it very difficult to be able to fill in the forms in the way perhaps that are currently -- the way they're currently stated; right? So this notion of repeats, for example, doesn't exist when it's, you know, it's a part of a menu item. And so that's one aspect.
2208 So we need some better -- you know, perhaps greater clarity on how would you like us to fill in your forms given our model, so understanding that. And that certainly is one aspect of your monitoring that you need to do -- another aspect, so that you can look at the output, let's say, of our community programming.
2209 I would say as well, that there -- that part of your monitoring should also include the -- how has -- what is the success that we have garnered. So looking at -- you know, when you're monitoring, looking at our spend and, you know, how we have the various activities that will -- that we itemize here in our various -- the initiatives that we itemize on our forms only tell part of the story. And so spending of the budget to us is another part of your monitoring. And ultimately, should be also part of a -- you know, look at -- your assessment should include a subjective assessment of what is the success that we're seeing? And if we are continuously spending a lot more on outreach and on promotion and yet not seeing any success, perhaps that's part of your responsibility to consider whether or not we're actually doing our -- fulfilling our responsibilities.
2210 But when we are, and this is -- you know, this is where it's very important that if you're only looking at output and not looking at our success, which is coming from all of these other things that we're doing, the promotion, the outreach, the innovation in the different types of programming that we're outreaching for; right? When we've got producers that want to have a platform for a 360 experience, these are the types of things that -- there's a measurement of success in having been at the forefront of something that people want to watch and want to experience. So ---
2211 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: It almost sounds like we -- I hate to even bring this up, but more monitoring of success and innovation because it sounds like -- you know, what I'm hearing is that there's certain areas that are successful, very successful but it's not captured by just going ---
2212 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And that's ---
2213 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- with ---
2214 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: --- the eloquent way of putting exactly my point. We -- if you only restrict yourself to looking at titles that we've produced, I'm afraid that you are just monitoring quotas, which does not necessarily have any indication of the health of the community programming environment.
2215 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that. I appreciate your comments on that.
2216 What I'd like to do is just go sort of down the line of questions that I have here and just kind of move on into the way that you -- the different areas. Now, I get that organizing data and organizing material is not necessarily the same thing as what actually happened there. And so it would seem that in our records that there might be a disconnect in some ways on those two things where it could look like some communities are underrepresented. And maybe it's the way that they appear when you've got your programming organized. And that could probably be the case when it comes to the funds that go through too, because we are talking here about certain categorizations, certain classification, what goes where, and that's what we have to look at because that's what you give us; okay?
2217 So can you tell us how you organize the output? And for this -- for the -- at this point we have to talk about output. How do you organize that output? How do people find things? How is that organized and how do you make those decisions?
2218 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Right. Certainly I think that has been a point of confusion because we do have groupings in our video-on-demand library where we have, you know, many communities or a few communities put together. For example, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie are together under Northern Alberta heading in our ---
2219 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I found that kind of interesting because they're so far apart and they don't really seem to have much to do with each other either.
2220 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: You're absolutely right. However, it's still regional to Alberta.
2221 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
2222 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And one of the reasons that we do it is these are smaller communities that have few subscribers, lower revenues and therefore less contribution. If you started doing menus for each individual community, you -- you're creating a discoverability problem. People -- I think you're going to ask us later on about how many clicks for something.
2223 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
2224 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, how many clicks to get to your community program is also, I think, a disincentive to access that program. So when someone wants to see something -- if you're in Fort McMurray and you want to see programming that is available to you, I don't think anyone has any -- would somehow think, "Oh, I don't fit in Northern Alberta." They will go there and then they'll just see programming that may be of relevance to them. They'll probably see in the title, hey, Fort McMurray Fire, that's a really great -- you know, that sounds like a great program and, in fact, it really is. I encourage you to watch it. The -- you know, clearly, it's intended for the Fort McMurray. But, you know what, if you live in Grande Prairie, you might be very interested in seeing some of the aftermath and, you know, the struggles that that community has gone through through those fires.
2225 So I'm not sure that there would be any benefit -- in fact, there would be significant hampering in the discoverability of community programming if we needed to create menu titles for each individual community. I'm not sure that serves a real purpose when really what we want is for people to watch the programming.
2226 And a lot of consumers may want programming that is reflective of them, but we're not offering hockey games. We're not offering ---
2227 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Right.
2228 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: --- the municipal -- you know, municipal council meetings and whatnot. So the types of programming that you might be interested in is just as much from Grande Prairie or from Fort McMurray.
2229 So those headings, that's the consumer facing heading, is -- should really be based on that discoverability.
2230 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
2231 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And when it comes to meeting our regulatory requirement to spend the money in the community in which the money was generated, the revenues were generated, that is something that we do internally and we check and we have reported on it and certainly we will be reporting on it again I think in -- on October 27th. These are things that are obviously of extreme importance to you, the regulator, but not so much for the viewer.
2232 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So would you say that your model actually goes into more of a community of interest or includes a community of interest versus a physical community?
2233 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, community of interest can mean so many different things; right? Community of interest may mean, you know, if you're interested in sewing versus interested in dog ownership; right?
2234 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
2235 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So we have communities by geographic area. So they are grouped by geographic -- by larger geographic areas simply to avoid some menus.
2236 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
2237 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: However, when it comes to, you know, other promotions, you might have that same community programming in the "what's new" category or, you know, and sometimes we create special categories, actual categories of interest that we may put some of our titles in there if -- sometimes we've created Christmas programming I think as a new menu at certain times of the year, clearly, there may be community programming that we put in that menu item. So that, to us, is a community of interest.
2238 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that.
2239 So from the point of view of your customers, then they can find the programs that are of interest to them buy using the menus. No complaints on that one? I don’t think we've had any complaints. Kim?
2240 MS. GUISE: No, we have had no complaints and I would top up that we make it very easy for our customers to find this programming. So Ann mentioned that, you know, we presented alongside our network and studio content so it's easily findable and in what's new or what's trending.
2241 We also have what we call a jump point, so a specific channel that leads customers to this whole portfolio where the organization is that you're mentioning of the northern Alberta or lower mainland programming.
2242 And I would also say that I believe that if creators from -- community members from Fort McMurray say -- or as you mentioned, Grande Prairie, were here, they would say they are making content that they don’t just make for their own community.
2243 They have themes and are of interest across city boundaries, provincial boundaries, and maybe perhaps relevant to all Canadians, like -- things like, on the aftermath of the Fort McMurray fires. So who are we to put everything in just a Fort McMurray folder that you know, someone from Grande Prairie might miss or have to go through more clicks to find? So we definitely think that the way we're doing it aids with discoverability.
2244 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. I'd like to ask a few -- oh, there's an interesting one here. You mentioned a virtual reality project. Can you tell us about that?
2245 MS. GUISE: So we very much are in a test and learn in this environment. And what we found was that there are some community creators that want to push themselves. And although we won't be at the front of technological innovation, we definitely want our creators to have the opportunity to be part of it.
2246 And so VR maybe not immersive completely narrative VR experiences, but as Ann mentioned, 360 degree experiences, absolutely.
2247 So we tested and learned with a dogsled experience filmed in Canmore where we had a linear experience that we were able to put on video on demand and then we did a 360 one available for free on the YouTube 360 app. That was the first time that we had done it, engaged audiences. It can be part of -- as Ann mentioned, sometimes we do seasonal programming so that's a great winter program, as you can imagine, for our customers.
2248 Then we decided we wanted to try something a little bit different so we actually did a surf experience and we had a female and a male surfer in Tofino. And that had voiceover and it told a little bit more of a story. But in order for it to qualify we felt like we had to do a linear experience at the same time, which I would say is not as engaging because you're not getting that full experience of what it's like to catch a wave in Tofino and surf.
2249 And so we would like our creators to be able to have that flexibility. Wanting to do the different platforms should not limit them. And that expression should be no less valued. So we feel like if we were given that flexibility we're not going to go all in and do nothing but VR. That is not what we're asking.
2250 But to be able to offer that to our creators, it's a great training ground for them. We can partner with some great experts in the field who are in this field and we feel like it's a great add on to community and local expression.
2251 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. That segues quite nicely into my next couple of questions on your facilities and training. So you don’t have facilities and so what sort of training? Can you tell us about your training?
2252 MS. GUISE: So we, as you mentioned, have that list of outside independent producer-led training and those training initiatives apply to us like they would -- producers do for a piece of content where they talk about what audience they're trying to connect with.
2253 So that can be anything from how to tell your story, how to write for, you know, digital or television, how to find your audience, how to market and promote, and producer tips. We really let the community tell us what skills they feel are the most important. We don’t put that on them.
2254 In addition, I would top up again and repeat that through our STORYHIVE program whenever you are a winner of one of our grants you are put through a winner's workshop where we talk about all these topics and including how to even deliver a piece of content. Some people don’t understand even, you know, what is closed captioning? How do I do that? All those things, how to make their programming accessible to the audience that they're trying to build.
2255 And also how to make their content watchable on multiple platforms which is another skill we think is really important.
2256 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. I see that I've -- I missed a couple of my questions on my list here about your STORYHIVE model. So I just need to circle back and you can just answer them quite succinctly if you like.
2257 Is STORYHIVE the only way for a member of a community to get funded or do you have something else on community TV?
2258 MS. GUISE: We also have the ability for producers to come pitch us separately. That is administrative on such a small department. That administratively is more difficult so we don’t encourage that. We feel like the STORYHIVE program should satisfy most community content creators.
2259 We support creators very emerging at a very low level of risk of $10,000 per grant. And then in another STORYHIVE competition with creators that are more at midlevel, depending on where you are in the industry. Are they really midlevel? I would still say they are fairly emerging from a broadcast standpoint. And those projects will be mostly multi-episodic and they can go up to $100,000.
2260 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: M'hm.
2261 MS. GUISE: But we don’t play in large budgets. So the STORYHIVE platform is really the most efficient way.
2262 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: But the people have to be members of the community, right? Is that ---
2263 MS. GUISE: Yes.
2264 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: That's the deal?
2265 MS. GUISE: And we track it by where people live.
2266 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
2267 MS. GUISE: Yeah.
2268 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: And so it would range anywhere from say $10,000 or possibly even smaller to about 100,000?
2269 MS. GUISE: That's correct. So to answer your question, we have, in our effort to be more efficient and to be more consistent with our -- you know, our presentation to the public to make it more simple for them to understand what we do, really encourage people to apply at the STORYHIVE deadlines.
2270 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Okay, thank you. Would a for-profit company be eligible to apply?
2271 MS. GUISE: A for-profit company?
2272 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah.
2273 MS. GUISE: I mean, an independent producer might be trying to make a living. I don't think we would penalize them for that and they might have an incorporated company. It’s not a requirement for a $10,000 grant.
2274 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, yeah. Production guidelines prohibit political and/or issue-driven documentaries. How does this align with the community television policy and the notion of creative control?
2275 MS. GUISE: So do you want to -- okay.
2276 So I'm sure Ann will want to top up but as you know, we're not a vertically-integrated company. So we don’t have a news division. We aren't -- don’t have people trained in journalism. If someone wants to do a highly-politicized opinion piece it would be very difficult for my team to then have -- you know, have a -- find the balanced view to give, you know, viewers the balanced view of a certain issue.
2277 So we tend to require that our documentary producers always have balance in the documentaries they are producing. We don’t tend to attract journalists, to be quite honest with you because they want to do more current event things that need to go up in a shorter timeframe.
2278 But we do have documentary producers that have an issue that they want to address and we ask that they have a balanced view within that single production. And I think that is how we satisfy that requirement.
2279 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, thank you.
2280 I think I have asked you pretty much everything I want to ask you about the community program. And of course, it's -- oh, there is one question that I do want to ask you. You requested a condition of licence that would allow you to allocate a portion of your contributions to local expression to the broadcasted community programming exclusively over other platforms.
2281 Okay, Bell was denied similar requests in 2013 and 2014 on the basis that it would result in programming being unavailable to a portion of subscribers who may not have access to high-speed internet or are concerned with monthly caps.
2282 Bell also failed to convince the Commission that its proposal would benefit its subscribers and broadcasting system as a whole.
2283 So my question to you is, how is your proposal different?
2284 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, what we're asking for is the flexibility to be able to do these new innovative types of programming like the 360 experiences. And I think the world is changing very quickly and whether or not it was appropriate to determine that not everyone would have access to the -- you know, to high-speed internet in order to be able to access that programming, whether or not that was true in 2013, it's becoming less and less true as we move forward, and certainly virtually all optic TV subscribers have access to internet by -- I'm not aware of any customer that doesn't.
2285 Of course, they may not always be TELUS subscribers, but I think that it's the small number of subscribers who might not have access to internet and who otherwise are unable to get themselves to a library or a public wifi spot, don't have access to a mobile device.
2286 I think that it's such a small portion of those subscribers that it hardly should balance out the extreme benefit of allowing innovation to come forward.
2287 So I'm not sure that we should be holding back because there might be some -- a small, small portion of subscribers who might not be able to access.
2288 And don't forget that TELUS already makes all of its community programming available to everyone over the internet, and we do that -- we don't keep any of our community programming proprietary, whether it's BDU-produced, sort of our own produced productions, or any of the access. We make that available generally whether or not you're an optic TV subscriber.
2289 So we have already, as part of our mantra, to make community programming as available as possible. But we are seeking that flexibility to be able to explore these other platforms.
2290 And if we don't get this condition of licence, what that means is for those immersive experiences like the surfing in Tafino, the producer is required to create a whole separate type of linear program that will be able to be on the traditional platform.
2291 Unfortunately, our video on demand platform at this time is just not able to deliver the 360 experience or virtual reality experience. These are the types of platforms that you have on Youtube 360 or -- and others, right.
2292 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay, gotcha.
2293 Something else I want to talk about for just a moment. Would you say that -- you know, when you've got a very big file, a lot of back and forth and so on, and based on the filings, it could appear that you've been operating zone-based community programming services. I'm not saying you are. I'm saying it could appear that way based on the filings.
2294 Would you like to comment on that, or is it what I talked about before, which is what's happening and what is -- and how the information is organized may not be the same thing?
2295 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: That's correct. That's exactly the problem. It's the way that we've reported under our groupings.
2296 And we will be, of course, responding once again to some additional questions on this, but I can assure you that we have been spending the money in which the contribution was generated, and so -- in those specific communities. So we have not been operating on a zone basis where the purpose of a zone-based authorization is that you actually pool the money and you might have some communities that are not necessarily getting their full contribution.
2297 That's not the case here, but we do group programming for the consumers -- from the consumers' perspective. And I think there could be some misunderstanding on that basis, but we will be filing undertakings -- or filing responses to additional questions on that basis on October 27th.
2298 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Also, based on information that you filed, some of which is confidential and some of which is publicly available in an aggregate form, which is what I'm referring to, it would appear that you have significantly higher costs per hour of original programming, okay.
2299 Would you like to make some comments on that?
2300 And I'll give you a specific here. According to the filings -- and again, this might speak to categorization, classification, organization or whatever. But according to the filings and what it -- this is why I keep on going on about monitoring and so on, too.
2301 So here, the cost per hour of original programming by TELUS is 78 times greater than the industry average based on the aggregate data that you have filed.
2302 MS. GUISE: And I believe we have referred to this in previous hearings.
2303 So remembering that we are the new entrant and we had start- up costs, we're doing things differently, we are not setting up a single camera for a live event. We are, you know, helping new community voices tell new stories, so they are making documentaries, they are making human interest stories.
2304 We've had to, as I mentioned, put and invest a lot into not just training and workshop, but in informational I call them road shows where we have to travel to these small places and let them know we're even there.
2305 We close caption everything. We're just a different type of programming.
2306 I would say we're really high quality. We don't actually like to call what we do community programming because we want people to watch it, and so we don't want people to have images of Wayne's World in their head, if I may.
2307 And that's not to say that all community programming is like that but, you know, we are trying to do it differently and do it better. And that does not come cheaply, especially when our serving areas are very far apart in some cases. And so we are very well aware that what we're doing is different.
2308 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And I would top up -- that's absolutely true, but I would also top up that because we're a video on demand service and we don't have the constraints of a linear programming wheel, a lot of our programming is not necessarily filling up an entire hour or an entire half hour.
2309 Some of our programming may be as little, you know, six minutes or 20 minutes, but yet producing something -- you know, a compelling story or -- in six minutes may be just as costly as producing that half hour, so -- and yet when we -- you know, these -- this information aggregates, you know, the number of minutes to build an hour and doesn't actually recognize the number of titles that we have that fill in an hour of programming.
2310 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Now, before leaving that topic, I would just like to offer you the opportunity to say anything that you'd maybe wish you would have said before, something you feel you forgot.
2311 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Thank you.
2312 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: You're good? Okay.
2313 So we can move on now to the small basic service and the flexible packaging options, okay.
2314 And explain if and how your offerings align with the best practices set out in our decision 2016-458, providing customers with a variety of methods to manage their television services, making bundling discounts available to basic service subscribers, not penalizing consumers for switching to a lower price package, just to refresh your memory.
2315 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Thank you.
2316 So first off, I think it bears reiterating that TELUS was already providing customer choice long before the Commission's decision. That was certainly a market entry strategy.
2317 So not much has changed from -- you know, we already offer the theme packs of less than 10 services long before the "Let's Talk TV" hearing.
2318 Naturally, we did launch a different type of basic package which we call light. That's the so-called skinny basic. But our essentials, which was the small basic package that we had before, continues to be in market and also very low priced as well.
2319 So there hasn't been a significant movement with respect to the uptake of skinny basic.
2320 That being said, there is absolutely no barriers to switching to a -- to the new light product, and the -- you still have the bundled discount of when you subscribe to more than one TELUS service, so if you subscribe to optic TV and to home phone or internet, there's a $5 discount. That applies as well whether or not you're subscribing to essentials or to light.
2321 So either way, you still get the bundle discount because they are two -- TV service and internet or home phone, they are separate services.
2322 What else?
2323 We're offering all of the programming services à la carte as required.
2324 I'm not sure what else there is. We've really been -- you know, given that it already was in our make-up as a -- but I still like to call us a new entrant to the TV distribution market.
2325 I'm not sure that we -- there was that much for us to do to change our offering in order to meet the Commission's expectations.
2326 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. A question about your flexible packaging.
2327 Can you describe your affiliation agreement negotiations with programming services since the introduction of the new flexible packaging requirements?
2328 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Sure. I'm going to pass that over to Dan, but I think I will say that, like all of my counterparts have said, the -- it is certainly becoming a trend in the -- and was before, but is more so now, a trend to have penetration-based rate cards, which means that as people are provided with more choice, the cost of programming is going up because there's less penetration of those services. And I think that that is something that is clearly being felt throughout the industry.
2329 Dan, did you want to add anything?
2330 MR. PAGE: Yeah, this is no different when I joined TELUS seven years ago. We've always had flexible packaging, unlike other providers who had three levels of services, three tiers, so we've always suffered from smaller penetration and having to manage penetration. So our agreements look very similar now to what they did look like a few years ago.
2331 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you. And a couple more questions, one on accessibility, closed captioning and described video; okay? How is your company treating requests for your most accessible set-top boxes that is available and compatible with your system? And then, of course, a click question coming up.
2332 MS. SIMPSON: I'm sorry, can you repeat that?
2333 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Sure.
2334 MS. SIMPSON: Are you asking that the boxes all ---
2335 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: How is your company treating requests for your most accessible set-top boxes that is available and compatible with your systems?
2336 MS. SIMPSON: Right. All our set-top boxes offer the same level of accessibility. So a subscriber has options between a PVR, a normal digital box that's less expensive, or a 4K box, but they all offer the same functionality.
2337 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. And how many clicks?
2338 MS. SIMPSON: Three. There are three clicks for both described video and for closed captioning.
2339 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. And that's ---
2340 MS. SIMPSON: But we ---
2341 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- and that's reasonable?
2342 MS. SIMPSON: It is, especially considering we have a set and forget feature on that so ---
2343 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
2344 MS. SIMPSON: --- subscribers just need to do it the once.
2345 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. What about the public service announcements on local availabilities, comments on that?
2346 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Certainly we have seen a decrease -- we are fairly new to the local avails usage and so I can say though that the new policy whereby for whatever reason -- or the policy whereby now it's first run original programming, I think it has decreased the demand for that 75 percent. And, therefore, it makes sense that we would be able to offer PSAs and that. I think it's -- there's a need in the community, whether it is for broadcast type PSAs from the CBSC, which is, of course, very near and dear to me, and the emergency alerting, all of these things, are obviously extremely important. But just other community type of announcements can be extremely important for charities, for, you know, various non-for-profit groups that have important messages to -- so I'm not sure why we wouldn't allow that. And I -- you know, I'm very grateful for a shot at bringing that forward.
2347 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you.
2348 And then my last question on this before moving into an even more final question, so this would be my -- I guess my penultimate question here. Your application-based BDU services, I was going to ask you how Pik TV is offered to your subscribers but you luckily answered that in point number nine of your opening statement so we can just move right on there, for the sake of completeness of our record, that's already been asked.
2349 Now, I've got just basically one question for you on your request to surrender your regional licenses in favour of the individual licenses. And that would be the affect of the funds for CMF. So I know you provided some calculations and some information confidentially.
2350 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Right.
2351 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: But I would just, for the sake of the public record, I would like you to make a comment on the impact of actually granting a different kind of license for you.
2352 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Right. Surely the -- by granting us area-specific licenses we would operate on an exempt basis in many more areas than are actually eligible for the carve-out. That's the main iniquity; right? And so, yes, we would operate on an exempt basis, which means that the five percent contribution continues to be made towards Canadian content. No, it wouldn't go to the CMF. It would go towards our own community programming initiatives, which I think we've mentioned numerous times also is filling a void for programming originating from western areas.
2353 So there would be less money coming from TELUS to the CMF; however, the same amount of Canadian programming -- investment in Canadian programming would be made. And moreover, we have noted that the Minister has indicated the government will be backfilling any shortfalls from, you know, BDU contributions to the CMF.
2354 And I think that this is -- from a regulatory, you know, asymmetry perspective, it makes sense to grant us this application; and also, from the public policy perspective of supporting the types of innovative investments that we're making in Canadian programming. And ultimately, when Shaw revokes one of its licenses because they are under 20K, there was no public consultation on whether or not there is a shortfall going to the CMF. And so, for us now to be -- you know, to have the question of whether or not we are somehow depriving the CMF of funds simply because we are asking to be regulated in the same manner as the incumbent cable company, to me is, frankly, inappropriate. If we're not considered making that consideration in revoking a license of a cable company, why are we considering it now with respect to a simple opting for the same regulatory treatment?
2355 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. And those are my questions. I don't have any questions for you on the arguments and the case that you put forward with respect to the surrendering of those licenses. Your file is big, lots of arguments. I'm sure there will be a few more coming back and forth. So -- but perhaps one of my colleagues or somebody will have a question for you on that.
2356 But I would just like to say thank you very much for taking the time. It was a, you know, certainly a pleasure to talk to you about what's going on in our region. So thank you.
2357 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: It won't come as a galloping shock that I have some set-top box questions. But before I start, I didn't realize that you were going to be standing aside as Chair, so I would like to personally express the Commission's gratitude for your efforts. Things may not always have proceeded as quickly as we all would have liked but I do know that as Chair of that group you've had to put in significant additional effort and it's noticed and appreciated.
2358 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Thank you.
2359 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: But that leaves me with I guess an initial question, if you're stepping aside, who should I be irritating on a go-forward basis?
2360 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So certainly I'd had some conversations before with my counterpart at Shaw, Mr. Shaikh, who also acknowledged that he would be willing to step forward. And I think that the set-top box working group would be very pleased to welcome him as new Chair.
2361 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Is there a timeline for that?
2362 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: The very next meeting.
2363 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Okay.
2364 I guess that brings up another conversation that I had discussed with Mr. Shaikh yesterday and he was very much of the opinion that the leadership of the working group should reside within the BDUs. It looks like that's the direction at least that you're planning on going in. That will be the third Chair, all of which have been from BDUs. Do you think that's the most sensible approach?
2365 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: I do. However, to be clear, this is always something that is discussed at the -- this is something that would be discussed at the working group. And it's not necessarily a fait accompli. We have been working by consensus and I do believe that that is the proper way to approach this type of -- some of the thorny issues that we've been dealing with, because this is not a group that is coming together with all of the same information and the same perspectives and the same objectives, despite the Commission's five objectives. Everyone has personal or corporate objectives in this that are -- maybe it's a priority in what they're looking for in this -- in the development of the system.
2366 And so we will definitely discuss this. But I think that it makes the most sense and I hope that we will be able to convince everyone that it be continued to be chaired by a BDU because it is, as Mr. Shaikh indicated, it is our information that is being shared. We're the ones who would be ultimately putting the privacy of our customers at risk in the establishment of the system.
2367 When it comes to programmers -- the programming services that are on the working group, they don't have the same stake in this. They have provided great ideas and indications of what are the needs that they want us to fulfil in developing this system; however, they don't have as much at stake. It is not their customer information that is at risk here. And I believe -- nor do they have the same informational basis on -- to enable them to properly lead this group because they don’t know as much as a BDU can possibly know on how our systems are able to -- what kinds of information, and how frequent, and how aggregated or disaggregated this information can be pulled from our systems.
2368 So there’s so many reasons why it really makes sense that this -- you’re asking for BDU’s to aggregate information from their boxes. This is something that is very much more closer to the BDU than to a programming service.
2369 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You mention that with the group, you know, people have different views, different backgrounds, and that’s largely dictated by the logo that’s on their business card. Do you feel that people come into the table with very different viewpoints wanting to accomplish different things is one of the reasons why we’re still talking about this two and a half years after Let’s Talk?
2370 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: I think there are many reasons. And, you know, not wanting to sound like a broken record, but this is a very complex thing that you have mandated -- that you Commission have mandated us to do. And yes, the fact that it is a very disparate group that has come together has certainly complicated matters. There are lots of voices at the table that have been very informative and it’s led to some very productive discussions in learning how are we going to do this and why are we doing this, what are we really trying to accomplish and will we have accomplished that if we do it this way or that way.
2371 And I think that there has been -- you know, we started off very fast out of the gate, from my perspective, with -- under the chairpersonship of Ms. Dorval, who -- you know, we launched, we got the privacy -- guidance from the privacy commissioner, we got the technical trial underway, and then you might wonder why did things stall. Once we received that technical -- the report from that technical trial there was -- it felt like we needed to fully understand that and is Numeris the right partner. And we went back to that drawing board, which unfortunately yes, has added more time, but I do think that it has helped us all understand why Numeris is the right partner.
2372 And initially we were talking about the single currency or multiple currencies. And to fully explain what that is, it’s the currency is the output -- and I’m sure I’m not explaining this properly, but -- and I also am cognizant that Numeris is in the room, which shows their commitment to this endeavour. Hopefully they’re still there. Yes. Ultimately the currency is how the measurement that advertisers and programming services will be able to use as that single measurement. This is the top program based on all measures, metrics, whether it’s, you know, their viewership panels, or whether it’s through set-top box, that single currency is putting those together.
2373 And the benefit of that that the programmers -- programming services have made clear to us is that when they are trying to sell advertising they know that advertisers don’t want to hear well, on this basis it’s this, on this basis it’s that, they want that single currency. That’s what advertisers want. And so they wanted to lead to that ultimate outcome.
2374 So we -- however, because of the credibility that Numeris brings to this -- quite frankly, that’s what it comes down to -- they might have been slightly slow and they have a very measured process. That technical trial we anticipated -- we the working group anticipated that it would give us much more than that. We thought it would be the start of the business case, that it would do this and that it would do that, and what we have come to realize is no, they -- Numeris has a lot -- they’re putting their reputation at risk if they don’t get this right.
2375 And so they had that initial feasibility test, and for them it was a feasibility test, is this even possible, the next step that they had indicated that they wanted to take. And I think as a working group we somewhat disputed that in thinking do we need a second test, can we not just move this along.
2376 And in that discussion we started wondering well maybe we need another partner who is more invested in doing this, and ultimately we came back to the same conclusion, no, the reason that we need that second test -- and now we’re into a proof of concept -- is the whole business of is this going to work.
2377 We know that from a technical perspective they can get this done. That was an important step. The next step is if they build it -- this is not like a field of dreams thing where if you build it they will come. If they build this thing and no one buys that data then we will have spent an awful lot of money on something that ultimately no one really wants to buy.
2378 So when we look at the objectives that the Commission has given us, and it’s to help programming services, it’s to help with advertising, well, some of the smaller programming services who currently have a need for some type of measurement because they are not currently really being represented in the current Numeris data -- that was one of the objectives that they have indicated to us -- this is -- part of the problem is we don’t see ourselves in the panel data because they are by their nature very niche and therefore somehow when you do a panel viewership measurement no one’s -- you know, that 1,000 people that they have surveyed aren’t watching that particular niche service. And so they want to see themselves, and they might be able to see themselves through the set-top box data.
2379 This is something that ultimately the best person to -- or the best people to build this system we have come to realize, again, is Numeris. And I think we needed to go through that exercise to finally understand where were we, did we, you know, perhaps decide too quickly to partner with Numeris and then we had second thoughts and we had to go back and say well, is this right, are we investing in the right way, and if it’s going to take that much longer are we sure that this is the right partner before we invest more time and money in going down that route.
2380 And when I say “time and money” in fact Numeris at this point has undertaken a lot of the costs of the development of the system. So I applaud the three BDU’s who have participated in the technical trial -- there were costs associated with that, which they themselves have borne -- but I also applaud Numeris for the investment in time and energy in preparing where they have gotten us today.
2381 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Well, that brings me to my next question. Yesterday Pam Dinsmore was here from Rogers and we were having a similar conversation, and I don’t have the exact quote, but basically if there’s no business case it’s not going to happen. So do you think it would have even been possible to do the business case earlier in the process?
2382 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: I don’t think so, because Numeris first needed to do the first test, which was that feasibility, is it even possible, and then decide it’s possible but here are the limitations, and the opportunities, and building the business case is now essentially what’s coming out of this proof of concept, right.
2383 Each BDU has different costs associated and different abilities in returning data. Not all of these boxes, you know, within BDU’s -- some of them have numerous boxes which have different capabilities, and amongst all of the BDU’s we all have different boxes with different capabilities. And determining okay what is the common ground, at what level are we going to set this measurement system, that is something that has needed a lot of, you know, noodling on Numeris’ part. And we’ve only recently seen okay, here’s what we’re going to ask, you know, the BDU’s for, we’d like this frequency, we’d like this data, we’d like it to be provided in this way. We have all those parameters now that all of our various technical staff are working to implement and to cost out. So attempting to get Numeris to determine all of these things before it had actually gone through these initials steps is impossible.
2384 And I think we did have conversations on well we need a -- let’s set up a business case first so that we can -- and no one was willing to -- or it just wasn’t possible, or it wouldn’t have been credible. Because if ultimately the decision is that we can’t do this now -- and I don’t think that the door ever gets closed forever, if it does get closed, and I’m certainly not suggesting that, but if it does get closed it’s temporary because things will change, boxes evolve, and costs decrease, or increase, and so the things will evolve. But if, at this time, when according to the current roadmap that Numeris has provided us, if they -- they show that their proof of concept just -- it's not worth it right now, we're not going to be able to sell this now, let's wait a few years, for example, it's -- we wouldn't have been able to have the credibility to say that earlier on.
2385 And I don't think that the programming services who sit on the working group would have accepted that. If we had tried to build that business case and we all came up with numbers -- because, essentially, that's what that business case would have been built on, right, just made-up numbers because we don't actually know what we're trying to cost out.
2386 So if we had tried to do the business case before, we -- it wouldn't have had the credibility to be able to truly make a decision that everyone would have been satisfied with. So we continue to investigate and we've moved and we've evolved, and now we have a lot more information on which we can make these decisions.
2387 And I believe we have a very solid plan and I'm very pleased with the -- you know, the relationship that we're building with Numeris which, you know, has had some rocky -- some rocky times, especially where, as a result of some, you know, prodding, we shortened some deadlines that, unfortunately, Numeris wasn't able to agree to and they hadn't agreed to it, and yet we did submit that, in any event, to the Commission in our report that we would do our best to do this by this time. It was impossible.
2388 So to your question, which I'm sure is coming at some point, about do I believe that this new time line has any more credibility than previous time lines that we have provided, I would say yes because the previous ones were very aspirational, built on information -- on a lack of information.
2389 This one is a lot more solid, built on information that is -- you know, certainly has -- is just a lot more solid, and Numeris is standing behind it.
2390 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Well, you anticipated my next two questions, so good job there.
2391 With respect to the schedule of activities, and I've asked the other BDUs this, there was a deliverable that was assigned a date of October the 15th. Out of curiosity, have you been able to finalize your letter of intent with Numeris ---
2392 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: We have ---
2393 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: --- speaking on behalf of TELUS?
2394 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: We're almost done, but I did have to spend a bit more time for this hearing.
2395 I would say that we're very close to signing, probably by the end of the week, hopefully, literally.
2396 It's -- you know, all of these -- these letters of intent are establishing -- starting to establish the business relationship and specifically refer to the list of information that Numeris wants to provide.
2397 So we have -- we need to do our own privacy assessment and, of course, go through the legal document with our general counsel. And so those things are -- have been undertaken, and it's minor changes to the contract. And I think we're very close to signing.
2398 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Perfect.
2399 And the mistake might have been mine in reading the third bullet on the schedule of activities, but I read that to mean that all BDUs that are part of the group would be signing a letter of intent. However, when Ms. MacDonald from Eastlink was here yesterday, she left me with the impression that Eastlink did not intend on signing a letter of intent because only a small section of their set top boxes record any of the set top box data.
2400 So can you provide some clarity on that front?
2401 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes. Certainly we didn't set out exactly which BDUs were participating. It is assumed that all BDUs that had return path data -- sufficient return path data, so for sure TELUS.
2402 Bell is participating. They also participated in the small scale test.
2403 Obviously, Cogeco, Rogers, Shaw.
2404 We decided -- and this was deliberate -- not to attempt to get full industry buy-in right from the get-go because I think, you know, clearly CCSA members, for example, will -- are not likely to be able to provide any information and we would be delaying the process.
2405 So our goal has never been to delay the process, and so we're starting with some of the larger BDUs that we know are capable.
2406 And to be clear, at this point -- this is, you know, an iterative process, right, so those BDUs will start. It's a -- we're working towards a proof of concept, and Numeris has been clear to us again and again, they need to get this initiative then approved by their own Board.
2407 So it may not even matter what the working group decides. We may decide, okay, we've -- it works. Let's go. And Numeris may, for whatever reason -- perhaps they're not satisfied with the credibility of the data. Perhaps -- there are a number of reasons why Numeris might not decide to move forward with the proof of concept, and so they have made clear that it needs to go -- needs to get the approval of their own Board.
2408 I think they are extremely enthusiastic, and I can see no reason why they wouldn't want this data because it simply adds to the credibility of their broader audience measurement. But there -- for any number of reason, perhaps this initiative could fall through at the proof of concept level.
2409 If it doesn't, then I'm sure that Numeris would be looking to bringing on more and more BDUs.
2410 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: But that would be a gradual process.
2411 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Of course. Yeah.
2412 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: We've talked a lot about IBG's proposal to establish a condition of licence. They've suggested two.
2413 What are your thoughts on that? Would your comments be in lockstep with the other BDUs that have been somewhat resistant to the idea?
2414 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Certainly on the first one with respect to some type of commitment, you know, obligation to put in place the measurement system, I believe that that would not be an appropriate condition of licence because, as I've just indicated, there is no guarantee that this measurement system will actually happen in actuality.
2415 Moreover, it's -- ultimately, it's different -- I was here when you were questioning my colleague, Ms. Dorval, and you were suggesting that is this no different than a radio station who engages, you know, other technical assistance or other means of achieving an objective.
2416 The difference is, this is an industry-wide system, so it's not just TELUS' ability to provide the data but, rather, the entire industry's ability and the willingness of my colleagues and competitors to fulfil what needs to be fulfilled in order for this to come to fruition.
2417 So it is a very bizarre condition of licence given that it is based on an industry-wide initiative, not merely TELUS' participation in.
2418 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: What are your thoughts -- yesterday, Mr. Shaikh from Shaw suggested that a condition of licence, rather than being an encouragement for the group to proceed as quickly as possible, that it would actually have the potential to have the opposite effect.
2419 Do you think that's accurate?
2420 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, I'm not 100 percent sure what motivated the framing of the answer in that way. However, in sentiment, I tend to agree to the extent that there's -- when you put a condition of licence, you're perpetuating this perception that somehow BDUs have not been fully participating and really endorsing this initiative, which is not true. And I think that if we don't continue to -- if we don't stop some of the more conflict type of perceptions, then we're not going to move forward as easily as a working group and having programming services and BDUs at odds, which I think a condition of licence could give that impression that we're again at odds, is not conducive to consensus building.
2421 And so from that perspective, I would say that it's -- it wouldn't be helpful.
2422 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Even if a condition of licence very much aligned with the timing in the schedule that you've presented and the timing that's in the three-year plan?
2423 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Again, it's a -- it's a perception. You're creating the -- you're perpetuating the perception that somehow BDUs have been at the -- you know, are the source of the delays. And I'm really -- I truly do not believe that that's true.
2424 First of all, the delays, I believe, are understandable. This -- this is something that we've been grappling with, and we've been grappling with different needs presented in different ways throughout the -- our various meetings, you know, from programming services, you know, indicating, "Well, actually, we would want this". Okay, well, how about if we -- you know, if we do it this way and that way, going back and forth on do we want a single currency or not, going back and forth on is Numeris the right provider.
2425 There has been so much learning to date that I believe that a condition of licence may not assist in a good collegial environment in which the working group needs to operate.
2426 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: If we didn’t heed your recommendation and did go down that route and the group came to realize that the system won't work or there's no market for it or the business case doesn’t fly or it makes more sense to wait five years because there'll be a new generation of set-top boxes out there -- all possible -- what would be the harm in having the condition of licence and then just the BDUs applying to have that condition removed?
2427 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: You know, ultimately it's a question of why do we need the condition of licence to start with? But if something came to pass that we were seeking removal of it, I'm not so sure that -- it's very difficult to comment when we don’t know what exactly you're thinking for a condition of licence, right?
2428 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: (Inaudible).
2429 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And certainly even IVG wasn’t 100 percent clear. Is it -- you know, could it be worded in such a way that you know, TELUS will participate in a -- you know, continue to participate in -- actively in a set-top box working group? Such a condition of licence probably wouldn't be troublesome to me at all.
2430 Is it that TELUS will ensure that it provides data to whoever by this date? That may be a problem. And so I think it's -- we're talking hypotheticals and it's very difficult to provide any additional detail on whether or not it's appropriate for us to seek removal, right? It depends on what ---
2431 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: It depends on the word.
2432 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: It does.
2433 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Would you have less concern with IBG's second proposal which would be a condition of licence saying something along the lines of, "BDUs that have access to this data that are using it must provide, upon request, to services." Would you have concerns with a condition of licence structured like that?
2434 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So that is a different question which I think my colleague Mr. Shaikh at Shaw also addressed in saying that there should be some type of commercial relationship, right? So it's understood in this aggregation system that there -- it's based on a cost recovery.
2435 And so my only concern in -- with respect to this proposal is that you could have a programming service that is extremely keen on receiving data and we would have to put in significant resources towards preparing this data on a regular basis.
2436 So there would have to be some significant parameters around, you know, how often we would need to provide the information and is it on a cost-recovery basis; is it -- you know, somewhat like, on a local avails type of basis?
2437 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Are there any other parameters that you think should be taken into consideration? You've mentioned cost recovery, you’ve mentioned frequency of requests, commercial relationship. Is there anything else that ---
2438 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: I would certainly limit it to independent programming services. I see no benefit to us or to -- or any requirement for a vertical integrated programming service from seeking this type of information from us.
2439 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Just one final question before I hand you back over, knowing that you're not a fan of the condition of licence. Is there any other way or any other things the Commission can do to help assist in the work of the working group and advance this more quickly? Can you help me help you help me?
2440 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, I think I'd like to take this opportunity to certainly thank Commission staff who have been, you know, participating, at least listening in on our conversations and providing some guidance to me as chair for sure. And I think that that type of collaborative approach is always very useful.
2441 I believe once these hearings are over it might be very beneficial for the Commission to hear directly from Numeris on their plans and perhaps that would give comfort to the Commission on, you know, that these delays are warranted and that something good will come out of this.
2442 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you very much. Those are my questions. And I'll just close by once again thanking you for all of your efforts chairing the working group over the past couple of years. Thanks.
2443 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Thank you.
2444 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Commissioner.
2445 Commission counsel?
2446 MR. BALKOVEC: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I do have a few questions but I'll do my best to be expeditious.
2447 One of the undertakings that you’ve agreed to -- I don't think we need to confirm them all on mic -- we can do that offline -- but just to clarify one of them, you were asked to provide the amount of money that STORYHIVE has given out over the last few broadcast years.
2448 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: M'hm.
2449 MR. BALKOVEC: As far back as you're able to, to provide that information. Just to make clear that if you can do that on a broadcasting year basis rather than just sort of a lump sum.
2450 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Right.
2451 MR. BALKOVEC: And also, if you're able to express that amount of money as a percentage of TELUS' total community contributions, that would be very helpful as well.
2452 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes, perfect.
2453 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay.
2454 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: What I suggest is perhaps we'll draft the undertakings, and then we can perhaps discuss on exactly what it is you're looking for (inaudible) something.
2455 MR. BALKOVEC: Perfect. That would be great. So to move on then to another question, actually, about expenditures, we had discussed with some of the other licensees who appeared before us the possibility of imposing some conditions of licence having to do with how the community channel contributions are reported on the 1020 form.
2456 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: M'hm.
2457 MR. BALKOVEC: Did you hear those conversations?
2458 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes.
2459 MR. BALKOVEC: Do you have any comment on those proposed conditions?
2460 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Right. We only have original programming.
2461 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay.
2462 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So I'm not sure that those conversations necessarily apply or at least we couldn't quite understand how they would apply to us.
2463 MR. BALKOVEC: And so does TELUS report those numbers for each of its community undertakings then?
2464 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes.
2465 MS. SIMPSON: Now that we have an undertaking for each of the areas that we serve we'll undertake to -- we will be doing that, yes.
2466 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay, that's very helpful, using the programming categories set out in the appendix to the policy, of course? Okay. Great.
2467 And just a quick question on the subject of local availabilities. Yesterday Shaw had suggested that the Commission may be able to amend the general authorizations to return to the previous wording, at least insofar as PSAs are concerned, without any further process. Do you have any comment on that?
2468 MS. SIMPSON: I think it's a great idea.
2469 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay. Just two more small things. On the issue of regional licensing, so my understanding TELUS’ position is that it considers the carve-out policy to be inequitable and so you've requested something here that would sort of resolve that inequity in your view.
2470 Do you have any comment on whether it would -- on why your proposal would be preferable to simply amending that policy?
2471 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: We've actually sought amendment to the policy in other proceedings and that hasn’t happened, so we only have an opportunity for our licence renewal every seven years and so we would prefer to have our licence changed now as opposed to potentially await a policy that may not happen.
2472 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay. And then final, just on the subject of the skinny basic option, I believe in some of your written submissions you stated that to subscribe to the skinny basic, a customer would need to call into a call centre to confirm that order.
2473 Are there any TV packages offered by TELUS where that would not be true, where a customer would not have to call in to take that package?
2474 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: There are some changes that you do online and it has required a systems change that at this -- you know, it's for those who have subscribed to many -- multiple services, multiple packages. And so we have not implemented at this time all of those system changes for those who are on skinny basic.
2475 So the -- you know, you need to look at this as a -- you know, as a tree. From our systems perspective it works that way and it always starts with a basic service. Now the Commission has asked us to replicate the second basic. And so to make all of the changes required for this self-serve option that we call, we have not replicated on -- for those who are light skinny basic, mostly because it likely will come but mostly at this time because it's -- those who are purchasing those services are not likely to be subscribing to multiple services.
2476 MR. BALKOVEC: Is that something you foresee -- a change that you foresee in the next licence term?
2477 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: In the next licence term? Yes, assuming that we are renewed on a seven-year basis, yeah.
2478 MR. BALKOVEC: Thank you for that. Those are my questions.
2479 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Counsel.
2480 Thank you for your presentation.
2481 We will take a very short five-minute break, health break, just while the next presenters are seating themselves, and then we'll have our lunch break after the following presentation. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 12:45 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 12:50 p.m.
2482 THE SECRETARY: À l'ordre, s'il vous plait. Order, please. Yeah.
2483 We'll now hear the presentation by Bell Canada, Bell Express Vu Limited Partnership. Go ahead. You have 20 minutes.
2484 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Thank you. I think I was overly optimistic in writing this opening statement when it starts with "good morning" so.
2485 Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, and Commission staff. My name is Kevin Goldstein and I'm Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs, Content and Distribution for BCE. I am joined today by my colleague, Lenore Gibson, Senior Counsel of Regulatory Affair
2486 At the outset, Mr. Chairman, Madame Vice-Chair, we would like to echo the warm welcomes given to you by our fellow BDUs. We look forward to working cooperatively with you over the course of the next several years.
2487 We'll now begin our opening remarks.
2488 Bell TV is proud to provide BDU services to consumers across Canada. We offer Bell Satellite TV, our national DTH service; Fibe TV, our regional IPTV distributor serving Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces; and Bell MTS' Ultimate TV serving Manitoba. All told, we provide BDU services to 2.8 million subscribers across the country and hold five BDU licenses.
2489 The purpose of this hearing is to consider the license renewals of several BDUs. As part of this process, the Commission is examining the progress of the Set-top Box Working Group. We understand that this is the main reason we have been asked to appear before the Commission at this hearing as the renewal of Bell MTS' license is a non-appearing item and neither our Fibe TV nor Bell Satellite TV licenses expire until August 2018 and August 2019 respectively. That said, should the Commission have additional matters to discuss with us, we will do our best to answer them today.
2490 In the Notice of Consultation, the Commission identified two items of discussion related to the Set-top Box Working Group: the progress of the Working Group, including individual BDU contributions to the Working Group; and individual BDU set-top box data capabilities and the uses of that data. We will briefly address each of issues.
2491 Bell TV has been an active member of the Working Group since its inception in April 2015. We have participated in each meeting of the Working Group, including the in-person meetings that the Working Group has held with Numeris. We participated in the small scale feasibility test that was conducted by Numeris from late December 2015 to mid-February 2016. We promptly completed a study for Numeris in February 2017. And lastly, a few weeks ago, we met with Numeris to answer their additional technical questions and to ensure that we can capture the set-top box information that they require in order for Bell to participate in the national set-top box audience measurement system.
2492 We recognize that the Working Group's progress has been slower than the Commission, or the Working Group's members, anticipated it would be. Given our fulsome participation in the Working Group, we are well-placed to make the following observations
2493 The members of the Working Group are diverse and at times, this has led to divergent viewpoints.
2494 That said, the shared goal of the Working Group, to develop an audience measurement system based on set-top box data and then to eventually merge it with Numeris' current Television Audience Measurement system to form a single measurement system, is moving forward to completion. And we understand the utility that it can provide to various stakeholders
2495 But it must be recognized that together, the Working Group and Numeris are breaking new ground. The aggregation of set-top box data from multiple BDUs into an audience measurement system does not currently exist anywhere in the world.
2496 I'll now turn to Bell TV's set-top box data collection capabilities. The set-top boxes employed by both Fibe TV and Ultimate TV are capable of collecting and returning data, and we have placed on the public record the information that we do collect and the limited uses we have made of that data. However, Bell Satellite TV cannot collect such data, as communications are only possible from a satellite to the subscriber and not the other way around.
2497 Now a closing comment regarding privacy. The privacy of our subscribers is paramount. We have robust measures in place to ensure that it is maintained. The data that Numeris has asked us to provide is de-identified and aggregated such that no personally identifiable information will be shared with Numeris.
2498 Thank you for the opportunity to share our views. We'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.
2499 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Good afternoon. As you noted, most of your licenses are not up for renewal right now, so lucky you, I won't keep you here too long.
2500 I do just have a few non-set-top box-related questions that I'll get out of the way before we delve into the main reason that you're here. There is an issue with respect to availability of discretionary services and Bell customers being able to subscribe to more than 10. And you informed us that it would be a significant delay before you would be able to offer more than 10. And I'm just wondering -- I think it was to December next year, I'm wondering, can you explain why it will take so long for you to upgrade your systems?
2501 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Are you referring to the custom 10 stacking issue?
2502 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Yes.
2503 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Essentially the ability of a subscriber to subscribe to multiple packs of custom 10s?
2504 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Exactly.
2505 MR. GOLDSTEIN: So perhaps I'll start and then perhaps my colleague Ms. Gibson can fill in everything I miss.
2506 I think the issue with that is -- is that, you know, building -- unfortunately, the way in which a BDU packaging system is built, or at least the way in which we built our packaging system, you know, either for the right or wrong of it is, is that it's not easily scalable. So as I think the record on that issue, and there's been a number of letters back and forth in terms of, you know, a complaint that was filed, you know, demonstrates we actually tried to work with the Commission early on in the process in terms of developing our packaging approach to meet the requirements of the Let's Talk TV policy. Our understanding was -- is that you didn't actually need to do stacking custom 10s, so we didn't develop our system that way.
2507 Now that we know we have, we're implementing the necessary resources to do that, but implementing system changes of this nature where -- that touch a whole bunch of different touch points within our company from billing to programming, you know, to, you know, our web interface with customers takes a long time to do, and especially when it's happening within the context of other changes that are constantly happening and have already been planned for.
2508 But I think we're actually working to solve it, at least on a temporary basis, before the full fix is in. Maybe, Lenore, you can add to that.
2509 MS. GIBSON: Yes, I can confirm that we are working to fix it on a temporary basis. We informed the Commission I think a month or so ago that we would have that in place sometime in October and I can confirm that we will have it in place by the end of this month. And to the extent that we have had subscribers express concern about the lack of stackability, we'll be reaching out to those specific subscribers as well.
2510 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Perfect. Thanks. That answers my next question as well.
2511 On the topic of accessibility, some Canadians have mentioned their wish for more accessible set-top boxes. And I'm wondering how you treat these requests when you receive them from your customers?
2512 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Well, I'll be honest, that's an area where -- given that our renewals are not a -- and given that the information we had put on the public record didn't relate to accessibility, it's not something I am well versed in. Do you ---
2513 MS. GIBSON: To my understanding, all our boxes are accessible and that to the extent that we're looking for to put new products in the marketplace, those requirements are very -- are made very clear to our providers.
2514 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Since you haven't discussed it in this hearing, maybe if you wouldn't mind, maybe you just want to take that away as an undertaking to ---
2515 MR. GOLDSTEIN: We'd be happy to.
2516 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Perfect. And perhaps in that you can just include some of the information that we've asked from the other applicants around how many clicks and what's available.
2517 MR. GOLDSTEIN: No problem. No problem.
2518 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Perfect. Thank you.
2520 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Out of curiosity, how's your Alt TV offered to subscribers, from a technical standpoint?
2521 MR. GOLDSTEIN: How is it offered from a technical standpoint?
2522 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Yes.
2523 MR. GOLDSTEIN: It's a managed BDU product not that dissimilar to a lot of what other IPTV products are. It's -- you know, it's a little bit different in that it doesn't have a set top box, but it operates a closed system that meets all the criteria of a managed regulated BDU service that the Commission kind of has set out in a series of decisions, I think, starting with the V-Media decision in terms of looking at the -- looking at services of this nature.
2524 And it's non-nomadic. It's specific to the subscriber you get. It's all over the Bell, you know, network, essentially, closed network. So it's -- you know, I think it's just that it doesn't operate with a set top box.
2525 I'm not as familiar with, obviously, the Pik product that TELUS has, but I would guess that they would probably be similar.
2526 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Similar, okay.
2527 And the reason I asked is because when I was reviewing the submissions from IBG, they seemed a little bit concerned that some services may not be offered by BDUs on application-based platforms. And I just wondered if you had any thoughts on their concern or can you address their fears?
2528 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, I think it's -- I think that's largely a TELUS issue on Pik.
2529 The way in which Alt is designed, if someone wants to go and subscribe to it in an area where it's available, the packaging is largely similar to the traditional Fibe service with the set top box, the good, better, best packaging.
2530 Pricing's a little bit different because there's no set top box involved. But the -- it's -- you know, all of the services that are available on the traditional Fibe platform are available through the Alt TV platform.
2531 So I'm not sure I necessarily agree with the IBG position because I think that it all exists under the same broadcasting licence, and they're largely essentially different packaging options, essentially. And you know, I think we noted in our -- in our reply comments, our written reply comments before this hearing that if a certain IBG customer had, you know, a complaint that somehow the packaging that a BDU is employing was -- somehow disadvantaged them or created an undue preference, I think there's mechanisms within the regulations for them to actually address that and file a complaint with the Commission.
2532 I don't -- I'm not going to comment on what TELUS did. You know, it's, you know, for Ms. Mainville-Neeson, you know, to comment on in terms of their service.
2533 I know for our service, because we haven't done anything different from a packaging perspective between the traditional set top box-based Fibe and Alt, there's -- I think those comments are more directed at TELUS.
2534 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, perfect. Thanks. That's helpful.
2535 Now let's switch over to set top boxes.
2536 I'm sure you've heard the discussion over the last couple of days. You can anticipate most of my questions, I'm sure.
2537 Are you currently collecting any set top box data? I know you have in the past, but are you collecting anything now?
2538 MR. GOLDSTEIN: So yes, our set top boxes are now -- do collect data.
2539 Not -- I think there's a difference between whether the boxes are collecting them and whether we're actually using it. I think there's -- the boxes have the capability and are collecting data.
2540 MS. GIBSON: Sorry. The only clarification I would make is that Bell MTS, while it has the capability, is not actually collecting the data. It's not turned on.
2541 And of course, as we indicated in our opening statement, Bell Satellite TV does not have the capability of collecting data.
2542 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: The reason I ask, and it comes from your submission of March 23rd this year in reply to some of our questions, the set top box deployed by Bell Canada, a licensee of Fibe TV and Fibre Op TV, are able to collect and return set top box data. However, this capability is not currently enabled due to a patent infringement lawsuit to which you're a party.
2543 MS. GIBSON: So that matter has been settled, and so it was about a four-month period from January till mid-April 2017 that we weren't collecting -- didn't have the capability of collecting the data.
2544 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: But that's all resolved.
2545 MS. GIBSON: It's all resolved now.
2546 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, perfect.
2547 You've been very active participants in the working group and in their work. Has it taken longer than you would have thought to get to the point where we're at right now?
2548 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think it's taken longer than we originally envisioned.
2549 It's funny. Last night we were looking back on what we said and, you know, given some of the questions that were asked yesterday and the transcript for the "Let's Talk" hearing.
2550 I think we had thought at the time it might take 18 months to get going. I think that might have been overly optimistic at the time.
2551 But I think -- I don't think it's because of the actions of anyone on the committee to try to -- whether on the BDU side or the programming side to try to slow things down. I think, as Ms. Mainville-Nesson indicated this morning, I think it's really, really important that we get this right and, you know, both for the -- you know, the BDUs, the programmers, as well as Numeris now that they've been chosen to be the one to prepare the proof of concept.
2552 So you know, I think -- I think it's in everyone's interest to take the time necessary to get it done now, you know, and get it done properly.
2553 I think there's a difference between the period that existed at the beginning in terms of where the participants on the committee were trying to -- or the working group were trying to figure out exactly what we needed and what they wanted versus now where I think that's been largely resolved and we're now moving towards the implementation of it.
2554 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: In my last conversation with Ms. Mainville-Neeson, you know, she expressed that, you know, perhaps some of the dates which have been provided to the Commissioner in the past were overly optimistic.
2555 Those dates have been missed, so I guess they were overly optimistic.
2556 How confident are you with the latest submission of the set top box working group to the Commission outlining the schedule of activities that need to happen over the next year or so?
2557 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think we're fairly comfortable with it. You know, obviously when you're engaged in any project of any nature -- I seem to have done too many renovations at my house to be comfortable with any schedule that's been given to me. But I think in looking at that, I think it's a fairly reasonable approach, I think one that both the members of the working group and Numeris have bought into.
2558 So I think, you know, largely, you know, it'll -- it should stay on track.
2559 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Is it on track currently? Have you been able to sign the letter of intent with Numeris?
2560 MS. GIBSON: So we're working through that process internally now, but we do expect to be able to send that back signed to Numeris by the end of the month at the absolute latest.
2561 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, perfect. Thank you.
2562 Can you share with me your thoughts on whether we should explore imposing a condition of licence on the BDUs to implement the audience measurement system?
2563 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I sit in the enviable position of not having my licences up before you to actually have a condition of licence imposed on me, but you know, I tend to agree with the comments that were made by the various applicants who are here for their renewals, whether that be Videotron or Rogers or Shaw or Cogeco or TELUS earlier today.
2564 You know, I think there's two main concerns with it from a practical perspective.
2565 One is that, you know, we're dealing with something for the first time, you know, a made in Canada perhaps for the world solution. It's not an off-the-shelf concept, and there's a third party, Numeris, who is the one who's going to be doing that. So it's kind of outside the control of the BDUs.
2566 And I think it was either Ms. Mainville-Nesson or Ms. Dorval earlier today who made a really relevant comment, which is is that it actually relies on the participation of everyone involved.
2567 So even if I had a condition of licensing I had to do something, I would be doing -- you know, I could do it, but if others breached their condition of licence or don't -- you know, don't do it and the system falls down, that had nothing to do with me.
2568 So I'm not sure that's overly fair. I'm also not sure it's overly necessary.
2569 I think that one of the things that's been clear is that we're going to get to a proof of concept stage, I believe, next summer, and then we're going to -- you know, we're going to have to figure out as part of that process whether or not there's actually a viable business here that people want this data and can use it and not just, in terms of the programming services, saying, hey, this would be a great thing to have.
2570 It's also one of the objectives is to try to make the existing television audience measurement system, which is used largely in -- you know, essentially to sell pitch to advertisers as to why they should pay for time bought on programming services, whether or not that makes it better and whether or not advertisers are going to care.
2571 So I think that -- there's a lot of unknowns at this point, so I'm not overly supportive of condition of licence.
2572 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Would you agree that there's potential to -- for a condition of licence to actually create some friction between BDUs and other members of the working group, BDUs and Numeris, BDUs and independent producers -- independent programming services?
2573 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Well, I've seen conditions of licence in the past that have created friction with independent producers, but they -- yeah. No, they -- I think it does.
2574 I think it does in terms of just what the -- you know, we've all kind of are rowing in the same direction at this point, and it's -- you know, they -- I think we're on a good path. We have -- you know, we have a clear timetable, a clear direction.
2575 I don't know that a condition of licence really changes that. I think we're all committed to make it happen.
2576 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Your organization is very good at developing and launching products and services that it can market to Canadians and generate revenue. In your gut, do you think there's a business to be made out of audience measurement? Do you think the business case will fly?
2577 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think there is a value in taking the data and making the audience measurement system as good as we can. I think there is a value in that. You know, if I can put it, you know, I have the benefit of actually doing the regulatory work for both the media division and the VDA division so I think that we're always hoping to have better data, you know, a better thing to sell to advertisers, especially in today's challenging advertising market, to show the value of television.
2578 And because sometimes that's questioned when in reality, the facts really show something different. I can only comment for Bell. You know, a system being valuable for Bell unfortunately does not a business case make. So I think it's something that we do think would be valuable but I can't speak on behalf of others. And I think you need broad participation in this to make it worthwhile.
2579 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you. We talked a little bit about IBG's first suggested condition of licence. What about their second whereby there'd be a condition of licence that thou must provide that data upon request under -- you know, with some conditions in place about cost recovery and so forth?
2580 Do you think there's any value in a condition of licence structured in that way?
2581 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I tend to echo what others said about this. You know, I'm not sure -- okay, first of all, I think the frequency issue could be a challenge.
2582 You know, I think, as Mr. Medline from Rogers commented on yesterday, it's like the data is being collected and it can be either a breadbox or a car. It's -- the real issue is in terms of what you're going to do with that raw data, just because you have it to make it actually usable in some way.
2583 I think I'd be remiss though if I didn’t highlight -- you know, I recognize what the value is in terms of the data when combined with another audience measurement system to try to be able to then use to show advertisers how valuable your channel is to sell time.
2584 I think that data, when taken from, you know, across an industry or a sample of an industry will give you a very good picture into what's working and what's not as a programmer into scheduling. I'm not sure that data on an individual BDU basis or for example, in the case of Bell, a partial BDU basis -- because you're only going to get the parts of Bell's BDU subscription base that actually have the ability to actually collect that data. So that leaves out a large chunk of it when you take out satellite, specifically.
2585 Whether or not that provides a lot of insight, specific -- you know, during kind of over a yearly basis or at any particular time in terms of scheduling because a programming service doesn’t provide a -- provide its content or schedule its content for Bell subscribers or a sample of Bell subscribers. It schedules its content the same across the entire country, across the entire BDU -- BDU base.
2586 So you know, if Bell's, you know, essentially, you know, audience doesn’t -- you know, happens to either like a program more or less, than Rogers' audience or Shaw's audience -- I'm not sure there's really anything to do about that overall that would -- you know, to correct it. Because most services are national in nature. They're not really regional or local specific and they're definitely not BDU specific in terms of what you're doing.
2587 So I just don’t -- you have to wonder. It's like, okay, I'd like a COL for you to give me -- be forced to give me data that really serves no relevant purpose, you know, to get it. So I think that's the challenge for us, is that I'm not really sure what you gain from it.
2588 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Do you receive requests for that data today and if so, how often and how do you treat them?
2589 MR. GOLDSTEIN: So we generally do not receive requests for that data outside of the company. No, not that I'm aware of that anyone's approached us on.
2590 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Just one final question and it's with respect to the idea of the second condition of licence, you know, thou shalt provide. We've mentioned cost recovery. We've mentioned frequency of requests, privacy concerns, perhaps. Are there any other parameters that should be included if we do go down that road?
2591 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think exactly what level of data you're going to be providing. You know, is this something that it's general information about how long someone was tuning into your channel? Is it specific to an individual program within a window of time? Is it -- you know, those are the kind of things that make it more labour intensive. The more data you want, the more information and how it's broken down and what readable fashion makes it more and more difficult and challenging to do on a timely basis.
2592 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay.
2593 MR. GOLDSTEIN: That would the only thing I'd add.
2594 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Just one final, I'm sure that Bell has an opinion on most things that the CRTC chooses to do. So ---
2595 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I may not but ---
2596 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So with that set of lenses, is there anything that you think we should be doing to help facilitate this group or is the best thing that we do stay out of everyone's way?
2597 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think the group has made immense progress. I think if we were having this discussion 24 months ago after the first 12 months of it when I think things were still settling, I think we might have been having a different discussion. But I think that, just in terms of direction -- but I think the group has come together and figured out exactly the direction they need to go in and how to plan to get there.
2598 Obviously, we -- as Ms. Mainville-Neeson highlighted earlier, we have Commission staff representation on the committee. I think that's been incredibly helpful and we welcome that. And I think at this point I think the best thing to do is just let it play out because I think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel as to where we're trying to get here. I'm pretty sure it's not an oncoming train.
2599 And so, you know, I think the best option for us at this point is, let's go through the process. We'll sign the LOIs with Numeris, we'll get to the proof of concept and you know, we'll move and resolve all the other issues along a parallel path and then we'll see what we thought and we'll see if this actually is something that makes sense for the industry as a whole.
2600 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: I won't do my Columbo impression but one last thing -- one more thing. Is Bell at all interested or willing to put some additional resources into the working group, be that financial resources, people resources, expertise?
2601 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think we've already put financial resources in in that we were one of the ones who were actually involved in the small-scale trial which did involve cost to us and the other BDUs that were involved.
2602 You know, I think we have significant representation on the committee. My colleague Lenore is on it. I have another one of my colleagues -- I think we have three people on the committee. I think to the extent necessary, if the committee identifies that it wants greater expertise from a technical or other level, I think we'd be more than happy to involve other resources from Bell in helping the working group achieve its objectives. So I don't think we have a problem with that. I think we're all looking to try to accomplish the same thing.
2603 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Perfect. Well, thank you very much. That was very helpful. Those are my questions.
2604 MR. GOLDSTEIN: My pleasure.
2605 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commission counsel?
2606 MR. BALKOVEC: Just a few questions, Mr. Chairman.
2607 To return to the issue of the packages of discretionary services -- so there was a Commission letter in May of this year finding Bell in non-compliance with the regulations as a result of that. As you alluded to, there was an exchange of letters after that. In one of those letters Bell suggested that there could be a manual fix in the interim while the systems were being updated. Can you explain that?
2608 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think that's the fix that Ms. Gibson was commenting on that we're going to have in place by the end of this month.
2609 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay. And so that's -- I guess it’s a manual process; is that right?
2610 MS. GIBSON: Yes, it would have to be done manually to each subscriber who calls up.
2611 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay.
2612 MS. GIBSON: And it's their account adjusted.
2613 MR. BALKOVEC: All right, and so by the end of this month you see that being in place?
2614 MS. GIBSON: Yes.
2615 MR. BALKOVEC: Would you be able to perhaps in your final reply provide the Commission with an update of how close that is to being in place?
2616 MS. GIBSON: Yes, we can do that.
2618 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay, that would be great.
2619 And just finally on the issue of set-top boxes, just for the sake of clarity for the record, we are looking at the possibility of imposing those conditions on the systems that are not for renewal now but that are more than five years into their licence term. Based on the conversation we had, I think that was clear but just to make that extra clear, if you have anything to add to your comments as a result, please feel free.
2620 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think our position on that's clear.
2621 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay, thank you.
2622 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation.
2623 We'll recess now for lunch, resuming at 2:30. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1:20 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 2:28 p.m.
2624 LE SECRÉTAIRE: Je vous demanderais de prendre place, s’il vous plait. We will start in a few seconds.
2625 Mr. Chairman, we will now proceed with Phase II in which intervenors appear in the order set out in the agenda to present their intervention.
2626 We’ll start with the presentation of Consumers’ Association of Canada & Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Please introduce yourselves first. You have 10 minutes for your presentation.
2627 MS. LAU: Thank you.
2628 Good afternoon. We are pleased to appear today to represent the Consumers Association of Canada and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, together CAC-PIAC, to provide our comments on the renewal of the licenses of a number of terrestrial broadcasting distribution undertakings or BDU’s.
2629 We also wish to welcome new faces on the panel, including Mr. Chair and Madam Vice-Chair, and wish you the best during your tenure with the Commission.
2630 My name is Alysia Lau and I am counsel to CAC-PIAC. With me is Jennifer Chow, articling student. And Bruce Cran, the President of CAC, did hope to be here but unfortunately for medical reasons was unable to appear today.
2631 Both PIAC and CAC have mandates to represent and advocate for the interests of Canadian consumers. In broadcasting matters this means ensuring that Canadians have affordable access to and choice of broadcasting services, that their personal information and privacy are protected, and that there are consumer safeguards in their contractual relationships and interactions with their service providers.
2632 In this proceeding the Commission is considering the licence renewals of several BDU’s, some of which are the largest in Canada.
2633 In our intervention CAC-PIAC focused on three of the Commission’s key stated issues and we’ll touch on those again today. They are, one, practices related to the small basic and flexible packaging options, two, the set-top box audience measurement working group, and three, the future of BDU operated community channels.
2634 It’s easy to think of television service as a luxury good, as “entertainment”, however, for many consumers, especially those who cannot access or afford high speed reliable broadband internet service, television continues to be their primary portal to entertainment, education, and diversity of cultural communities, including Indigenous communities, views and information all in one.
2635 About 11.2 million or 78 percent of all Canadian households subscribe to a BDU service. For low income households, especially, television is often a family’s main source of entertainment, as their ability to enjoy other forms of entertainment and activities is often constrained by their finances. It is important, therefore, to ensure that Canadians are able to affordably access television service and subscribe to the channels which meet their household needs.
2636 CAC-PIAC supported the Commission’s regulations to require licensed BDU’s to offer small basic service and flexible packaging options to pick-and-pay for programming services. These regulations do not force consumers to subscribe to these options but ensure that they are available for those who want to customize or reduce their service.
2637 CAC-PIAC appeared before the Commission a little over a year ago, soon after the small basic service regulations had come into force. At that time we were concerned that consumers found it difficult to find information about the basic service and that BDU’s were removing some features and discounts from the “skinny basic package” which were available to all other BDU subscribers.
2638 In this proceeding, while we noted some improvements in accessing information about these new options, some offerings still do not align with the best practices set out by the Commission in its last decision.
2639 Some BDU’s have more work to do to allow their customers to subscribe to or change their packages online, particularly without speaking to a customer service representative, and many also do not give customers the flexibility of choosing between various equipment rental and purchase options. CAC-PIAC were also disappointed to find that some BDU’s continue to deny bundling discounts to basic service subscribers.
2640 We believe that these types of practices are inconsistent with the Commission’s determinations and especially related to denied bundling discounts should be prohibited.
2641 CAC-PIAC have also reviewed the pricing of individual programming services which must now be offered and found that some appear to be unreasonably expensive. For instance, $7 per month for one channel, whereas a theme package of eight services, which includes that channel, is priced at $10 per month.
2642 While it would be impossible for CAC-PIAC to determine whether individual channels are priced, as previously expressed by the Commission, solely to impede consumer choice, we are concerned that the prices of some individual services do effectively deter consumers from subscribing to a la carte services. It would just make no sense. Excessively high prices affect not only consumer choice but also the affordability of television service.
2643 CAC-PIAC asks the Commission therefore to scrutinize the sources of the high costs of certain individual programming services and to intervene where necessary whether on the wholesale level, for instance, by amending or enforcing the wholesale code, or on the retail level by regulating unreasonably expensive services.
2645 MS. CHOW: One of CAC-PIAC’s primary concerns with the set-top box working group is the absence of any clear policy or statement on customer privacy, although it has received comments from parties such as PIAC and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. This includes the absence of a statement on issues such as obtaining meaningful consent on data collection, use, and disclosure from customers, distinguishing between types of information, some of which may be more sensitive or may concern children or youth, and how the data will be used and disclosed, how will the data be analyzed, to whom will it be shared, and what specific information will be shared.
2646 Personal privacy concerns will only grow as technology allows services to become more customizable. While each BDU’s activities are themselves subject to privacy laws, the Commission should ensure that the set-top box working group, which it established, has clear and strong privacy safeguards in place.
2647 In CAC-PIAC’s intervention we urge the Commission to continue monitoring BDU compliance with community television regulations and policies. CAC-PIAC’s goal was not, as alleged by some BDU’s, to accuse community channels of non-compliance, rather, we wish to draw the Commission’s attention to the impact of its recent local and community TV policy on the community television sector.
2648 As a result of the flexibility granted by the Commission in that decision, which effectively favoured local over the air stations over community television, vertically integrated BDU’s, such as Rogers and Shaw, have reduced or shutdown all together some community channels. Yet in allowing BDU’s to create these voids the Commission also did not ensure that independent community stations which might want to fill these gaps were given funding or policy support.
2649 The community sector remains one of the three key pillars of the Canadian broadcasting system under the Broadcasting Act. The Commission cannot favour one pillar over another but must ensure that community TV too, including independent stations, especially where BDU’s no longer wish to operate community channels, have the funding and regulatory support they need.
2650 This concludes our remarks here today. We thank the Commission for the opportunity to appear and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
2651 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your presentation. I have a few questions for you.
2652 Perhaps we can begin with your last point in relation to the future of BDU-operated community channels. So in your intervention you've indicated it would be important for the Commission to more closely monitor BDU-ran community channels. And we've certainly over the last couple of days heard from some parties and on the record from some parties that community channels should be more transparent in terms of posting up-to-date and accurate information about programs they exhibit on their respective -- on their networks through their websites to permit more affective monitoring. What are PIAC's views on this? Do you have a view, and if it's in agreement, what kinds of information do you think are necessary to better inform consumers and ensure a verification?
2653 MS. LAU: M'hm. We have been following the conversation during this hearing and throughout this proceeding. I would perhaps defer to some of the stakeholders -- independent stakeholders, in particular in the community television sector, in regards to their recommendations for more information to be able to monitor BDU compliance. I think we would also like to see what is filed with the undertakings on the 27th and perhaps provide a comment with our final written submissions.
2654 I think a standardization of information that is filed with the 10/20 form, I believe it was, sounds like it would be beneficial to all stakeholders. I know that Cactus as well was asking -- was requesting, I believe, that program logs be provided and made publically available more frequently. And so I would probably defer to them in terms of how regularly they would like to see those posted, but I think it helps them be able to monitor BDU compliance as well.
2655 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you probably would have heard in the proceeding that they've also suggested that more personal information about, for example, producers or participants in some of the access programming should be made available. Do you have a view on that from the perspective of consumers and given your concerns about privacy?
2656 MS. LAU: M'hm. I think perhaps that question would be better directed towards CACTUS.
2657 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2658 MS. LAU: I think perhaps there could be some kind of medium that can be found that can help them better monitor BDU compliance without trading off kind of the privacy, personal privacy that some of these producers may want to protect.
2659 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. So on privacy, maybe working back through your presentation, so you've mentioned your concern about customer privacy with respect to the collection of set-top box data for the purposes of audience measurement, can you elaborate on your concern, I mean, given the stage that if you've been following the proceeding you've heard what type of data is being collected and you would be familiar with the stage the project is at, so just wonder if you could elaborate on your concerns at this point?
2660 MS. LAU: M'hm. Certainly. So I think one of the problems is we, as external stakeholders, probably have even less information than the Commission would have on the progress and the results which have come forth from the working group. And so, to us, one of the problems -- and this is what Jennifer raised in the presentation -- was that there has been no statement, in our view at all, regarding how BDU customer privacy will be protected. And that ranges from, for instance, if we look under PIPEDA to the purposes of the working group and the type of data that will be collected, to how meaningful consent will be obtained from BDU customers, to how this data will be used, analyzed or disclosed with other parties.
2661 With respect to Numeris', for instance, other methods including surveys and the meter panels, there is explicit consent obtained from their participants to provide this information to Numeris. And we are concerned that -- about meaningful consent being obtained from BDU customers. This is a concern that I believe was expressed by the Privacy Commissioner as well, particularly because this data -- and I think this was also indicated by the Privacy Commissioner -- may actually in some nature be more sensitive. So that would, I think, be the starting point for what our privacy concerns are.
2662 THE CHAIRPERSON: But as you've acknowledged, all of the companies are bound to respect the privacy rules individually regardless of the construct of the set-top box exercise.
2663 MS. LAU: M'hm. Yes, I do agree. In the Commission's 2015 policy, however, in establishing this working group, the Commission also stated that one of the objectives would be to ensure that the privacy of individuals would be protected.
2664 THE CHAIRPERSON: M'hm.
2665 MS. LAU: And so we think it would be beneficial for the Commission to -- you know, if this isn't forthcoming from the group, to provide some direction in that area.
2666 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
2667 Turning now to the issue of the packages, so in effect, your submissions suggest that the Commission should establish more clear obligations or prohibitions with respect to counter certain practices which you view as inconsistent with the spirit of the regulatory policy established a couple of years ago now, and with the best practices that were more recently set out. Can you elaborate on what you mean by "clear obligations"?
2668 MS. LAU: M'hm.
2669 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are you talking about conditions of license? What are you looking for? What are you suggesting?
2670 MS. LAU: Certainly. I think it is important, you're right, to clarify kind of what we're looking for in this proceeding, particularly because the best practices cover kind of a range of a different I guess offerings.
2671 I think with some of the best practices, for instance, related to the options available to customers in terms of being able to change their packages and to subscribe to the basic service and flexible packaging options, as well as the equipment rental and purchase options available to customers, I think because those are best practices and they're not enforceable that the Commission should follow up with BDU progress in terms of how their practices are aligning with the Commission's determinations.
2672 For instance, TELUS this morning did say that certain online options were not available to their basic service customers yet. And so I think that is important to follow up with and that could be through requests for information from the Commission and so forth.
2673 In regards to prohibited practices, I think our perhaps priority today would be the denial of bundling discounts to basic service subscribers. This was an issue which we raised last year. The Commission did find that it was a best practice not to deny basic service subscribers bundling discounts. We did argue at the time that it did subject basic service subscribers to an undue disadvantage, which was not an argument that was accepted by the Commission at the time. We'd still hold that position. And so I believe that that is one practice that the Commission should prohibit perhaps in a decision or ---
2674 THE CHAIRPERSON: So that's one practice that you would identify. Can you identify other specific practices where you would ask that we establish a clear obligation?
2675 MS. LAU: I think at this time, no. With the other best practices we're hoping to see the Commission follow up with the BDU's progress in those areas and hopefully those responses would be made publically available so that we can monitor just their progress as well.
2676 The final issue we raised touched on the pricing of individual programming services so I'm not sure if you would like me to go into that right now or?
2677 THE CHAIRPERSON: You may. I saw the example you gave and, yes, I mean, I think when you bundle a number of services, obviously combining several services the rate may be different. I'm not sure that's very different than a lot of other retail situations, but if you'd like to elaborate, I'm interested in hearing it.
2678 MS. LAU: I was -- oh, in terms of the pricing of individual programming services.
2679 Yes. So the Commission did ask for BDUs to -- or applicants to file that information, and so we did gather that and try to analyze that. And what we did find was that there were some services which we thought were unreasonably expensive, particularly through the example which I gave, and some other examples were given -- were provided in our intervention as well to the extent that they would effectively deter customers from opting for these options in the first place.
2680 And so we were concerned because if the price of individual programming services is set too high, then that hinders the achievement of the objectives of the consumer choice policy which the Commission had established in the first place, which is really to give consumers choice. But if the environment or the options are tailored such that it would really make no sense for customers to individually subscriber to services then, in our view, that does effectively hamper or deter consumer choice.
2681 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, you used the word "unreasonably expensive". Can you just -- on what basis do you make that determination?
2682 MS. LAU: So what we were seeing that -- was that first we were comparing, for instance, the price of some individual programming services compared to their cost within a theme package. And I think the $7 and $10 example which we provided in our presentation was one example.
2683 Another was, in some cases, we were seeing the same BDU offering a service that was four times the price of other services. And to us, that didn't seem reasonable.
2684 I mean, we were trying to analyze what were kind of English language linear specialty services which are -- which are comparable to a certain extent.
2685 Of course, each service is unique and different. We weren't comparing them, for instance, to sport services or to, you know, The Movie Network.
2686 So we were surprised by kind of that discrepancy in pricing. And what we are trying to get at in this hearing is to understand why that is, whether that could be a wholesale issue or whether maybe further Commission intervention might be required.
2687 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
2688 But I guess on your earlier point, I mean, your -- if I could describe your over-riding concern, it's perhaps that the policy objective of offering a greater choice to consumers is potentially being impeded, but given the flexibility the Commission's already introduced through the "Let's Talk TV" proceeding and the fact that consumers, generally speaking, have multiple options available to them in terms of obtaining broadcasting services, do you not think consumers have sufficient choice?
2689 MS. LAU: That is between service providers, even if ---
2690 THE CHAIRPERSON: And generally with the introduction of the basic package.
2691 MS. LAU: M'hm. I think definitely it was a move in the right direction. We just want to make sure that it's successful and it achieves those objectives and that we don't hear from consumers, necessarily -- we don't hear from consumers saying, well, it doesn't make sense to pick -- you know, to subscribe to two channels because I can then subscribe to a theme package with 10 channels.
2692 THE CHAIRPERSON: Understood.
2693 Those are all my questions.
2694 Do my colleagues have any questions?
2695 Thank you very much for your presentation.
2696 MS. LAU: Thank you.
2697 THE SECRETARY: So Mr. Chairman, I will now invite the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Station, CACTUC, and New West.tv to come forward to the presentation table.
2698 These two intervenors are appearing as a panel to present their interventions. We will hear each presentation which will then be followed by questions from the Commissioners to the panel.
2699 And we will start with CACTUS in a minute.
2700 (COURTE PAUSE)
2701 THE SECRETARY: So Ms. Edwards, when you're ready, go ahead. You have 10 minutes.
2702 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon, and welcome.
2703 MS. EDWARDS: Thank you. Welcome to you on the Commission and the other new Commissioners.
2704 My name is Catherine Edwards. I'm with the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations. CACTUS members include licensed over-the-air community TV stations, unlicensed community TV corporations that produce content that air on BDU community channels such as Metro Vancouver, and dozens of individual Canadians and community groups that are concerned about the democratic deficit that has arisen in the wake of consolidation in the cable industry.
2705 Given our mandate, we restrict our comments today to the operation of community TV stations managed by the BDUs that are requesting licence renewals.
2706 Our goal is not that BDUs should be punished for non-compliance, but to work with them and with the CRTC to ensure that the full benefits of the CRTC's community TV policies are realized.
2707 I grew up within the television industry as the volunteer coordinator for Shaw's community TV station in Calgary in the 1990s. I remember in particular two groups who came to us with stories to tell.
2708 One was a group of teenage street prostitutes. They went into their lonely streetscapes with borrowed Hi-8 cameras, where I think they made sense of their world in the course of trying to make sense of it for an audience. They won an international award for this compilation of shorts, called Trax.
2709 The other group was deaf. They wanted more than to be flies on the wall of the hearing world. They wanted to do a signed news magazine in their own language. Two of us learned that language and rewired the studio so that their deaf director could communicate with his floor director and camera operators by signing on camera, as they couldn't use headsets.
2710 I will never forget the look of glee on his face when he made a chopping motion across his neck at the end of the program to say "cut".
2711 These were moments that changed lives, including mine, and a whole generation of writers, directors, technicians and performers. Community TV built our industry and launched names like Dan Akroyd, Mike Myers, Tom Green and Guy Maddin.
2712 The other thing those channels did was bring together the movers and shakers within communities, stockbrokers offering tips after the markets closed, the Chinese Pentecostal church, children's performers going into schools, the first gay TV program in Canada, a Native News magazine, Diane Ablonczy taking questions on "Dial Your MP", and some of the earliest TV interviews with Stephen Harper when he was associated with an under-reported party called Reform.
2713 Over 35 hours of new production every week for less than a million dollars a year. This is unheard of in public and private TV, a made-in-Canada solution to the challenge of our vast geography.
2714 People from every strata learned to respect one another's voice and that what's important is to fight for the places in our communities to exercise them.
2715 Shaw just cancelled Calgary's community channel under the new Local and Community TV policy, along with their channels in Edmonton and Vancouver, and Rogers has shut down the Toronto studio where Mike Meyers found his comedic voice.
2716 We live in a digital world now. We need training and experimental hubs to bring together the next generation of media movers and shakers.
2717 CACTUS continues the research we started under a SSHRC grant in late 2015 to modernize Canada's community media sector. I'm working this year in Boston with MIT and Emerson College's civic engagement labs and with a community TV station that has evolved into North America's only public virtual reality lab.
2718 Last weekend they hosted "Hub Week", a demonstration at which the public donned VR helmets and experienced what it is like to be on the front line of an Ebola epidemic or to perform open-heart surgery.
2719 You need community media in big cities to bring together your frontline of creative thinkers.
2720 So what happened?
2721 The community channel system functioned as an essential part of our democracy until the late 1990s, when cable faced competition from satellite. Management thought that more slick content would retain customers, and the public whose creative ideas drove the channels were evicted.
2722 The technical infrastructure of cable was also changing. Formerly separate cable systems that had received TV signals by microwave were interconnected by fibre optic cable. More than 300 rural studios were quietly shut down, along with the superfluous head ends.
2723 Cable operators started going to the CRTC to "zone" community channels to meet their minimum of 60 percent local and 50 percent access production over larger and larger areas. They said they could no longer support the studios with the head ends and business offices gone. No one considered that it was time to devolve management of the channels to communities themselves, who could efficiently co-locate studios with the organizations that were there for the
2724 long haul: public libraries, schools, community centres.
2725 Priceless audio-visual archives covering decades of Canada's local politics, cultural events and history were put in dumpsters as cable pulled out. No one thought to offer them to libraries.
2726 Even with zoning and special conditions of licence such as those Rogers wants to renew, which classifies programs shot anywhere in New Brunswick as "local", we began checking compliance at the 2010 hearings.
2727 We asked for community ownership as the obvious remedy consistent with how community media is managed in other countries, and we asked that policies be updated to reflective the digital world.
2728 In 2013, we assisted ICTV of Montreal to file a compliant against Videotron's MAtv channel, which spent over $20 million in subscriber contributions but produced not a single access program. We helped ICTV develop a licence application under the policy that existed until last year, which stipulated that if a BDU is non-compliant, a not-for-profit group can take over.
2729 ICTV received a letter saying that their application had been disposed of, and MAtv was given time to get into compliance. Another year has come and gone while the digital world evolves and Canada is left behind.
2730 In 2016, we conducted compliance research on Shaw, Rogers, Cogeco and Eastlink community channels. Given the extent of the breaches, we felt it was our responsibility to file the more than 60 complaints that are part of this proceeding.
2731 At the Local and Community TV policy review last year, we again asked that community TV be brought into the 21st century and liberated from the stranglehold of massively consolidated telecommunications companies.
2732 After asking us to propose a trial of digital community media centres which, unfortunately, did not materialize, the Commission -- or that Commission published a policy that we estimate has resulted in the redirection of three-quarters of the funding for community media in Canada. And the clause that provided for the orderly transition of control of community channels from BDUs that no longer want them to communities that do was removed, with the explanation that it "was never intended to create instability for BDUs".
2733 No other group is given licences with an assurance that the regulator will assure their stability, no matter how egregious their abuse of that licence. And in fact, BDUs do not hold licences for community channels. They hold licences to offer pay TV services, a business on a scale and with a focus and purpose that is misaligned with community media.
2734 With these facts in mind, we commend the Commission's efforts to monitor BDU compliance this year. While we had time to review only a few of the additional logs placed on the public record in our written comments, we have spent the last month reviewing the remaining logs. The patterns of noncompliance persist.
2735 There's almost no category C programming. That's access programming made without the assistance of BDU. In an age of camcorders, YouTube, and home editing systems, the absence is extraordinary and confirms that BDUs do not advertise a citizen access mandate and widespread use of network formats.
2736 We find this shocking and disrespectful to the Commission and to subscribers. One would have thought that once BDUs' non-compliance was public, they would have moved heaven and earth to ensure that their channels comply with Commission policy in advance of this review. The fact that they have not speaks volumes.
2737 We have added our assessments to the publicly available compliance database we maintain at www.comtv.org and ask that you render a clear finding of "Compliance" or "Non-compliance" for each complaint. This is in the interest of all stakeholders, since the requirements for each service area are different among licensed areas, exempt areas, urban and rural areas, service areas that have been zoned, and service areas that have special conditions of licence.
2738 Perhaps it is time to let others more suited and motivated to play a larger role. Working within the current regulatory environment, CACTUS is pleased to offer the following proposals for the Commission's consideration.
2739 First of all, incent TVCs to help BDUs meet their local and access minima and to reflect more diversity.
2740 The current policy enables BDUs to step back from operating a community channel. Where they are non-compliant and maintain no production facility in a service area, we ask you to impose a condition of licence that they do step back, and invite not-for-profit TVCs to manage the channel with the BDU's budget. This already happens in Quebec.
2741 Where non-compliant BDUs still do have production facilities, we ask for a condition of licence to resource not-for-profit TVCs to help the BDU meet local and access minima proportionate to the hours of original production they contribute. This collaboration is standard in Quebec, except that budget sharing is not proportionate and equitable.
2742 Second, implement consistent and public logging practices.
2743 We concur with the BDUs that the Commission should request logs in standard format already employed or the logging format should be reviewed with public input.
2744 In addition, and crucially, the logs should be made public on the web sites of BDUs and of the Commission, just as we have posted our compliance data at www.comtv.org.
2745 Third, if no TVC is located in a non-compliant service area, a condition of licence should require at least a citizen advisory committee.
2746 Fourth, in recognition of the latitude that CRTC 2016-224 gives BDUs to spend subscriber money outside the service areas in which it is collected, the
2747 amounts and the locales from which it is extracted and where it is spent should be public.
2748 And lastly, publicize whether BDUs, in fact, operate community channels.
2749 We ask that a list of all licensed and exempt service areas for which BDUs have opted not to offer a community channel be maintained by the Commission so that community groups can step into the gap.
2750 We believe these conditions of licence would introduce transparency in subscriber-BOU relations, more BDU community partnerships and better local reflection.
2751 The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage recommended in its media and local communities report that last summer's policy decision be reviewed for its negative impact on community TV, and we hope that you will take advantage of that opportunity within your term. Over 20 concerned MPs from all parties have called for community media to be strengthened to ensure the survival of local media in Canada.
2752 We thank you very much for the opportunity to comment in this process.
2753 THE SECRETARY: Thank you for your presentation.
2754 I would now invite New West.tv to begin. Please go ahead when you're ready.
2755 You have 10 minutes as well.
2756 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: Good afternoon, Chairman Scott and Commissioners. Thank you very much for the opportunity to address you at this hearing.
2757 I am Deepak Sahasrabudhe. I founded a local web-based community television service called New West.tv in New Westminster, B.C., and I am an active member of CACTUS.
2758 I'd like to tell you about my experience with CRTC and why I feel community television is important to me and my community of New Westminster, British Columbia.
2759 New Westminster is a city about 17 kilometres southeast of Vancouver, and is considered part of the B.C. lower mainland. Our community has a long and proud history. New West was where the B.C. lower mainland was founded before the rail line terminated at Granville, which became the City of Vancouver.
2760 My career in the Canadian broadcast industry was made possible by Pierre Juneau who, as Chairman of the CRTC, implemented the Canadian content requirements for broadcasters in the 1970s.
2761 This was crucial to my career. CRTC's requirement created a demand for Canadian programs made by Canadians, which gave me the opportunity to start an independent production company where, over 30 years, I produced 22 network series and hundreds of single programs that have been seen across Canada and in many countries around the world.
2762 They won a lot of awards, too.
2763 All of my productions qualified as Canadian content, even though some were collaborations with Americans. Those productions employed a lot of Canadians.
2764 Without the Canadian content requirements, I would have had to relocate to Los Angeles or New York to do the work I wanted to do, but I would have produced American programming. I am very pleased and proud to be a Canadian who is able to pursue my dreams in my own country.
2765 I became involved with community television as I was winding down my network production activities some years ago. I was amazed with the vision shown in the community television regulations and Canada's Broadcasting Act.
2766 Communities were called the third pillar in broadcasting, and the Regulations carefully defined local and access programming. This was pretty exciting for me.
2767 I wanted to get involved, but New Westminster didn't have any programming or local groups making programming. It's a licence area, and the Regulations were supposed to apply, so what was up?
2768 I reviewed Shaw's program logs that CRTC made public in 2011 which showed that the services in New Westminster surpassed the local and access minima by a wide margin. How could that be, I wondered. I couldn't see any local programs. Nobody that I knew locally was involved in Shaw's community productions, and I couldn't see anything on television, either.
2769 I reviewed Shaw's program -- sorry.
2770 Using CRTC national averages for cable TV penetrations and rates paid by subscribers, I calculated that Shaw was collecting about $400,000 annually for community TV in New Westminster alone. That's the two percent that's added on to cable TV bills for community television. But I couldn't see where this money was being spent. I intervened in Shaw's last license hearings -- license renewal hearings seven years ago to say that our local cable company did not meet the regulatory requirements for community television in New Westminster. I was told by CRTC that my concerns would be addressed with the company at a later date.
2771 I am here to tell you now that there has been no change in the New Westminster community programming. So I decided to get into this even further.
2772 You will likely have seen references to the 67 complaints that CACTUS mentioned a few minutes ago and I prepared and filed with CACTUS -- with the Commission in 2016 that are now part of these proceedings.
2773 Commissioners, I'm counting on CRTC to respond to those complaints service area by service area, with a clear finding of compliance or non-compliance for each program on those logs, for clarity and for all stakeholders moving forward.
2774 Our complaints were based on hard data. Working with CACTUS, I personally assessed about 30,000 broadcasts that took place over one-week periods in 96 licensed areas across Canada, excluding Quebec. I worked long days, often working seven days a week over almost a year to complete the work in time for CRTC's local and community television policy review held in early 2016.
2775 You have all those data. Rather than reviewing our complaints in the remaining time I have before you, I want to talk about the vision for community television that seems to have been lost or is about to be abandoned. And from my perspective as a knowledgeable program creator, I want to tell you why community television is important to residents of New Westminster and to every community across this country.
2776 In the same way that CBC reflects Canadian issues and concerns to Canadians, community television gives residents of a community a reflection of themselves and their neighbours in the media. Community television helps us understand one another and the issues we each face. It gives us access to engage with the otherwise inaccessible medium of television. It's very different than occasional 90-second happy talk clips that we can expect in a news broadcast.
2777 Good television programs are created by teams of people who collaborate. A creator working alone to post videos to a blog or to YouTube does not have the support of team members who hold other perspectives, other skills and other context. Think about the minimum requirements for such a team to be effective. They need an accessible place to meet where the teams can share and develop ideas and get training. With only volunteered resources, New Westminster does not have such a space. My -- so my living room and dining table sometimes serve that purpose.
2778 As I studied and assessed the various BDU program services last year, I saw a few imaginative programs. Certainly there were some, but the program logs show so many repetitive and similar productions. I saw too many fitness shows. Programs led by say a local yoga instructor or a fitness guru who has a local business teaching the same content as in the show. Could those programs be made more reflective of local life? Could a yoga show have acknowledged and helped residents who had to deal with the smoke created by forest fires that were quite -- that were destructing life in many communities in my province last summer -- this summer?
2779 The program logs that I reviewed had cooking shows and talk shows and sports, and some of those programs are good programs. But I would like to see more imagination in truly serving the development and growth of our communities. Let me tell you, it is possible, constructive and necessary to improve our community channels for evolution of our culture of our communities, of our country and our democracy.
2780 Imagine what we could do with some resources. In New Westminster people come up with all sorts of interesting ideas and I'm sure that every license area has the same kind of people. We meet in New Westminster to talk about what interests us and our friends.
2781 One project that I'm currently trying to find funding for is about teen pregnancy. High school student volunteers would explore the topic. NewWest.tv would provide equipment and technical training and teachers would provide some advice and suggestions. But the program vision, tone and approach will be the voice of the young people. Grown-ups might find the resulting programs to be shocking, but possibly not. The students might discover what grown-ups already believe, but the way that the young program makers express themselves will be far more effective in speaking to their peers than any program that a grown-up could make. And we grown-ups might learn a thing or two also.
2782 We have a proposal for which I would like to find funds that brings together health experts at Langara College and two local recovery centers, addiction recovery centers, and several local volunteers to explore addiction and recovery, which is a pretty scary subject. The program will be focused on New Westminster and its issues, but other communities might find it useful too.
2783 We have refugees in New Westminster. As a producer, I know it would be interesting to have a Syrian cooking show hosted by a refugee. What else can we learn from refugees? How would being seen on local television improve the transition of a refugee into becoming a Canadian? That's what we can do.
2784 We have loads of talent in New Westminster in arts and sciences and sports. Through community television we should come to know one another better, our neighbours and what they aspire to. Many of these programs already -- many of these people are already active in New Westminster through involvement in local clubs. It's not difficult to begin collaborations, but you need to know your community. You have to live there.
2785 NewWest.tv has a live streaming capacity that allows us to cover events live, including many all-candidates meetings and other events. Three times as many people watch online as are present at the function that we cover. All our recordings are also archived for viewing.
2786 THE SECRETARY: Excuse me, sir. I'm going to have to ask you to conclude. Your time is up.
2787 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: I have just a couple of paragraphs.
2788 THE SECRETARY: That's okay.
2789 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: It's clear from program logs that when BDUs act as the producers of community television they do not come up with ideas like the ones I've mentioned. Why? They cannot for several reasons. Their businesses are running wires, not creating television. And a "community reporter" who does not live in the community or know the community can only deliver "happy talk" in the 90 seconds that would be made available in a regional news broadcast.
2790 One needs to be immersed in community to make community television. More than immersed, the people who make the television programs must be passionate about the opportunity to use the emerging digital television and video technology to express the topics that their community -- of their community to their neighbours.
2791 I urge you to review the Broadcasting Act and the Regulations to see the vision embedded in them. It was the CRTC that envisioned community TV and demanded that the resources be collected to achieve that. What's happened? The BDUs have collected the funding, but haven't delivered on the vision. At the last hearing, questions from Commissioners made clear that those funds do not belong to the BDUs.
2792 I'm here to say that it's time for the vision of the CRTC to be achieved. Give communities a chance to shine by allocating those funds to the local people who can make imaginative programming. The results will speak to the heart of our democracy.
2793 Thank you.
2794 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation.
2795 Commissioner Macdonald?
2796 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Good afternoon and thank you very much for being here in person. I know that it's a time commitment and a financial commitment to travel to Gatineau, so thank you for that.
2797 I -- it's very clear from your submission and the analysis that you've done on the community stations that you put a significant amount of work and effort into this. And I realize that conducting such analysis is time consuming and can be difficult to do. And I think you've made your viewpoints very clear so as a result, I don’t have a ton of questions but I would like to focus on how you do that analysis and how perhaps we might be able to help you, moving forward though some of our changes. So -- or proposed changes.
2798 So in an ideal world what information would you like to receive from the BDUs with respect to their community stations? What information and in what format would be most conducive to conducting your analysis?
2799 MS. EDWARDS: I was extremely impressed by the questions that the Commission asked Videotron after ICTV filed the complaint of non-compliance in 2013. They were asked to put their logs on the record which of course, is a basic -- you know, you need to see the categories. Is there any C programming, is any community members making things on their own, how much is being made with the BDU, how much is coming with other -- from other licence areas and so on.
2800 But the Commission also asked to find out how many program proposals had been made over you know, preceding -- I think it was six months or I can't remember. It was during the course of the licence renewal. But to know what the decline rate was and what were the reasons for turning down proposals was. That was really key information because the actual proposal acceptance rate turned to be super low.
2801 They also asked for more details about training offers, the numbers of people trained and the type of training and so on.
2802 So there's other dimensions to the community television policy which speak to its role in media literacy training, its democratic role in providing diversity of voices that aren't just captured in the local and access figures. We focused on those in preparing the complaints because they're relatively easy to measure and we wanted something that we could look globally across the country to get a sense of the patterns.
2803 But I think going forward for a particular community to assess whether it's getting value for money, we need all of those qualitative measures as well. How many people are being trained? How is the channel and its access mandate being advertised?
2804 As we mentioned, we find it telling that there's almost no C programming in the country other than the odd church group. People just don’t know that they still have access to these channels. BDUs are cherry picking the yoga instructors and so on that they want to make access programs with the decline rate.
2805 So all of those sort of bullet items in the goals of the community channels should engender diversity, participation, training, need to be captured in some way and reported on.
2806 And critically, the logs need to be made public on a regular basis so that there's feedback that will help the Commission in your monitoring because local people will be able to participate in that process. They're the ones that are there, know what's important going on in the community and whether it's being reflected on the screens that they're seeing like Deepak is reporting. Yeah.
2807 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: We also need to have detail on a program-by-program basis as is currently collected.
2808 MS. EDWARDS: Right.
2809 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: It has to -- it is important that they all correspond, correlate to one another for all the BDUs so that we're collecting the same data in the same way.
2810 Another significant problem that I faced was understanding the conditions of licence for each licence area. We need to have that public. It's amazing that the standards in New Brunswick are a fraction of the requirements of other parts of the country. How can that be? Why should that be? They're not lesser. The communities are not lesser. They have the same demands. We need to have a consistent policy across the country. It has to be simple and it has to be clear.
2811 It's not easy dealing with the CRTC. I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out what are the boundaries of each licence area? A territory that's governed by a licence that is geographical should have maps.
2812 MS. EDWARDS: Yeah, it's impossible now to actually calculate a firm 60/50 local and access amounts. You don’t even know where the edge of the licence area is. We were having to work on old maps and we assumed that they hadn't changes but they're not even required to file them any more.
2813 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Is there particular information that should be excluded? Because it's great to ask for all sorts of things but that also leads sometimes to information overload when you (inaudible) analysis.
2814 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: Well, the problem now -- sorry to interrupt. The problem is that it's the people, it's the subscriber that pay for the service. They need to have the information to determine whether or not they're getting value for their money.
2815 Right now, it's impossible to determine. I tried pretty hard to figure out where Shaw was spending $400,000. I have no idea. We're in New Westminster. We're paying that. Should we not have some access to how it's spent? Should we not have some control into determining how that money serves our community? These are really basic questions.
2816 MS. EDWARDS: Another really important thing is that the reports that come out at the end of the year which are public are aggregates. So the material that was published during the local and community TV policy review last year, with all due respect, were virtually useless. Like, it would report on amounts of access content and local content by a percentage across all of Shaw's systems and all of Rogers' systems. There was no drilldown licence area by licence area.
2817 And that's why we went out of our way to show that with basically one person who's got some web skills we could set up a database easily. I mean, it took work but you know, BDUs have the resources to process information. They're already collecting the logs. Why can't they be public? That would help you, that would help BDUs, it would -- and the purpose of us posting it was to engender feedback.
2818 And to his credit -- hope I'm not mangling his name, Tim Caddigan, I think he's in the room from Cogeco -- asked for a meeting with me earlier this year to talk about the ways we were looking at their programming and defining access and local.
2819 So I mean, these tools are good. The more that's public the better. And that's why one of our requests is also that in -- there's hundreds and hundreds of exempt licence areas now which are still supposed to have community channels. Many of them don’t have a production facility.
2820 And the public can't even find out whether the BDU is claiming that there's one because so much content is shared across multiple systems. Like, only the CRTC knows whether that BDU is still claiming and retaining five percent for community production or whether they're cutting a cheque for the five percent to the community media fund.
2821 So the policy says that a community group can step up to the plate and manage a channel if the BDU doesn’t want to, but nobody knows whether they are. There's just no financial data reported licence area by licence area.
2822 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You mentioned that that type of information should be uploaded to their websites frequently. Can you define what, in your view, frequently is?
2823 MS. EDWARDS: Well, my understanding is that they're required to keep it for a year in case the CRTC asks for it. So whatever regularity that they're doing -- I'm guessing they’ve got to do it monthly -- why not just upload it? Their job of uploading automatically goes through to the CRTC website and their own website.
2824 Like, it shouldn’t be any extra work for them. I agree with them that if it was confusing asking for logs in different formats that they normally collect, that was a burden of extra work that they -- you know, it's a burden on everybody and just gets in the way. I agree with them. It should be standard. If it's going to change it should be an open public format to discuss.
2825 You're catching me off the hook a little on what exactly should be in there. We should have a public hearing about that. It's really important.
2826 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay.
2827 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: Also, I'd like to add a point there too and that is that when going through the program-by-program assessments provided by the BDUs, they are not accurate. I can provide examples. I have them here.
2828 When a BDU makes a determination of A, B, C, or D, they should be required to provide the basis for that decision.
2829 MS. EDWARDS: Right.
2830 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: In the case of Shaw in New Westminster, it took me a lot of work to uncover the fact -- and in fact, a lot of back and forths as part of our filings with the CRTC where they rebutted our initial complaints -- to find out that oh, Shaw thinks that the lower mainland is one territory, one licence area. It is not. It’s not a single municipality. In fact, I hired a lawyer to give me a lawyer's letter to assess that for me.
2831 And it's very clear that the lower mainland was not -- until the most recent change -- was not a single municipality. So it should not take any effort at all for me to find out the basis of a claim by a BDU.
2832 MS. EDWARDS: Right.
2833 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: Also, the BDUs aren't truthful to you. And that is a shame. It's an outright shame. As a Canadian, I want to be proud of our Canadian policies, our Canadian approach. I think Canadians believe in the law. We believe in the truth. And anybody representing to you false information has got to be dealt with.
2834 MS. EDWARDS: I want to observe too that it's way too complicated. So we are, in fact -- and Rogers observed this and we corrected it in our reply comments -- made a mistake with New Brunswick. Who would ever figure out that in New Brunswick that not only is it zoned but they asked for special conditions of licence so that they have to meet 60 and 50 percent local and access within a zone, but then they also have to have 40 and 20 percent with respect to the province.
2835 Like, it's -- they shouldn't get special conditions of license that don't apply to other cable companies in the first place and it should be consistent. Like, it's a nightmare.
2836 I get -- when I'm here trying to prepare my comments to come in, I'm getting calls from everybody else that's intervening saying, "Where do I even find those documents on the CRTC website?" Like, people can't find anything.
2837 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: How are the BDUs to deal with from your perspective? I believe you said that Cogeco reached out to you recently to request a meeting. Do you have a frequent dialogue with the BDUs? Are they responsive when you have an inquiry?
2838 MS. EDWARDS: Generally unresponsive. So we tried to approach all five BDUs about with whom we had made comments about compliance, so that's the four cable companies plus TELUS.
2839 TELUS met with us. And so I -- we wanted to make sure that we were making fair comments because we couldn't find a lot of information on their website and we wanted to understand what had gone into that and their approach. I -- we didn't end up deciding that their approach was compliant with your policies and we made those comments, but at least we had the dialogue.
2840 Cogeco Ontario approached us. We propose what we proposed in this document that, you know, if you're having trouble being compliant because you don't have studios in these service areas anymore, like, let's help. We'll help you find TVCs and start-up community groups. In that particular case, the answer was, "Oh, Quebec does that. Cogeco Quebec does that and they constantly have problems with TVCs."
2841 Like, you know, it was -- it's messy dealing with the actual public. It was super messy dealing with those deaf people and those teenage prostitutes. You know, real people have a lot of real complicated needs, but that's the work.
2842 The other three companies, Rogers refused to speak to us at all. Shaw and Videotron, we -- I think we contacted them about 10 days before the written comment deadlines.
2843 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: Actually, Shaw contacted me.
2844 MS. EDWARDS: Okay.
2845 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: But the meeting was less than productive. There was no information that was exchanged. It was -- I was totally unhappy with that meeting.
2846 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay.
2847 MS. EDWARDS: I was -- yeah, Videotron and Shaw offered to speak with me but then it never materialized. It was just sort of put off until after the comment deadline and they never got back to us. So we have tried at different points in the past but haven't got very far.
2848 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Thanks. That's ---
2849 MS. EDWARDS: Yeah.
2850 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: --- helpful.
2851 On the topic of Shaw, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but you don't seem to be the biggest fan of magazine programs like Shaw Go. Out of curiosity, when you were lodging your complaints, how did you categorize a magazine format program like Shaw Go?
2852 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: Well, first of all, a program produced by a BDU never can be access. So automatically, Go, which was a Shaw format, could at most be local. But we needed information -- more information about what was in the show and where it was shot. And mostly, these programs were BDU-produced shorts that I did not think formed a program. Some may have been local but they also included material from other places.
2853 So the complications of dealing with Shaw's programming, and then I saw in this most current round 3,000 lines of program code because they had every little chunk was listed and classified. Well, that's kind of silly.
2854 The programs have to fit a format. And I think that they understood by -- I heard yesterday that they have stopped making Go, they will stop, and maybe that's a mea culpa from them that they were making something that is not appropriate. They were also repeating that program ludicrous numbers of times. So that in Fort McMurray I think -- and I'm recalling from memory, that there were very, very high percentages in any case, of repeats of these programs.
2855 MS. EDWARDS: Yeah, 30, 40, 50 times sometimes. But the basic thing is ---
2856 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: Eighty (80) percent of the programming. That's what I'm talking about. Eighty (80) percent.
2857 MS. EDWARDS: They were claiming local for the whole show even if little pieces were shot in different places. So in our analysis, we would allow it if it -- pieces were shot somewhere that that piece could be local, but not a whole program.
2858 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: So just the timeframe that was ---
2859 MS. EDWARDS: That's right. Because you can't claim one hour production as an hour of local content in five different license areas. That doesn't make sense.
2860 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Just one final question, my colleagues may have others, I was wondering if you could explain your thoughts on TELUS' STORYHIVE voting system and why you don't feel that it properly reflects the needs of the community?
2861 MS. EDWARDS: So I'm an independent filmmaker too. I've made shorts and uploaded to sites that vote or you get prizes or you get played more. It's a process of contacting all your friends and everybody that owes you to log on and vote the most. So I don't feel that that reflects -- you know, you're not going to end up with any kid's programming with that or senior's programming or anybody that doesn't know about STORYHIVE and is, you know, technically savvy in the first place. I mean, what connection does that have with, you know, not-for-profit organizations in the community that may have really pressing social issues?
2862 We just looked at the broad cross-section of content and looked at the results that they're getting with that system and it's predominantly film productions from Vancouver area and non-production organizations. Like, because their logs have not been pulled -- and we think it would be a great idea if you wanted to monitor them -- we couldn't tell which programs they're claiming are local or access, but just program after program. Yeah, some of them are made in Vancouver, but almost all by known companies. And I mean, if you look at their production contracts, I mean, they're giving out $100,000 to people. Like, where is that community access content?
2863 And there's these -- and you got to have at least two productions to your credit before you even start. And the two people specifically that were on TELUS' panel at the community and local TV policy hearing last year I googled and they both had websites and were production companies. And one website claimed that the person had 400 productions to their credit and they were being presented as access producers. So we just can't see how that whole model has anything to do with access.
2864 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: Another concern I have is they require all their programs to be shot in 4K. That's pretty expensive. It's not necessary, not for community programs.
2865 I think the funds have to be used for community purposes. And to do a drama about the dark side of life, well, okay, maybe that's part of community, but really, is that community funding serving the purpose of communities? No, it's a drama production fund. It's not about communities.
2866 MS. EDWARDS: You need a broad cross-section of conversation to get feedback from the community like you would get with the community advisory committee. If you had, say, someone with -- from municipal council on it. And we suggested what a community advisory committee might look like in our written submission. Someone from the local public library, individuals representing local journalistic associations, people from the local school system, people from local not-for-profits and community centres. In conversation with all those community stakeholders that are credible and have deep roots in a community you find out what are the important things to focus on, not because one teenager uploaded, you know, a short that they shot with their own camera or somehow got their hands on 4K and then got all their friends to vote. I mean, that's abdicating the role that you've given BDUs, which is to -- what's that word when you -- to curate to community content and make sure it's covering what's important.
2867 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Thank you very much for being here again. Those are my questions.
2868 MS. EDWARDS: Thank you.
2869 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: Thank you.
2870 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commission counsel?
2871 MR. GAGNON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
2872 I have a question directed to CACTUS. Just a clarification on what you're saying in paragraph 24 of your presentation.
2873 MS. EDWARDS: The oral comments or the written submission?
2874 MR. GAGNON: The written submission -- no, I'm sorry, the oral comments from today.
2875 MS. EDWARDS: Okay.
2876 MR. GAGNON: In there it is stated that you've made assessments that are publically available on a website.
2877 MS. EDWARDS: Right.
2878 MR. GAGNON: Could you explain what you mean here and what -- if there's anything you require from the Commission from that statement?
2879 MS. EDWARDS: We're asking that -- so when we originally submitted -- it was about I think 67 complaints against 4 cable companies last year that have been rolled over for consideration in this proceeding. The Commission elected to gazette those as just four complaints. They grouped all the Shaws together, all the Rogers together, all the Cogeco and all the Eastlink.
2880 We're just flagging that we think it's extremely important that the Commission render a clear finding of compliance or non-compliance for each of the individual complaints by service area, not just to come back with something vague like, oh, well, you know, Shaw's got some problems here and there. They're going to do better. That it should be clear.
2881 And it's important going forward so that as Chris -- Commission Macdonald has raised, all stakeholders, the BDUs ask the Commission is clear on what's expected. And there's so many different conditions. Licensed areas have different local and access minimum than exempt area. Urban and rural areas are treated in a different way. Many have been zoned and then special condition of license.
2882 It’s so complicated. It’s really important that all stakeholders know exactly how the Commission treats every program and every licence area so that they can comply in future.
2883 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: Can I add one more thing? And that is I designed that website and its purpose is to put in a place -- a permanent place information about a program and how we came to determine whatever it is we determined. And it’s important that the CRTC participate in the discussion.
2884 We’ve already had a back and forth with the BDU’s.
2885 MS. EDWARDS: Yeah.
2886 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: Now it’s time for the Commission to weigh in and help us and help judge who is right in various cases.
2887 MR. GAGNON: Understood.
2888 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: We have ---
2889 MR. GAGNON: Understood. The only -- what I’m wondering now is what evidence we’re going to look at. Is that the evidence that’s already on the record, or is there something new in here that you wish the Commission to see?
2890 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: The record -- we put all the information ---
2891 MR. GAGNON: It’s already there?
2892 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: It’s part of the processes. Everything is in the record.
2893 MS. EDWARDS: No, no, wait a second. That’s not what he’s asking. The original complaints that we filed last year for one review week that we picked in late 2015 was in our original complaints. BDU’s were asked to file logs and then with that additional information our reply comments.
2894 Then for the written comments for this proceeding, because the CRTC had asked for three more weeks of compliance for every service area, we didn’t have enough time in that one month. We reviewed a few and those were in our written comments.
2895 Since then we’ve reviewed the remainder of the licensed areas. We didn’t get to the exempt areas. And because we’re not allowed to file different data per se but we are allowed to respond to data that the CRTC has put on the record, which are those additional logs, we placed the review of those additional weeks on comtv.org.
2896 MR. GAGNON: Because if you wish the Commission to take that evidence into -- or that information or analysis into consideration you would have to file it as -- maybe as an undertaking.
2897 MS. EDWARDS: Okay. If we can do that we will.
2898 MR. GAGNON: Would you be able to take what would be the new information that you’ve placed on that website and file it as an undertaking for the 27th of October as -- which is the date for all the undertakings?
2899 MS. EDWARDS: Okay. We can do that. It’s an analysis of the information that the Commission asked the BDU’s to put on the record. So it’s not new data. It’s just our interpretation of it.
2900 MR. GAGNON: Okay. Well, if it’s not new data -- that’s what I’m looking to know here.
2901 MR. SAHSRABUDHE: Our assessments would be new data.
2902 MS. EDWARDS: It’s our assessments of compliance on that data.
2903 MR. GAGNON: So it is new data?
2904 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: It is new data.
2905 MR. GAGNON: Okay. All right. So if -- as I said, if you can undertake ---
2906 MS. EDWARDS: Okay. Great.
2907 MR. GAGNON: If you can file that as an undertaking, only the new data ---
2908 MS. EDWARDS: Okay.
2909 MR. GAGNON: --- that would be appreciated.
2911 These are all our questions. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
2912 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation.
2913 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: You’re welcome.
2914 Thank you.
2915 MS. EDWARDS: Thank you for your time.
2916 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
2917 So I will now invite Mr. Glen Dufresne to come forward to the presentation table please. Please go ahead when you’re ready.
2918 MR. DUFRESNE: Good afternoon, Commissioners. My name is Glen Dufresne and I’m proud to be part of the Canadian broadcasting system for 30 years and counting. For more than 13 of those years I was part of the leadership team that represented advertising and sponsorship opportunities on Shaw Cable’s community channels, all of them, and on Shaw’s U.S. Ad Avails program.
2919 I’ve travelled here today from West Kelowna B.C. because I believe I owe it. I owe it to all of our clients, and all of my colleagues who have worked so closely with me over the years, to take a stand here today face-to-face to just focus on some common sense.
2920 I know we’ve already heard it in the hearing but I do want to review it. I’m here because of two specific BDU regulations that I believe are seriously hurting Canadian non-profit organizations and Canadian businesses.
2921 Let’s start with the Commission’s 2015 decision that removed the BDU’s ability to air public service announcements within U.S. Ad Avails -- within their platforms.
2922 Prior to 2015, let’s look at the record, BDU’s worked with the following language. This is something I looked at every day for 13 years. At least 75 percent of these local avails be made available first come first serve cost recovery licensed Canadian programming services for the promotion of their services, for the promotion of the community channel, for unpaid Canadian public service announcements, and so on.
2923 Here is the current language. At least 75 percent of local availabilities must be made available in each broadcast state for use by a licensed Canadian television programming services in an equitable manner and on a cost recovery basis to promote first run original Canadian programs.
2924 I support the Commission’s decision to try and help promote first run Canadian programming. It’s what’s been removed from the language that is troubling. For some reason, and without explanation or consultation, PSA’s were removed from the language. To be clear, the change in language means that BDU’s cannot air PSA’s within their Ad Avails inventory even in unsold airtime.
2925 I have to believe it was not the Commission’s intent to hurt PSA groups so please fix it today.
2926 I don’t believe a simple clarification of the language will stray from the Commission’s desired outcome. I would love to see this press release happen with today’s date. At least 75 percent of local avails must be made available in each broadcast state in an equitable manner and on a cost recovery basis as follows. Top priority must be given to licenced Canadian television programming services to promote first run original Canadian programs. Any remaining inventory can be used by licenced Canadian media, both radio and TV, to promote their respective programming services for the airing of approved Canadian public service announcements and for the promotion of the community channel. This would also clarify if Canadian TV stations can promote their foreign content and if Canadian radio stations can still take advantage of this inventory which the new language does not.
2927 The other CRTC matter that I believe is hurting local businesses and communities is the current community channel regulation in respect to sponsorship and advertising.
2928 Here’s a snapshot of the current language for sponsorship on community channels; the key restrictions, no more than 15 seconds of moving video, and the compliant language surrounding the actual messaging within those 15 seconds. Just to speed up today’s process, mentioning no more than the name of a person, a description of the goods and services or activities that are being sold or promoted by the person and their address and telephone number.
2929 Adding to the confusion, every day we had to deal with CRTC Circular Number 348, words promoting goods or services are not acceptable and descriptions that promote a favourable image of the sponsor. Don’t need an explanation there.
2930 I believe the restrictions are overpowering or misunderstood. I’m concerned that the Commission doesn’t understand who benefits the most from advertising on the community channels. The biggest group being hurt intensely by these are local businesses. I’m talking about the small businesses in markets without a conventional TV station, markets like Red Deer, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie. The list is long and unfortunately getting longer. There are hundreds if not thousands of businesses in small markets across the country who want to build their businesses using TV advertising. You know there is exceptional community programming across our country. Why won’t the Commission let Canadian business owners decide where they themselves want to spend their advertising dollars.
2931 In closing, no matter what BDU advertising inventory you make available customers will make the final call on whether or not they want to invest in their community channels, and supporting the PSA category should be one of this Commission’s core objectives.
2932 I look forward to your questions.
2933 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your presentation and for appearing before us.
2934 Commissioner Vennard?
2935 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Well, good afternoon, and thank you for coming all the way from Kelowna, and I hope your community is doing well despite the challenges you faced this last summer.
2936 MR. DUFRESNE: Thank you.
2937 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I have four different questions that I’d like you to comment on. In your intervention -- I’ll just read them for you. They’re fairly lengthy. In your intervention you suggested that BDU’s should be allowed to offer pure advertising on their community channels. Given that the objective of community programming is not and never has been commercial, would the introduction of advertising opportunities risk to distort the very nature of these types of channels shifting the focus from community reflection to attracting (inaudible).
2938 MR. DUFRESNE: I think the community channel has an Achilles heel. There is a penalty for overachieving. I talk about provincial curling championships. I talk about junior hockey. I talk about cities where Medicine Hat -- the Medicine Hat Tigers are a big part of that community so Shaw for years broadcast those games. And so the local car dealer in Medicine Hat may say, "Hey, we want to help the community channel. We think this is great. We want to do what's right. We want to support Canadian programming."
2939 It's that overachievement. Everyone worries that for some reason the community channel will compete at the conventional level and this is a part of -- before the hearing everyone talked about evidence. There can be no evidence to support this.
2940 The reality is, for that local car dealer, if they decide that they want to support the broadcast the limitations on them are so overpowering that there's just no return on investment. I mean, the language says you cannot put that sponsor in a favourable image. The fact that they're actually sponsoring the local content puts them in a favourable image so it's a bit of a trap.
2941 And every day our team spoke to local businesses who said, "Yes, we want to support the community channel." And then showed them the regulations. We can't do that.
2942 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: What do you mean by "pure advertising"?
2943 MR. DUFRESNE: I think it's a simple -- I'll stay on the Medicine Hat for example. If the Medicine Hat Tigers are in the playoffs and it's a big part of the community and the local broadcaster chat does not broadcast those games. Perhaps -- and I'm not -- maybe there's an opportunity for the broadcaster and all of their local clients to work together with the community channel for this one-time special event to air their ads. They can't do that.
2944 So if a car dealer is running a local TV commercial on chat and they want to send it over and say, "Hey, can you run this during the Tiger's game for us?" the answer is no. So the same rules would apply. A community channel spot looks very different than a conventional spot.
2945 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So what -- so I still don’t really understand what you mean by "pure advertising". So you're saying that the sponsor shouldn't be able to just put their ad in that spot?
2946 MR. DUFRESNE: They should be able to.
2947 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: They should be. And (inaudible).
2948 MR. DUFRESNE: They should be able to and they cannot. So as an example, a car dealer in Medicine Hat knows that there's a game 7 and it's on the community channel. Everyone knows the entire city is going to be watching. They can't -- they have to make a new ad. You have to re-edit their ad to become compliant and any salesperson or any person will tell you, when you're talking to a sponsor, we have to make your ad compliant, not the best conversation to have.
2949 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Where is the line then in going from the -- given that the community channel never was about advertising? Where is the line on that between pure advertising information, what's too much and how would we determine that?
2950 MR. DUFRESNE: Well, I know there's been lots of hearings on this. I mean, I've watched for the last, you know, 13 years throughout my career to watch these hearings and that is a difficult one. I think it gets easier if this Commission was able to licence unserviced markets, you know, the Red Deers, the North Bays, and maybe there are different regulations in cities where there's not a local broadcaster or perhaps it could be a partnership where the local broadcaster and the community channel could work together.
2951 Because there are certain events that the conventional broadcaster cannot carry. They just do not have the schedule space and the community channel can't fill that void. It doesn’t happen very often. You look around the community channel.
2952 So I really think this just is a matter of limitation and it could be as simple as two minutes an hour, whatever this Commission decides. But there has to be opportunity at least to create and have a conversation.
2953 But right now it is a stall time. It is not a, well, you know, there has to be some room for if you're working with a broadcaster, if there's a partnership in place. There has to be some room to breathe because in a lot of these communities, the community channel is producing content that is so critical to the community that there's an opportunity there.
2954 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. You've partially addressed the paragraph that I'll read to you next then.
2955 You also suggested in your intervention that BDUs should be authorized to air qualified public service announcements in their unsold inventory of U.S. local availabilities like they used to before the recent change to the Commission's local availabilities authorization.
2956 How important is access to local availabilities for groups using PSAs and aren't there other equivalent advertising opportunities offered to them?
2957 MR. DUFRESNE: I heard Shaw's presentation yesterday and obviously, working for 13 years in that group, I was the one who had to tell them no. So yesterday when you asked the question, "How did you inform all those PSA groups that U.S. ad avails are no longer available?" that was our conversation.
2958 All I heard was sadness. They weren't angry they were just sad because it was something that nobody saw coming, that every TV station in Canada, every radio station in Canada has the abilities to support not-for-profit groups.
2959 And we're talking just because of the footprint of the way U.S. ad avails work and having done so many workshops and presentations on this across the country, it is interesting as an example, U.S. ad avails are available specifically to Williams Lake, British Columbia, specifically to Fort McMurray.
2960 So the Fort McMurry Rotary Club has no other TV PSA option than to ask for help through ad avails. And as soon as that's uncovered, those PSA groups, not only do they -- they see a huge benefit.
2961 And anyone in this group would realize we're all connected to charities of choice. The BDU’s ability to target those avails is something that is just an exceptional opportunity because a lot of those not-for-profit groups who reside in unserviced conventional markets, it's their only opportunity to do so. And that's why I think it is so critical that it gets changed immediately.
2962 You know, the Salvation Army kettle campaign is coming and they require that. And as I heard through all the presentations yesterday, there is a significant amount of unsold inventory that will go to Geico this Christmas when it could be going to not-for-profits.
2963 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Well, thank you for that. This is my final little paragraph that I'll read to you and ask you to comment on.
2964 Overall, you are asking the Commission to authorize new advertising opportunities on a number of platforms, on community channels, local availabilities of U.S. services, Canadian speciality services, et cetera.
2965 However, given that the recent emergence of online marketing opportunities has already put pressure on traditional television advertising, what would be the impact of significantly increasing the television advertising inventory and could that possibly devalue television advertising currently available?
2966 MR. DUFRESNE: I've met some very smart advertising people through our time with Shaw and Shaw Media and even talking to Rogers and others. There's just no opportunity right now. It's a red light. It's not even a yellow light. I think it's no different than talking about set-top boxes and many of the other things.
2967 There is no conversation happening to create any evidence on whether or not that could be, but with seven years to go, if I am a jewellery store or a car dealer in Red Deer or in North Bay and I want to advertise, or if I am a custom gourmet outfitter and I sell high-end kitchen items and I'm saying I'd like an opportunity to advertise on the Food network in Red Deer, the reality is we need to just allow that incubator to happen.
2968 Right now there's no reason to bring that group together to talk about the possibilities of a Food network ad in Red Deer because it's not available to them. There's not even having a choice. Just because it's there doesn’t mean they have to do it. And they may decide, just like set-top box, when they're finally done, it may not make sense. But right now it's just a big red stop sign so there's no reason to have that conversation.
2969 And having dealt with so many small businesses over the years and the unserviced markets, they're just trying to help their business. They're trying to expand. And there are lots of -- through the digital processes, through technology, it's not a difficult thing to do; it's just a matter of why do the research if it is for the next seven years no reason to go there?
2970 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Yeah. So if I am hearing you correctly, then really, the issue from your point of view is that there's no conversation on this?
2971 MR. DUFRESNE: There's none.
2972 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: This just happened and there was no conversation?
2973 MR. DUFRESNE: Yeah, it just always (inaudible). Yeah, you just can't do it. And I understand. I mean, we've heard all the hearings before on -- like, the U.S. model where all the ad avails just run wild and there's full-stream ads. There are lots of conversations.
2974 And I always leave it up to those groups who do the research to figure out if there is a model that would result in Food network Edmonton or TSN Edmonton getting one minute of local avail. Does it make a difference? Will that group -- if they are -- if the broadcasters are looking for ways to create new revenue, could they potentially partner with a BDU like they do in the U.S.?
2975 Right now it's just a red stop sign. It's just no reason to have that conversation because it's not allowed within the BDU regulations. So we're just sort of sitting here saying the same thing, whether it's the community channel, whether it's current avails, the BDUs -- and this is why we're here, for the BDU regulations -- have an opportunity and certainly the infrastructure to have the conversation.
2976 And the BDUs may decide not to do it as well. I mean, it is complicated. But right now there's just no reason to talk about it because it's not allowed in this country.
2977 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. I have no further questions. And I would just like to thank you for appearing before us today.
2978 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation.
2979 MR. DUFRESNE: Thank you.
2980 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madame la secrétaire.
2981 THE SECRETARY: Merci, monsieur le président.
2982 I will now invite CBC Radio Canada to come forward. Go ahead, you have 10 minutes.
2983 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Thank you.
2984 Good afternoon Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and CRTC staff. My name is Bev Kirshenblatt, and I’m the Executive Director of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs at CBC/Radio-Canada. To my right is Jean Mongeau, General Manager and Chief Revenue Officer, CBC/Radio-Canada Media Solutions.
2985 Before we begin, we'd like to congratulate the Chair and the Vice-Chair of Broadcasting on your recent appointments.
2986 In our written submission, we supported the recommendations proposed by the Independent Broadcasters Group. Today, we’d like to focus our oral remarks on four key issues that relate to set-top box audience measurement and the industry Working Group.
2987 Specifically, one, the critical need to establish a national set-top box audience measurement system; two, an update on the progress of the Industry Working Group; three, a proposed regulatory measure to move from the planning stage to implementation mode; and four, a proposed regulatory measure to enable programming services to access their own set-top box data right now.
2989 M. MONGEAU: Tout d’abord, je tiens à souligner que nous sommes heureux que le CRTC reconnaisse que le succès à venir de l'industrie de la radiodiffusion dépendra de sa capacité d’adapter aux besoins et aux intérêts des Canadiens les contenus des assemblages de programmation, ainsi que la programmation elle-même.
2990 En fait, il y a maintenant deux ans et demi, dans la Politique Créer, le CRTC a établi qu'il était essentiel d’obtenir des renseignements de meilleure qualité sur les téléspectateurs, et a commandé la création d'un système de mesure de l’écoute au moyen des décodeurs. Nous désirons aujourd'hui vous faire part des fruits de notre réflexion sur la manière de concrétiser cette décision du CRTC.
2991 Dans le cadre de l'audience qui a mené à la Politique Créer, il s’est dégagé un vaste consensus dans tous les secteurs de l'industrie sur la nécessité de travailler ensemble à la définition des détails de ce système. Devant ce consensus, le CRTC a demandé à l’industrie de constituer un groupe de travail qui se pencherait sur la conception d’un système de mesure de l’auditoire reposant sur les données des décodeurs, et de produire un rapport sur différents aspects de la question, notamment les données à collecter, la structure de gouvernance à mettre en place, les protocoles de protection des renseignements personnels nécessaires et le mécanisme de financement et de recouvrement des fonds.
2992 Nous trouvons extrêmement encourageant que le CRTC continue d’accorder la priorité à cette initiative. Dans son plan triennal 2017-2020, le CRTC précise en effet sa volonté de mettre en œuvre le système de mesure de l’auditoire au moyen des décodeurs d’ici 2018-2019. La décision du CRTC d’aborder cette question dans le cadre de la procédure en cours de renouvellement des licences est importante. Elle donne à l’organisme de règlementation une occasion de faire le point sur la situation et de déterminer s’il serait dans l’intérêt public de règlementer pour faire progresser le développement et le déploiement de ce système, et de réfléchir à la forme que pourrait prendre cette règlementation.
2993 Comme Bev l’a déjà mentionné, les remarques de CBC/Radio-Canada porteront sur quatre enjeux clés. Premièrement, l’importance critique de mettre en place un système national de mesure de l’écoute au moyen des décodeurs.
2994 La Politique Créer du CRTC reconnaît déjà que le système canadien de télévision a besoin d’un meilleur système de mesure de l’écoute. Il est vrai que les données provenant des décodeurs ne constituent pas une panacée, et ne remplaceront jamais celles obtenues au moyen des panels et échantillons d’écoute de qualité, mais elles apportent néanmoins une importante valeur ajoutée au processus.
2995 Les cinq objectifs du CRTC quant à la mise en place d’un tel système ont encore aujourd’hui leur raison d’être. En fait, le statu quo n'est plus une option. La mise en œuvre d’un système de mesure de l’écoute au moyen des décodeurs est devenue d’une importance cruciale pour l’avenir du système de radiodiffusion.
2996 Les données produites par les décodeurs ajoutent de la profondeur aux méthodes que nous utilisons actuellement dont peuvent profiter tous les joueurs de notre industrie. La généralisation de l’accès à ces données ne pourra qu’être bénéfique au système canadien de radiodiffusion. Le temps presse cependant.
2997 Deuxièmement, le point sur les progrès du Groupe de travail de l’industrie. Où en sommes-nous au bout de deux ans et demi de travaux?
2998 Le Groupe de travail a accompli des progrès importants. Il s'est d'abord associé à Numeris pour créer le système proposé. Numeris a procédé aux études de faisabilité technique, et a indiqué dans son rapport d’étape déposé en octobre 2016, que la technologie nécessaire pour collecter et consolider les données de décodeurs produites par une multitude d’EDR existait déjà.
2999 Comme d'autres intervenants l’ont souligné dans cette instance, la création de ce système présente un niveau élevé de complexité. C’est pourquoi, en tant que membre actif du Groupe de travail de l’industrie, notre objectif depuis le départ a été d'établir une feuille de route pour guider les décisions du Groupe afin qu’il puisse s'acquitter de manière appropriée de son mandat.
3000 À cet égard, le dernier rapport d’étape soumis par le Groupe de travail au CRTC représente un pas déterminant dans la bonne direction. Le rapport inclut notamment un plan d'action détaillé comportant des objectifs précis et des jalons fermes pour la mise en œuvre d’un système national de mesure de l’auditoire au moyen des données des décodeurs d’ici le 30 septembre 2018.
3001 Avec ce plan détaillé en main, CBC/Radio-Canada entend consacrer ses efforts pour passer de la planification à la mise en œuvre.
3002 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Thanks, Jean.
3003 Third, ensuring the continued progress of the Working Group. As part of our written submission, we supported IBG’s three proposals with respect to the set-top box Working Group and audience measurement system. We continue to strongly support the proposal that the CRTC impose a condition of licence requiring BDUs to establish and contribute data to a set-top box audience measurement system by December 1, 2018.
3004 BDUs have opposed this proposed regulatory measure on two grounds. They’ve argued that such a condition of licence would be unfair, since the CRTC isn’t considering the renewal of all BDU licences in the context of the current proceeding. They’ve also argued that a condition of licence would be inappropriate, since the implementation of the system depends primarily on a third-party. We'd like to address each of these points.
3005 On the fairness issue, we note three things. First, this hearing covers the vast majority of BDUs and set-top boxes that are able to collect and return data in this country. Second, Bell Canada’s terrestrial broadcasting distribution licences expire in August 2018. Therefore, the Commission can impose this condition of licence on Bell Canada over its next licence term. The Commission can also impose this condition of licence on other BDUs as they come up for renewal.
3006 Third, we note that there are other regulatory mechanisms to ensure mandatory participation and compliance by allBDUs. For example, the Commission could proceed with amendments to the BDU Regs to make participation in the set-top box system mandatory for all BDUs. Whatever the mechanism is, our objective is that a set-top box audience measurement system is implemented, and that BDUs are required to contribute to it by a set date.
3007 On the proposed implementation date -- December l, 2018 -- we note two things. First, in terms of timing, the proposed implementation date in the condition of licence is a full two months after the completion date set out in the Working Group’s recent Progress Report to the Commission. And, as you’ve heard from other members of the Working Group at this hearing, these deadlines are reasonable and achievable.
3008 Second, as you’ve heard, the most crucial step towards implementing a set-top box audience measurement system is whether BDUs -- individually or collectively -- are prepared to participate in it. We think that a condition of licence would create an important incentive to implement and contribute to a system that both meets the objectives set out in create policy and that makes sense for all stakeholders in a timely manner.
3009 Finally, in the event that there are unanticipated setbacks and a BDU cannot meet a deadline due to matters outside of their control, they could apply to the Commission to seek regulatory relief.
3010 The fourth and final issue we'd like to address today is to support IBG's proposal to enable programming services to have access to the aggregated set-top box data that is related to their services that BDUs collect.
3011 The record of this proceeding demonstrates BDUs collect set-top box data for a variety of uses and, in some cases, data has been and is shared with other entities, including related programming divisions. This demonstrates that the collection and use of set-top box data is feasible and desirable.
3012 In addition, the record of the proceeding demonstrates that, to date, BDUs have not received any type of compensation from a related or third party entity for its set-top data or its reports. This sets expectations about what "fair and reasonable" terms for obtaining this data should be.
3013 The record of the proceeding also demonstrates that some but not all BDUs are prepared to provide third-party programmers with aggregate data that is related to the programming service or services they operate. This highlights the need for the CRTC to intervene so that programming services can obtain access to this set-top box data from all BDUs who collect it and use it. This is particularly important for independent programming services, which are not affiliated with a vertically integrated company.
3014 This obligation could be implemented as a suspensive condition of licence, meaning that it would be suspended as long as the market is working appropriately.
3015 Thank you for the opportunity to appear today, and we would be pleased to answer your questions.
3016 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your presentation.
3017 You may not be shocked as I turn to Commissioner MacDonald to ask you some questions.
3018 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Welcome. Merci pour votre présentation.
3019 Before I start, under your name in big red letters says "do not move". Should I take that to believe that you have to rush away and are under some time constraint?
3020 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: I'm not sure what you are referring to.
3021 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Oh, sorry. Just on the agenda for the hearing, there was an asterisk that said "do not move" the presentation. And I didn't know whether you were rushing away in the next few minutes to catch a flight or anything I need to be aware of.
3022 MR. MONGEAU: We are here until you're done with us.
3023 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, perfect.
3024 So disagreement sometimes leads to better regulation, and we haven't heard a lot of disagreement on the topic of set top boxes so far in the hearing. So thank you for being here.
3025 It won't come as a surprise that my questions to you are going to be somewhat similar to the questions I posed to the BDUs. However, I expect I'll receive different responses.
3026 But before I get to set top boxes, I just have a couple of questions with regard to local avails by BDUs.
3027 And I'm wondering if you've had any issue in promoting or would have any opposition to the changes as proposed by Shaw and the last presenter to allow public service announcements in local avails.
3028 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: We haven't looked at that closely, so I'd like to be able to come back on the -- by the 27th with our position. Would that ---
3029 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Yes, that's fine.
3030 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Thank you.
3031 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. So on the topic of set top boxes, it has taken a long time and I guess "long time" is a relative term. Has it taken longer than you would have expected given the complexities that exist in designing the system?
3032 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Well, in terms of the length of time, it seems as though that the past couple of months have -- we've done quite a -- quite a lot of work, so in response to your question, although it has taken longer than we originally anticipated, having a deadline of this hearing was very helpful in getting us all focused to develop a detailed plan, recognizing that this is complex.
3033 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Do you have any concerns, looking into the crystal ball, that without a renewal hearing looming that progress may be slowed again?
3034 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: I don't have a crystal ball, but we have proposed -- we've supported IBG's proposal with respect to holding BDUs accountable. And given that -- and I don't want to jump ahead, Commissioner MacDonald, for all your questions, but given that, you know, you have asked parties whether the Commission's -- or whether the working group's progress is realistic and achievable and you -- you know, we've heard working group members all come before you and be optimistic, that, you know, I believe that, moving forward, we're very optimistic and we think that being accountable is a positive thing and could further move this forward.
3035 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: I'm a glass is half full kind of guy, so I look at the proposed schedule and it seems reasonable given the complexities involved. But I've also received other schedules from the working group. And off the top of my head, none of those dates were ever met except perhaps with getting back with an update to the Commission.
3036 What do you feel is different now that wasn't the case in the past?
3037 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: This is a really fulsome timetable, schedule as well as timetable.
3038 I don't think the working group has ever delivered anything like this before that addresses, I hope, all of the objectives set out that the Commission had wanted us to address as a working group. And the working group worked with Numeris.
3039 We worked collectively as a group as well as with Numeris to ensure that everybody was comfortable with the dates on both the Numeris side as well as the working group side to meet these deadlines.
3040 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: With the agreement between the working group and Numeris, if Numeris is having a challenge meeting a specific deadline for whatever the reason, are there any mechanisms in place to hold their feet to the fire?
3041 MR. MONGEAU: It's clear that the -- that Numeris is very much committed at bringing this along. Clearly, the contribution of the working group and the appropriate direction that the working group is providing Numeris is going to be helpful in getting us moving.
3042 At this particular point, it really -- when you look at the record and also the feedback that you have received, it really looks like we are on a positive track and moving forward at a pace now that is really in a good -- in a proper direction.
3043 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you.
3044 You're sitting at the table with the working group, so I'm looking at it as a bit of an outsider. And one of the questions I've always had is, okay, I understand that there's technical issues that need to be addressed. Why can't work on technical issues be conducted at the same time the privacy concerns are being addressed or a governance structure is put into place?
3045 Is it your belief that moving forward with this timetable, there will be things going on in multiple swim lanes all at the same time?
3046 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: The short answer is yes.
3047 As soon as the technical and business parameters of the BDU participation is finalized, if you -- if you look at the schedule, that's when the multiple swim lane -- the multi-tasking begins to occur. And there are multiple decisions that are taken or -- and things are reviewed at different stages as set out in the plan because as the system evolves, for example, you know, there are privacy assessments and then at a second stage there -- you know, before everything can be implemented, there is a revision. So there's lots of checks and balances and lots of things going on at the same time. And I think that that can be achieved.
3048 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Yesterday when we were chatting with Shaw, they were very much of the opinion that the working group should continue to be steered by a representative from one of the BDUs. The former Chair, current Chair and what appears to be the next Chair have all come from the BDUs. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. But does it make sense to have the group always steered by one of the BDUs?
3049 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: You usually ask this -- you usually precede the question with providing additional resources but I'll jump ahead. I think that in terms of who chairs the group, ultimately, the most important thing is to advance the progress. And from our perspective, the most important thing is having a condition of license to hold BDUs accountable.
3050 We heard earlier today and yesterday the reasons why BDUs feel that it's important that they chair. And, you know, that isn't a showstopper for us at all. Whoever chairs, we will continue to contribute constructively, offer solutions and work collaboratively with the rest of the working group towards achieving the goal.
3051 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Thank you for that.
3052 Again in my conversation with Shaw and it was echoed by others yesterday and today, they felt that a condition of license imposed on the BDUs would somehow disenfranchise the members of the working group or create the potential for conflict where none exists today, and may end up slowing the process of the development of the audience measurement system rather than acting as an encouragement.
3053 Would you -- how would you respond to that, since you're taking a different opposing view?
3054 MR. MONGEAU: Well, in my life, deadlines are extremely helpful to motivate people and help parties stay focussed on objectives. We feel that -- and you've heard that these particular deadlines are realistic, that all parties are confident that this can be moved ahead.
3055 What we're asking the CRTC is to make sure that BDUs are accountable for that commitment. And in that context, obviously, working with an organization such as Numeris, Numeris' status as a non-profit in service of its members organization is -- we're convinced will be able to develop the system that's in the interest of all stakeholders within the industry. But clearly, a condition of license that encourages and holds the BDUs accountable is necessary to ensure that we get to the finish line.
3056 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: And how would you counter their argument that it would be inappropriate or unfair to impose a condition of license on the BDUs given that they're not the ones actually creating the system?
3057 MR. MONGEAU: What we are seeking is that the data that is currently being used, and you've heard some presentations refer to that, the fact that this data exists, that some BDUs are actually using it today, it really allows us to believe that going the extra mile and looking at a national system of measurement is feasible. And what we need is to ensure that that is delivered and we feel that the condition of license will support that.
3058 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: And if I could just jump in, the working group sought long and hard and selected Numeris. And we've come a long way and we are confident that Numeris with its expertise the way it's set up can develop a set-top box audience measurement system that both meets the objectives of the create policy, as well as meets the needs of the stakeholders, and of its members as well. Numeris has an interest in making this work.
3059 Now, in terms of -- well, I think if I understand your question, what happens if something goes horribly wrong. We don't have -- I mean, I've already told you I don't have a crystal ball. But let's say something happens in a couple of months or even September -- October 1st, 2018. There is nothing preventing the parties to come to the Commission and explain why either as a group, or maybe it's certain BDUs that may not have the technology, the ability or what have you that need to seek relief from that condition of license.
3060 I don't see what the downside is. In fact, I see the risk of this -- you know, of not having a landing date or a goal to be greater than the possibility of parties having to come back to the Commission and seek relief for whatever unknown reason, you know, that we can't anticipate right now.
3061 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: So you would see a condition of license that would help impose some certainty on the process versus adding another element of perhaps regulatory uncertainty to the development of the system.
3062 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Yes.
3063 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: And because it could be done administratively I assume you don't see that it would be overly burdensome for the BDUs to seek that relief if they ended up needing it in the future?
3064 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Yes.
3065 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: I know you're supportive of the IBG proposal, if you were writing the condition of license, how would you word it?
3066 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: We'd be happy to provide you with something in writing ---
3067 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay.
3068 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: --- for everyone to look at.
3069 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: And you can do that by the 27th?
3070 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Yes.
3071 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Perfect.
3072 When you're doing that -- I mean, I know you've been following the hearing closely but, you know, the condition of license depending on the wording could be very broad and easy to meet or very firm and rigid, so I'll leave that to you to see where on the spectrum you think that we should land.
3073 So with respect to -- you have made another suggestion or another potential direction that the Commission could explore, which we have not done yet in the context of the oral hearing over the last couple of days. And it would be instead of going the condition of license route that we would update the BDU Regs. Can you expand upon that idea and whether you think we have an adequate record in this hearing to take that approach?
3074 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: It was merely a suggestion, Commissioner Macdonald, that there are other regulatory mechanisms. We're certainly not married to it. And given the fact that, you know, a condition of license approach may indeed give the Commission the most flexibility because they could determine on a licensee by licensee basis whether it's appropriate to impose a condition of license.
3075 By Regulation that's another route and it would require an amendment to the Regulations. I guess in terms of process, the Commission would have to have a separate process and seek -- you know, make a decision to do it and seek consultation on the wording of that regulation.
3076 It's simply another regulatory tool that the Commission has before it.
3077 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Thank you.
3078 You anticipated my question on running a follow-up process.
3079 The date that's been suggested for the condition of licence would be December the 1st, 2018. Do you think that gives the working group enough wiggle room just in case something unforeseen does happen or a date slips here and a date slips there over the next year or so?
3080 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Again, we don't have a crystal ball. If the Commission felt as if, based on the record of the proceeding after this hearing, that it felt it was the best interest of the system to impose a condition of licence but was of the view that, you know, a bit more wiggle room was needed, you know, it's not our intention to hold a gun to parties' heads and ask them to do the impossible.
3081 We want this to work. We want the system to work. But we don't want to wait another two and a half, five -- you know, we'd like to see -- we'd like -- as Jean said earlier, deadlines are really good at focusing parties.
3082 So to go back to your question, is December 1st, 2018 set in stone? It seems reasonable based on the information that we have before us right now. You know, if -- you know, if something else comes up because we're -- this hearing's not over yet -- and the Commission were inclined to move it forward because I guess what the Commission wouldn't want if it were to go this route is to then have a bunch of parties even proceeding administratively to move the date.
3083 And we understand that, and that makes sense, so we are open to a different date that is realistic, achievable, but that ensures that this gets done.
3084 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And presumably that means maybe a little bit later versus a little bit earlier.
3085 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Oh, sorry. Yes.
3086 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. In an exchange yesterday with Ms. Dinsmore from Rogers, she was making statements around the business case which still needs to be developed.
3087 I apologize. I'm asking for you to look in the crystal ball again.
3088 But given your experience with the working group and the industry as a whole, do you think that business case will fly? Do you think there is an addressable market for set top box data to fund the project?
3089 MR. MONGEAU: Clearly the various stakeholders are keen on making -- developing and implementing a system that's going to be, in the reasonable and fair terms, comparable to the existing methodologies that are being used, whether it's the existing Numeris methods of measuring audiences, whether it's various platforms that are at the disposal of organizations nowadays, whether it's data management platforms or otherwise. Clearly we have benchmarks by which we can compare this.
3090 I think that the idea of a business case is always a difficult one because everyone's looking at it through their own lens, and every single stakeholder has a different perspective and a different take on what is an adequate business case.
3091 What we know from our existing measurement structure and the availability of data usage in the industry in general, there are clearly some basic fair and reasonable expectations of what a business case should be like and should deliver.
3092 That's certainly what we are striving for.
3093 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. With respect to the IBG proposal to impose a condition of licence requiring BDUs to provide their set top box data on request, are you of the thought that we need to put some parameters around that?
3094 The areas we've discussed relate to cost recovery and frequency of requests, but there may be other parameters or you may say no parameters.
3095 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: So we're looking for -- or in our view, proactive disclosure is something that would -- that would make sense.
3096 In terms of guidelines, I'm not sure there's a one size fits all solution for all BDUs based on what we've heard and based on what's on the record of the proceeding. And that is in terms of the frequency of the data or, you know, other issues that have been addressed.
3097 There also seems to be two types of set top box data that we've been talking about the past few days.
3098 The first is the data that BDUs are already collecting about our programming services, and they may be using it or they're using it for their own purposes or they may be sharing it, you know, with an affiliated programmer.
3099 For that, we don't see why there should be any costs associated with obtaining that data or at least it would be extremely minimal costs.
3100 They're already collecting it. They're already using it.
3101 But yesterday, we were talking, and I think it was Mr. Medline from Rogers that was talking about different types of data, the data that -- the types of reports that they can run. And that was the "bigger than a breadbox, smaller than a car" discussion.
3102 And with respect to that type of set top box data, depending on what we're talking about, there are definitely costs associated with it, and it's not necessarily the information that the BDU is -- is using it. It has to be processed and, you know, there has to be charts and graphs and, you know, we don't -- I'm not sure what the scope is, depending on that request.
3103 So in terms of that group, I think it's fair to pay for it.
3104 But in terms of this condition of licence, which would be a suspensive condition of licence, the idea would be that the Commission would set a clear statement to ensure that discussions can occur between programmers and BDUs to work out these terms, whether it's in the affiliation agreements or whether it's in, you know, a different -- you know, a separate data-sharing agreement.
3105 And the reason why we're suggesting that is, again, it seems as if we're talking about so many different things that it may be challenging to set out further parameters.
3106 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So just so I'm clear, the BDUs would have to provide that information in whatever format that they have it. They can -- if that's easy, they can charge a small fee on a cost recovery basis, but if additional effort is required to scrub the data, then it's fair game to charge for that service.
3107 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: That's correct.
3108 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Perfect.
3109 MR. MONGEAU: Commissioner, if you'll allow me, the one area that Bev highlighted is the area where we know for a fact BDUs are currently treating data, they're using that data, and that is data of our consumption. This is -- that's the data that is essentially our own programming services on the BDU platforms.
3110 If that data is being produced and is being made available internally to the BDU organizations, those are the ones that we feel that we should be getting access to without restrictions and without additional costs.
3111 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you.
3112 So you would not go so far as to suggest that any BDUs who are not currently accessing and using that information would have to start, requiring them to implement new systems or new set top boxes.
3113 MR. MONGEAU: No, we're not.
3114 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. Thank you.
3115 Who should be able to request the data, and should there be any parameters around that?
3116 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Well, from a programmer's perspective, I mean, this is information in terms -- that we use in terms of our negotiations with BDUs, so we think that -- we think that programmers should be able to access it.
3117 Are you suggesting that other parties should be permitted to ---
3118 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: No. There was a statement made earlier -- and my apologies; I don't remember by whom -- suggesting that perhaps just independent programmers should be able to request that information. And my thought was that would single out maybe a large VI that wants to request set top box data. Rogers, for their sports programming, may have an interest to know who within Shaw’s territory is watching their programming. So I just want to know whether there should be any distinction between those two groups.
3119 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Let me restate what we’re saying in terms of who can request it and then just to make sure that we’re on the same page.
3120 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: The same page.
3121 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Yeah.
3122 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay.
3123 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: What we’re saying is the data that’s collected about a programmer about their own services is the type of information that can be requested from a BDU. So we are not suggesting that anybody could request set-top box data, even in aggregate form, from a BDU about another -- a service ---
3124 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: A competitor?
3125 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: --- that you don’t have a licence to.
3126 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. That’s a very helpful clarification.
3127 Just one final -- you’re very clear of what you’re in support of and the course -- the direction you hope the Commission goes in following the hearing. If we follow the advice of the BDU’s and don’t impose a condition of licence and don’t explore updating the BDU regs, are there any other measures, any other steps the Commission could take to help facilitate the work of the working group and bringing this project to fruition, or are we better off to stay out of everyone’s way?
3128 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Well ---
3129 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You don’t hear a regulator ask that very often.
3130 MS. KIRSHENBLATT: Well, we’ve been listening to the parties before you and not one party in response to that question not one of the applicants had any suggestions of how short of a condition of licence that you could move things forward.
3131 So we don’t have any other things in our back pocket other than what we’ve already suggested to you today.
3132 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay. You can’t blame me for trying.
3133 Thanks very much. Those are my questions for today.
3134 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your presentation.
3135 Madam la secrétaire?
3136 THE SECRETARY: We’ll take a short break, Mr. Chairman.
3137 THE CHAIRPERSON: Ten (10) minutes please. So return at 4:50.
3138 THE SECRETARY: Perfect. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 4:41 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 4:56 p.m.
3139 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon.
3140 Madam la secrétaire?
3141 LE SECRÉTAIRE: Merci monsieur président.
3142 We will now proceed with presentations by Community Media Advocacy Centre, CMAC, and the Independent Community Television-Montréal, ICTV.
3143 These two intervenors are appearing as a panel to present their interventions. We will hear each presentation which will then be followed from questions from the Commissioners. Some of the intervenors are appearing by phone.
3144 So I would now invite community Media Advocacy Centre to begin with their presentation. You have 10 minutes.
3145 DR. KING: We acknowledge today that we are speaking on Algonquin territory. It is our collective responsibility as media producers and regulators in particular to recognize the history of this territory and ensure that the ongoing struggles of Indigenous people are heard and accurately reflected to the Canadian public at large.
3146 Good afternoon, Chairperson Scott, Vice-Chairperson Simard, Commissioners Dupras, Vennard, and MacDonald, Madam Secretary, and CRTC staff.
3147 My name is Dr. Gretchen King. I’m a community media scholar and an award winning producer. I’m also a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Ottawa and a secretary for the Community Media Advocacy Centre or CMAC.
3148 CMAC prioritizes the perspectives, the voices, and the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples, people of colour, third language communities, and disability communities in media.
3149 MS. LUDSKI: My name is Zoe Ludski. I’m a transmedia artist living in the territory of the Tia’Amin Nation in Coast Salish B.C. That is the upper part of the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.
3150 And I, with two other people, have travelled from British Columbia today because we believe this is so important. I am the Vice-President and a founding member of CMAC. And joining us by telephone will be one member of CMAC’s Board of Directors. And my colleague Dana Wesley was meant to be here but is in transit out of work.
3151 Dana Wesley is a radio producer and a DJ from the Moose Cree First Nation territory. She’s currently living and working in Toronto on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and most recently the territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.
3152 Annie is joining us by phone.
3153 DR. KING: Annie, you can introduce yourself.
3154 MS. CLAIRE: My name is Annie Claire. I am a Mi’kmaq media maker, mother, and grandmother, and a band member from Elsipogtog, New Brunswick, where I join you today.
3155 DR. KING: CMAC’s truly a coast-to-coast organization.
3156 So thank you for this opportunity to participate in today’s hearing.
3157 Citizens and advocacy groups have for 20 years raised the issue of community television compliance and accountability in addition to the problematic aspects of the Commission’s policy framework itself. Since 2015 CMAC has actively advocated for progressive community television policy in Canada with the overarching goal of aligning the CRTC’s regulatory treatment of community television with the vision that the Broadcasting Act sets out for this component of Canadian broadcasting.
3158 Community media, according to the Act, is a pillar in its own right, equal to both public and private broadcasting. We emphasize the importance of financial accountability when it comes to viewer contributions and the programming such funding goes to, particularly when it comes to the community channel of each broadcasting distribution undertaking or BDU.
3159 MS. LUDSKI: CMAC intervened in the Part I complaint by our colleagues on this panel, the independent community TV, against Videotron and its community channel MATV. This drawn out proceeding eventually resulted in the Commission finding non-compliance on the part of the BDU.
3160 CMAC intervened in the Commission’s recent review of the policy framework for local and community television programming which resulted in broadcast regulatory policy 2016-224.
3161 We expressed concerns regarding what appeared to be decades of failures by BDU’s to fulfil their responsibilities in the way of community television and community access. This included the responsibility to grant meaningful access and ensure appropriate reflection of Indigenous and ethnic communities.
3162 We also recommended as a remedy that the Commission take the bold yet sensible step forward of creating an independent fund to manage community television contributions while transferring ownership and management of community channels to non-profit organizations.
3163 DR. KING: You will hear from ICTV about their complaint against Videotron’s MATV and the extensive process they went through to have the Commission vindicate their legitimate grievances and obtain redress.
3164 Unfortunately, despite a high profile proceeding and a public campaign, support from hundreds of community organizations from various sectors of society, and concrete evidence of repeated and ongoing non-compliance, the Commission refused to take direct action in proportion to the level of non-compliance and regulatory violations seen from Videotron and MATV.
3165 After ICTV’s original complaint to the Commission, a second complaint, the Commission punting the issue to be folded into the generic local and community TV review proceeding and a lawsuit at Quebec Superior Court MATV inexplicably continues today as a station in good standing as far as the Commission is concerned. These events have directly informed CMAC’s positions regarding the licence renewals in this proceeding.
3166 MS. LUDSKI: Similarly, every BDU controlled community television station in this proceeding has been the subject of Part I complaints of non-compliance after more than seven years of all but automatic administrative renewals. These data, which the Commission tabled mid-process in anticipation of this proceeding, suggests that BDU run stations still stand in non-compliance with the new community TV policy framework in addition to prior non-compliance under the former framework. This is especially troubling when over hundred million dollars from viewers flows annually into BDU run community television stations.
3168 MS. CLAIRE: Can you hear me?
3169 DR. KING: Yes.
3170 MS. CLAIRE: Okay. For instance, after viewing the evidence on the recording for this proceeding, CMAC found that Videotron remains non-compliant with the requirements to reflect the Indigenous, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of its service zones as well as with access program conditions. We see this in Videotron's logs where all the zones investigated missed quotas for access programming and only 4 shows of over 180 MAtv programs, served ethnic communities of Quebec.
3171 Further, after decades of operating multi-community channels, Videotron recently launched one program by an Indigenous producer.
3172 Given the mandates prescribed by the Broadcasting Act and the community television policy, and considering the Calls to Action provided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, MAtv fails to adequately reflect diverse ethnic and Indigenous communities across Quebec.
3173 DR. KING: CMAC also points to evidence from the current deliberations that indicate ongoing non-compliance. Videotron incorrectly clamed before the Commission that municipal council meetings count as access. Similarly, Rogers testified yesterday that amateur sports broadcast on their community channels count as access programming, repeated today by TELUS.
3174 CMAC believe the policy is clear that such programs are not access. The General Manager of Rogers even claimed questionably that for the 2016-2017 program year over 16,000 groups and individuals who requested access on Rogers TV got it.
3175 In situations like this where BDUs with decades of experience in community television ignore the policy's definition of community access, the Commission must declare non-compliance.
3176 MS. LUDSKI: Given the persistent and severe nature of non-compliance where community access programming and closed captioning are concerned, CMAC recommends that it is long overdue that the Commission take bold and direct action to protect this critical third pillar of Canadian broadcasting. The Commission should issue a clear determination of non-compliance and apply Section 32(2)(b) of the Broadcasting Act by imposing fines on BDUs who have demonstrated non-compliance.
3177 While we recognize that the Commission has only recently rendered the new community TV policy framework and that it came into effect only last month, the evidence to date suggests that the policy remains inherently inadequate to address the issues that community media producers and creators have brought to the Commission over the years.
3178 These issues are rooted in the very structure of the hierarchical and confining relationships between community TV stations and BDUs that control and fund them. This suggests that while the new community TV policy has made minor improving tweaks such as requiring a citizen advisory council, it remains an incomplete policy that conflicts with the ultimate goals of the Broadcasting Act.
3179 In practice, if not in theory, it appears as if BDU-controlled community stations enjoy immunity from consequences for non-compliance. No other licence category enjoys the level of leniency we have seen from the Commission when it comes to BDUs and the treatment of access programming on community channels.
3180 For instance, in the recent ruling against OMNI, CRTC 2017-153 and CRTC 2017-154, the Commission took interim measures by issuing a licence renewal for only three years and published a call for applications to replace the non-compliant broadcaster. This CRTC ruling for OMNI should set a precedent that must be applied in the case of similarly non-compliant community TV stations.
3181 DR. KING: BDUs such as Shaw and TELUS have questioned CMAC's recommendations that the Commission depart from the new community TV policy. However, it is our understanding that the Commission in all cases retains the power to make exceptions or modifications to the policies it has adopted.
3182 As an administrative tribunal, the Commission cannot fetter its own discretion to make adjustments as it sees fit, for example, if doing so will further the public interest. This principle has been recognized by the Commission itself as well as by the Supreme Court of Canada.
3183 MS. LUDSKI: Lastly, we would like to highlight to the Commission that this proceeding was somewhat overwhelming in scope -- others have mentioned this today -- involving hundreds of stations and their data, seven years' worth of information, dozens of complaints and their respective records, and a recent change in overarching policy framework.
3184 This, combined with the denial of deadline extensions which public interest groups requested, contributed to the inaccessibility of this process and poses a barrier to wider public participation in these proceedings.
3185 We hope to see these issues addressed in future proceedings and will be pleased to work with the Commission toward that end.
3186 Thank you for listening to our presentation. We look forward to your questions.
3187 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. Before the questions we'll hear the other presenter which is ICTV. And I believe one of the participant is by Webex.
3188 MR. MAROUF: Dolores, you can start the reading.
3189 MS. CHEW: Good afternoon. My name is Dolores Chew. I am President of the Board of Directors of Independent Community Television or ICTV, and I'm a Professor at Marianopolis College, in Montreal.
3190 M. KHAN: Bonjour, monsieur le président, madame la vice-présidente, madame la conseillère et messieurs les conseillers. Je m’appelle Jooneed Khan et je suis membre du Conseil de TVCI au Québec. Étudiant comme boursier du Canada, j’ai fait des stages de journalisme avec Radio Canada et l’agence Presse canadienne dans les années ’60. Plus tard, comme immigrant, j’ai été journaliste au département de nouvelles télé radio de la Presse canadienne avant de passer au quotidien La Presse à Montréal où j’ai été chroniqueur de politique internationale depuis ’76 jusqu’à ma retraite en 2009. J’ai aussi collaboré bénévolement pendant cette période avec les radios communautaires et universitaires de Montréal.
3191 MR. MAROUF: I’m Laith Marouf, and I am the Policy Consultant and Project Coordinator for ICTV Montreal. I am also an award-winning Community Television and Radio producer who worked in the community media sector for the past 20 years.
3192 Good afternoon Chairperson Scott, Vice-Chairperson Simard, Commissioners Dupras, Vennard, and MacDonald, Madame Secretary, and CRTC staff.
3193 Before we begin our presentation, let us acknowledge that we are speaking today on unceded Algonquin territory.
3194 ICTV is a not-for-profit dedicated to advocacy for access to ethnic and community television, and a project to license multilingual multi-ethnic television services offering news and information programming. We have the support of hundreds of communities across the country and have a board of directors that represents diverse sectors of society and is composed of some of the most prominent community leaders, media makers, and organizers in Canada.
3195 Since 2013, ICTV has worked to strengthen the community television sector in Canada. Four years ago, we launched a Part-1 complaint of non-compliance against MAtv, Videotron’s community access channel. At that time ICTV utilized a clause in the now- modified Community Television Policy, 2010-662, that stated, “In situations where the terrestrial Broadcast Distribution Unit (BDU) does not provide a community channel or does not operate a community channel in accordance with the provisions of this policy, community groups may apply for a community programming undertaking licence.”
3196 ICTV not only filed a complaint against Videotron, but also submitted an application to acquire the licence and the funds allocated for the service zone. This was the first time a community group mobilized to prove non-compliance and apply for the license as outlined in the policy.
3197 As a result of ICTV 2013 complaint, the Commission set a precedent by declaring MAtv non-compliant. Unfortunately, the Commission rejected ICTV’s application to replace MAtv and even allotted Videotron several months until its next license renewal in August 2015 to come into compliance.
3198 When August 2015 came around, the Commission issued an administrative renewal, one of seven issued to the station before our appearance today. When ICTV asked the Commission to verify that MAtv has respected the order to come to compliance, we were told that an administrative renewal was issued to the station.
3199 The CRTC’s insistence to ensure compliance through citizen's complaints forced ICTV to launch a second complaint against MAtv. In 2015, ICTV’s second complaint covered compliance across Quebec and all of the nine MAtv stations. Both complaints resulted in hundreds of comments supporting ICTV’s claims being filed on the public record by individuals and their organizations representing every -- nearly every sector of Quebec society.
3200 In addition to our participation in CRTC processes, ICTV also filed a class action on behalf of the consumers of Videotron’s -- for misuse of community television contributions. Earlier this year, ICTV’s class action set a legal precedent with the Superior Court -- Quebec Superior Court affirming that authority to examine consumer rights in a CRTC case, and that the Quebec Consumer Protection Act supersedes the Broadcasting Act where consumer rights are concerned.
3201 In January 2016, the Commission convened a hearing to review the community TV policy. The public process facilitated by the CRTC also included a review of the local news in Canada. And ICTV participated in this hearing advocating for non-profit community television and independent local news. Unfortunately, the new policy for local and community television contravenes the public interest by shielding BDUs, like Videotron, from any consequences for their persistent non-compliance. The policy no longer allows community groups to challenge the stewardship of the community television sector by
3202 non-complaint BDUs or hold them accountable for abusing resources earmarked for the laudable goals of community television.
3203 Broadcasting Policy 2016-224, or the new community television policy, creates an anomaly at the Commission. BDU-run community television stations are given immunity from any consequences for non-compliance. Additionally, the new policy facilitates the diversion of funds earmarked for community television to corporate local news and the closing of stations by BDUs in cities across Canada. Effectively, the policy as amended by the CRTC and put into practice by BDUs has created community television “dead zones” in Canada’s largest population centers where urban communities have no access.
3204 In the weeks after issuing the new policy, the Commission decided to shelve ICTV’s complaint against MAtv in Quebec. The CRTC cited the new policy and the upcoming license renewal hearing, for which we are here today, as reasons for refusing to make a ruling on our complaint.
3205 In addition to this setback in ICTV’s engagement at the CRTC, the Broadcast Participation Fund, or BPF, refused to financially support our second complaint after the fact. The BPF is mandated to fund public participation at the Commission. However, the BPF has recently announced it will no longer fund complaints against BDU community television stations. This decision severely impedes public engagement at the CRTC and yet again creates an exception for community television.
3206 To us this decision appears to be designed to punish ICTV for our success at the Commission and the Courts in exposing the prevalent non-compliance in the community television sector and attempting to bring financial accountability for the public’s monetary contributions.
3207 Our engagement at the CRTC has made ICTV pessimistic about accountability being enforced in the BDU controlled community television sector. Under the current process there are a large number of licenses up for renewal and an overwhelming amount of data on the record, making this hearing inaccessible. Many public interest and advocacy groups requested extensions to be able to provide complete studies of these data, yet all procedural requests to this effect were denied by the Commission at that time. Today however, we are encouraged by the appointment of a new Chair and Commissioners at the CRTC. We hope the current Commission can take a fresh look at the community television and correct these historic wrongs.
3209 MS. CHEW: Part two. ICTV New Findings.
3210 On the public record related to this hearing, the Commission has access to ICTV part one complaint of non-compliance against MAtv. We also have provided the Commission with a study of MAtv logs from 2016 deposited on the record by Videotron. Our new study confirms that MAtv still stands in non-compliance with CRTC Broadcasting Order 2015-31, CRTC Broadcasting Policy 2016-224, and the objectives of the Broadcasting Act for community television.
3211 These findings are not a surprise to anyone who has investigated BDU-run community television. What is surprising is the level of contempt displayed by the BDUs and their legal counsels in their submissions on the public record. For example, for 20 years BDUs like Videotron have claimed ignorance of language comprehension as an excuse for non-compliance. BDUs, again and again, argue they misunderstand the definitions of “Access Programming” or “Volunteers”. ICTV is not surprised to see BDU interveners in the current process make these same claims.
3212 Another example of this contempt came when we investigated the new MAtv logs and found that Videotron miscategorized shows already ruled by the CRTC as “professional and “not-Access” in CRTC 2015-31. These logs provide evidence of Videotron’s deliberate disrespect of the CRTC’s authority.
3213 Our findings against Videotron that are available for your review, prove beyond any doubt that the BDU stands in non-compliance with access programming quotas, reflection of the Indigenous, linguistic and ethnic composition of the community and the closed captioning and descriptive audio conditions for the sector among other things. Our brief investigation of other BDUs confirmed our suspicion that they also stand in non-compliance.
3214 The submissions made by Rogers Media Inc. provide an extreme example of the need for accountability. This BDU has one of the most extensive community television networks, RogersTV, which collects more than $40 million in viewer contributions annually. At the same time, Rogers Media Incorporated runs OmniTV with an ethnic television license. OmniTV also comes with a mandatory carriage fee worth around $14 million annually.
3215 Recently, the Commission ruled Rogers to be in non-compliance with the mandated ethnic license conditions. When we investigated the files on record deposited by RogersTV and OmniTV programming schedules online, ICTV was surprised to find overlapping programming between the two, both non-compliant networks.
3216 Rogers Media Incorporated is controlling a budget close to $54 million of public funding and two extensive networks aimed at reaching the goals of reflection. However, the BDU claims to be unable to reach these goals while engaging in creative accounting practices with public funding. If a show appears on both OmniTV and RogersTV, how many times is it being counted for quotas and conditions? Even more alarming is the fact that both OmniTV and RogersTV, collectively taking in $54 million in public funds, are for-profit television channels with the right to withhold their financial records from public scrutiny. Greater accountability of public funds must be ensured by the CRTC.
3218 MR. KHAN: Thank you.
3219 TVCI prie le Conseil d’émettre des directives claires de non-conformité à l’encontre des EDR là où les preuves le démontrent. En l’absence de détermination de non-conformité, les EDR se trouvent effectivement à l’abri des lois sur la protection des consommateurs, et la méfiance du public à l’égard des procédures du CRTC ne peut alors que croître.
3220 Nous recommandons aussi que le Conseil sanctionne la non-conformité avec des amendes monétaires tel que le prescrit la Loi sur la radiodiffusion, Section 32(1)(b) qui, sous la rubrique « Diffusion sans ou en violation de la licence », stipule : « s’agissant d’une corporation… une amende ne dépassant pas deux cent mille dollars pour chaque jour où l’offense se poursuit. »
3221 Dans le cas de Vidéotron, qui a été trouvé en non-conformité et en contravention de l’Ordre 2015-31 du CRTC de se mettre en conformité, TVCI souhaite que le Conseil applique l’article 32(2) de la Loi sur la Radiodiffusion, qui stipule, sous la rubrique « Violation d’un règlement ou d’un ordre » : « Toute personne qui contrevient ou qui omet de se conformer à un règlement ou à un ordre… est coupable d’une offense punissable sur déclaration de culpabilité par procédure sommaire et, s’agissant d’une corporation, est passible d’une amende n’excédant pas deux cent cinquante mille dollars (250 000 $) pour une première offense, et n’excédant pas cinq cent mille dollars (500 000 $) pour chaque offense subséquente. »
3222 En dernier lieu, TVCI souhaite que le Conseil examine la décision de radiodiffusion du CRTC 2017-152 et l’ordre de radiodiffusion du CRTC 2017-153 relatif au cas de OmniTV où OmniTV a été trouvé en non-conformité par rapport aux conditions ethniques de sa licence.
3223 Le CRTC a alors émis à OMNI une licence non-renouvelable de trois ans et ouvert un appel de candidature pour remplacer la station via des propositions qui garantissent la conformité et qui rejoignent les objectifs critiques de la licence.
3224 TVCI estime qu'une telle issue peut aussi servir à l'intérêt public en ce qui concerne la télévision communautaire.
3225 TVCI recommande donc que le CRTC impose à toutes les EDR non conformes des licences non-renouvelables de trois ans et invite les candidatures pour remplacer ces services de télévision communautaire.
3226 Nous vous remercions infiniment et nous sommes disposés à accueillir vos questions.
3227 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci pour votre présentation.
3228 Thank you for your presentation.
3229 Commissioner Dupras has some questions for you.
3230 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
3231 Thank you for being here today. It must have been a long trip to come here.
3233 I know you're very upset that Videotron was given another chance to try to cure the defaults that it was found in, but the decision was to do so. And Videotron since has made many efforts to try to ensure community reflection and encourage community members to submit program projects.
3234 You've witnessed those changes, whether it be on screen or in promotion initiatives. How are these changes for you; are they sufficient? If not, what does the community channel need to respond to better?
3235 MR. MAROUF: We disagree with your assessment that there has been any much change at Videotron. There has been cosmetic change at Videotron to make themselves look better and that they are trying.
3236 But this is a company that held the licence for 40 years. So if they took 40 years to get the first Indigenous show, I mean I don't know how much celebration you want us to have.
3237 I don't know if you can tell, but I'm an Arab that's living in Quebec. My community in Montreal is over 300,000 linguistic, ethnic -- an ethnic minority, we are the biggest in Quebec.
3238 I cannot find one producer in MAtv that is an Arab. I am also half-Palestinian, half-Syrian. We are refugees, communities of refugees here.
3239 When yesterday I heard Ms. Tabet from Videotron tell the Commission that they are not an ethnic station as a response to why she doesn't have and they don't have enough reflection, I personally was very offended, because the policy itself says the reason -- main reason for these stations is reflection. And if she and Videotron decide that we are not to have that reflection, I believe that conveys racist intentions. The actions have consequences, and the consequence is exclusion of our communities.
3240 We don't have to keep on pulling teeth out of Videotron to beg for what is required by the policy.
3241 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I hear you.
3242 DR. KING: Is it possible just to add one comment to that?
3243 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes, please go ahead.
3244 DR. KING: I wanted to point to the interaction again with Videotron yesterday. They said they had over 500 proposals from the community. That's great work, but they actually only accepted 15 of those. That's terrible work. That's a terrible outcome. That means 500 projects were interested to be part of MAtv and many of them were rejected.
3245 And the Advisory Board said that -- or Videotron said they only set 58 of those 500 proposals to the Advisory Board.
3246 So again, you have the community knocking on the door but the Advisory Board -- and you asked about what does a community channel need? It needs an advisory board that's empowered to take decisions. There needs to be local control. The community needs to be part of the decision-making of a community channel.
3247 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. I'll come back with a question on that and give you more -- a better chance to respond.
3248 Well first, I want to ask you a further question on the minority groups that are not enough reflected.
3249 What benchmark should the Commission use to assess how groups should be represented in programming? Their respective proportion in the population of market served, for instance?
3250 MR. MAROUF: That's a good starting point. I mean when we look at the current census that just came out, and we don't have yet the ethnic numbers, we have the linguistic numbers. We know that cities like Vancouver, for instance, has like 40 -- 54 percent third language speakers.
3251 We have cities -- Montreal has like thirty some percent third language speakers. These are not visible minorities. The visible minorities numbers which will come out are higher than that.
3252 So when you come with a community -- a BDU claiming that they have achieved reflection with four shows out of 187 dedicated to ethnic communities, and one show dedicated to Indigenous communities -- this is what Videotron came to us with, I think that is not only a fail, that is beyond the fail.
3253 So we are -- we're not asking them to confirm with exact census but, you know, there's a little bit of shame because there's also public funds involved in this, and they have to be held accountable.
3254 It's not -- it's not a game. There's lawyers sitting here, medias that have budgets that are bigger than states, whole nations, with billion dollar budgets, they're coming and telling us they don't understand the word "access".
3255 MS. LUDSKI: If I may, just ---
3256 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes.
3257 MS. LUDSKI: The policy, the Broadcasting Act policy on community access and community television is quite explicit. I think even just looking at that would ---
3258 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes.
3259 MS. LUDSKI: --- would be a great place to go back.
3260 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes, I know. It's just that there are no quotas established. So it's to the community channel to assess and try to respond.
3261 You would be an independent community channel, you know, we'd have to I guess regulate you also.
3262 So I mean what is it you suggest?
3263 MS. LUDSKI: Compliance. Compliance with the policies set out by the government.
3264 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Compliance -- what type of -- I mean -- would you have any suggestion as to what level should be ---
3265 MS. LUDSKI: An access program must originate from a community member who is neither employed by a BDU nor a media professional who is known to the public or who already has access to the broadcasting system. The program should not be of commercial nature. The benefit of the person requesting access or a sponsor.
3266 These are all written already.
3267 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes. No, I know but ---
3268 MS. LUDSKI: So ---
3269 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: But that's not what we're discussing here.
3270 MS. LUDSKI: The question is on reflection.
3271 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I mean, the question is on bad reflection of a minority group.
3272 MS. LUDSKI: Sure. So I would say that CMAC would agree that using census data might be a start.
3273 But I also want to point to the Broadcasting Act, as we have done several times in our presentation, to suggest that the community channel needs to be of a complementary nature to what's already available in the private and public media.
3274 So where we see an under-representation as CMAC stands for Indigenous communities, third language communities and disability communities, we should see an over-representation of that to balance the broadcasting system within the community channels, as we see a good job being done within the community radio sector.
3275 Similarly, we should see that sort of balancing of the broadcasting system reflected in the community channel. We do not.
3276 So census data may be a place to start, but I would suggest that Videotron also take a look at the broadcasting system and see which communities are underserved by the media system.
3277 And from CMAC's opinion, definitely Indigenous People, third-language communities and people with disabilities are underserved by the current broadcasting system and certainly by community channels like Videotron.
3278 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Great. Thank you.
3279 You've also mentioned earlier, Ms. King, that the advisory committees were problematic, that they were not effective, so -- and that -- like they don’t have any decisional power. I mean, as you know, it’s the BDU that’s ultimately responsible for the programming aired. How do you reconcile this with a citizen committee that would have decisional power?
3280 DR. KING: So as you heard in the last hearing for television and local policy for the review of community television and local news, members of Videotron’s advisory board appeared before you and testified that they lacked decision making power, that they lacked access to financial data, though it was requested, that they lacked access to the complete submissions made by community access requests.
3281 In order to bring advisory boards into compliance greater decision making power is needed. CMAC, as we told you last policy review, is of the opinion that if community channels were given to the control of non-profit organizations then you would have the system of non-profit governance carrying forward those responsibilities of the broadcasting compliance of the licence and everything that a non-profit organization is required to do governance wise.
3282 It’s because of the policy that you set in place with the recommendation of advisory boards that creates the sort of grey area where it’s ultimately the legal responsibility of the BDU’s.
3283 And so we do feel that even with the current policy as it is, stating that advisory boards are the way to go, those advisory boards have to be empowered with decision making processes, and we’d be happy to help assist the Commission in setting up what that might look like.
3284 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: You’ve heard Videotron yesterday. I think they’ve said that on the access programming side that -- I asked them what number of projects suggested by the committee were, in fact, accepted, and I think he said to me something like 16 out of 22, if I recall right. You find this insufficient?
3285 MR. MAROUF: Actually, just to be very clear, the supposed public request to access were 500. This is the public request for access that Videotron told us about. Of those they walked in with 58 only. They’ve already took out 90 percent and chose 58 to hand over to the advisory committee. The advisory committee chose from those 26 and gave it back to the staff. The staff decided to cut that down to half. So ultimately how much say does this advisory committee even have in the selection of shows that have already been pre-vetted down to 10 percent of what is the public access request. So that’s number one.
3286 Number two, when the CRTC ordered the appointment of this Videotron advisory committee we put forward ourselves ICTV, and all the communities behind us, the tens of thousands of community organizations in Quebec from every sector, not one organization in Quebec supports Videotron MATV. Every umbrella organization of every sector came forward. Each and every one of them were refused appointment to this advisory committee.
3287 So if Videotron gets to choose complacent compliant members of the community ---
3288 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes.
3289 MR. MAROUF: --- that don’t have any critique or understanding of what’s happening to be appointed how is that going to actually represent the interests of the community?
3290 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Well, you’re here to tell us how to make the community channel better. So you have the floor.
3291 MR. MAROUF: The community channel to make it better is very simple. You hand it over to the community, just like the community radio station. And that was the solution when we appeared in front of you at the hearing.
3292 Today what we’re asking for you, because it’s very clear that probably you’re not going to hand over after 40 years of people showing the non-compliance ---
3293 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: In that ---
3294 MR. MAROUF: But what we’re trying right now is for you to treat ---
3295 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: What measure ---
3296 MR. MAROUF: To treat them exactly the same way you treat the private and the public licences. If there is non-compliance they have to be fined. If they refuse order they have to be fined. If they still are non-compliant they lose their licence.
3297 To have this wording of stewardship in this policy means guaranteed for life, which also means that the community are wards of the BDU. In a state like this where we have history of Indigenous and slavery, when somebody comes and says stewardship well are we children. We are adults. We have voting rights. We are putting money into these BDU’s and we have full right to expect a say in how that money is being spent, and have full right to expect accountability when misuse and abuse of those money happens.
3298 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Very good.
3299 In connection with that, what measure would you suggest to increase transparency and make it easier for interested parties like you to access data and information about the community programming so that you can make your reviews and make complaints if need be?
3300 DR. KING: So the current policy -- I’d like to point to what came out of the last review -- actually outlines quite substantively all of the aspects that you would want to examine on the public record if trying to assess community access and reflection.
3301 So you see here annual returns, expenditures, volunteer participation and development, community outreach, reporting on access, community outreach initiatives, access programming initiatives, access programming available on other platforms, report on VOD and digital media, VOD and digital media breakdown further.
3302 Those are the details that are asked in the annual reports of the current policy. I think if all of that was made publicly available that would make the transparency and accountability more clear for not only the community but regulators and advocacy groups such as ourselves.
3303 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Very good.
3304 And for the advisory committee, what other measures would you suggest?
3305 For instance, you said there were 500 projects and it’s the staff that chose 10 percent of it for the advisory committee to review. Should it be the advisory committee that reviews the 500 projects?
3306 DR. KING: We would want the advisory committee, at least for CMAC’s point of view, to have decision making power.
3307 The advisory committee is also currently handpicked, as we saw in the case of ICTV’s request for representation on the MATV advisory board, and they were refused. There’s no public or transparent process.
3308 Again, if these community channels were run by non-profits they would have to follow Industry Canada’s standards for non-profit governance and therefore have transparent and accountable governance processes.
3309 Right now the advisory boards are handpicked. So one solution would be to not make those handpicked, to make those transparent and accountable processes, and that the decision making power be invested in the committee itself. And perhaps that’s something that again CMAC can advise the Commission as well as the BDU’s on how to do something like that with our extensive experience in non-profit governance.
3310 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
3311 Go ahead.
3312 MR. MAROUF: Do you have a question or ---
3313 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I had something else, but if you want to ---
3314 MR. MAROUF: I just wanted to get back to the reporting issue. The aggregated data forms -- what’s the number, 1020 something? The form up to the year 2015 to ’16 used to have in the last pages the numbers of stations that the BDU supplies in their zone, the TVC’s, and number of volunteers, how many hours, the things that have now been migrated to the new policy.
3315 So we appeared here today with the new forms that don’t have the information that includes how many volunteers and how many staff that these stations have at least available to us, to the public.
3316 And at the same time, that data that we used to have now we don’t have access to it so we don’t even know really -- we cannot verify how many volunteers, how many hours of training we’re given at the station.
3317 And they were supposed to come in with the new policy extra reporting but we were told that this extra reporting is going to be phased in.
3318 So although the new policy was passed to implement new measuring reporting forms so we can have more access, we ended up appearing in front of this hearing with a huge data dump of logs with less information to analyze it with.
3319 So this is where we’re at. If this is public funding we need to know where it’s going.
3320 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yeah, well, I asked earlier, and now maybe I can ask it to you also, what measure do you propose so that it would be easier for you to go through the data?
3321 MR. MAROUF: The reporting the requirements in the policy have to be with interforms that are open to the public to review.
3322 DR. KING: I would just add to that because of a procedural letter that CMAC sent with regard to the forms the were issued for this hearing. There was a difference between the show categorization in version 1 and version 2. I think it was spoken to before but I just want to reiterate just in case it was missed over.
3323 The labelling for A, B, C, D, E was different between the two forms. So as a citizen advocacy group looking at the two different sets, we basically had to further break down the data dump into two sets of the forms that were reported on version 2 of the form and the forms that were reported on version 1. And we caught that process, like, halfway through and had to go back and restart the data.
3324 So making sure that every version of the form is using the same categorization in the same way, but also if there -- as there should be translations available of the forms that the categorization is the same across. So whatever stands for A, B, C, D, E on one form is going to stand for that categorization on the next.
3325 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
3326 MS. LUDSKI: If I may just ---
3327 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes.
3328 MS. LUDSKI: --- off the top you had said -- you used the word that we seemed upset. And yes, there is an emotional upset when it comes to, you know, not having access. But it is also, as the gentleman from New Westminster pointed out, $400,000 of public money for his community alone.
3329 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: M'hm.
3330 MS. LUDSKI: Where -- I -- it's -- forget the emotion, but where's the dollars? Where is the money that I've put in, that the people have put in? I'm supposed to have access to a TV station. It's in the government policy. It's -- yeah, this is money. This is more than just an emotional upset.
3331 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: No, no. I hear you. I don’t have the figures before me. Do you have any evidence that they haven't done anything with that money in that territory?
3332 DR. KING: Are you talking about out in B.C., Shaw?
3333 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yeah.
3334 DR. KING: I would defer to Deepak and the data that he's produced. And what he's said consistently over the years is that Shaw shows up once a year for their Remembrance Day parade.
3335 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yeah.
3336 DR. KING: And that's the access that they get. And I'm sorry, that is not community access.
3337 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Ms. Ludski, TELUS in B.C., they're having -- they have a special community channel, community programming service on demand. What do you think of that? Does this respond to the spirit of the community TV policy? How about access, training, and all? What are your comments on this?
3338 MS. LUDSKI: Again, I would have to say the policy lays out what community TV access is. On demand programming -- community access is not community members knowing how many different packages of TV they can choose from. Community access is a person going into the studio, learning how to put on their own TV show, learning how to write a script.
3339 When it comes to STORYHIVE, again, there's been plenty of documentation -- and Cactus did a thorough review, I believe, of STORYHIVE and why it is not actually access TV.
3340 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And they gave us a response today that you know, you could have training through an independent producer.
3341 MS. LUDSKI: Yeah.
3342 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Are you aware of these practices?
3343 MS. LUDSKI: I know that in my home community we no longer have an access TV station in Powell River. We're considered part of the north Vancouver Island so this now gets into the issue of, you know, the regions, like, Vancouver, the whole greater Vancouver area being considered one. It's like the zone, sorry, the zone.
3344 So my community is on the mainland and we are part of a Vancouver Island. There's no community access. I personally am a person with a disability. I live on a disability. I can't afford television let alone pay on demand. There is no -- that speaks nothing to me.
3345 And as for the STORYHIVE, back when I was even, you know, able to work like this, you couldn't -- you know, the people who are getting STORYHIVE funds have been -- they have production companies. That is not a community member who wants to get their voice heard in their community.
3346 You know, my community radio station, I can walk down there and I can get on the air and have my voice heard. I can record a public service announcement for the disabilities community. I can get my voice heard in my community. TV, I have none of that, nothing.
3347 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: So -- how do I say this? It's not necessarily the on demand technology; the problem is that the shows are not really community based?
3348 MS. LUDSKI: No. A community-based show is community members who put it on. It's not that a producer who said, "Well, you know, I've got a -- there's a reconciliation canoe being carved in my community and I'm going to go make a documentary and then it's going to be based -- that's Powell River Community access."
3349 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
3350 MS. LUDSKI: No. It would have to be me and my people and my community and we made it and we got it on the air and we shared our stories. That's community access.
3351 DR. KING: I think one of the biggest problems with BDU control is the for-profit and commercial nature of BDUs. That's their business. They're commercial enterprises.
3352 You're asking whether or not Zoe's community in Powell River sees that community on the ground. No, because that's not their interest. Their interest is profit. Their interest is in dollars. And we heard that from Shaw yesterday when they said they closed down their major metropolitan stations because it increases the value. They recognize that the value of community TV is increased in the small rural regions, the value, the economic value.
3353 Again, the commercialization of the community television sector in Canada does an entire disservice to the broadcasting system. We're supposed to have three equal pillars of that system, not one controlled by another.
3354 And so whenever we don’t see Shaw TV on the ground at Powell River, it's the for-profit corporate centric in the valuing of dollars only when it comes to community television.
3355 MR. MAROUF: I would just add that, you know, there is nothing wrong with commercial television. That's a business. They have their money; they are supposed to have their licence. What's the problem is that when these BDUs that control the corporate sector of television think that they can also run the community licence as if it's a corporate licence.
3356 Nobody wants their commercial licence. Please leave our community stations alone. Please leave us run them the correct way. Nobody wants to change the business model of commercial television. That's their business model. They cannot come and impose a commercial business model on community television stations and then complain why nobody is watching and/or why nobody is (inaudible). It's very simple.
3357 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay, well, these are my questions. I thank you very much for your contribution. I don't know if my colleagues have any other questions.
3358 That's it for me, Mr. Chair. Thank you.
3359 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation. Thank you for taking the time to come before us.
3360 MR. MAROUF: Thank you.
3361 DR. KING: Merci.
3362 THE CHAIRPERSON: We'll -- that's the end of the hearing day. We'll resume tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.
--- Upon adjourning at 5:52 p.m.
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