Transcript, Hearing October 19, 2017
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Date: October 19, 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 Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 9:02 a.m.
4439 THE SECRETARY: Order please. Bonjour à tous.
4440 Mr. Chairman, we will now hear the reply by TELUS Communications. Oh, sorry -- TELUS Communications Company.
4441 Please reintroduce yourselves just for the record. And you have 10 minutes for your reply.
4442 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Thank you.
4443 Chairman Scott and Vice-chair Simard, Commissioners and Commission staff, thank you for the opportunity to provide these reply comments.
4444 For the record, my name is Ann Mainville-Neeson and I am Vice-president of Broadcast Policy and Regulatory Affairs at TELUS. With me again today are Dan Page, head of Content Acquisitions and Programming, and Kim Guise, Director of Local Programming, as well as Lecia Simpson, Director of Broadcasting Policy and Regulatory Affairs.
4445 At the outset, TELUS would like to thank the intervenors who participated in this process, whether they did so in writing or took the time to appear before you this week. The number of community programming producers and advocacy groups who took the time and put in the effort to participate in these proceedings shows that Canada and its communities have a passion for local programming.
4446 TELUS shares this passion and wants to build on it to create local programs which resonate with the members of the community and which also is attractive to a broader audience.
4447 As has been noted and discussed, TELUS operates differently than other BDU-run community programming services.
4448 One of the main differences is that TELUS does not operate a bricks and mortar studio, nor does it have community programming staff in each community it serves. Rather, TELUS has structured its community programming operations such that it plays the role of facilitator for the creation of community programming. We partner with colleges, festivals, public libraries, community organizations and grassroots film group throughout the communities in British Columbia and Alberta.
4449 These partnerships provide is with invaluable connection to the communities we serve and have made our community programming a success.
4450 The STORYHIVE platform that we have mentioned previously is also an important tool in the facilitation of relationships for programming creation. The STORYHIVE website provides a creative directory where creators from across B.C. and Alberta can advertise their skill set and let other creators know what they have to offer to the creative community. It also provides mentorship relationships.
4451 As a result of these partnerships in each of our communities, TELUS has been able to centralize its operational structure, thereby enabling it to keep its indirect costs very low in order to invest more money directly into program creation and training of community creators.
4452 We have heard the concern expressed by some over our approach to community programming. Some of these concerns appear to be based on some misunderstandings. TELUS wishes to clarify, for example, that we certainly do not require community access producers to create their content in 4K. It is merely those productions commissioned by TELUS for local content that are all produced in 4K, as well as in HD.
4453 We do this because we believe that viewers should be afforded the best viewing experience possible, no matter what they are watching. Community programming shouldn't be exempt from keeping pace with technology.
4454 TELUS' Optik Local is proud to be at the forefront of innovation. We want to continue to experiment with new platforms, not all of which can be viewed through our Optik TV set-top-box. This is why we are seeking a special condition of licence in this licence renewal proceeding.
4455 The benefits of accepting TELUS' proposal to allow some community programming to migrate to new platforms in order to take advantage of new technology far outweigh any concerns over access to these online platforms. This is especially true given_the extent of broadband penetration among Optik TV subscribers.
4457 MS. GUISE: TELUS intends to continue to create great programming like the documentaries shown on screen. These programs have been successful and garnered viewing from far beyond the communities in which they were created.
4458 This is because they present issues or stories of local interest in a way that appeals on a much broader scale. TELUS' community programming also reflects the diversity of the members of the communities we serve.
4459 And this is no fluke. TELUS has worked hard, and continues to work hard to ensure diversity in its programming. Some examples of initiatives undertaken by TELUS to promote diversity were mentioned on Tuesday. I would like to mention another now.
4460 This summer, TELUS supported an "Empowered Filmmaker Masterclass". This regional workshop was focused towards Indigenous youth and adults from Vernon and surrounding areas. Kanahus Manuel, daughter of the late Arthur Manuel, assisted in recruiting and organizing the workshop at the Vernon Campus of Okanagan College.
4461 This intensive master class filmmaking curriculum took place over five days, and was designed to take an individual with no prior experience and give them hands on technical training from storyboarding/script writing to on location filming, audio production and delivery of a final complete production.
4462 The goal of this course was to create self-sufficient, self-driven filmmakers that can go on to achieve great things.
4463 We recently received the following letter from the workshop organizer, and this is an excerpt.
4464 “Thanks to Telus STORYHIVE, The Empowered Filmmaker Masterclass was able to bring together 25 aspiring Indigenous filmmakers and give them the technical skills needed to help realize their dreams. [...] Thanks to this program the stories of elders are being immortalized for future generations and many youths who otherwise felt disconnected or isolated have now been given voices to build bridges and share their stories. [...] Many other Indigenous nations including the Haida have caught
4465 word of the success of our program and have approached us to run the program at the Haida Cultural Centre. We hope to continue this work alongside Telus STORYHIVE to help make positive change and giving voices to those who need them the most.”
4466 TELUS Optik Local is doing great things. We have noted that many community groups have expressed their wishes to partner with BDUs. TELUS has met with some of the intervenors who have appeared in this hearing and with other community television organizations in the communities we serve. We would be pleased to work together with anyone wanting to produce more great programming and reach more audiences.
4468 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Finally, with respect to TELUS' application which seeks to address regulatory asymmetry, TELUS appreciates the suggestion from Commission legal staff with regard to amending or perhaps rescinding the "carve out" policy. While TELUS would certainly welcome a policy change which addresses the regulatory asymmetry on a broader scale, TELUS notes that changing the policy would not address all of its concerns. In particular TELUS still wants to amend the contours of some of its extremely large serving areas.
4469 Thank you for the opportunity to present these rebuttal comments. We are now happy to respond to any questions you may have.
4470 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your presentation.
4471 Commissioner Dupras?
4472 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Good morning. Aside the Empowered Filmmaker Masterclass, what else have you done in terms of training initiatives, or how did you provide training to members of the community? Can you give me ---
4473 MS. GUISE: More examples?
4474 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: --- more examples? Yes.
4475 MS. GUISE: We partner with many local organizations in many of the communities, some of them very small as you know, whether it be a school or a film co-op. We have examples of -- we partner with a public library in our of our serving areas that has something called “The Inspiration Lab” where they teach through an audio training workshop how new creators can actually use sound and use the equipment to edit and film sound and add it to their filmed project.
4476 I have the name of it right here. It’s called “The Sound Lessons: Capturing, editing and producing great sound for video projects”. And it was a series of five workshops. It was run four times.
4477 We built very authentic connections with local film groups, meetups, as I mentioned schools in all the communities. And make sure that we are supporting the events that they are already putting on. So we have a list we can provide if you would like to see it.
4478 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes, that would be interesting.
4480 And also, what is the percentage of programming that is coming from college, festivals, public libraries, community organizations versus all of your programming?
4481 MS. GUISE: So if I understand your question correctly, you're asking how much of our funding we are using to support training and workshops versus supporting ---
4482 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Independent ---
4483 MS. GUISE: --- program. I would not know that off the top of my head.
4484 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Is that something that you can provide us?
4485 MS. GUISE: Yeah.
4486 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes, we'll definitely take an undertaking for that.
4488 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: We heard yesterday that the -- one has to have, like, two productions to his credit as a track record to be able to apply and get funding from your Community program.
4489 MS. GUISE: That is not correct. That's a misunderstanding. That was one of our programs that we offered for higher budget, a little bit more experienced producers, still not professional producers with access to the broadcast system. And that was simply, we felt, a way for us to ensure that we were being responsible with the grant funding. Applicants were able to apply for up to $100,000 for a multi-episodic project. So it was that one callout for content. But for the other callout for content, that is not the case.
4490 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And the $100,000 callout was certainly an exception. Most of them are significantly smaller budgets because they are for very, very nascent creators.
4491 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And how does a regular member of the community who is not a professional producer and who has a story it wants to tell -- he wants to tell and produce something, can you give us how this can happen?
4492 MS. GUISE: Absolutely. So presumably, if you are part of a creative community, you're most likely on social media. We find that our -- we are aware, our creators are, and they are on social media. So we are building, as I mentioned, authentic relationships with grassroots, local, creative community members and groups, influencers, bloggers, film festivals, meet-ups. So you would find out about our programming that way or you would be at an event where you would hear someone on our staff speaking. If you did a Google search you would find how -- you would find out about our programs and then you can reach out. Our virtual doors are open 24/7 and our staff is always available to answer questions, assist with applications and connect with the community to answer and assist as much as we can.
4493 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And do you receive many requests per year from regular community member who wants to do some Community programming?
4494 MS. GUISE: We get hundreds of applications for our funding.
4495 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And you select how many?
4496 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: That may be a bit difficult to answer. We perhaps might be able to provide the information if we did the research. But what I can tell you is if you look at all of our reports, we certainly have the highest percentage of access versus TELUS-produced -- or I shouldn't even say "TELUS-produced" because we commission all of our Community programming is made by independent producers. But there's a distinction between the Access and that which is commissioned by TELUS to be created for our Community platform.
4497 One of the things -- Kim was talking very much about how you find out about us because that's certainly the first step. You -- if you're a member of the community and you have a great idea and you want to have it on Community TV, the first thing you need to know is where to go. And Kim has responded to that where we make sure that we are -- we can easily be found. So from the person who, clearly, if they have an interest in creating something, they're more likely to be looking on the web, looking on social and they will find us. Once they have found -- once they've found us, the STORYHIVE platform allows for you to pitch your idea right there.
4498 So we have -- we've created it an even easier process for the average person who is sitting in their kitchen thinking, "I've got a great idea and I really want this to -- I want to make something of this", they don't even need to go to a studio and find it daunting to how do I even approach this because we've set it up for them to pitch your idea. And the steps are all there. Here's what you need to do. So you fill in the form. You fill in your idea. If you don't have a crew, you can find your crew through the platform. So we're assisting you. And, of course, if you have any questions, call us.
4499 MS. GUISE: And I would top up one aspect I failed to mention which I think is really important is the power of word of mouth, especially in these small communities and especially in diverse communities within these locational communities. Word of mouth has been a very powerful tool for us. People who have been through our program and/or know about it, sharing it, either verbally or through social media has been extremely powerful.
4500 I don't know if any of you Commissioners are on Facebook, but that is one of the most powerful tools we have is people finding out about who we are and what we do.
4501 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And I think it bears repeating that our Community programming is not proprietary to our Optik TV platform. So the fact that you can find it on the web also means that potential creators, not just potential viewers have access to it, but potential creators have access to see what others have created and perhaps that can help further germinate their idea.
4502 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Sorry. You mentioned during the appearing phase that TELUS spends money on training of their Community channel volunteers. According to the 2016 TELUS aggregate return, was reported that 1900 volunteers work a total of 585 hours and receive 37,948 of hours of training; however, $0 in volunteer training expense were reported.
4503 Can you expand on the volunteer training model and comment on the apparent inconsistency with the lack of volunteer training expenses?
4504 MS. GUISE: Absolutely. I can explain it.
4505 What we do as part of our grant process with our Community creators is part of the delivery process when they hand back to us their completed content is they provide us a report. And they are the ones reporting how many volunteers did you have on your crew and what roles did they play, so there is no exchange of money from our end. It's volunteers assisting our Community creators and they are reporting it to us.
4506 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Thank you.
4507 MS. GUISE: You're welcome.
4508 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Vennard?
4509 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I have just one or two questions for you. And the first one is to do with the transparency of your selection process, transparency to the communities with respect to the -- who gets the grant money and who gets to actually be successful in that competition, and it is a competition.
4510 Can you explain that to us? How transparent is your process? Do you widely publish it? Is there a right of -- to challenge your decisions?
4511 MS. GUISE: Those are all great questions. I would say one thing. Yes, it's a competitive process, but I would say that's no different than any other Community channel where there's only so much funding and so it inherently is a competition. Yet we don't make it a popularity contest, which is I know another comment that has been levied against STORYHIVE, which I do not believe is true. And that, as I mentioned on -- when I was previously here a couple days ago is because of this jury process.
4512 So in terms of transparency, it is a public platform where people can see the projects that are pitching and you can gauge interest if you go on social media and track your favourite projects. Now, that being said, to prevent it from being a popularity contest and to ensure the diversity or programming that we support, we do have that jury process.
4513 It would be -- I submit it would be administratively unmanageable for us to go back and have a conversation with every negative decision we make. It's not that those projects aren't good. It's just that there were ones that were better and/or were more representative of the communities where we were serving. As you can imagine, we're highly oversubscribed in the larger urban areas and less so in others. And but we want to make sure that we're supporting the smaller communities in an equitable way.
4514 So I would say we try to be as transparent as possible; however, to prevent our staff from being the subject of attack, I think there is a certain amount of we have to make a decision and we can't always give you the feedback that you're looking for when you don't get the decision that you want. We try. We absolutely and in more general sense try to communicate with the community what makes a successful pitch and they can see the successful pitches on the website because those are public.
4515 So I hope that answers part of your question.
4516 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Do you have any sort of a method for people to increase their chances afterwards? You know, like they -- if they've tried to, you know, to do a production and they have not been successful.
4517 MS. GUISE: Our staff are available to answer questions as much as possible, and although we try to keep it not specific to the creative, we might make it a more general comment about why projects were more successful. And it really varies by call-out for content.
4518 But we do try to give tips and tricks. It is -- it is on our -- on our plan to think about how -- you know, maybe we could present on the STORYHIVE web site videos that might help creators do more successful pitches and we would leverage our STORYHIVE alumni to make those videos.
4519 And as I said, word of mouth and mentorship is a great way for those creators to get those answers, and we are happy to be that connector within all these communities of, you know, why don't you talk to this -- you know, this creator in this town. They work successful. They have great tips and tricks for you.
4520 Rather than hear it from us, why don't you hear it from the people that have actually gone through the program?
4521 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
4522 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And certainly creator has the opportunity to, you know, another kick at the can, again, so once they've spoken to us, spoken to other creators, and sometimes they need to -- you know, there might be questions "How come my project was better than that project that ultimately was selected?"
4523 We do have to explain about the need to represent different communities.
4524 So at certain points, perhaps you had a great project but you were -- there were so many great projects in Vancouver and there were fewer in Grand Prairie, for example.
4525 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. That brings me to a question on your jury system and access to your jury system.
4526 How do you go about selecting people for it, and what are their terms and can they be removed? And is -- you know, can you, you know, convince us that that's a really fair process in terms of the communities that you serve?
4527 MS. GUISE: Absolutely. We -- it's specific to the call-out. For example, if we are doing call-out for short film -- short digital films versus web series pilots, we will try to reach out to community members that we think have an expertise or something to offer in that area or if we feel like we would like some credibility in terms of diversity, we will invite community members into the room that bring that with them, a knowledge of indigenous storytelling or female directors, female creators, what have you.
4528 So it's a matter of we developing relationships with you, community member, so that we feel that you are the right fit. And we want it to be clear that we, TELUS, are not sitting in an ivory tower by ourselves making these decisions but that we do have community input.
4529 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: And from your process, you're confident that the communities all have an opportunity to participate in the selection process, too, and the jury process? Because you go through a few steps there where you've got your jury and, you know, the jury will put forward some and then you've got your voting system. So there's quite a few steps there.
4530 And what I'm trying to do is determine and -- determine that -- in my own mind that access is actually available all the way through this process to the communities that -- to every individual in the communities that you serve.
4531 Which is not to say that they're all going to be successful, but if the process doesn't have any stumbling blocks in it in terms of being able to go through like that.
4532 MS. GUISE: So I should -- probably it would help if I clarify the steps.
4533 So the voting system happens first and then, through the social score and the voting, projects make it to the jury.
4534 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
4535 MS. GUISE: So -- and we call it moderation. Through the moderation process that our staff does, the -- a collection of top voted, top social score projects plus others that we believe the jury should see to make it more diverse maybe that doesn't ---
4536 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So the first step in the selection process, then, is through TELUS.
4537 MS. GUISE: The first step is through the community voting.
4538 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay.
4539 MS. GUISE: Absolutely through community voting and that -- the social score that I spoke of earlier.
4540 And then those -- and in addition to those top voted, top social score projects, how moderation process of our staff also, we feel, it's important to bring up perhaps more diverse projects, quite often not from the urban centres, but that's not always the case, and also diverse for other reasons into that jury room to make sure they're even in the running because if we didn't do that, I don't think our programming would be as diverse as it is.
4541 From that process, then, the jury has their short list, which actually is quite a long list, of projects to review, and then the decisions are made that way.
4542 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that clarification.
4543 MS. GUISE: You're welcome.
4544 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: I thought that, and I probably misunderstood, that it was the other way around, so ---
4545 MS. GUISE: No, and ---
4546 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: --- thank you for clarifying that.
4547 MS. GUISE: And my last -- my last top-up on that is we, as much as possible, try to support what the community has voted for, with the proviso that if it doesn't look diverse enough for -- in all the long list of diversity we support, that is when the jury might then look at other indicators.
4548 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: So do you put -- you put together different juries for different projects for different communities for ---
4549 MS. GUISE: Absolutely.
4550 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So you don't have just one doing everything.
4551 MS. GUISE: No. We have one jury for one call-out for content.
4552 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. And is that process itself transparent to the communities as well, how they could participate in that process?
4553 MS. GUISE: Transparent. I mean, we're not deliberately opaque about it. We invite people into that. I haven't to date had a request for someone to be in that jury room, but we also have to be mindful that if you are, yourself, a STORYHIVE applicant, you cannot also be in the room.
4554 So we make sure that the people in the room are representative of the community but are not themselves biased or have a self-interest in the projects that are being considered.
4555 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you for that clarification.
4556 So I just have a final point that I'd like you to make a comment on.
4557 You don't have requirements for facilities. You don't have requirements either in the policy or in your licensing for news, obviously. You don't have requirements to be live as well, so in that sense you might be meeting the letter of the policy and also your licence. But I would just ask you to, you know, kind of summarize, how are you meeting the spirit of the policy in terms of the community TV policy?
4558 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, the Video On Demand platform doesn't lend itself to live programming, nor to programming that has a very short lifespan. Generally, it's more of the contextual type of information programs and some of these documentaries on the -- on the screen are indicative of that. So we'll be looking at issues on a broader -- a more evergreen type of nature as opposed to short news cycles.
4559 And that's very much, first of all, consistent with the platform, but also consistent with we're entering the market with already-established community service and local TV program services, and we need to find our own niche. And trying to replicate what everybody else is doing on a much smaller because we're still the new entrant, it's -- it would be impossible.
4560 And it wouldn't be serving the -- a purpose, frankly, to be duplicating what others are already doing. So we've taken a different tack, providing information that has deeper -- you know, that provides a deeper understanding than the short -- you know, the shorter informational here's what's happening.
4561 And we're looking sometimes more at the why are things happening and, you know, more documentary style. And I think that has an important role to play in the system.
4562 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. So would it be fair to say that you're -- you know, that you are embracing technological advances and you're moving in a different direction but are following that spirit?
4563 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: That would be our view.
4564 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Okay. Thank you. No more questions.
4565 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
4566 Commissioner Simard.
4567 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: I have a few additional questions about workshops.
4568 So I would like to know if they are all financed by TELUS or do you receive any sponsorship or any, I guess, government funding?
4569 MS. GUISE: That's a great question.
4570 We do not receive sponsorship, and I should -- I should make clear that there's kind of two different training workshops forms that we support.
4571 One are completely run and supported by TELUS. The others are community-driven programs that we support.
4572 So we are not doing workshops and then soliciting sponsorship from other agencies or government or other partners. It's the other way around.
4573 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: I don't know if it's confidential information, but is it possible for you to share, you know, how much is it, like, or give an idea of this investment?
4575 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yeah, we can take an undertaking to do that and to provide some additional clarity on what Kim was saying, there's the two types, right, TELUS training that is put on by TELUS, clearly entirely funded by TELUS and then those partnerships where we are assisting a community organization. And it could be a film festival, for example. We don't -- I can't -- we can't say how much funding they might have received from other sources; right? So ---
4576 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Yeah. Talking about partnerships, I know that when Videotron did their presentation, they mentioned a partnership with the L'Université Laval and, like, specific credits, like three credits for students who were involved in this program. So do you have this type of partnership with universities?
4577 MS. GUISE: We don't at this time. We did have discussions a couple of years ago, I believe they were with NAIT, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, where they have a digital production degree. And we were talking about how we could support that. I don't know what the experience is like in Quebec, but I do know in my experience in Western Canada, making those kind of arrangements, highly complex, with post-secondary educational institutions there's a lot of governing and rule -- governance and rules that they have to abide by. So at this time, we do not.
4578 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay. You mention that some workshops are done in public libraries. I was curious to know if -- what do you think of the -- like, the step like further, which would be to have, like, studios. I'm not sure if it's like -- it would be like real studios, but at least with green screens and in public libraries to give, like, access to facilities?
4579 MS. GUISE: Are you asking if we would be supportive of that or ---
4580 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Yeah, or what do you think of this type ---
4581 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: I believe I understand you -- if I understand your question correctly, Commissioner Simard, the -- where we have partnered with public libraries it's because they have an audio-visual technology set up.
4582 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Already in place.
4583 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yeah.
4584 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Yeah.
4585 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So we don't partner with every public library out there that is, you know, just has books; right?
4586 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Yes.
4587 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: We're partnering with those that have the facilities that enable these workshops to be held there.
4588 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: In the west?
4589 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: In the west, of course.
4590 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay.
4591 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Vancouver for sure there's a significant effort there. I'm not sure of others. Kim?
4592 MS. GUISE: I'm aware of the Vancouver Public Library collaboration. I'm not aware of others but that doesn't mean they don't exist. I'd have to ask my team.
4593 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Good. And my last question is, I don't know if you have had the opportunity to assess the outcome of the workshops, so in terms of quality and quantity of content that are broadcast on the Community channel or on the web?
4594 MS. GUISE: So I should make clear that with most -- I don't have a percentage so I don't know what adjective to use. With our training and workshop opportunities, the content at the end of the workshop, if there is any produced, is not really the point for us. It's really making sure that the training occurs in the community. So we don't really track if there is any content or -- do you know what I'm saying?
4595 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Yes.
4596 MS. GUISE: So, for us, what we do with training and workshops to try to assess if they are working is attendees are surveyed. So where we control the training workshop it's much easier. When it's with a community partner we rely on them to administer those surveys and feed us back the data. So we do do that.
4597 Hard to assess, it's so subjective. But we do look at the comments and that helps us to decide if it was a, like, a success, if we want to continue having the relationship or if we feel like we need to move on maybe to a new community partner.
4598 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you very much.
4599 MS. GUISE: You're welcome.
4600 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your submissions.
4601 MR. BALKOVEC: Mr. Chairman, if I may. Legal counsel has a few questions.
4602 THE CHAIRPERSON: Pardon me. Yes, please go ahead.
4603 MR. BALKOVEC: Thank you.
4604 As just a few clarifications for things that were said earlier, you had mentioned that for the STORYHIVE selection process, for the voting that's done in the community, is that done at all through social media?
4605 MS. GUISE: It's done on our STORYHIVE platform.
4606 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay.
4607 MS. GUISE: Yeah.
4608 MR. BALKOVEC: And is there a mechanism in place to ensure that the people who are able to vote are limited to a specific geographic area?
4609 MS. GUISE: It is not geo-gated, it's open to everyone.
4610 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay. So would that include then international votes as well ---
4611 MS. GUISE: It could.
4612 MR. BALKOVEC: --- in theory? Okay.
4613 MS. GUISE: In theory it could.
4614 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay.
4615 MS. GUISE: Yeah.
4616 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And that, of course, is one of the reasons why we also have the jury process.
4617 MR. BALKOVEC: Right. Understood.
4618 Next I wanted to just briefly touch on the -- what have been called the app-based BDU services; Pik TV I think is TELUS' product. The Independent Broadcasters had expressed some concern about this platform that it could perhaps be more difficult for independent services to find themselves distributed through it. Do you have a response to those concerns?
4619 MR. PAGE: I can address that.
4620 So Pik TV was created to address the over-the-top threat, cord cutting, cord shaving. We wanted to create a packaging constraint that looked and felt more like OTT. It is a managed service through our BDU license. It's a package. That's merely all it is.
4621 If a customer wanted services that are not inside of the Pik packaging, they can go to any of our Optik packaging to be able to get those services. We do make them freely available.
4622 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And Pik TV is only available where Optik TV, so it's a spate package. And, yes, it does use a different set-top box which is perhaps more attractive to those cord cutters, cord-nevers because it is an android box that can also be used for many other things, including access to the Google PlayStore and whatnot; however, it is only available as, you know, as a separate package from Optik TV. So it is only available to -- in our Optik TV serving areas as a different type of packaging to attract a different subscriber type.
4623 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay. Thank you for that.
4624 Now to return briefly to the world of Community Television, the aggregate annual return that TELUS filed for the previous broadcasting year indicates an average cost per hour of Community programming that is -- it's higher than the BDU industry average by a fairly wide margin. I'm just wondering if you'd like to comment on that. Do you view that as a negative? If not, why?
4625 MS. GUISE: We don't view that as a negative. I don't think that we should be looking at quantity. I think we should be looking at quality. And as I mentioned in my previous comments when this question was asked of me, we are funding documentaries and, you know, personal interest stories, The Heroes Among Us. We are not setting up a camera, you know, at an event that -- a live event that lasts for a long time. So I feel like that statistic is not a negative reflection at all of what we are doing.
4626 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: It's also unclear to us whether or not other reports might include the repeats. Don't forget that on a video on-demand service there are no repeats. So what we are setting out as programming, that is the cost for that single -- you know, it's always unique programming that we are reporting.
4627 And, yes, it is a higher cost for the reasons that Kim has explained. And also, in that some of the programming is maybe shorter and, therefore, we're -- you know, there may be numerous titles within that hour of programming as well. And sometimes a 25-minute documentary has taken -- you know, is just as expensive to make as that hour-long programming. But because we don't have a wheel to fill, we don't feel the need to extend the story further than it needs to be, so the amount of time is what is needed to tell the story in a compelling way.
4628 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay. And in TELUS' view, is there a link to be drawn between the potentially high cost of programming per hour and the number of people who are granted access? Is that number perhaps lower because the cost is higher?
4629 MS. GUISE: We support as many creators as we can. We try to be as efficient with our funding as we can. We don't, as you all know, have those brick and mortar studios to upkeep and pay for, and that results in the ability to put more money on screen and to training for our community.
4630 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay.
4631 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So although that might be true, I don’t -- again, I don’t feel like it’s a negative.
4632 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay, understood. And just a final area I’d like to touch upon is Telus’ request to surrender its regional licences and be granted --undertaking specific licences. This isn't -- it’s not a topic that really any intervenors have commented on to a significant degree. So apart from Telus’ own submissions, there isn't -- one could argue that there's not a large record on this. Do you think that the record that’s before the Commission on this issue currently is sufficiently robust for them to take a fully informed decision?
4633 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes, I certainly do, because I believe that silence speaks a whole lot on this issue, that there is -- there aren’t very good arguments, if any arguments, to be made against what we’re -- we’re trying to rectify regulatory asymmetry. And frankly, that asymmetry cannot be justified. And I don’t think anyone has wanted to come forward and say, “Oh yes, keep treating Telus differently and then penalize them for bringing competition to the area.”
4634 MR. BALKOVEC: Okay, thank you for that.
4635 Those are all my questions, Mr. Chairman.
4636 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, counsel.
4637 And thank you for your submissions.
4638 Madame la secrétaire.
4639 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
4640 Je vais maintenant inviter le panel de Cogeco à prendre leur place, s'il vous plaît.
4641 Alors, Madame Dorval, quand vous serez prête, vous avez 10 minutes.
4642 Mme DORVAL: Merci.
4643 Bonjour à nouveau, Monsieur le président, Madame la vice-présidente, messieurs et madame les conseillers. Je suis Nathalie Dorval, Vice-présidente, Affaires réglementaires et droit d’auteur pour Cogeco. J’ai le plaisir aujourd’hui de vous présenter les membres de notre équipe. Immédiatement à ma gauche se trouve Tim Caddigan, Directeur principal, Programmation et relations avec les communautés pour l’Ontario; et à sa gauche, Daniel Picard, Directeur principal, Programmation et relations avec les communautés pour le Québec; à ma droite se trouve Bianca Sgambetterra, Conseillère principale, Affaires réglementaires.
4644 Nous avons suivi avec attention le déroulement de l’audience et aimerions faire un bref retour sur les commentaires et suggestions de certains intervenants en ce qui a trait aux activités de la télévision communautaire et sur les mesures d’écoute au moyen de boîtiers décodeurs. Finalement, nous aimerions clarifier notre réponse à une question de Madame Simard en ce qui a trait aux ratios de dépenses directes et indirectes qui s’appliqueront de manière prospective à nos stations de télévision communautaire.
4645 Cogeco est très fière des relations cordiales et constructives qu’elle entretient avec les communautés qu’elle dessert, ainsi qu’avec l’ensemble des organisations de télévision communautaire autonomes présentes principalement au Québec. Nous avons entendu hier les commentaires de monsieur Glen Dufresne à l’égard de la désuétude des définitions d’annonces applicables à la télévision communautaire, prévues dans le Règlement sur la distribution de radiodiffusion aux articles 30 (1) g, h et de la circulaire 348 du 27 juillet 1988 qui célébrera bientôt ses 30 ans. Nous considérons qu’une mise à jour de ces documents serait appropriée.
4647 MR. CADDIGAN: Throughout the hearing, we had the opportunity to hear intervenors who are very passionate about the community television and its programming. We understand, because we too share this passion. This is why we continue to have dedicated and distinct teams in Ontario and Quebec whose only functions are to respond to the needs of community members that live in the regions that we serve. We actively promote access opportunities and we are delighted by the community involvement in what constitutes their programming. Many access projects and ideas that we receive are of great quality, have brought great innovative ideas to the screen and have allowed alternative views to be heard. We care about our communities and we know that they too care about their community TV.
4648 We believe that being inclusive and receptive to citizens’ ideas is key to what we do. For Cogeco, a program proposed by a member of the community who is passionate about healthy eating or yoga, for example, is no less important than a more socially engaged type of programming. We want to be there for all citizens without any preference to the cause they serve or the interests they have.
4649 We respect the views of intervenors who appeared before you and who expressed their ideal vision of what community television should be. In this ideal vision, it seems that a BDU would qualify as a good community citizen only where a large number of access programming would be produced without the assistance of BDUs, referred to as C programming. The absence of a large amount of C programming would then, in this vision, result in a non-compliance that should be addressed by the Commission.
4650 However, Cogeco can offer a different perspective to the Commission as to why access programming produced without BDU assistance is not more prevalent. To start with, as the Commission knows, an access program must originate from a community member who is neither a media professional nor someone who already has access to the broadcasting system.
4651 Some of the intervenors, such as the gentleman from NewWest.tv, who cites a long career in broadcast and numerous award winning productions might own their own production equipment. However, a significant portion of access programming is sourced from citizens living in our communities whose television experience may vary, but they generally do not own their own production equipment.
4652 We believe that is part of our community mandate to assist citizens living in the regions that we serve, to provide training programs and to promote their availability. Cogeco offers access to close to 30 studios in across Ontario and Quebec where non professionals can experiment and create programming to which they own the creative control, and we can positively report that they use it. Far from considering that it is a failure of community television to have a significant amount of access programming produced with the assistance of a BDU, we consider that it is an indication that the communities that we serve are well aware of the facilities that we offer and that they enjoy using them.
4653 Cogeco finds it ironic that in the course of the review of the policy framework for community television and local programming, over 900 supporting comments were filed by citizens and groups living in the communities that we serve. And yet, we recently faced complaints about our programming from groups that live outside of the communities we serve.
4654 Cogeco participated in the Commission’s review of the policy framework for community television and adheres to the criteria it established in relation to local and access programming. Cogeco is looking for predictability on the regulatory front, and we firmly believe that the Commission should avoid re-opening debates on recent policy determinations so as to ensure stability of the licensees’ operation.
4655 We believe the Commission has an active role to play in the preliminary analysis of complaints that are filed, and that it has the ability to make determination as to their admissibility. Complaints that are on the face of it unreasonable or frivolous should be discarded, pursuant to Section 8 of the CRTC Rules of Practice and Procedure. The sheer volume of the recent audit, which was unprecedented, had a direct impact on our programming because of the resources required to answer to it. We respectfully submit that the role of monitoring compliance rests with the Commission as it always has, and should not be assumed by a self-appointed entity who took it upon themselves to monitor compliance in the absence of complaints from members of the communities we serve.
4657 M. PICARD: En ce qui concerne l'accessibilité, nous avons entendu les préoccupations exprimées, entre autres, par monsieur Christian Murphy de la Télévision communautaire de Frontenac, sur les conséquences involontaires qui pourraient découler de la condition de licence standard exigeant que 100 pour cent de la programmation communautaire soit sous-titrée d’ici à la fin de la prochaine période de licence. Cogeco partage cette inquiétude. Bien que nous ayons indiqué dans le cadre de notre renouvellement de licence, que nous accepterions la condition standard, il ne fait aucun doute qu’elle pourrait avoir une incidence négative sur le nombre d’heures de programmation mises en onde et nous ne croyons pas que ceci soit souhaitable ni dans le meilleur intérêt de nos téléspectateurs.
4658 Bien que nous demeurions déterminés à sous-titrer 100% des émissions, nous avons examiné la proposition de Shaw et nous appuyons le changement qu'ils proposent de modifier la condition de licence standard et d'en faire une attente plutôt qu’une obligation.
4660 Mme DORVAL: As for the set-top box audience measurement system, it has been discussed at length during this hearing and we wish to thank the Commission for staff participation in the working group to date and for going the extra mile this week in trying to help the industry move forward with this project.
4661 The Commission is now faced with the challenge associated with the contradictory views that participants in the working group have expressed in relation to the imposition of a condition of licence on BDUs. BDUs generally consider that it is not necessary while IBG, CBC and others consider it essential.
4662 Cogeco’s position has not changed since we appeared on Tuesday and we still believe that a condition of licence would largely be ineffective considering the inability of a single licensee to ensure the success of this collective project. In addition, we believe that a condition of licence requiring BDUs to contribute data to a national set-top box audience measurement system may be sensitive and raise privacy concerns with BDU customers and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
4663 Furthermore, while listening to CBC and IBG, we found it quite interesting to note how the programming services seem to consider that the success of this project heavily relies on the BDUs while we firmly believe that they too have a strong role to play. Would they be prepared to accept a condition of licence that would ensure that they will financially participate in the creation and implementation of a set-top box audience measurement system by September 2018?
4664 But again, in our view, the Commission should refrain altogether from imposing any condition of licence on BDUs or on programming services in relation to the implementation of a set-top box audience measurement system. Reliance on Numeris’ expertise is key in this project and while we are confident that we will collectively deliver on time on the actions described in our report recently filed with the Commission, the resulting proof of concept and the business case are too uncertain to realistically impose an obligation on BDUs to create such a system. Cogeco firmly believes that we should let Numeris work as planned and we are looking forward to the delivery of the proof of concept.
4665 Finalement, nous aimerions clarifier notre réponse à la question relative aux ratios de dépenses directes et indirectes qui s’appliqueront de manière prospective à nos stations de télévision communautaires.
4666 Nous n’avons pas été en mesure mardi dernier d’informer le Conseil de nos plans précis à l’égard des mesures envisagées car cette information est en cours d’évaluation par nos équipes. En fait, cette question spécifique nous a été demandée par le Conseil dans le cadre d’une demande de renseignements écrite reçue le 6 octobre dernier et pour laquelle la réponse est due le 27 octobre prochain. Vous pourrez donc nous lire prochainement.
4667 Nous vous remercions et serons heureux de répondre à vos questions.
4668 LE PRÉSIDENT: Madame Simard?
4669 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Alors, merci pour cette réplique. J’aurais deux questions. La première réfère au paragraphe 14, page 5, donc je vais lire :
4670 « Bien que nous demeurions déterminés à sous-titrer 100 % des émissions, nous avons examiné la proposition de Shaw et nous appuyons le changement qu'ils proposent de modifier la condition de licence standard et d'en faire une attente plutôt qu’une obligation. »
4671 Juste une petite clarification : est-ce que pour vous… en fait, vous dites une attente pour toute la durée de la licence? Parce qu’on… je veux être sûre qu’on se comprenne bien. C’est que l’obligation serait à la fin de la période de licence.
4672 M. PICARD: Oui, ce serait une attente pour, en fait, une période qu’on estime à être de sept ans.
4673 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Parfait. Excellent. Merci.
4674 Puis, my other question refers to paragraph 9, so actually I would like to take this opportunity to educate myself to know if, in the areas that you serve, is Cogeco able to satisfy the demand in terms of like production facilities? Because it is mentioned here that, you know, people use your studios so I’m just curious to have a better -- you know, to know, you know, in practice if there is a waiting list or if the studios are freely available like for these.
4675 MR. CADDIGAN: Well, I don’t know that I’d say there’s a waiting list but they’re busy, they’re active, and we’re very proud of them.
4676 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay. And does this mean that, you know, again based on your experience that there’s a lack of production facilities in the areas that you serve?
4677 MR. CADDIGAN: Well, there’s no doubt that if you look back on history there are less now than there were maybe in the ‘80s but there’s also less money to go around. We haven’t closed any studios, we don’t plan to close any studios; you know, the ones that we have, we’re maintaining them, they’re busy, they’re engaged, certainly the staff would say they’re too busy.
4678 So, I think overall, you know, we feel that they’re a tremendous success in the communities that they’re serving and that they’re, if anything, really becoming our goals, they become more crucial to those communities and become community hubs. And we talked about it on Tuesday when we appeared that we’ve rebranded the channels to even more closely reflect what we think the position of the channels are in the communities we serve.
4679 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you.
4680 MR. CADDIGAN: Thank you.
4681 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Good morning and welcome back.
4682 I just have one question and it’s related to set-top boxes -- surprise!
4683 Mme DORVAL: I am -- I am very surprised!
4684 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay.
4686 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And if others that are appearing today want to answer this question, I don’t have to ask it, they can feel free but clearly you’re not in favour of conditions of licence where we would impose a COL regarding the implementation of audience measurement systems. You said today that you’re confident in the timeline that’s been put forward. IBG and others have suggested a COL would take on December the 1st, 2018, that only provides a very short window of wiggle room after the proposed deadline, and we’ve discussed it before but I’m wondering if from an industry standpoint you can perhaps shed any amount of light on how frequently implementation deadlines end up getting extended and by how much.
4687 I think we’ve all been involved in projects that miss an implementation timeframe, it may take longer to bring potentially -- a potential new product to market. As an example, if we were to impose a COL -- again knowing that that’s not the direction you want us to go in --, what do you think is the appropriate amount of wiggle room to build in considering the complexity of what’s trying to be accomplished?
4688 Mme DORVAL: I think my answer will be disappointing to you because I frankly have no idea. It’s difficult to respond to this because, until we get a proof of concept, we have no idea what this thing is going to look like or not look like. So we’ve had these discussions this week but it’s a bit difficult to see, to -- what are we really talking about. If you’re talking about conditions of licence that will ask BDUs to engage and participate in a working group, I think none of us -- I wouldn’t want to speak for the others -- but we certainly wouldn’t have an issue with that. If you’re talking about a condition of licence to implement the system while we don’t yet know if it’s even feasible because we didn’t reach the step to get to the proof of concept, I’m -- I think we’re faced with an undertaking or an obligation that we feel at Cogeco we’re unable to achieve by ourselves.
4689 So I think it doesn’t help us and at some point it doesn’t help the Commission either because if you’re putting conditions of licence on licensees that are either unrealistic or unattainable, it kind of delude -- dilutes the meaning of these conditions of licence. We know from the get-go that we might not be able to achieve it so what’s -- I guess my question is: what’s the purpose of putting it there?
4690 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: I thank you for that response. I am, as you say, maybe a little bit disappointed but certainly -- certainly do understand it.
4691 But since you mentioned, you know, what form a condition of licence would take, the language used, I'd just -- I'd perhaps refer you back to the final statements from yesterday's transcript, and for others in the room, to perhaps suggest if we do go down that road how we may want to do that and invite you to provide comments on that.
4692 So thank you, those are my questions.
4693 MS. DORVAL: We'll certainly do. Thank you.
4694 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you.
4696 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Dupras.
4697 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes. We had IBG and Radio-Canada tell us that even if the national system is not put in place, that they'd like to have access to the set top box data.
4698 A condition of licence in that sense, is that something that you would accept?
4699 MS. DORVAL: I find it very interesting in terms of being an independent BDU that is not vertically integrated.
4700 So I guess in a sense we're a bit like IBG and Radio-Canada who are independent programming services. We're not linked with programming service, we operate a BDU and that's it. So we never had a need to measure our own programming. We don't own any.
4701 So as we said, we only use set top box data for a network management purpose. So if there was a condition asking us to provide what we have, I don't think we would have an issue with this in the sense that if we don't have anything, we wouldn't have to provide anything.
4702 But if it's a condition of licence that would force us to enter this market to provide data to someone who needs it, there's a cost associated with this for us because we don't do it.
4703 And as I said when we appeared on Tuesday, we use raw data that is not organized to this end. So it would, I guess, depend on the condition of licence.
4704 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay, but I mean I'm not sure that the condition would go to ask you to effectively transform this data in something that's valuable. I think Radio-Canada even said that even with raw data, they'd be happy because they could try internally to give a sense to that data for their purposes.
4705 MS. DORVAL: So I guess we would like to see the condition of licence and reflect on it. Maybe we can provide comments in our final writing comments on this, if that's acceptable to you?
4706 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes.
4707 MS. DORVAL: Thank you.
4709 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Or if you -- if let's say there would be a condition of licence in that sense, if you have a suggestion of what it would be, limited to what you do with data, we could always also look at this.
4710 MS. DORVAL: Yes. My hesitation just relies on the fact that when it's raw data, I'm not sure in which format we can provide this and they can make sense of it. So I think I'm questioning the usefulness of providing raw data that's not really readable.
4711 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commission Counsel.
4712 COUNSEL GAGNON: No further questions, Mr. Chair.
4713 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your participation.
4714 MS. DORVAL: Thank you to all of you.
4715 LE PRÉSIDENT: Madame la secrétaire.
4716 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci, Monsieur le président.
4717 I would now invite Ms. MacDonald to take place, and we'll hear the Reply from K-Right Communications Limited and Persona Communications Inc. (Eastlink).
4718 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning.
4719 MS. MacDONALD: Good morning.
4720 I am here today to clarify our position regarding some specific issues that were raised during the course of the week and, where appropriate, to provide our comments.
4721 As we indicated during our presentation on Monday, Eastlink’s approach is to ensure that decisions we make are practical and cost effective, with our core focus being to ensure we deliver the best products and services that we can to our customers while providing exceptional customer service.
4722 On the issue of set top box data, as we explained, Eastlink is not at the same stage as the larger BDUs. For instance, the vast majority of our set top boxes in the market cannot collect any data because the manufacturer does not make that functionally available.
4723 And for the smaller number of set top boxes that would have such capability, we would need to incur costs to obtain access to the data and then the resources to analyze it.
4724 The fact that we have not invested in the means to obtain such data demonstrates its value to us at this time is relatively low in comparison to other business priorities, such as improving our network and services. We would be concerned about any COL mandating that we undertake the work to obtain and provide set top box data in this situation.
4725 Moreover, we would have concerns that, given the limited data available on the set top boxes we do have in market, it does not represent meaningful information for programmers at this time.
4726 We will, however, continue to participate on the working group, and provide any input where we can meaningfully do so.
4727 On the issue of CACTUS’ complaints and those raised by other interveners, we are concerned that CACTUS has painted a picture that BDUs are not responsive in providing real stories of interest in our communities and we take strong objection to that. While we may provide general programs such as local cooking shows that are of interest to our community members, Eastlink has also been very involved in providing programming about important and relevant issues and concerns to our communities, and programs representative of many diverse cultures.
4728 For the benefit of this proceeding, we think it is important to highlight some of the stories we have provided either via access producers or on our own with staff and volunteers:
4729 We have a six-part series called Silent Voices of Gambling which was produced dealing with addictive gambling and how to reduce the risk within the African Nova Scotia community.
4730 Out of the Shadows. Rajean Boudreau and the Association of Black Social Workers present an eight-part series to engage African-Canadians in a dialogue on mental health, substance abuse, gambling and disabilities.
4731 Sticks and Stones. A documentary about bullying.
4732 Fallen Soldiers. A documentary on the history of Canada’s involvement in both Wars of the 20th century with profiles of Atlantic Canadian soldiers.
4733 Broken Soldiers. A documentary examining treatment of Canada’s disabled Veterans.
4734 Call Me Crazy. A documentary aimed at dispelling the common misconceptions about mental health.
4735 Beyond Boundaries. A multicultural religious programming.
4736 Silent Voices of Gambling. Bringing awareness to families about issues of compulsive gambling, featuring health professionals, community workers, and youth.
4737 Koucheh. A Farsi language program focusing on the Iranian community in Halifax Regional Municipality.
4738 Mi’kmaq Nation. Documentary exploring the rich history and culture of the Mi’kmaw People. Similarly, there was the Wabanaki Series also covering lives of its member tribes.
4739 Community Builder Awards Feature, which is an Eastlink Magazine in Sudbury, featuring support program for Indigenous authors.
4740 Hometown Stories. Features on Serpent River Pow Wow and the Cambrian College’s Indigenous fashion show.
4741 Into the studio episodes on Ukranian egg painting, and local Indigenous artist Will Morin.
4742 We also offer some French language programming in some of our systems, including in Sudbury where we offer a community produced French language church service. We have produced Northern Lights festival in French language and featuring francophone musicians. And we included French language segments in some of our programs such as Talk Nerdy.
4743 Our community TV staff engage in ways to encourage more French language programming, with staff having reached out to Théatre du Nouvel-Ontario about the possibility of producing a French-language series or including an arts update in one of our hometown stories.
4744 We met with Le ROCS, a collaborative group of French language arts stakeholders in the community, to discuss the possibility of doing a French-language series or one-off specials, or even segments in our “About Town” program.
4745 We have also reached out to several French high schools and school boards to discuss the possibility of providing coverage of events in schools.
4746 Because our staff are engaged in the communities and because we provide many avenues to encourage participation in the creation and development of content, we are very responsive to what people in our communities are looking for.
4747 And in relation to access programs, we are distributing content that community members want to produce for their communities. Again, the hundreds or so letters supporting our community channel and describing the role we play in their lives illustrates this.
4748 As to CACTUS’ request that the Commission deal with each and every complaint they filed, we have responded to those throughout the past number of months; our response to the Commission’s audit as well as addressing the significant information filed by CACTUS took a huge amount of resources, and we addressed those issues.
4749 As to the requests for more reporting, we do not support increased reporting for the sake of it; and we would have serious concerns about any requirement to provide personal information about access producers, such as their home address, on our public website. As we said Monday, we would also be concerned about placing expenditure information on a public forum given it would reveal financial information about our revenues which we would not want on the public record or in the hands of our competitors.
4750 We are willing to ensure that the forms we provide in our annual reporting to the CRTC are clear, and provide necessary and meaningful information, but we would ask that consideration be given to the impact of increased reporting on resources.
4751 As we noted on Monday, it has been over 10 years since we went through a full licence renewal process and in light of the many changes within our broadcasting system over those years, including changes to technology and increased regulatory processes and requirements the record indicates we are in fact doing quite well. In our written responses we described a number of steps we have taken to ensure ongoing compliance with our requirements.
4752 Eastlink has every intention to continue to provide high quality and relevant community programming, both local and access, to our customers, while we also continue to invest in our networks, products and services. We are asking that the Commission grant our license renewal over the next seven-year term; we also ask that the Commission grant the COLs described in our applications.
4753 Thank you.
4754 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
4755 Commissioner Vennard?
4756 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Good morning. I have a question that you might not be able to answer and if so, maybe you could just hazard a guess on it.
4757 I’m wondering if you could let us know what percentage -- and again, a guess is fine. Roughly what percentage of your programming would be documentary?
4758 MS. MacDONALD: Sure. That is not an answer I have here but I can certainly look into that and provide it.
4759 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you, by October 27th, I believe?
4760 MS. MacDONALD: Sure.
4762 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Thank you.
4763 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner MacDonald?
4764 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Good morning. This is more of a longer-term -- call it a request, call it a favour. But you've done -- you have fully explained the set-top box issue in the context of Eastlink and how your systems differ from some of the other BDUs in this process.
4765 I’m just wondering, going forward, because for all I know there could be a project underway right now to upgrade all of your set-top boxes. Would you be willing to keep the Commission informed of your progress moving forward? I’m not suggesting in any way that you may want to make certain investments. But if you do undertake a project to upgrade your set-top boxes or start analyzing this information in a more full way that you would just keep us informed?
4766 MS. MacDONALD: Certainly. I might add, just for information purposes as well -- so certainly we can do that.
4767 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you.
4768 MS. MacDONALD: And we will. But just to clarify, we are constantly working within our different communities where we have our network and we’re constantly improving our services. We do have very high quality high-definition programming services.
4769 And when it comes to upgrading even set-top boxes, there’s a significant amount of work. And I'm sure everyone can appreciate, but I just wanted to clarify because we’ve even had some efforts in small communities where we’ve had to migrate people to an HD only.
4770 And the amount involved in getting those updated set-top boxes into the communities is just -- it’s really significant in that you send out notices; you try to engage customers. Some of them just are maybe non-responsive even though they’re improving their services. There’s just months of work involved in getting those last people migrated over.
4771 So it’s a serious undertaking to replace out set-top boxes across an entire subscriber base because it’s challenging enough in, you know, a small community-by-community basis.
4772 So I wanted to just say it on the record to explain that it’s not just a matter of investing in the cost to upgrade all the boxes. There’s a whole other sequence of events across all departments -- customer care, operations, the technicians -- everything that needs to be organized and coordinated including messaging. So it’s a pretty big undertaking.
4773 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you for that. And I think that’s an interesting point to note because sometimes customers are resistant to change even when the change may be for their own benefit. So thank you for that. MS. MacDONALD: Right.
4774 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I have no further questions. Thank you very much for your submission.
4776 MR. BALKOVEC: No, we have no questions, Mr. Chairman.
4777 THE CHAIRPERSON: Then thank you and good day.
4778 MS. MacDONALD: Thank you.
4779 THE CHAIRPERSON: We will take a break until 10:30.
--- Upon recessing at 10:17 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 10:30 a.m.
4780 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madame la secrétaire?
4781 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the reply by Shaw Cable Systems Ltd./Star Choice.
4782 Please go ahead. You have 10 minutes.
4783 MR. SHAIKH: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
4784 Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name again is Dean Shaikh, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Shaw Communications. I am joined by Cynthia Wallace, Regulatory Counsel.
4785 This proceeding has confirmed Shaw’s compliance with the Commission’s policies and regulations, including: the Choice Policy, Best Practices, the Local and Community Policy and the Create Policy, which set out the requirements for a set-top box audience measurement system.
4786 With this comprehensive regulatory framework in place, competition, investment and innovation can be relied on going forward to ensure maximum choice and value.
4787 We would like to briefly reply to a few concerns raised by intervenors.
4788 Groupe Média TFO intervened in support of our application, while requesting additional carriage. We continue to believe that carriage should be commercially negotiated based on customer demand and capacity constraints. A licence renewal hearing is not the appropriate forum for those negotiations.
4789 Moreover, we would like to point out that, in Broadcasting Decision 2015-502, the Commission stated the following:
4790 TFO is a French-language service dedicated first and foremost to the Ontario population and funded for the most part by the Ontario provincial government. As an educational service, it benefits from mandatory distribution on the basic service in its originating province.
4791 TFO is subject to neither a condition of licence regarding the production of original Canadian programs outside the originating province nor a condition of licence requiring it to serve Other Language Minority Communities outside Ontario.
4792 In denying the must-offer application by TFO, the Commission, as a federal institution, took into consideration the objectives set out in the Official Languages Act. The current carriage of TFO by Shaw Cable is consistent with the Commission’s previous well-reasoned determinations. As we indicated to TFO in our letter, we are always striving to maximize customer choice and diversity and we would be happy to continue the dialogue for expanded distribution on Shaw Direct.
4793 Regarding our community channels, we were very encouraged by CACTUS’ opening statement that their goal is to work with BDUs “and with the CRTC to ensure that the full benefits of the CRTC's community TV policies are realized.”
4794 Shaw has a very positive and productive relationship with the vast majority of our access partners as evidenced by the overwhelming number of producers, volunteers and viewers who intervened in support of Shaw TV. We are optimistic that there will be opportunities to similarly collaborate with CACTUS’ members over the next licence term.
4795 At the same time, the oral interventions of CACTUS, NewWest.tv and others helped confirm the importance of continued BDU stewardship. NewWest.tv rejected content like yoga, cooking, talk shows and sports. In fact, this content is valued and appreciated by viewers and access producers. Our balanced approach also includes the socially important programming recommended by CACTUS, NewWest.tv and others.
4796 For example, Let Me Speak – Stop Racism provided a forum for Aboriginal women to talk about social justice issues in support of Reconciliation.
4797 The Fentanyl Crisis probed the crisis of drug deaths on Vancouver Island.
4798 Community Producers recently featured Anawim House, a transitional house with a collaborative arts program for homeless individuals dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues.
4799 And Global Village provides a topical discussion for new Canadians in southeast Alberta.
4800 We are also very proud of certain Shaw-produced original programming. We created a dedicated channel and sent several producers from Edmonton to Fort McMurray during the wildfires. Shaw TV provided regular updates from the Mayor, first responders and utility companies. We also told personal stories about how community members were impacted.
4801 These are just a few examples in support of our position that Shaw TV provides the best balance of locally relevant original and access programming
4802 that serves the needs of our communities.
4803 The intervention of the Vancouver Centre Electoral District Association also requires some clarification. The Green Party expressed its concern with the grant of free air time, which took place across several channels during the 2015 federal election.
4804 Consistent with the Commission’s guidelines, time was made available for use, freely and without the intervention of Shaw, to all political parties and rival candidates on an equitable basis.
4805 However, Shaw subsequently received a caution from the Commissioner of Elections Canada which explained that free studio and airtime amounted to a non-monetary contribution, raising concerns under the Canada Elections Act. Accordingly, Shaw has discontinued that practice.
4806 Next we would like to discuss the issues surrounding the initiative to create a set-top box audience measurement system.
4807 Shaw continues to favour a prudent and cooperative process. Some of the statements by intervenors demonstrate our concerns and help to explain our resistance to conditions of licence.
4808 During its appearance, CBC suggested that COLs would not be burdensome because they could be amended or deleted administratively. In fact, the administrative process is reserved for only certain types of applications. Any changes to the COLs proposed in this proceeding would require another public process, creating more regulatory uncertainty.
4809 Both CBC and IBG seemed to dismiss the costs associated with the collection of set-top box data, even questioning whether cost recovery was appropriate. Clearly, BDUs must reserve the ability to negotiate appropriate commercial terms that will govern the sharing of proprietary data and to decide not to participate in the Numeris initiative if the costs outweigh incremental benefits.
4810 APTN expressed its hope that an audience measurement system would, I quote, “identify or target Aboriginal Peoples”, which raises concerns about both unrealistic expectations and our customers’ privacy.
4811 Each of these concerns suggest the need for continued BDU flexibility that may be undermined by a COL.
4812 Notwithstanding these concerns, we promised that we would work collaboratively with the Commission. Therefore, we will consider whether we can provide language for a COL governing the audience measurement system that would provide a necessary balance.
4813 However, we remain strongly opposed to a COL that would require the sharing of set-top box data with broadcasters. While the audience measurement system is rooted in a policy decision, there is no policy basis for a COL requiring the direct sharing of data with broadcasters. This request far exceeds the scope of the Commission’s decision in the Create Policy. At the same time, we remain more than willing to negotiate commercial arrangements for the sharing of set-top box data.
4814 Finally, regarding PSAs, we would like to thank the Commission for the attention given to our proposal in this proceeding and we reiterate our request to expeditiously amend the General Authorization.
4815 The evidence in this proceeding and the overwhelming level of support from intervenors demonstrate Shaw’s commitment to customer choice, investment, innovation and regulatory compliance over the previous licence term and going forward. Accordingly, Shaw strongly and respectfully requests a full term seven-year renewal.
4816 We thank you for this opportunity to provide our reply comments, and we look forward to answering any additional questions.
4817 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your reply comments.
4818 Commissioner MacDonald?
4819 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Good morning. Welcome back.
4820 I just have a few questions, a couple of them stemming from your opening remarks today.
4821 On the first page of your comments, you said:
4822 "We continue to believe that carriage should be commercially negotiated based on customer demand and capacity constraints."
4823 And that was in the context of the TFO service.
4824 Just for our education, can you educate us on what would actually be required to address any capacity issues you might have, what would be required on Shaw's part to be able to offer -- provide additional capacity to TFO or enable other services to be aired?
4825 MR. SHAIKH: Thank you for that question.
4826 And when we appeared before you earlier this week, we committed to file as an undertaking an explanation of some of our capacity constraints.
4827 So currently, we're in a situation where capacity on the existing platform is severely constrained and most of our efforts going forward will be in the IPTV space. Beyond that, I'd like to file further explanation confidentially.
4828 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Perfect. Thank you for that.
4829 And we might have discussed this earlier in the week as well, but on page 5 this morning you reiterated that you remain strongly opposed to condition of licence that would require the sharing of set-top box data with broadcasters.
4830 Can you refresh my memory what your viewpoint is with respect to sharing that information without a condition of licence should you receive such a request?
4831 MR. SHAIKH: Yeah. And as we said, we haven't received a request from any independent broadcaster for that sharing of data.
4832 There's actually an interest in doing so. I mean, there's a potential to commercialize this data as has been done south of the border.
4833 I think there are real opportunities to sit down with broadcasters and discuss, as the IBG suggested, the modalities of that sharing, but that absolutely has to be part of the commercial negotiation and the data is our property.
4834 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Perfect.
4835 I've got a couple questions with respect to your views on TELUS' position, and I understand from discussions with Ms. Mainville-Neeson earlier this week that you and I may be chatting more frequently than perhaps we have in the past, so I welcome that.
4836 But TELUS has suggested that they are disadvantaged in their serving territory due to the regional licensing regime. And I'd like to invite you to share your comments on that.
4837 MR. SHAIKH: It's never been Shaw's approach, typically, to intervene against others' applications, including, in this case, one of our competitors. I will say a couple things.
4838 The licensing regime is based on the historical basis on which these systems were initially granted licences, and sometimes expanded by acquisition.
4839 We definitely want to preserve the existing approach to exempting systems under 20,000.
4840 It's also notable that TELUS made its case based principally on regulatory symmetry, or asymmetry. However, because of the historical difference in the way cable licensees entered the market and now how TELUS has entered the market, it has advantages in terms of how it offers a community channel. And I think that was discussed at great length in terms of how they have offered a VOD channel, and they're not seeking regulatory symmetry in that respect.
4841 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: If we were to make a change as TELUS requests, do you consider that to be a policy change or any type of departure to our existing licence -- regional licensing policies or how we have historically carved out regional licences for BDUs?
4842 MR. SHAIKH: I'll say this. I don't think there should be any policy change to the historical approach to licensing and exempting BDUs.
4843 Again, I don't like the idea of criticizing others' applications.
4844 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Thank you for that, and my apologies for putting you in a situation where you may be commenting on one of your competitors' proposals.
4845 Those are my questions for today. Thank you.
4846 MR. SHAIKH: Thank you.
4847 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Dupras?
4848 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thank you.
4849 Good morning.
4850 MR. SHAIKH: Good morning.
4851 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: In your response concerning capacity constraints you have with TFO, can you also provide us with what measures would Shaw have to take in the event the Commission were to require the distribution of TFO?
4852 MR. SHAIKH: Sure. And we'll give that some consideration.
4853 You can imagine that my position is that the Commission should not take any measures to require the distribution of TFO. That was already thoughtfully considered in their must offer application. That was denied, and we think it would be actually a very dangerous precedent if intervenors thought they could take advantage of a licence renewal proceeding to argue for and then receive carriage.
4854 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. We hear you, but technically, what measures would have to be taken by Shaw?
4855 MR. SHAIKH: We will provide an answer in our undertaking.
4856 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. And in our discussion earlier this week about the Comcast X1 platform that you have implemented, you indicated that in order to receive the X1 service subscribers may have to also subscribe to the BDU internet service.
4857 Are there any technical or other reasons why these two service have to be bundled?
4858 MR. SHAIKH: Yes, there are. There are business technical customer care reasons why we sell BlueSky with Internet 150, and I think soon Internet 75.
4859 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Well, can you elaborate on this?
4860 MR. SHAIKH: I can elaborate hopefully by way of undertaking because that is, again, dealing with commercially sensitive information involving not just our own platform but Comcast's proprietary platform.
4861 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. So you will elaborate on any technical or other reasons why the service needs to be bundled?
4862 MR. SHAIKH: I'd be happy to.
4864 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And is that something that -- we heard from Rogers that in the beginning it would be required. That was their answer yesterday. Is that something that is going to be temporary, will eventually -- that the service may be offered without bundling of the internet?
4865 MR. SHAIKH: I can say that the current thinking is that this is not a temporary approach. Beyond that we're talking about a forward looking business plan that's also highly commercially sensitive.
4866 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. And why would a subscriber with a third-party ISP be prevented from subscribing to a BDU X1 television service?
4867 MR. SHAIKH: Again, there are legitimate technical and customer care reasons. I mean, we have to -- I mean, I can say on the record, certainly, in terms of offering customer care and ensuring the quality of that service, the robustness of that service to ensure that there's no issues with delivery of all the internet delivered features, it's critical to have BlueSky bundled with Shaw internet.
4868 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. As an undertaking, can you also provide a description of how the X1 service is or will be provided, specifically describe how and which parts of the service are located in Canada and in the United States? Also, describe what aspects of the service remain under the control of Comcast, including a description of what information Comcast may have access to regarding the service offered by your undertakings? For example, do they have access to any customer information or any information on the programming services that are provided over the platform, et cetera? Finally, explain why the Commission should not be concerned with how the service is being implemented.
4869 MR. SHAIKH: We can take that as an undertaking.
4871 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. And similar questions will be addressed to Rogers and have been addressed in writing to Videotron.
4872 MR. SHAIKH: Thank you.
4873 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thank you very much.
4874 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner?
4875 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: I have very quick questions about the studios that Shaw have. So how many studios does Shaw have available to the public?
4876 MR. SHAIKH: I want to make sure I give you the exact numbers.
4877 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: But just -- I just want to have an idea like.
4878 MR. SHAIKH: So, I mean, it's -- you know, it's in the neighbourhood of around 30 studios.
4879 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay.
4880 MR. SHAIKH: But I'm not sure that's the exact number. And in addition to that, we have mobile studios and flight paths.
4881 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay. And I'm interested to have an idea of how busy they are. Like, are they, like, very used by the public and the ---
4882 MR. SHAIKH: Yeah, I would say our Access producer partners and volunteers really value the use and availability of our studios, both fixed based studios and mobile studios.
4883 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Okay. Good. Thank you very much.
4884 THE CHAIRPERSON: I have no other questions. Thank you very much for your reply and submissions.
4885 MR. SHAIKH: Thank you.
4886 COMMISSIONER SIMARD: Thank you. I will now invite Rogers Communications.
4887 (SHORT PAUSE)
4888 THE SECRETARY: Ladies and gentlemen, when you are ready, please go ahead.
4889 MR. WATT: Good afternoon Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chair and Commissioners. I am David Watt. I am Senior Vice President, Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer at Rogers.
4890 To my left is Julie Henson, General Manager Rogers TV, and to her left is Charles Wechsler, Senior Manager, Distribution and Compliance, Rogers TV. To my right are Pam Dinsmore, Vice President, Regulatory Cable; Jon Medline, Senior Vice President, Content; and Peter Kovacs, Director, Regulatory Content Distribution and Broadband Policy. And behind me are Dilhan Kamalendaran, Director, Programming and Operations; and Ruth Altman, Senior Manager, Regulatory.
4891 Rogers appreciates this opportunity to respond orally to the comments made by interveners over the past two days. We want to start by thanking the Fédération culturelle canadienne-française and the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadiennes du Canada for attending the hearing yesterday and for supporting the renewal of our licences in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. Their support for our authority to offer English and French-language channels in Ottawa and Moncton is further evidence that the communities we serve value the programming we offer.
4892 We also heard some negative comments from a few interveners regarding the operation of our community channels. Given their interventions and complaints over the last decade, it is pretty clear that CACTUS, the CMAC and a few others have an agenda to undermine the community television framework. It does not seem to matter how many times we refute their allegations about our community programming and provide a detailed response demonstrating that their analysis is severely flawed and misleading. They always seem to reappear in the next proceeding and make the same unsubstantiated claims about our community channels.
4893 So, let’s be clear. Rogers operates our community channels in full compliance with the Commission’s rules and regulations. In every cable system and in every serving area, we meet or exceed the local and access programming requirements that apply to us. There is nothing that CACTUS or anyone else has said or filed in this proceeding that proves otherwise.
4894 We do recognize the need for standardized reporting on the community programming BDUs offer. With that in mind, we propose that the Commission initiate a follow-up written consultation to address this. It would not be an opportunity to re-open the community television policy, which itself just established the new reporting requirements on BDUs. It would simply address the narrow issue of standardizing reporting information.
4896 MS. HENSON: Rogers was surprised to hear some of these interveners accuse us of providing false and inaccurate information to the Commission. That accusation is, again, unfounded.
4897 CACTUS itself admitted that when it filed its complaints last year, it was unaware of the unique local and access programming requirements established for our community channels in Atlantic Canada. A party that makes such serious accusations of non-compliance should understand our baseline requirements. The decisions containing the CRTC’s requirements are available on the Commission’s website and have been discussed at a number of other proceedings, including the TV policy reviews held in 2010 and 2016.
4898 We are proud of our community channels. We remain focused on ensuring their vitality in small and medium-sized markets, where our community programming is needed most. We will continue to carry out our commitment to those communities in our next licence term.
4900 MS. DINSMORE: We listened to the intervention of CHCO yesterday and heard the exchange with Commissioner MacDonald. We investigated internally whether it was possible to provide the CHCO low-power television station beyond St. Andrews to the neighbouring communities of St. Stephen and St. George. On an exceptional and voluntary basis, we will provide them with distribution in these two exempt systems by the end of the year. We talked to them last night and have come to an understanding.
4902 MR. KOVACS: When we appeared before you on Monday, we said that a new set-top box audience based measurement system would only proceed if there was a business case for implementing such a system. The decision as to whether there is a business case will ultimately be made by the Numeris board. Numeris is the expert. It is comprised of and represents broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies. It will know whether a viable and effective system can be implemented.
4903 That is why Rogers opposes proposals by the CBC and the Independent Broadcasters Group to impose a condition of licence on BDUs to implement the new system.
4904 It is not within the control of any BDU to determine whether this system moves forward. Both the CBC and IBG acknowledge that with the Work Plan in place and Numeris leading the way, there is a clear path to implementation. Given this, the most the Commission should do in this proceeding is establish an expectation that each licensee will sign a letter of intent to work with Numeris to complete the proof of concept assessment and commit to the milestones in the Work Plan.
4906 MR. MEDLINE: There has also been a request by the CBC and IBG for the Commission to impose some form of suspensive condition of license requiring BDUs to provide set-top box data to individual programmers. Such a condition is unnecessary and unwarranted.
4907 From time to time, we have been asked by Canadian programmers to provide set-top box data in order to help them improve their programming offering. We have agreed to these requests subject to a non-disclosure agreement. Typically, a data team pulls the aggregated data, and then we organize it for the service into an understandable and anonymized format or chart. But, we do not have any standard spreadsheets or reports for this kind of data. Each request is done on an ad hoc basis.
4908 Collecting and organizing it in an understandable form takes time and effort. It is not sitting on a shelf or in some computer file. There are no automatic reports on a per-service basis. We have to create them.
4909 In the absence of any evidence that programmers are experiencing problems obtaining total aggregate viewing minutes and distinct tuning data from us, we do not see any reason to impose a condition requiring us to provide this information.
4910 And with respect to local avails, when the Commission amended the local avails policy in 2015 as part of the Let’s Talk TV proceeding, it had two unintended consequences that have undermined the value of the local avails to the broadcasting system.
4911 The first is the new restriction that allows programming services to promote only first-run, original Canadian content on the local avails. This has unnecessarily and significantly narrowed the types of promotional material that could be included in the avails. As you have heard, it resulted in valuable time being unsubscribed and underused.
4912 The second consequence was that many charities and government entities that had previously used the local avails to provide PSAs had no ability to use the unsubscribed time.
4913 So we propose that the Commission revert back to the previous policy with priority being given to the promotion of original, first-run Canadian programming. Any remaining time should be available to Canadian radio and television programming services, charities and government entities on a cost-recovery basis.
4914 MR. WATT: Finally, Rogers is requesting to renew our licenses for a full seven-year term. We believe the regulatory certainty and stability provided by a seven-year license is essential in a rapidly involving [sic] broadcasting where BDUs must continue to make substantial capital investments.
4915 Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to comment on a number of the issues raised by interveners. We'd be happy to answer any further questions you may have.
4916 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
4917 COMMISSIONER VENNARD: Good morning. I had a couple of questions for you on Saint Andrews but I see that you have resolved that issue yourself, so I have no further questions for you.
4918 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner MacDonald?
4919 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Good morning. Welcome back.
4920 It may surprise you to know that I have no questions on the set-top box issue or other issues, so you're off the hook there.
4921 But I thought as a resident of Atlantic Canada and its representative on the Commission, I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the efforts you're making to accommodate the requests that have been made from the residents of Atlantic Canada within your serving territory. So thank you for that.
4922 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Dupras?
4923 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And I'm going to ask questions as we asked Shaw, do you agree to provide also a description in an undertaking?
4924 MR. WATT: Yes, we will provide that undertaking.
4926 MR. WATT: But if I may, can I speak on the topic?
4927 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes, go ahead.
4928 MR. WATT: So as you pointed out when we were here on Monday, we indicated that at the outset we would require that Rogers' internet service be tied to the IPTV service. And really, we remain silent then on what our plans were after that. You could, by inference, have assumed, and I think you probably correctly did, that we would later, once the system has stabilized, we were sure that it worked, make available an opportunity for customers of our X1 IPTV service to take internet -- to not take internet service or take internet service from another company.
4929 Now, we don't know why anyone would want to do that because, quite frankly, the attraction and the power of the X1 IPTV service lies in its -- the integrated features that come from the internet and the television offering. For example, the Netflix would be, for example, right on the box. It would be integrated searches into the web, et cetera, things we will describe further in the undertaking, but many of these things you can see in the United States with the offering there.
4930 Now, I do draw the same distinction that I did on Monday, which is that the offering we will be putting in the market will be the full internet protocol technology, the full IP. It will not be a hybrid sort of six megahertz traditional cable offering with IP which is what is in market today; hence, the absolute need to have this clearly a transitional period.
4931 Now, as I said, we don't see why anybody would want to take a service without having our integrated internet. But if, once it is stabilized, someone does want to take another internet service, I want to be clear that that internet service would be standalone. It would not be integrated into Rogers IPTV service. So if that customer wished to receive, using Netflix as the example, that would be not through our set-top box. That would be entirely through their computer, through their internet solution, because the TV service is our service.
4932 We -- as you know, we spent roughly $500 million trying to develop an IP service of our own. This is critically important to Rogers. It is a difficult competitive environment now and it's only going to become more difficult. We want to succeed. I think we believe you want us to succeed. We fully participate within the broadcasting system.
4933 So what I'm trying to make here is that we believe there should be no regulatory that diminishes or harms our ability to be a very effective competitor with our IPTV service.
4934 Should an independent ISP wish to develop their own television service, they're free to do that. You know, V-Media has a television offering in the market today. You'll see on the website. V-Media television service requires V-Media internet. Now, that internet is provided through the -- over the facilities of either Bell or -- I shouldn't say Bell, that's in Ontario -- either Bell or Rogers will be other companies elsewhere. But that is the opportunity for those entities to compete in the television market. The opportunity does not lie in trying to make use of our television offering.
4935 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thank you.
4936 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for that. Thank you for that clarification and for your reply and submissions. Thank you.
4937 MR. WATT: Thank you very much.
4938 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Alors je vais maintenant inviter les gens de Vidéotron à venir prendre place, s’il vous plaît.
4939 Vous pouvez y allez, Madame Tabet.
4940 Mme TABET: Monsieur le président, Madame la vice-présidente, Madame la conseillère et Messieurs les conseillers et membres du personnel, bonjour. Je m'appelle Peggy Tabet et je suis Vice-présidente, Affaires réglementaires, Radiodiffusion de Québecor Média. Je suis accompagnée aujourd’hui de Steve Desgagné, Directeur principal de MAtv.
4941 Nous remercions le Conseil de nous donner l’occasion de répondre à certaines interventions effectuées dans le cadre de la présente audience portant sur le renouvellement des licences de Vidéotron.
4942 Nous tenons d’abord à remercier les intervenants qui ont appuyé les initiatives proposées par Vidéotron, ainsi que ceux qui ont reconnu l’implication de MAtv au sein des communautés desservies. Nous souhaitons également répondre à certaines préoccupations soulevées durant l’audience. Sans prétendre couvrir exhaustivement l’ensemble des interventions, nous tâcherons de répondre aux principaux commentaires visant Vidéotron, en traitant essentiellement de la conformité de MAtv et du système de mesure de l’auditoire au moyen des données provenant des boitiers décodeurs.
4943 M. DESGAGNÉ: Certains groupes ont émis des inquiétudes, voire même des allégations graves, à l’égard de la conformité de MAtv par rapport aux exigences qui lui incombent. Ainsi, Vidéotron voudrait rassurer à nouveau ces intervenants à l’effet que MAtv respecte en tous points la réglementation applicable à la télévision communautaire.
4944 Nous avons décrit et discuté longuement des différentes initiatives que nous avons mises en place depuis 2015, et ce, entre autres, avec l’aide du personnel du Conseil. Nous sommes très fiers des accomplissements de MAtv à ce jour.
4945 Concernant le financement des télévisions communautaires, les TCA, rappelons qu’aucune obligation réglementaire n’exige que Vidéotron accorde une somme d’argent spécifique à une TCA exploitée dans une zone de desserte où MAtv est présente. En fait, l’aide financière que fournit Vidéotron aux TCA depuis plusieurs années constitue une contribution tout à fait volontaire. Elle témoigne, à notre sens, d’un engagement continu envers elles et de notre confiance que leur apport est bénéfique pour nos abonnés. Il s’agit d’un moyen de collaboration entre Vidéotron et les TCA qui vise à fournir aux téléspectateurs une programmation locale qui reflète adéquatement leurs intérêts.
4946 Toutefois, il est important de ne pas confondre cette bonne foi avec une condition de licence ou exigence réglementaire. Ceci étant dit, nous réitérons que nous sommes toujours ouverts aux discussions afin d’accommoder du mieux que nous pouvons les demandes des TCA partenaires de Vidéotron.
4947 En ce qui à trait aux exigences relatives à la programmation, certains se sont basés sur une mauvaise compréhension de la réglementation et sur une fausse catégorisation des émissions, pour en arriver à une conclusion de non-conformité de MAtv à l’égard des seuils de programmation d’accès.
4948 Or, comme nous l’avons mentionné lors de notre présentation initiale, nous avons déjà démontré au Conseil, émission par émission et zone par zone, que MAtv dépassait l’exigence réglementaire de présenter 50 pour cent de programmation d’accès dans les zones de desserte visées. Il n’est clairement pas suffisant de consulter le site internet de MAtv et de se baser sur des données vagues ou incomplètes pour juger de la conformité de celle-ci. Il convient absolument de se référer aux registres officiels soumis par Vidéotron auprès du Conseil qui répertorient l’ensemble des émissions diffusées par MAtv en identifiant de manière précise quelles émissions sont locales ou d’accès. La conformité de MAtv aux exigences de programmation d’accès se serait avérée évidente si un tel travail avait dûment été accompli.
4949 D’ailleurs, nous notons qu’aucun argument constructif n’a été fourni par TVCI lors de la période de questions visant à connaître ses propositions concrètes quant à la programmation de MAtv. TVCI se contentait de répéter que les fonds de la télévision communautaire devraient leur revenir, et ce, en refusant de reconnaître la conformité de MAtv. Il est important pour Vidéotron de continuer à construire sur des bases solides et transparentes, et non de déconstruire comme TVCI souhaiterait.
4950 En matière d’accessibilité, Vidéotron a proposé une solution de rechange pour le sous-titrage qui répond aux préoccupations des TCA qui craignent devoir sous-titrer les émissions qu’elles fournissent aux MAtv. La solution que nous avons mise de l’avant consiste à consacrer au sous-titrage 3 pour cent du budget total des télévisions communautaires de Vidéotron qui serait consacré aux émissions locales et d’accès, incluant celles produites par les TCA et diffusées sur les ondes des MAtv, tout en excluant celles qui sont en direct. Ainsi, au moins 80 pour cent de la programmation de MAtv qui n’est pas en direct serait sous-titrée.
4951 En ce qui concerne la diffusion en haute définition des TCA, comme nous l’avons déjà souligné, la transition devrait être terminée d’ici août 2018 pour toutes les TCA distribuées par Vidéotron dans la région de Montréal.
4952 Mme TABET: S’agissant du système de mesure de l’auditoire au moyen de boitiers décodeurs, Vidéotron réitère son engagement de continuer à s’impliquer activement au sein du groupe de travail dans l’objectif de faire avancer le projet.
4953 Certains intervenants ont proposé que les télédistributeurs soient assujettis à une condition de licence leur imposant une date précise concernant la mise en œuvre du système de mesure. Comme nous l'avons déjà mentionné, cette condition n’est pas souhaitable et serait inefficace, puisque l’aboutissement d’un projet d’une telle envergure ne dépend pas uniquement de Vidéotron. Il est tributaire de la volonté et de l’implication de tous les participants au groupe, ainsi que du respect des engagements pris par Numeris.
4954 Nous tenons à rappeler que le Canada est le premier pays à tenter la création d’un système qui s’appuie sur une mesure unique de l’auditoire. Par conséquent, les participants doivent procéder à l’avancement du projet de façon prudente et méthodique.
4955 En ce qui concerne l’utilisation effectuée par Vidéotron des données d’écoute des boitiers décodeurs, nous réitérons que nous n’utilisons ces données que pour la saine gestion du réseau et pour l’amélioration de la qualité de nos produits. Ces données, basées sur un échantillon très limité, ne sont pas partagées avec les services de programmation.
4956 Pour conclure, nous demandons au Conseil de bien vouloir renouveler les licences de Vidéotron pour un terme complet de sept ans.
4957 Nous vous remercions de votre attention et sommes prêts à répondre à vos questions.
4958 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci beaucoup.
4959 Commissionner Dupras.
4960 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Bonjour, j’ai juste une question sur le Comité consultatif. On nous a dit hier - CMAC et TVCI - qui a environ 500 projets qui sont présentés, mais qui en a juste une cinquantaine qui aboutissent devant le Comité consultatif. Est-ce que vous pourriez élaborer là sur quels sont les filtres que vous appliquez là pour déterminer quels projets doivent être présentés au Comité facultatif?
4961 M. DESGAGNÉ: Y a 500 projets qui nous ont été soumis, ce 500 là c'est sur une période de trois... de 2015 jusqu’à aujourd’hui on pourrait dire. Puis y a... en fait, le filtre est basé sur les critères de conformité. Donc ce qu’on regarde quand on reçoit un projet c’est est-ce que les critères de base concernant la conformité pour la télévision communautaire sont là.
4962 On en rejette plusieurs parce qui a des projets qui nous sont par exemple présentés par des professionnels de la télé, ça on les rejette; des gens qui sont pas dans la zone de desserte, on va les rejeter aussi; des projets qui... des projets qui sont pas d’intérêt local aussi on va les rejeter. Fait qui a beaucoup de gens peut-être qui comprenaient pas comme il faut la conformité, en tout cas la... tout l’aspect réglementaire de la télévision communautaire. Mais comme je vous disais lundi, ça ça s’améliore de plus en plus parce qu’on a travaillé fort pour faire une meilleure promotion de la télévision communautaire, la faire connaître, puis faire voir c’est quoi exactement la télévision communautaire.
4963 Donc, plus ça va... j’imagine, parce que là on constate que dans les derniers mois on a reçu beaucoup plus de projets qui étaient... qui pouvaient se conformer. Donc si je reviens aux 500 projets dans les trois dernières années, oui, effectivement, y en a plusieurs qu’on a rejeté. Y en a 58 qu’on a soumis au Comité consultatif, sur les 58 ils nous ont fait 26 recommandations positives. Et nous, sur les recommandations qu’on a faites, on a décidé d’en produire 15. Les 15 qu’on a produits parce que eux nous avaient soumis des recommandations positives, les autres on les a rejetés pour des raisons d’axe de programmation, mais aussi pour des raisons budgétaires. Parce que vous comprenez qu’avec 500 projets... mais même avec une cinquantaine de projets qu’on reçoit, on peut pas tous les faire, on a quand même des capacités de production limitées.
4964 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et parmi les projets qui se qualifient, est-ce que y’en a plus que 50? Je veux dire y’en a 50 qui aboutissent devant le comité consultatif, mais est-ce qu’il y a plus que 50 projets qui se qualifient aux critères de conformité?
4965 M. DESGAGNÉ: Dans le 500 que je vous parlais, oui, y’en avait plus que 50 qui se conformaient, mais on peut pas tous les faire.
4966 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Puis ensuite, y’avait une question de budget là?
4967 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui, une question de budget.
4968 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: On peut pas tous les faire, mais là, le choix parmi ceux qui se qualifient se fait comment par Vidéotron parmi les projets?
4969 M. DESGAGNÉ: Nous, dans les projets qu’on reçoit, on regarde tout le temps est-ce que y’en a beaucoup aussi qui se qualifieraient, mais malheureusement c’est déjà des axes de programmation qu’on couvre. Comme, par exemple, si y’a une émission sur le arts et culture locale dans ce créneau-là, puis souvent on va en avoir deux ou trois là-dedans déjà en développement ou déjà en ondes même, c’est sûr que les projets qui nous sont présentés dans cette catégorie-là, on va les mettre de côté, malheureusement. C’est pas parce qu’ils sont pas intéressants, mais à un moment donné on veut donner la chance à d’autres de faire de la télé avec nous, donc on va peut-être à ce moment-là regarder des projets qui sont nouveaux, des thèmes qu’on n’a pas dans notre programmation.
4970 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: OK. Je vous remercie.
4971 M. DESGAGNÉ: Merci.
4972 LE PRÉSIDENT: Madame Simard.
4973 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Bonjour.
4974 J’ai une question additionnelle. Alors, je vous réfère à la page 3 de votre présentation écrite, votre document écrit, et c'est concernant le sujet du sous-titrage. Donc, vous dites qu’avec votre demande, y’aurait au moins 80 % de la programmation de MAtv qui n’est pas en direct qui serait sous-titrée. Alors, j’aimerais avoir une proportion, c'est-à-dire des émissions en direct par rapport à celles qui sont en différé.
4975 M. DESGAGNÉ: On a calculé… on a calculé qu’on a à peu près 30… entre 30 et 35 % actuellement, selon la production qu’on fait, selon les choix de programmation qu’on a faits. Présentement, entre 30 et 35 % de notre programmation est en direct.
4976 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Puis on parle de quelles émissions? Pourriez-vous nous donner des exemples?
4977 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ben, par exemple, y’a le hockey, la Ligue junior majeure du Québec qu’on fait; y’a les bingos, évidemment les bingos faut que ça soit en direct; les messes, y’a plusieurs régions au Québec où on propose la messe quotidiennement aux personnes âgées qui ne peuvent pas se déplacer, puis certaines régions, c’est la messe du lundi au samedi, y’en a pas… souvent y’en a pas le dimanche, donc c’est… puis ça, c’est demi-heures, des fois des heures de programmation pour chaque messe.
4978 LE JUGE SMITH: Puis les cotes d’écoute, encore une fois pour me donner une idée là au niveau des…
4979 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ça, Madame Simard, j’ai pas cette donnée-là.
4980 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Mais est-ce que c’est vos émissions les plus populaires, moyennement populaires?
4981 M. DESGAGNÉ: Je dirais… je vous dirais que ça peut être populaire. Évidemment, le bingo là, c’est… ça peut être populaire, les messes aussi, le hockey aussi. C’est… oui, ça peut être des émissions parmi les plus populaires.
4982 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Puis évidemment, on parle de sous-titrage, c’est pour évidemment répondre à des besoins de personnes malentendantes. Puis j’essaie de faire le lien là, est-ce que justement ces émissions-là ne sont-elles pas regardées surtout par les gens qui ont ce besoin-là de sous-titrage?
4983 M. DESGAGNÉ: On pourrait effectivement conclure que la messe, par exemple, ça peut être des personnes âgées qui ont des… qui s’en vont vers des problèmes de surdité ou autre chose qui fait qu’ils pourraient avoir le sous-titrage, effectivement.
4984 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: OK. J’aurais une question également concernant les comités consultatifs. Vous avez peut-être expliqué ou donné déjà cette information-là, mais elle m’a échappé. Comment choisissez-vous les membres qui sont… qui sont donc membres de ces comités consultatifs là?
4985 M. DESGAGNÉ: Nous, on a… d’abord, ce qu’on regarde, c’est les sphères qu’on veut couvrir, donc des gens par exemple de l’économie sociale, les arts, la culture, la communauté anglophone, la communauté autochtone. Donc, on s’est donné neuf… si on peut dire, neuf thèmes qu’on veut couvrir dans notre… qui est représentatif de la communauté, donc on regarde dans ces neuf sphères-là les personnes qui pourraient bien représenter les citoyens. Donc, on en contacte puis on les invite à participer au comité consultatif.
4986 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Donc, y’a une diversité.
4987 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui, absolument. Ça, c’est primordial, le comité consultatif a été bâti pour ça. Comme je vous disais aussi lundi, un des trois volets de participation, c’est… pour le comité consultatif, c’est d’assurer que la programmation de MAtv, qu’on assure une certaine représentativité de l’ensemble de la communauté, donc si on a un comité consultatif qui est représentatif de ces différentes communautés-là, ben, on s’assure… ça nous donne une espèce de rempart là pour assurer la diversité de notre programmation.
4988 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Si je me rappelle bien, on parle d’une durée d’en moyenne deux ans.
4989 M. DESGAGNÉ: On le propose deux ans, puis y’en a qui sont restés un petit peu moins, puis y’en a, je pense, qui vont peut-être rester un petit peu plus.
4990 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: On peut reconduire?
4991 M. DESGAGNÉ: Oui.
4992 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Et puis leur pouvoir, évidemment, c’est de recommandation.
4993 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ça reste un comité consultatif.
4994 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Oui.
4995 M. DESGAGNÉ: Comme le Conseil nous le demandait, comme le CRTC demandait de faire, de créer un comité consultatif. C'est ce qu’on a fait.
4996 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Parfait. Ma dernière question, c’est pour… je profite de l’occasion pour encore une fois m’éduquer là sur les besoins sur le terrain en termes d’accès aux studios de production. Comment ça se passe chez vous pour cet accès-là? Est-ce que… est-ce que y’a… on parlait tantôt, est-ce que c'est bien occupé? Est-ce que y’a une grande demande? Puis d’évaluer le off-demand par rapport à ces besoins-là de production.
4997 M. DESGAGNÉ: Grosso modo là, je vous dirais y’a… on pourrait dire que y’a trois possibilités d’accès dans chacune des régions. Y’a dix régions au Québec gérées par MAtv, puis y’a 19 télévisions communautaires. Si je parle de MAtv, y’a comme… on pourrait dire que y’a trois possibilités d’accès.
4998 D’abord, on peut déposer un projet, le projet va être évalué dépendamment des régions, des besoins et tout ça; donc ça offre… si le projet est fait, ben, c’est une possibilité d’accès. Le bénévolat, c’est une autre possibilité d’accès, donc les gens peuvent s’inscrire au programme de bénévoles, le bénévolat de MAtv qui est très, très bien structuré; donc ça, c'est un autre volet. Le troisième volet, je vous dirais c’est de participer aux émissions. Par exemple, les émissions d’informations, les citoyens qui veulent venir s’exprimer sur… donner leur opinion sur un enjeu, ben, on a des émissions qui existent pour ça, donc ça leur donne une tribune. Ça, c’est le troisième volet.
4999 Je pense que cet accès-là est très, très ouvert à MAtv parce que c’est à même notre ADN de faire notre programmation puis nos activités basées sur ces trois volets-là.
5000 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Parfait. Puis vous avez mentionné lors de votre présentation initiale que vous aviez un partenariat avec l’Université Laval pour permettre aux étudiants qui travaillent avec vous là, si j’ai bien compris, d’obtenir trois crédits universitaires.
5001 M. DESGAGNÉ: Mm-mm.
5002 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Comment facile a été de mettre ça sur pied?
5003 M. DESGAGNÉ: Je vous dirais c’est pas moi-même qui l’ai mis sur pied, mais ce que j’entends, c’est que ç’a pas été difficile de le mettre sur pied, d’abord parce que on a une collaboration avec l’Université Laval qui remonte à plusieurs années, je vous dirais au moins à une quinzaine d’années, donc ç’a pas toujours été facile, mais à force de travailler avec eux, on a établi une bonne collaboration.
5004 Ce qui a fait la différence, c’est la nouvelle structure du programme de bénévoles qu’on a donné en 2015. On a vraiment mis beaucoup l’accent sur la formation des citoyens, pas juste des étudiants, mais les gens de l’université ont vu ce programme-là, des jeunes ont été intéressés, puis ç’a fait comme une collaboration naturelle. Puis je vous dirais que c'est venu sur le sujet à un moment donné que, étant donné que les étudiants travaillaient fort dans le programme de bénévolat, qu’ils sont là plusieurs heures par semaine, qu’ils mériteraient peut-être des crédits là-dessus. Puis y’a pas eu de… y’a pas eu de longues discussions là, ç’a s’est bien passé.
5005 CONSEILLÈRE SIMARD: Parfait. Je vous remercie beaucoup.
5006 M. DESGAGNÉ: Ça me fait plaisir. Merci.
5007 THE CHAIRPERSON: Merci pour votre réplique et votre présentation.
5008 Madame la secrétaire?
5009 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci, Monsieur le Président.
5010 This concludes phase 3 of the agenda. Finally, for the record, there are five non-appearing applications on the agenda of this public hearing. Interventions were received for some of these applications, the panel will consult these interventions along with the applications, and decisions will be rendered at a later date.
5011 This concludes the agenda, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
5012 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
5013 In closing, on behalf of my Commission colleagues and myself, I’d like to thank all of the intervenors who participated in the proceeding whether it was in writing or through participation at this hearing over the past few days. I’d like to thank all those who worked to support our hearings, our court reporters, simultaneous translation services, and, of course, our Commission staff and my Commission colleagues.
5014 Also, I’d like to thank parties for their kind words of welcome extended to Vice-Chair Simard and myself, and lastly, just a quick thank you to all those who appeared before us for their cooperation, thoughtful response and collegiality throughout the process.
5015 Merci beaucoup à tous, et bonne journée.
5016 The hearing is adjourned.
--- Upon adjourning at 11:24 a.m.
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