Evidence of meeting #14 for Canadian Heritage in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was television.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Colette Watson  Vice-President, Rogers Television, Rogers Communications Inc.
  • Phil Lind  Vice-Chairman, Rogers Communications Inc.
  • Kenneth Engelhart  Senior Vice-President, Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer, Rogers Communications Inc.
  • Anthony Viner  President and Chief Executive Officer, Rogers Media, Rogers Communications Inc.
  • Pierre Karl Péladeau  President and Chief Executive Officer, Quebecor Media Inc.
  • Pierre Dion  President and Chief Executive Officer, Groupe TVA, Quebecor Media Inc.

3:45 p.m.

Vice-Chairman, Rogers Communications Inc.

Phil Lind

I think the chairman of the CRTC feels that the LPIF would benefit the small and medium-size TV stations. If it were properly targeted it would be of benefit. It would raise our fees modestly, but I think it's probably a good thing.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Brampton—Springdale, ON

So it would benefit Rogers.

3:45 p.m.

Vice-Chairman, Rogers Communications Inc.

Phil Lind

No, it won't benefit Rogers at all, but it will benefit Canada's small and medium-sized stations.

3:45 p.m.

Anthony Viner President and Chief Executive Officer, Rogers Media, Rogers Communications Inc.

I want to make one distinction. In Winnipeg we would qualify under the current terms as described or proposed by the CRTC. Our Winnipeg City station would benefit from the LPIF.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Gary Schellenberger

Thank you.

Ms. Lavallée, please.

April 20th, 2009 / 3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I am a bit surprised to hear you say that the television industry is cyclical, and that there are times when it does well and other times, when it does not do so well. You also said that, even though the industry is going through a rough patch now, we should let you carry on as you are so that things can get back to normal.

We are here to study the evolution of the television industry, but everything we are seeing and hearing tells us that the industry is in the process of evolving. And in terms of new media, we are moving towards a different reality. More and more, television is able to do what the Internet can and vice versa. Several indicators suggest that these two important types of media will culminate in a new technology that we cannot even begin to imagine.

While I have the floor, I would also like to ask you whether you are satisfied with the licence renewal offer that the CRTC made you, that is, renewing your licence for just one year.

3:50 p.m.

Vice-Chairman, Rogers Communications Inc.

Phil Lind

I would ask Tony Viner to reply to both, because he's our television person. But first I would just say that yes, of course TV is changing. Viewing patterns are changing. But the revenues for conventional over the years are still rising, year after year, in spite of the fact that viewing patterns are changing. When times get better....

Tony?

3:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Rogers Media, Rogers Communications Inc.

Anthony Viner

I think first we have to look at the industry as a whole. Lately, as is frequently the case during a recession or an economic slowdown, the completely advertising-supported services, like over-the-air television, suffer most. Most broadcasters have tried to counter that by also owning specialty services so that during those times there are those parts of the industry that have two revenue streams, and the commission is actually trying to address that when they have corporate renewals a year from now.

When we bought City television, we bought it in the belief that advertisers would continue to need to have a platform for free mass communication. There are still people who need mass audiences to promote their services and products to. So when we come out of this, for sure the world will have changed, but we continue to be confident that it will be a profitable business. It may not be in exactly the same way it has been in the past.

With respect to the one-year renewals, the commission has decided, I think given the current economic situation, that one year will sufficiently tell us how long this recession may last and what is reasonable, and I think they have indicated that they're prepared to relax certain of the regulations surrounding the over-the-air with television broadcasters who have been the most severely hurt. On our OMNI broadcast, our ethnic, we're asking for a six-year licence because it does not have the same issues as do the others.

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

If I understand correctly, a one-year licence renewal was what you wanted. You were satisfied with that decision.

3:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Rogers Media, Rogers Communications Inc.

Anthony Viner

Yes, under the circumstances, because the commission is going to look at it in its entirety in one year. It has called a hearing for one year hence.

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

The two main problems you seem to be having are Canadian content and audiences, who are not tuning in enough. Is that right?

3:50 p.m.

Vice-President, Rogers Television, Rogers Communications Inc.

Colette Watson

I would say yes, Mrs. Lavallée. We are mostly concerned with the requests for financial assistance that we receive from cable companies. There is no reason for it. For the most part, these companies are profitable. Over-the-air television should not be separated from specialty television. The major television stations are strong enough to deal with the various economic situations in the country. The issue of Canadian content has nothing to do with our position on giving the industry a financial helping hand.

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Why do you say that they have nothing to do with one another?

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Gary Schellenberger

Thank you, Ms. Lavallée.

We move on now to Mr. Angus, please.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Thank you.

I'm very pleased that you wanted to take the time to come today. This is going to be a very interesting session for us all. This is one of the committees where you'll find that all parties are actually trying to work to come forward with a coherent response to the various, and sometimes very different, views we're hearing.

Mr. Viner, I'd like to ask you about the terms of the commitments made when you purchased the CHUM group. In Vancouver we have 27.5 hours of programming; CKEM in Calgary, 31.5 hours of local programming; CKAL Calgary, 31.5 hours; Citytv, 29 hours; CHMI, 15 hours. The proposal you're coming up with now is for 20 hours, including 10 hours of news.

Given that you just bought the stations in 2007, don't you think it's kind of odd that you're unilaterally wanting to change the commitments that you made just two years ago when you purchased those stations?