Thank you, Pierre-Louis.
We are on page 3.
Our broadcasting system offers hundreds of choices, the majority of which are Canadian. It is clearly the preferred option for Canadians. Today, we have more choice per capita than people in the United States, the United Kingdom, France or Australia. Despite fragmentation, Canadian channels obtain 70% of television ratings in Canada. When it comes to French-language services, ratings are at over 95%.
Last year, private television spent $385 million on locally-produced programming. These impressive figures went into delivering services to communities throughout the country. Over the last 10 years, conventional private television spent over $90 million for a host of activities related to Canadian programming, skills development and other initiatives, as a result of tangible benefits resulting from property transactions. A further $51 million was spent on closed captioning and video description.
Finally, in 2007, private broadcasters disbursed $314 million for the benefit of the communities they service, through donations, volunteer hours and public service announcements. That is probably the most visible aspect of our work to you and your constituents: radiothon or fund-raising dinners and activities. Private broadcasters build relationships with their communities by providing substantial and irreplaceable support.
I'll move on to page 6.
The focus of these hearings has been local television. For private conventional television, the local advertising market has been flat for many years. Private conventional television has relied increasingly on national advertising to drive its business model. Increases in national advertising revenues make it possible for private conventional television stations to increase their spending on Canadian programming, including local programming.
Is this just another business cycle? Advertising, the source of virtually all private television revenues, has shifted considerably away from conventional television over the past 15 years. This slow erosion of ad share will not be recovered in the next business cycle, nor is Canada exceptional in this regard. The erosion of ad share for conventional TV is even more acute in the U.S.
Where are the ad dollars going? As the ad market has become more fragmented over time, the dollars are flowing to specialty television and the Internet.
I'll turn to page 8 to focus on local advertising. You'll recall that local television ad revenues have been flat for the past 15 years. In terms of share of advertising, local television is capturing less of the local ad market than ever. Other media and new advertising vehicles, such as the Internet, are capturing a greater share of local ad dollars. This does not look like a business cycle blip.
Moreover, the costs of other kinds of Canadian programming supported by public policy and regulation are increasing faster than conventional television revenues. For example, over the past five years, English language drama costs have increased an average of 11% per year, while conventional television revenues have increased less than 1%. Similarly, French language variety and performing arts production costs have increased an average of 15% annually. With production costs outpacing revenues, private conventional television faces one more pressure.
The 21 largest private television stations, which made modest profits of 4.8% in 2008, buttressed the losses of 78 smaller stations, which collectively had a minus 13% profit margin last year. Larger companies, which own both large and small stations, argue that they cannot continue to cross-subsidize stations that are losing money. Smaller companies, many of which also operate smaller stations, are in a precarious position.
Fragmentation of audiences, declining ad share, higher programming costs: these are some of the elements of the structural transformation in local television. The transition to digital and its attendant cost of up to $327 million for the private sector simply makes the transformation even more challenging in the next 12 months.
Pierre-Louis, would you continue?