Evidence of meeting #30 for Canadian Heritage in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was broadcasters.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Konrad W. von Finckenstein  Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Rita Cugini  Acting Vice-Chair, Broadcasting, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Scott Hutton  Executive Director, Broadcasting, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Suzanne Gouin  President and Chief Executive Officer, TV5 Québec Canada, Independent Broadcasters Group
Martha Fusca  President, Stornoway Communications
Bill Roberts  President and Chief Executive Officer, ZoomerMedia Limited, Television Division, Independent Broadcasters Group
Mike Keller  Vice-President, Industry Affairs, Newcap Broadcasting (Jim Pattison Group), Newcap Inc.
Monique Lafontaine  Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs, ZoomerMedia Limited, Independent Broadcasters Group
Joel Fortune  Barrister and Solicitor, Joel R Fortune Professional Corporation, Independent Broadcasters Group

4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

You have talked about a diversity of voices. Are you basing yourself solely on the ownership question to determine that, or do you also consider programming?

November 18th, 2010 / 4:10 p.m.

Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Konrad W. von Finckenstein

No, we want there to be different types of programming, but we want to avoid there being a single voice because there is a single owner. Generally, we hope that journalists will be independent and express their views and opinions, and so on. But they can be invited as guests or there can be restrictions on joint ownership.

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Media ownership is not the only issue if you want to ensure that there are multiple sources of information available. You can also look at the actual programming on occasion.

4:15 p.m.

Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

The reason I ask that is that my wife, who watches three or four television stations, tells me that it's always the same thing. And yet they are all different owners.

4:15 p.m.

Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Konrad W. von Finckenstein

Our job is not to regulate content. Programmers decide on content.

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Thank you.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you, Mr. Pomerleau.

Mr. Armstrong, please.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Thank you very much for your submission. I'm new on this committee, so I have not met you before. Welcome.

I've been very interested in hearing what you've had to say. As a new member, I just need you to clear up a couple of things for me.

You talked a bit about your mandate and your jurisdiction. You talked about how you have your hands on television and your hands on radio, but there was a bit of a grey area for me with respect to your jurisdiction when you refer to content being delivered or broadcast through the Internet.

How far-reaching is your organization when it comes to content delivered on the Internet?

4:15 p.m.

Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Konrad W. von Finckenstein

The Internet service provider, the ISP, falls under our jurisdiction. Therefore, we can have a role as an intervenor in terms of what they do. For instance, Internet service A is a common carrier. They have to carry everything and can't discriminate based on content.

For instance, last year we made a rule on net neutrality. We appreciate that as a network owner, you want to make sure that your network doesn't crash. You may take certain measures, but when you take those measures to restrict, you have to do it on a fair basis. You can't discriminate against someone under the guise of saying that you want to protect the integrity of your network and then discriminate against particular content or one particular competitor or something like this. They fall under us there.

They call themselves “dumb pipe”. They carry content. On the content they carry, we have absolutely no jurisdiction over it. The court has said very clearly to us that we don't. Therefore, what goes out over the Internet, we don't control in any which way.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

What we have right now is a regulatory body that controls and protects Canadian content in two areas through which content is primarily delivered. However, there is now a third area. For example, the children in my household don't watch TV, and they rarely listen to the radio. They watch their computers.

I get content over the computer. With this change in paradigm, right now you're basically the gatekeeper when it comes to protecting Canadian content, but there's a hole in your gate that you have no jurisdiction over. Is that accurate?

4:15 p.m.

Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Konrad W. von Finckenstein

You're absolutely right. It's not only us. The whole world is that way. Traditionally, you regulated through access. You wouldn't give somebody a licence to broadcast or a licence to distribute or whatever. Through that gatekeeping, you could control what actually goes into the pipe, what gets shown, and so on. That more or less is being eroded. There's no question about that.

What is left, to some extent--and Mr. Del Mastro talked about the Canada new media fund--is to try to go through the subsidies fund. We will help to subsidize. We realize that you have a small market and so on. But the subsidy is subject to certain strings, you know. You have content rules.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

As a regulator, do you believe that we're heading in the right direction by supporting the development of the best content we can? Is that the answer? Or is the answer more regulation and trying to screen things that come from outside the country into our country? Where do you think we should put our emphasis? Or should we have both?

4:15 p.m.

Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Konrad W. von Finckenstein

I don't think you can do that. You know, this is not China, and even China doesn't manage to screen incoming content. This is a free society. The content will come in and out. We can't.... Your kids would get very upset if they found out that they can watch this thing over the iPad but not that. I don't think it's desirable, and it's not feasible, either.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

I'll blame Charlie.

4:15 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

So really, the only way we're going to be able to deal with this and support Canadian content is to really support having the best content.

4:15 p.m.

Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Konrad W. von Finckenstein

Also, up to now most of the content actually started with either film or broadcasting and then was repurposed for the Internet. To the extent that happens, you have control at the production phase. But if it's a production that's purely geared to the Internet, funding or incentives of some sort are about the only way you can influence it.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Do you think you'll hear that at your hearing? Do you think this is going to be one of the big pushes you'll hear at your hearing in May?

4:20 p.m.

Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Konrad W. von Finckenstein

I don't know what I'm going to hear. What I've clearly observed is that the platforms are moving. Nobody knows which is going to be the dominant platform--or maybe we will have a lot of them, etc. Right now, you make a lot of money in broadcasting. Making money in the new platforms is very difficult--or “monetizing”, as the industry calls it. Very few people have been able to do it successfully. Google has been able to find a way and eBay has. Most of the others have a lot of i-vaults, but they can't turn them into money, and until that happens....

On top of that, you have the question of rights and who pays for them. How do you pay for people if it's being distributed over the Internet? All our rights are based on geographic locations and, of course, the Internet has no boundaries.

So people will put all of these things on our plate and point them out and draw conclusions from them. That's part of the beauty of these hearings: you hear all sorts of points of view. Eventually, as a result of that, you hopefully can see some light at the end of the tunnel and say, “Here, this is what we you should be doing”.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you very much.

Mr. Rodriguez.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to continue along the same lines as Mr. Armstrong, but I have a specific question.

You decided to exclude Internet service providers from the broadcaster category, even though more and more content is being produced for the Internet. Why did you do that exactly?

4:20 p.m.

Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Why were Internet service providers excluded from the broadcaster category?

4:20 p.m.

Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Konrad W. von Finckenstein

Because they are “carriers”. They do not create content. Content is created by the companies with websites. We're not talking about Rogers or Quebecor.