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

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

I have the method by which you can monetize it. If you own the pipes you're broadcasting over--if you're the wireless transmitter or the BDU--that's how you monetize it. That's why vertical integration is so important.

As I said, I'm really concerned. I agree with the CRTC looking at a pick-and-pay system. I think consumers should have the opportunity to choose what they want to watch. That's what they've indicated.

5:20 p.m.

President, Stornoway Communications

Martha Fusca

That's what they've indicated, but that's not what's going to happen.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

I am deeply concerned that what we're hearing today is a suggestion that if we can just get this through, it will fix our business model. I think the model is changing so quickly that the idea that a paragraph 9(1)(h) licence will rebalance things.... It's an extremely temporary fix. Frankly, fee-for-carriage is dead, because nobody wants it.

On the issue around the Canada Media Fund, I'm deeply concerned about the BDU contribution to that. As we see new entrants coming into the market and eating away at BDU penetration, the fund itself will drop.

So I think there are a number of concerns here, and I really encourage you to take a look at that, because building a business model around paragraph 9(1)(h) is problematic.

5:20 p.m.

President, Stornoway Communications

Martha Fusca

We only mentioned that as part of our thing, by the way.

The interesting thing is that they own access to all of those platforms anyway, so if you're losing market share on one, they're already covered on the whole--

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

I agree.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you very much, Madam Fusca.

Mr. Roberts is next, before we go to Ms. Dhalla.

5:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, ZoomerMedia Limited, Television Division, Independent Broadcasters Group

Bill Roberts

We have this smart Canadian guy named Marshall McLuhan. He said they all kind of morph and survive somehow and find their place. So radio didn't disappear, film didn't disappear, and television's not going to disappear.

That's one response, Dean. The second part is that regulation got us into this. It was a constructed thing. We have some tools that we can still use today as bridging tools and adjustment tools. We can buy some time. We can figure things out.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you, Mr. Roberts.

Madam Dhalla.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Thank you very much.

Just touching on what Dean Del Mastro was speaking about in not having cable in five years, there are a lot of communities I know of in rural parts of Canada that don't even have access to the Internet yet. In five years they hope they will get access to the Internet and they're still going to be utilizing their cable.

Going back to ethnic communities, I know many of the people who have come, perhaps seniors in recent years, and my parents' generation as well--I mean, we're still trying to teach my mom how to figure out the whole concept of e-mail. They're watching their programs on television, so I think those licences and that programming are essential.

Bill, you have to be congratulated for your work with Vision TV. It's done a great deal of great work in bringing issues forward for ethnic communities across the country. For anyone who hasn't seen it on any Saturday, from morning to night, Vision is doing great programming. Congratulations.

I want to touch upon a topic you mentioned. I had asked the chairman previously in the panel with regard to the licences for some of the ethnic media programming. They spoke glowingly about the category B licences. You're telling me the question that wasn't asked was in regard to the launch. You said that in an approximation of about 400 licences issued, only about 90 had been launched. Can you please describe why some of these other 310 licences that perhaps have been granted haven't been launched? Perhaps the committee can learn from the reasons behind that to give proper recommendations moving forward to ensure there aren't those sorts of pending licences waiting. That's quite a high number.

5:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, ZoomerMedia Limited, Television Division, Independent Broadcasters Group

Bill Roberts

Do I get that one?

5:20 p.m.

A voice

Yes.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Go ahead, Mr. Roberts.

5:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, ZoomerMedia Limited, Television Division, Independent Broadcasters Group

Bill Roberts

Well, I think Dean answered the question. If you own the pipes, you own the means to distribution and you can launch them.

One of our members of the IBG, the Independent Broadcast Group, is ethnic media channels. SLAV11, which I think is in tomorrow's “Report on Business”--a little plug for a colleague--has been fighting exactly that fight, to get properly licensed and to get launched, and basically he's being told no by BDUs.

There's another thing I want to correct in terms of numbers. Konrad was absolutely right that television viewing is going up. What's interesting about where it's going up is that it's in the 45-plus demographic. Why is that important? It's important because 80% of this country's wealth is controlled by the 45-plus demographic; 70% of the people who voted for you are 45-plus; 70% of the electorate is 45-plus. They love television. They want to see diversity of voices and ownership on their television screens. I think that's important.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Mr. Keller, did you have anything to add to this? You've not said much, but we're interested in your piece.

5:25 p.m.

Vice-President, Industry Affairs, Newcap Broadcasting (Jim Pattison Group), Newcap Inc.

Mike Keller

We're all broadcasters, but we're in different ends of the spectrum here. As a conventional broadcaster with a strong affiliate relationship with both CBC and CTV and on the verge of spending a couple of million dollars on digital transmitters, I feel like a bit of a dinosaur.

5:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

5:25 p.m.

An. hon. member

Once you have the transmitters, you're going to be ahead of the rest of them.

5:25 p.m.

Vice-President, Industry Affairs, Newcap Broadcasting (Jim Pattison Group), Newcap Inc.

Mike Keller

I really have no more to add to this. Thank you.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Mr. Simms, did you have anything?

November 18th, 2010 / 5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

No, I'm good.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Okay.

Monsieur Pomerleau.

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

I have a brief question, Mr. Chairman.

On page 10 of your brief, you say, and I quote:

In 2009, in Public Notice CRTC 2009-732, the CRTC stated as follows (at paragraph 16): “Once the Commission has adopted new criteria to assess applications for mandatory distribution pursuant to section 9(1)(h) of the Act, it intends to provide programming services with an opportunity to file applications for 9(1)(h) status and to amend or resubmit applications already filed. The Commission may then proceed with a public hearing to consider these applications.”

As you say, it announced in late summer that it was putting that project on ice. There was a moratorium. We won't get into that again.

What reasons were given for doing that? That was the most significant about-face we saw all year.

5:25 p.m.

Joel Fortune Barrister and Solicitor, Joel R Fortune Professional Corporation, Independent Broadcasters Group

I think what they said was that for technological, economic, and regulatory reasons due to the changes occurring in the broadcasting system they felt it wouldn't be prudent to hold a hearing to examine the applications they had received. That's almost literal...not quite, but pretty close.

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Is that all? That is almost Kafkaesque.

5:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, TV5 Québec Canada, Independent Broadcasters Group

Suzanne Gouin

At the same time, it's important to state that a number of channels are currently seeking licence renewals. That clearly means that the business model one is associated with could imply a different distribution. People around this table may not know this, but for your information, a channel like TV5, which has 2.4 million subscribers in Quebec, actually has 4.4 million subscribers outside Quebec. So, this is a channel that is distributed in the majority of your ridings. It is important for Francophones who are a minority in their community, and because distributors might not be as concerned about a diversity of voices or the need to present French content, there is a danger that it will no longer be offered with basic cable if deregulation occurs.