Evidence of meeting #6 for Canadian Heritage in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was communities.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Sylviane Lanthier  Chair, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada
Francis Sonier  President, Association de la presse francophone
François Côté  Secretary General, Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada
Simon Forgues  Development and Communications Officer, Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada
Serge Quinty  Director of Communications, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada
Richard Tardif  Executive Director, Quebec Community Newspapers Association
Jean La Rose  Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network
Carmel Smyth  President, Canadian Media Guild
Jeanne d'Arc Umurungi  Communications Director, Canadian Media Guild

9:40 a.m.

Chair, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Sylviane Lanthier

It is very important for us that members of our communities have access to information that resonates with them, that is, that reflects their reality and is channelled through community media venues that are there to serve them. However, community media organizations have financial problems and sometimes have to close down.

In the past, federal support has always helped the media to at least stay afloat. We believe it is important that the federal government reinvest in our community media organizations to ensure that they can continue to produce content and to help them make the digital shift they want to make, but without losing their funding and their current capacity to fulfill their mandate.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Thank you very much.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thank you very much. Congratulations, Mr. Vandal, we covered a lot in that time.

We now have another group coming in, so thank you for your presentations, witnesses. It was interesting.

Thank you, colleagues, for your questions.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Shall we begin?

Good morning, everyone. I'm afraid that you only have nine minutes for presentations, witnesses, or we're not going to be able to finish our time. I'll give each of you nine minutes for your presentation, and then we will have a question and answer period where my colleagues in the room here, the MPs, will ask you questions for seven minutes. I would like to ask you to be as concise as possible so we can have an interactive piece here. Thank you very much.

Now I will begin with Quebec Community Newspapers Association, and Richard Tardif.

Mr. Tardif.

9:45 a.m.

Richard Tardif Executive Director, Quebec Community Newspapers Association

Thank you very much, honourable members, my colleagues who presented before me, and my colleagues at the table around me. Thank you for inviting the Quebec Community Newspapers Association to these very important proceedings.

Quickly, our English and bilingual publications—we have 30—are independent of any corporate influence and are distributed to 770,000 citizens across the province of Quebec. Our numbers also tell us that eight out of 10 residents read their community newspaper—that's not too bad. We exist to serve this community. We are funded by Canadian Heritage for one-third of our revenue. The rest comes from our classified advertising, display advertising, and sponsorships for annual galas.

Let me get right to the point. The popular mantra among newspaper publishers in the last 20 years has been that a perfect storm has occurred. Unforeseen consequences have led readers to abandon newspapers for quicker news online, thus dragging our legacy advertisers away from a so-called dying media. This was in the chase for customers, and they moved, presumably, to find these customers online.

In reality, in the last 30 years, corporations disguising themselves as newspaper chains scooped up our once independent newspapers. This is referred to as media consolidation or media convergence. These corporations owe allegiance to shareholders and less and less to readers, all the while steadily cutting back on journalists' resources, column width, and line rates and shutting down their newspapers. Then, in an attempt to generate profit, they turned over and devalued their most valuable resource asset, content, by providing journalism and everything else free online. They simply gave it away. I would know. I was a journalist in that time. I had a bird's-eye view. I believe these were called unintended consequences.

By consolidating, the corporate hope was to attract advertisers to online news platforms, but as it turns out, the method of click per thousand across the Internet generated a few cents of revenue. In the end, it was an insurmountable disaster, with no turning back for them.

Did you know that for every dollar generated in online revenue, seven dollars were lost in print? That's a big gap. How do you pay the bills? Well, you have a hard time doing that, as a lot of my colleagues have suggested.

Let's just look back a little bit. I put it before the committee. The Royal Commission on Newspapers in 1981 included in its recommendations: one, prohibitions on further concentration of media ownership; two, tax incentives for wider media ownership; and three, tax breaks to newspapers that devoted more space to local news coverage. For whatever reason, the committee recommendations were not put in place or were ignored, so as a result, the 150-year-old The Gleaner, serving an English minority in Huntingdon, Quebec, closed. The Chronicle, an English newspaper, where I published in my career, closed in December, along with The Westmount Examiner. They were all minority newspapers, all QCNA newspapers, all whittled down to a skeleton of their former pride, all shut down by their corporate owners, one corporation, TC Media, last year, in 2015. This consequence of media concentration, less control by owners, repeats itself on a monthly basis across this country—newspapers that are irreplaceable.

This paradigm change that we're undergoing today has killed interest in many metro dailies, but not so in our local weeklies. Although there's very little in a daily that a reader has not already seen or heard on their phone, tablet, computer, television, or radio, this is not so with community weeklies. Dailies write about breaking news, which has already broken: the stock market, which followers now have instantaneously; sports, where results are pinged as they happen; or even obituaries, where funeral websites are in everyone's bookmarks. What is left for them to report?

On the other hand, community weeklies cover local and often isolated communities that are too small to be covered elsewhere, such as what happens in Hampstead, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Aylmer, Mont Saint-Sauveur, Whitehorse, or St. Boniface, Manitoba, where local city councils are not reported on or followed elsewhere. It is the same for amateur and high school sports. People care more about things that happen in their local community.

Then there are the opinions of editors, local politicians, and citizens. Local community papers have a unique understanding, perspective, and sense of community, which a daily or large corporation can never have. For example, we know Mrs. Wilson, who's been teaching at the school for 25 years and just retired, or Mr. Grant, who served his country with distinction in two wars. We know who is on his way to the NHL, even though he is nine years old. The hyper-local content and community reflection offered in community weeklies are not replicated anywhere else.

Honourable members of this committee, this is a treasure to be protected, yes?

Isolation is the problem our weeklies address. We reach minority citizens and break isolation in a way no other media can, so I urge federal agencies to use community papers to communicate with minority citizens, because, as I stated, we are here to serve our English-speaking communities.

Since we've lost classifieds to the Internet and we have lost many other ads to Facebook and Google, the government should at least have an interest in maintaining a fraction of their commitment to community weeklies. The QCNA—as with most newspaper associations—has seen a decline of 98% in federal advertising since 2010, yet in 2015 Elections Canada used QCNA papers to reach its minority population in Quebec, as well as across the country.

In 2010 during the H1N1 crisis, we delivered, as did my colleagues. The talk among some of my colleagues is whether we need to have a crisis to get your attention. We didn't deliver on Canada's economic action plan because we didn't have the opportunity. However, reaching citizens, for the most part, failed after it was reported in 2003 that adult Canadians were not going to the economic action plan website. I have to say, there's a difference between honouring government commitment and actually reaching the citizens it serves.

I have a few words about the CBC to follow up on some of my colleagues from this morning. There's quite a bit of money heading in that direction, and I think a fraction, 1%, for minority community newspapers would be great. We have often talked with our colleagues, the Association de la presse francophone, about collaborating and developing something. If it is going to be web advertising—and no one's saying we cannot try—we have to have some sort of other formula and some sort of forward funding and support to get there.

We have proven citizenship, readership, and engagement of the community. Any plan that comes our way will be money well spent. We believe that television and social media is one way to go, and newspapers are a way to go. Why can't we collaborate with all three? We call it bundling, and it makes sense.

I have one last note. Our national association, Newspapers Canada, is embarking on a new centralized sale model of representation, one that actually excludes associations representing Canada's official languages. Who then represents our language newspapers and their citizens, or is the question moving towards when we fade away? Well, that seems to be the choice.

Thank you again for the opportunity to present to members today. I do look forward to all of your questions.

9:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thank you, Mr. Tardif.

Monsieur La Rose, from Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, you have nine minutes.

March 8th, 2016 / 9:55 a.m.

Jean La Rose Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network

Good morning, Madam Chair and members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

I am Jean La Rose, the Chief Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. I am an Abenakis citizen from the Odanak First Nation. With me today is Joel Fortune, our legal advisor on broadcasting regulatory matters.

The purpose of this committee's investigation, we believe, is to better understand how Canadians are informed about local and regional experiences through their news media, and the consequences of news media concentration and new digital media on local news reporting.

APTN is a national Canadian television network. We broadcast programming in English, in French, and in aboriginal languages. While we have broadcast in 32 of the 52 aboriginal languages over the years, we broadcast in at least 15 different languages every year.

APTN is a real success story for aboriginal peoples. Before the launch of APTN in 1999, there was very little, in fact almost no aboriginal reflection on Canadian television. When we looked at this issue before we launched APTN, one young person commented that he saw more aliens on TV than aboriginal people. APTN's role is to address this problem. Our main mission, as described in our most recent CRTC licence renewal, is to provide programming that reflects the lives, cultures, and diverse perspectives of aboriginal peoples, as well as a positive window on aboriginal life for all Canadians. We describe the mission a little more succinctly as “sharing our Peoples’ journey, celebrating our cultures, inspiring our children and honouring the wisdom of our Elders.”

We are licensed by the CRTC and distributed on cable and satellite throughout Canada as a basic-level service. APTN is included in the new skinny basic package that you have undoubtedly heard of. APTN is not funded—and I emphasize the “not funded”—by government sources in any way that is different from other broadcasters. We derive our revenue from the wholesale fees paid to us by cable and satellite distributors, and to a lesser extent, from advertising. APTN does access some of the production funds available to other broadcasters, but not the local programming improvement fund, LPIF. APTN is a non-profit, charitable organization, so all of our revenue goes to support our programming and mandate.

At APTN, we are deeply engaged in producing and broadcasting news programming. We have approximately 60 staff in our news and information programming department, and these staff are located throughout Canada in 14 cities and remote areas. APTN is a national network, but in many ways we play the same role for aboriginal peoples that local television plays for Canadians in communities with local TV. Aboriginal peoples tune in to APTN to see news stories that reflect their day-to-day lives and other broader stories that impact them directly.

Just to give you a better sense of our news coverage, for example, we provided here a series of stories from last Thursday, March 3, for you to read. Given the time I won't read them all, but it gives you an idea of how we balance local, regional, and national news in our news content every day. The stories are wide-ranging, topical, and reflect aboriginal concerns and perspectives at the local, regional, and national levels.

I want to point out as well that if you were to watch our newscasts, from time to time you might see footage from a journalist from CTV feeding a story to APTN, and vice versa. APTN tries to work closely with other broadcasters to expand our news capabilities, and hopefully theirs too, to get our stories out.

In addition to our daily newscasts, we also provide regular, in-depth public affairs programming, which includes InFocus,with our host Cheryl McKenzie; APTN Investigates, featuring investigative journalists looking deeply into aboriginal issues; Face to Face, an interview program featuring people in the headlines and those with direct experience facing various issues of concern to indigenous people; and Nation to Nation, APTN's national political program from Ottawa. I'm sure some of you have had the opportunity to be on Nation to Nation, hosted by Nigel Newlove. Finally there's The Laughing Drum, which is a panel program looking at current indigenous issues from a grassroots perspective. The panelists include well-known aboriginal comedians Candy Palmater and Jerry Barrett. This show looks at serious issues, but in a very down-to-earth way.

All of these programs, including the national news, are available on APTN's website and can be watched on virtually any digital platform. You can see that APTN offers deep and wide-ranging news coverage for aboriginal peoples, and for all Canadians who want to know us better.

As former prime minister Paul Martin once wrote that he was often asked by senior industry leaders in Canada what aboriginal people wanted. He had but one answer for them, “watch APTN and you will understand”.

In a similar vein, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recognized the important role that APTN plays as a vital communications link between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians. The TRC states this in its final report, and I will read recommendation number 85:

We call upon the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, as an independent non-profit broadcaster with programming by, for, and about Aboriginal Peoples, to support reconciliation, including but not limited to: i. Continuing to provide leadership in programming and organizational culture that reflects the diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives of Aboriginal Peoples. ii. Continuing to develop media initiatives that inform and educate the Canadian public, and connect Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

We at APTN are grateful and encouraged by this kind of recognition and support. We are also daunted by the responsibility we have to reflect the true nature of aboriginal peoples to the best of our abilities.

The committee is looking into the current state of local news in Canada. For aboriginal peoples, APTN really is the same thing as their local television news. However, you can see that we are much more than that. In some ways, we act as a window for all Canadians to see into the lives of indigenous peoples.

Looking at the state of broadcasting as a business, APTN is fortunate because we are not dependent solely on advertising revenue. Subscription revenue paid by cable and satellite providers, which is regulated by the CRTC, has provided us with relative stability over the past few years. For that, we are very grateful, and we are aware of our responsibilities.

Furthermore, APTN has access to the Canada Media Fund (CMF), in a limited way, to help fund programming and to a small fund under Canadian Heritage, the aboriginal languages initiative (ALI), to help fund some programming in aboriginal languages. However, given our mandate from a programming and news perspective, these funds are not sufficient to meet the wide expectations of our peoples and of Canadians who have been tuning us in in growing numbers over the years.

We are well aware that the communications industry is facing a shift in how people view media and how the business model works. This is why we are aggressively pursuing all media platforms that we can with our content.

It must be emphasized that the revenue generated from television supports almost all of the content we produce. Without APTN on TV—which remains highly relevant to our viewers—I don't think there would be anywhere near the amount of professional, high-quality audiovisual news content available to Canadians about indigenous peoples as is currently available. No matter the media on which it is aired, content is what audiences want, and to date, television remains the industry that provides the lion's share of content.

Thank you for the opportunity to present our perspective to this committee of the Commons.

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thank you very much, Monsieur La Rose.

Now we have the Canadian Media Guild and Ms. Smyth.

10:05 a.m.

Carmel Smyth President, Canadian Media Guild

Thank you.

Madam Chair, vice-chairs, members of the committee, thank you for giving us the opportunity to appear. We appreciate your interest in this very important subject.

I would just like to take a minute to recognize International Women's Day, and to say how nice it is to see women on committees of this sort.

To Ms. Fry, a long-time role model for women in politics and leadership, thank you.

My name is Carmel Smyth. I'm a long-time television reporter, at the moment released to be president of the Canadian Media Guild, a union that represents 6,000 people working at about a dozen media organizations in Canada, from CBC/Radio-Canada, Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters, APTN, Shaw Media, and ZoomerMedia, including freelance workers and people who work in factual television. Factual or reality televison employs probably 2,000 or 3,000 people across Canada. These are the people who create the news and the content you watch every day.

As you are aware from my colleagues, from the gentlemen we heard before us, it seems as though every second week a newspaper closes in Canada. Recently in Ottawa, amazingly the Sun and the Ottawa Citizen newsrooms merged, which will obviously significantly impact the coverage on the Hill. You'll see that in a personal way I'm sure, unfortunately.

In Alberta, the Calgary Sun and the Calgary Herald were once proud competitors. Now the two papers will be produced by the same staff. That's amazing in a city of a million and a half people.

We at the CMG have been sounding the alarm about this crisis in local news for many years. We know the devastating impact that funding and staffing cuts are having and continue to have on reporters' ability to cover or investigate stories and to deliver the reporting that Canadians rely on to fully participate in a democracy. Our own research shows that since 2008, in the media, 16,000 jobs have been lost, and the actual numbers are probably far higher. Needless to say, this situation is having real consequences on journalism in Canada as well as on the people who work in the media industry and—as you're hearing today—on their communities.

10:05 a.m.

Jeanne d'Arc Umurungi Communications Director, Canadian Media Guild

The situation is even more dire when we look to the future. Indeed, according to a recent study that the Canadian Media Guild participated in, 15,000 Canadian jobs will be lost and $1.4 billion may be removed from the economy by 2020 as a result of the changes made by the CRTC as part of its “Let's Talk TV” study.

According to a CRTC survey, more than 80% of Canadians value local news, yet, increasingly, many find themselves without local coverage. Media workers as well as other Canadians are experiencing the crisis first-hand. For example, Saskatchewan resident Marc Spooner wrote the following just last year:

Indeed, there is a budgetary breaking point in any organization—however efficient and exemplary—when it can simply no longer “do more with less”; when no amount of duct tape, patch work, or employees’ giving “110%” can keep it running as it should, as we remember it, as we desperately need it to be in a healthy democracy...

Sadly, we have reached that point in my home province of Saskatchewan. Our province, in the last few months, now has the dubious distinction of having not one reporter assigned on a full-time basis to cover provincial politics for our entire province; not one reporter, from either private or public news outlets now covers provincial Legislative politics on a full-time basis....

Clearly, our fragile democratic health is in peril when not even our public broadcaster has the will and resources to cover the politics of the day on a dedicated, full-time basis....

Of course, we can appreciate that in the ever-changing media world new initiatives such as the digital-first news service, and other such trends and modifications to media format and delivery method cannot be overlooked. However, it is at precisely such a time when we need our public broadcaster to keep its mission...firmly in mind; to not simply follow current trends, but rather to aim higher with purpose, vision, and the greater good in mind.

Tweets and press releases simply won't do in a democracy. In fact, in our hurried, digital world, we need news agencies to shed more light and transparency, not less, on our democratic governance; we need more substance, more context, and more credible political analysis.

Dedicated, full-time reporters are best positioned to research stories, provide in-depth coverage from multiple perspectives, and get as complete a backstory and picture as possible. In fact, transparency, accountability, and participation are the very foundation upon which rest our democracy itself."

I'm just going to give you another example from one media worker in Nova Scotia:

If someone locally is being taken advantage of, or is not being treated right by their government, there may be no one who will tell that story because you just don't get as much coverage....

Is your politician representing your interests or his own [or her own]? That's as important to know in our communities as it is on Parliament Hill.

10:10 a.m.

President, Canadian Media Guild

Carmel Smyth

It's also important to remember that news gathering at the local level can often uncover stories that take on national significance, and I would say this happens frequently. In my own personal example, as a young reporter in Saskatchewan I was doing a story with young hemophiliacs and how difficult it was to deal with their condition. Throughout the course of the discussions, they revealed than many of them were HIV positive because of their frequent use of blood products. At the time that was shocking; we didn't know then how HIV was transmitted. But in any case, I like to think that the early attention, often discovered at the local level, could have significant impact on the lives of Canadians.

Here's another example many of you will probably be more aware of. When the Ocean Ranger, the largest floating oil rig in the world, sank in 1982 off the coast of Newfoundland, the impact on the local community was devastating. Fifty-six of the people who died were Newfoundlanders. But long after the national media left, the local newsroom assigned someone to cover the hearings permanently on an ongoing basis, and we think it's clear that the royal commission's 66 recommendations were implemented afterwards as a result of that continued coverage, again, by local media.

These are just some examples of how important it is for the media to have feet on the ground. Time and time again, intriguing stories are uncovered because people, as my colleagues have said, come to know and to trust local reporters.

The crisis is not only around decreased coverage, but also in the trends that undermine the quality of information. Industry research shows that in digital news coverage, the overlap between public relations and news is increasingly pronounced. For example, branded content or advertorials are increasingly common, and journalists are often required and pressured to present this content, which obviously makes advertisements look like news stories.

Because of the time I'm just going to skip quickly to some of the things that we think could help resolve some of these issues, one, predominantly, is the role of CBC/Radio-Canada.

It's a leader because it serves in 54 communities, in French, English, and aboriginal languages. It's the largest news organization in the country, and we know that it is popular and trusted by Canadians. Yet it's been crippled by devastating cuts impacting, obviously, local news, programming, and original Canadian production. There are 3,000 fewer workers at the CBC since 2006. You're seeing more repeats on television, less original news, less connection in the community. We would like to think that a solution could be following a recommendation of a 2008 heritage committee report—Ms. Fry, you'll be aware of that—recommending that CBC funding be increased to $40 per capita. We think the time has long come for that, and it would help go some ways towards alleviating the current local news media crisis.

Other public service media such as provincial broadcasters TVO and TFO in Ontario, Télé-Québec, and Knowledge Network in British Columbia also make a vital contribution to the media environment. Yet they too are drastically affected by funding cuts and need to be restored.

APTN, the only aboriginal network in North America, deserves special consideration for its unique role in the system. CMG supports the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendation that recognizes APTN as a leader in indigenous programming and its key role in education.

To support local news as well, we are urging the CRTC to establish a public service media fund that could be accessed by all local news services on any platform—provincial education broadcasters, APTN, private networks, the CBC, the public broadcaster—to do local news. That fund could come from a small per cent of the profits large cable and satellite companies make from the system. We, like many others, continue to recommend that the funds should also come from Internet service providers.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Ms. Smyth, I'm sorry. Thank you very much.

We will get to our questioning with Mr. O'Regan, for the Liberals.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

You mentioned the Ocean Ranger. That hearing took place in a church hall off my backyard when I was growing up in St. John's, and the reporters there were willing, and able, more to the point, to dedicate a certain amount of time. Quite rightly, as you mentioned earlier about parliaments and parliamentary business, without having a dedicated reporter in those fields, if they are here—and even that's waning—you're unable to build the contacts that you need. Anyway, I think I'm talking to several veterans of the media war here, so we all know about the limitations.

Let me take some of my time here to allow you, Ms. Smyth, to continue on with some of those solutions that I think you probably have, and I'm sure that you've heard from your membership.

10:15 a.m.

President, Canadian Media Guild

Carmel Smyth

Thank you, that was very nice of you.

Now on funding, and Mr. La Rose referred to it earlier, there had previously been a fund—the local program improvement fund—that provided money for original Canadian productions, and that fund worked very well. It's been discontinued for various reasons, but I think the consensus among the users is that it worked well.

We think a similar kind of fund could be established now for anyone willing to do local news. We would hope that would be professional organizations of varying sorts, if they're willing to work in the community where lots of statistics show you can't make a profit, that it's not profitable. Unless there's an incentive, we see decreasing service. So why wouldn't we have the cable companies who make millions, billions of dollars off a public good, the spectrum, the airways, if you will, that belong to all Canadians.... If they're making millions of dollars off that why wouldn't they pay a small fee to help support and make the industry healthy? We would ask that this could include support for local news.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. La Rose, I wanted to ask you about APTN. I've watched APTN frequently as somebody who is distinctly interested in aboriginal issues, and I've often wondered about how much pressure there is on you. You represent such a wide variety of nations right across the country in so many different regions. Not only that, but in many isolated regions. I know somebody who worked in national news. Their ability to tell those stories in Canada's north and other isolated areas was significantly hampered by costs. We simply couldn't get up there. It was very difficult to do that. What do you see as your mandate to represent those voices, and how are you able to do it?

10:15 a.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network

Jean La Rose

Obviously we're not fully able to do it, especially with the travel costs in the north, which are horrendous. We do have bureaus in the three territorial capitals: Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit. From there we send our staff to cover stories in remote localities. When something major happens we can't obviously cover the local to the extent that we wish.

We have started a test pilot over the last two years. We are closing some of our physical locations. For example we closed the Toronto bureau, and the money we saved from paying for infrastructure for a building, for all the services, has allowed us to send VJs, video journalists, into two more cities. We now are covering three cities instead of one, and that's avoided some of those travel costs. We're looking at maybe expanding that to other regions. We've also closed the Edmonton bureau to allow us to have a VJ in Calgary and Edmonton, and we will be replicating that throughout the country to the extent that our resources permit.

The pressures on the network are huge with 633 first nations, 400 or 500 Métis settlements; add to that also the remote Inuit communities. Everyone wants their stories to be told, and they have a full right to demand it. We don't have the resources to fill that demand, but at the same time I think there is a recognition by our audience that what we are doing is the limit of what we can do, and as resources have become available and we've been able to expand a bit in those areas I think the support that we're getting from our communities has been growing.

The one area that we would like to devote more resources to over time will be aboriginal languages. As we know many of our languages are at risk of disappearing, and we're trying to really push the opportunity to expand language programming to more than the 15 that we can usually manage every year. As well over time we would like to be able to offer some of our news coverage in languages as well with possibly English subtitles, but that will mean training more people with a lot of time and effort and resources devoted to creating a whole new generation of language speakers who can also report for us. Often our biggest challenge right now is to find the staff for a lot of the positions we have.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

I want to ask you about your ability to Skype guests in isolated areas. Obviously that's limited by Internet and the quality of Internet availability in those communities.

10:20 a.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network

Jean La Rose

Exactly. The challenge we have even in sharing our news stories when we put them online is that anywhere in the north or remote communities they just don't have the bandwidth to be able to download them.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

An increased bandwidth would be essential to those voices being heard.

10:20 a.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network

Jean La Rose

Absolutely. Increased bandwidth would make an incredible difference in connecting many of those communities, not only to us but to each other. Right now they can't even download a news story that we have unless it's strictly audio.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Thank you.

Mr. Tardif, or Ms. Smyth, maybe I can just quickly go back to you.

Are there any other recommendations that you're hearing from your membership?

You have the 40 seconds that are available, if there's anything you would like to add.

10:20 a.m.

President, Canadian Media Guild

Carmel Smyth

In your discussions, give a thought to how difficult it is for young journalists trying to get a job. They're in school, they're finished, and their prospect of getting a decent-paying job with permanent conditions or hours is very low. The work tends to be precarious and low-paid. For all that people think journalists live the glamourous life and make a lot of money, that's just not the reality. Most journalism jobs—newspapers and radio for sure, but even television, especially in small communities—are low-paying. They don't pay that much, you work weekends, you work every holiday, you work shift work constantly—sometimes you can't get off shift work—and then you lose your job and can't get another one, because everywhere you look there is downsizing and there are places closing. It is a significant issue.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

As far as I'm concerned you couldn't have used that 40 seconds more wisely.

Thank you very much, Ms. Smyth.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thank you.

Now we have Mr. Maguire for the Conservatives.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

Thank you to the presenters here today for your presentations in all three areas.

Mr. Tardif, one of the things that Heritage has indicated to us is that the local community newspapers have been holding their own in readership, mostly, for the last 10 years or so, as compared with the dailies. The Internet may be digitally impacting them more than it does at the community newspaper association level, because—you're right—people associate themselves to those things in their local communities. I come from a small community as well, and the people are attracted by what's going on in their local community at that level. Advertising, then, is maybe more well read on a “per reader” basis than it is in some other areas.

You've indicated that about one-third of your funding comes from the government. How is that judged and how do you see it? Are there incentives put in place for you to look at making changes into digital, or...? Maybe that's open to all of you, but could there be incentives for generating further revenue or for going into areas that you could look at to be more sustainable?