|REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE||Thursday, March 20, 2003|
The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications
has the honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill S-8, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of October 24, 2002, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment. Your Committee appends to this report certain observations on the Bill.
of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications on Bill S-8, An
Act to amend the Broadcasting Act
Your Committee endorses the content and philosophy of
Bill S-8, namely that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications
Commission (CRTC) should have the same power to award costs to interveners in
broadcasting hearings that it has in telecommunications hearings.
This support was previously noted in your Committee’s Fourth Report
during the First Session of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament.
During the course of hearings on this Bill, however, witnesses raised
The Bill does not specify the exact mechanism for the
awarding of costs to interveners at broadcasting hearings.
The Telecommunications Act does provide a model – one that
officials from the CRTC thought worked well – but several witnesses expressed
concerns. They said that hearings
for broadcasting and telecommunications are not comparable.
In particular, telecom hearings are more technical and attract a
relatively small number of specialist interveners, including lawyers, economists
and accountants. There is no
ceiling on the awards at telecom hearings; the size of awards has varied
considerably, from a low of $151.59 (Costs Order CRTC 2000-4) to a high of
$305,091.64 (Taxation Order CRTC 98-6).
Broadcasting hearings tend to be less technical and
attract a larger number of interveners. Some
witnesses suggested that using the telecom model of cost awards could lead to
more technical hearings for broadcasting, and the larger number of interveners
could lead to higher total intervener costs for broadcasting hearings than for
In addition, several witnesses suggested that small
broadcasters and small, rural cable systems would be hurt if they had to pay
intervener costs. The Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) also raised concerns about a possible financial
burden if it were subject to the Bill. Large
payments could harm the CBC’s financial position and lead to a cut-back in
services to Canadians.
While your Committee supports the Bill, it also urges
all those involved in developing mechanisms for its implementation to pay
particular attention to these issues.