Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 2 - Evidence - Meeting of December 9, 2013
OTTAWA, Monday, December 9, 2013
The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages met this day at 5 p.m. to
study CBC/Radio-Canada's obligations under the Official Languages Act and some
aspects of the Broadcasting Act.
Senator Claudette Tardif (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, I now call this meeting of the Senate
Standing Committee on Official Languages to order.
I am Senator Claudette Tardif, from Alberta, and I am the chair of this
committee. I would ask all committee members to introduce themselves, beginning
with the vice-chair, to my left.
Senator Champagne: Andrée Champagne from the province of Quebec.
Senator Poirier: Rose-May Poirier from New Brunswick.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis from Quebec City.
Senator Beyak: Good evening. Lynn Beyak, from northwestern Ontario.
Senator Rivard: Michel Rivard from Quebec.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Marie Poulin from northern Ontario.
Senator Chaput: Maria Chaput from Manitoba.
The Chair: We are continuing our study on CBC/Radio-Canada's
obligations under the Official Languages Act and some aspects of the
The public hearings of the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages
are drawing to a close. They were launched in the fall of 2011. Testimony was
heard over the course of approximately two years, during which time other
studies were also conducted and Parliament prorogued.
At the same time, the CRTC held its own public meetings on the renewal of the
public broadcaster's licence for the coming years.
Today, the senate committee will be hearing witnesses from CBC/Radio-Canada
in order to hear about its own public hearings as well as the CRTC's recent
decision. I am very pleased to welcome Mr. Louis Lalande, Executive
Vice-President, French Services, and his team. Following their opening remarks,
the senators will ask questions. I would ask the senators to make their
questions brief and relevant because there is a lot of material and time is
I will now give the floor to Mr. Lalande, who will introduce his team.
Louis Lalande, Executive Vice-President, French Services,
CBC/Radio-Canada: Good evening, Senators. Thank you for inviting us to
appear again before this committee in order to answer your questions. I am
accompanied this evening by Patricia Pleszczynska, Executive Director of
Regional Services and ICI Radio-Canada Première, our talk radio channel, and
Michel Cormier, Executive Director of News and Current Affairs at Radio-Canada.
In today's media world, one of the challenges for Canadians, especially
francophones, is to find spaces that provide rich and relevant original content
that reflects their interests and tells their stories in their own language. As
a public broadcaster, we therefore have an enormous responsibility toward
francophones. In minority communities, Radio- Canada is often the only media
outlet offering francophones programming in French. This is a mandate we take
very seriously. I am convinced we have the best possible strategy to meet our
obligations in keeping with the resources available.
Before answering your questions, I thought it would be helpful to give a
quick overview of everything that has changed in the environment in which
CBC/Radio-Canada operates since our last appearance before this committee 21
When we spoke here in March 2012, CBC/Radio-Canada was set to unveil its plan
to absorb a $115 million reduction in its parliamentary appropriations as part
of DRAP, the federal government's Deficit Reduction Action Plan.
Also, we were preparing to go before the CRTC to defend the LPIF, the Local
Programming Improvement Fund, a fund that helped us considerably to enhance our
television services, particularly for francophone minority communities.
Finally, we were preparing for CRTC hearings on the renewal of our licences.
We are now completing the second year of DRAP. The LPIF is in its final year
of operations, and the CRTC issued our new conditions of licence last May.
Against this backdrop, we continue to implement Strategy 2015: Everyone, Every
way, CBC/Radio-Canada's five-year plan. One of its three main priorities is to
strengthen the public broadcaster's regional presence.
In facing all these challenges, we have found Strategy 2015 to be very useful
because it guides us in our strategic choices. It assures us we are always able
to fulfil our duty to the Canadian public.
With the phase-out of the LPIF, for example, the easy decision would have
been to cancel all regional programs supported by the fund. In light of Strategy
2015, we decided instead to stay the course and continuing offering regional
news seven days a week at all our stations. We have therefore absorbed some of
the loss of funding in other areas of Radio-Canada.
Our commitment to regional programming, notably in official language minority
communities, is also reflected in our new CRTC conditions of licence. For
television, for example, our seven regional stations serving francophone
minority communities will offer at least five hours of local programming a week
on average over a year. All our regional stations will also air local news seven
days a week all year long, except holidays.
Our new conditions also reflect concerns voiced by various representatives of
francophone communities before the commission at the November 2012 hearings. I
should point out that the CRTC, during these hearings, received over 8,000
interventions and heard over 100 witnesses, including some of you. One of the
conditions issued by the CRTC pertains to CBEF in Windsor, where we are
requested to produce at least 15 hours a week of local programming. In addition,
Radio-Canada will hold official consultations with francophone minority
communities in each of these regions: Atlantic Canada, Ontario, western Canada
and northern Canada.
In our licence renewals, the CRTC also laid down conditions that will allow
CBC to continue serving Quebec's anglophone community effectively. Besides the
official consultations that it will hold with this community, CBC will offer
Quebec anglophones 14 hours of local television programming a week, including
one hour of non-news programming.
Several conditions of licence set out by the CRTC were based very closely on
proposals put forward by CBC/Radio- Canada. We made these proposals because we
felt they represent a balance between our desire to improve our services to
these communities and our need to manage our resources and other services. They
form an integral part of our planning and they result in concrete programming
For example, our daytime radio newscasts on ICI Radio-Canada Première are
produced in every station in the country so we can properly reflect local,
regional and national news in line with the specific priorities of each region.
On the radio front, we also launched a brand new national program this fall.
It is called L'heure du monde and one of its key tasks is to cover news
across Canada using the journalism resources of our regional stations.
On television, the 10 p.m. Téléjournal newscast continues to evolve to
better showcase international news and the Canadian reality. This change is
driven by a major undertaking that concerns our overall approach to news and
that is part of our strategy to transform and reposition Radio-Canada.
In closing, I want to mention the incredible potential of digital technology.
We continue to tap into it to enhance the services offered to francophone
Our multiplatform regional approach allows us to be present on the Web and
mobile devices with local and regional content that resonates with francophones
in every region of the country. This approach has met with ever-growing success.
Indeed, 30 to 40 per cent of our website traffic is now the result of regional
Despite the technological and financial challenges that put constant pressure
on our organization, we remain firmly committed at Radio-Canada to fulfilling
our mandate relating to official language minority communities.
With our new licences, five-year plan and programming strategy, I am
convinced we have the tools needed to meet our obligations with the success that
Canadians expect from their public broadcaster.
We would now be happy to answer your questions.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Welcome to our committee. My question is for
Mr. Louis Lalande.
In his most recent annual report, the official languages commissioner wrote
that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is the federal institution that has
been the subject of the highest number of complaints with respect to Part VII of
the Official Languages Act. First, can you tell us what steps you plan on taking
to improve your record and, second, do you believe it is possible to reduce
those complaints to zero or is there a number of complaints you would be
satisfied or comfortable with?
Mr. Lalande: I would like to begin by clarifying what the commissioner
said in his latest report. The number of complaints must be considered within
the context of reduced programming in Windsor; the vast majority of those
complaints, I believe it was around 90 per cent, were connected to the
programming in Windsor being reduced. That puts those results somewhat in
perspective. If you compare our corporation to other organizations from that
perspective, CBC's level of complaints is quite minimal compared to Air Canada,
with whom we might be compared with.
That said, that event drove us to reflect on the measures we were taking. We
actually implemented a series of measures to redeploy those services in Windsor
and that was confirmed under the new condition of licence that the CRTC set for
us, that is, to bring local programming back up to 15 hours.
We follow the other complaints closely. We are always sensitive to
complaints. Would it be possible for there to be no more complaints one day? I
doubt it, because my experience with minority francophone communities tells me
that there is always a risk. People who live in minority situations always feel
somewhat at risk and a public broadcaster such as the CBC inevitably becomes the
lightning rod for many of those fears. I think it would therefore be very
difficult to reach a zero complaint level. This is a daily challenge for us. It
is a challenge that we take to heart, that all CBC employees take to heart. I
would say that over the past few years, staff and management at CBC have really
realized how important it is to make sure that they are reflecting all of these
communities and their issues through our programming.
Senator Poirier: Can you tell me what percentage of the Téléjournal's
news comes from Montreal and Quebec City, compared to the rest of Canada?
Michel Cormier, Executive Director, News and Current Affairs, French
Services, CBC/Radio-Canada: That is very good timing, because the numbers
have just come out. I am pleased to tell you that there has been progress over
the past year. Last year, we were at 9.4 per cent, whereas now we stand at 10.3
per cent. Those are the numbers for regional stations outside Montreal. If we
include our national correspondents, then the percentage goes up to 13.6 per
cent for the year 2012-13. That is significant progress.
However, I think we need to move beyond numbers; we want to increase our
presence, but we also want to increase understanding throughout the country. The
idea is not to simply reflect the regions. We have a new strategy that focuses
on telling the country's story, which goes beyond regions. This strategy has
several components including, first of all, two more national reporters being
added to our team of reporters—one in Edmonton and one in Moncton. Given the
current financial circumstances, it is no small move to create new national
reporter positions. We wanted to do this because we want to make sure that
topics of national interest can be brought to the regions. Take, for example,
the issue of oil and the economics of oil. Obviously, a reporter in the west can
provide a more interesting perspective than that provided simply by coverage
from a political perspective in Montreal or Ottawa.
Take, for example, employment insurance reform, which was a heartbreaking
issue for people in the Maritimes. We made a special effort to not only provide
reporting on that, but also to take our programs out of Montreal in order to go
and see what was happening there. Last spring, we had a special episode of
24/60 out of Caraquet. That episode had a huge impact because we did our
analysis based on the epicentre, if you will, of the demonstrations and on the
amendments to the legislation. During that special two-hour program, we were
broadcasting directly from six cities in the country: Fort McMurray, Calgary,
Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Caraquet. That is the kind of work we do. Of
course, it is impossible to do that every week, but that is the kind of
commitment we have made. We want to increase not only the amount of coverage,
but the quality of coverage as well.
Senator Poirier: Can you tell me how often you survey communities in
Canada in order to find out what their level of satisfaction is?
Patricia Pleszczynska, Executive Director, Regional Services and ICI
Radio-Canada Première, CBC/Radio-Canada :
These are not surveys but we agreed, following the renewal of our conditions
of licence, to change the way we consult with communities throughout the
country. We have already started. We tested the model last spring, even before
receiving our conditions of licence from the CRTC.
The first consultation actually took place in the Moncton area and this was
attended by my colleague Michel, Louis Lalande, of course, Executive
Vice-President of French Services; and Marie Côté was also there for ARTV. We
were therefore able to hold two kinds of meetings. We first met as a smaller
group which included the editorial team, and representatives from various
associations, who, by the way, we meet on a regular basis because the work of
each regional director includes maintaining very close ties with associations,
organizations, and individuals who are concerned and active in this area.
That meeting involved a more limited number of people in order to discuss
issues that they had previously raised individually. Following that, we held a
public hearing which was attended by many people including those involved in
independent production, because they are of course always interested in the work
CBC is doing in the regions.
That first meeting was held last spring; there will be a second one this fall
in Windsor, after our new programming begins in the Windsor region. There is now
a new three-hour morning program that is broadcast from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and
integrated newscasts from the station at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Again, we met smaller groups first and then held a public hearing which was
attended by approximately 300 people. The entire active community of Windsor
came forward and told us first how pleased they were that they had been heard by
the CRTC, how pleased they also were to get back their morning program, and how
committed they were to being involved. They also are committed to working with
us in order to facilitate the implementation of content that would be of
interest to these audiences, but that would be of particular interest to young
people, to the next generation, to those young people that we want to keep in
these francophone communities.
Senator Poirier: If I have understood correctly, the CRTC set that
criterion under your licence renewal. Was there no, or less, consultation before
that criterion was set?
Ms. Pleszczynska: There were already consultations. As a matter of
fact, we suggested that condition ourselves as proof of our good faith but also
as a way of establishing a specific commitment, that is, two meetings per year
at a minimum, as well as an annual public hearing to be held always in one
region or another of the country. Of course there were consultations previous to
that, however they were not officially scheduled to be held twice a year, and in
certain regions every two years.
Furthermore, as I mentioned, each of our regional directors meets with the
community on a regular basis. I would tell you that not a month goes by without
there being a meeting between an association and a director or an executive in
one of our regions or another, and we keep that in mind. We keep a record of
these meetings precisely in order to make sure that the issues that are raised
are worked on, are considered closely, and to make sure that our directors and
our executives are accountable for following up on these meetings.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Mr. Lalande, I am especially honoured to see
you here. I do not believe there has ever been in the history of the corporation
an individual with as much experience in the regions as you have in the position
of Executive Vice-President of French Services. I congratulate CBC on their
Mr. Lalande: I am pleased to hear that.
Senator Charette-Poulin: I worked for almost 25 years with
CBC/Radio-Canada, including as vice-president of regional radio and television
programming. I left in 1992. As I was saying to Ms. Pleszczynska earlier, the
environment has changed and so has the organization. So act as if I did not know
anything at all.
Mr. Lalande: Fine.
Senator Charette-Poulin: You said earlier that 30 to 40 per cent of
CBC's website traffic was made up of regional content. Did I understand that
Mr. Lalande: Yes.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Does that include regional content from all
Mr. Lalande: Yes. At first, as those who have followed the development
of CBC/Radio-Canada's website will know, it was more network content than
regional content. It really is over the past four years that a regional Web
strategy has been developed. This was not easy given the conditions we were
working under. Besides providing radio and television service continuity, there
also absolutely had to be Web content. I remember meetings in just about all the
regions where people from the community were asking me what we were going to do
in order to make sure that they were not forgotten within that universe. We
could see that it was important and it was also a very delicate operation.
I am proud to be able to say today that, thanks to our work, the regional
content is there but the gateway is through regional sites. In my opinion that
is truly a great success story and we absolutely want to continue. However, it
is quite unique.
Ms. Pleszczynska: If you go onto CBC/Radio-Canada's website, you will
see that everything is geo-localized. In other words, anyone can always access
their regional gateway but if their regional gateway is Ottawa or Toronto, they
can still choose to travel throughout regional sites in order to obtain regional
information. We have provided additional resources in order to make sure that
these sites are active and evolving, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., so that the
information is always up to date.
Senator Charette-Poulin: I think the website results are very
interesting. It is proof of the thinking of the late Pierre Juneau, who was the
president of the corporation for seven years. He always told us that the more
the corporation has roots like a tree within the regions, with good programming,
services that reflect the region and allow the region to be reflected nationally
and internationally, the more CBC/Radio-Canada will prove its worth in Canada. I
heard Mr. Juneau say this over and over again. And I am convinced that, for
example, in Ontario, having radio, television and the Web rooted in one's
region, one's language, truly enables a community, such as the francophone and
francophile community in Ontario, to increase and seek out other members of the
I would like to be more familiar with how CBC/Radio-Canada is organized in
Ontario. For example, we have a station in Ottawa but it serves the Ontario and
Quebec sides. There is also a station with a rather unique mandate in Toronto,
given that Toronto is the capital of Ontario. CBON is in Sudbury. How many
rebroadcasting stations are there in Sudbury for northern Ontario? I do not
Ms. Pleszczynska: I could not give you an exact number but there are
Senator Charette-Poulin: I think there are 35.
Ms. Pleszczynska: You would know because you yourself were in Sudbury
and you were the one who established them.
Senator Charette-Poulin: The website does not post the number of
rebroadcasting stations for all national stations. That is a very important
number because it indicates the listening and viewing potential. If my memory
serves me well, there are about 35 in northern Ontario. How many rebroadcasting
stations would there be for Windsor, approximately? The south is quite a large
Ms. Pleszczynska: We can provide you with the exact numbers.
Senator Charette-Poulin: How is this currently organized?
Mr. Lalande: Before giving the floor to my colleague, I would like to
say that between when you left CBC/Radio- Canada and today, particularly in
Ontario, there have been some rather significant changes. You probably will
recall that the Toronto station was closed.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Closed in Toronto?
Mr. Lalande: Yes, the television station. People have forgotten that
rather sad time when all Ontario services were taken on by the Ottawa station.
Seven years ago, we recovered that licence and reopened a station in Toronto.
Senator Charette-Poulin: There was no longer a Téléjournal in
Mr. Lalande: There was no Téléjournal in Toronto. People have
forgotten some of the difficult times that CBC/ Radio-Canada experienced.
Services were improved by reopening that station, establishing a solid
television base in Toronto and clarifying Ottawa' mandate, Ottawa having always
been a bit unique. Ottawa deals with its own market, which is already quite
complex because it includes Ottawa and Gatineau. It is not a simple mandate, but
it is being closely considered. The game plan for radio and television has also
been clarified and this is providing for a much better approach.
I will let my colleague give you more details on Ontario as a whole.
Ms. Pleszczynska: As Mr. Lalande was saying, we were given a new
licence for regional television broadcasting in Toronto just three years ago, if
I am not mistaken.
In the Ontario region, there are two branch offices: the first is the
Ottawa-Gatineau branch, and the station director, Marco Dubé, is here in
Ottawa-Gatineau. The Ottawa-Gatineau station broadcasts a morning radio program,
Le midi trente, a drive-home program, which is now three hours long, from 3
p.m. to 6 p.m., and four hours of local programming on Saturday mornings.
It also broadcasts regional programming on Espace Musique, Monday to Friday
mornings from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Finally, it has a national production centre,
which produces the program Quelle histoire, which is broadcast from
Monday to Thursday at 2 o'clock. It is a wholly original television program,
which uses the CBC/Radio-Canada archives, as well as stories from Canadians from
one end of the country to the other, from both the past and the present.
These are just some of the activities that take place in the Ottawa-Gatineau
region, and as you might expect this station has a relatively complex mandate
because it straddles two provinces. Just to give you an example: this year, it
might have to cover two provincial elections during the same season or in two
consecutive seasons. It is a very complex, bilingual region, where the
relationship between CBC and Radio-Canada is very close.
In Toronto, we have another manager, Robert Renaud. He was the manager for
CBC here in Ottawa, and we recruited him to join our francophone French services
team in Toronto. Mr. Renaud is responsible for the stations in Toronto, Sudbury
Senator Charette-Poulin: Do you mean to say that Toronto is now
responsible for Sudbury?
Ms. Pleszczynska: No. An Ontario manager is responsible for Sudbury.
Senator Charette-Poulin: But that is the English model that I am
familiar with, what we called ``the Ontario Region.''
Ms. Pleszczynska: You see, in Sudbury, there is a manager of French
Senator Charette-Poulin: Yes, but in the past the French network was
directly responsible for radio station CBON and the local television services. I
see that a major change has taken place. Clearly, if northern Ontario, which has
the largest francophone population in Ontario outside of Ottawa, now all of a
sudden reports to Toronto —
Ms. Pleszczynska: Let me clarify: they do not report to Toronto.
Rather, they report to an Ontario manager, who lives in Toronto, but who is a
Franco-Ontarian from the Sudbury region, who knows that region very well and who
spends a lot of time there in his role as manager.
Senator Charette-Poulin: I do not want to confuse the structure and
Ms. Pleszczynska: No, but what I am trying to explain is that there is
an Ontario manager who is responsible for the three stations. That manager, and
the manager for Ottawa-Gatineau, reports to me, and as regional director of
regional services, I am responsible for all the regions, and directly
responsible for the work of our managers in all the regions, whether it be the
Atlantic, Quebec, Ottawa-Gatineau, Ontario or the west.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Ms. Pleszczynska, that is a major change in
the administrative structure of Radio-Canada.
Mr. Lalande: Let me put all this into perspective. Four years ago, all
of our services in Ontario were concentrated in Ottawa. It is as simple as that.
All of our services. There were fewer people deployed in the regions. The
organization was smaller and our people reported to a television manager. Today,
Ms. Pleszczynska is at the French services table, she is on the executive board
for French services, with all of the regions, including Ontario, the west,
Acadia and Quebec.
I can tell you that, since then, people in Ontario and in the north truly
feel that Radio-Canada has a great interest, which can be seen in its
implementation and its presence. The number of activities we conducted in
northern Ontario, by doing broadcasts and going to meet various communities,
show how important this is. There are also all the CBC resources we can activate
to provide better service. As you know, service is not easy to provide because
of the territory, and it is always difficult to balance the interests of
northern, southern and central Ontario.
The feedback I get on this when I visit these regions is rather positive.
Senator Chaput: My question is about the variable Radio-Canada uses to
measure the potential for a francophone audience. We heard that Radio-Canada
uses the concept of the mother tongue, that is, the first language learned and
I do not understand why Radio-Canada uses this variable. Why is it ignoring a
significant number of Canadians outside Quebec who can communicate in French?
Why does the audience for our Canadian francophone television not include all
Canadians who speak French?
Ms. Pleszczynska: Of course it does. While the official numbers of
Statistics Canada are based on certain definitions, the fact that there are over
two million people who understand French can only be an advantage to our
service. It is a potential pool of people whose stories can be interesting and
can be heard in French across the country.
This is definitely an advantage we make use of. Our service is not in any way
targeted only to people whose mother tongue spoken at home is French. Of course,
we use the numbers provided by Statistics Canada, as I assume all other
organizations do, but the fact that there are over two million French-speakers
is not something we avoid or do not include in our strategy. Naturally of course
all of these French-speakers can potentially be on air and enrich the
discussion, tell their stories, as Mr. Cormier stated, so that we can tell the
story of Canada in French and not simply reflect the communities. This is a
wonderful advantage that adds to our wealth in programming.
Senator Chaput: Which criteria does Radio-Canada use in allocating
resources, whether they are financial or human resources? Are francophones
considered to be people whose first language learned and still understood is
French or is it all Canadians who can communication in French?
Because as we know, in business, when you talk about numbers, it is those
numbers that justify the means and funding spent on these programs. What
criteria do you use when allocating resources?
Mr. Lalande: As you know very well, if we allocated resources only
based on the number of francophones, whether they have French as their mother
tongue or not, we would not have the numbers you see today.
I therefore believe that resources are allocated based on our mandate, which
is to provide service to communities that are often very small, using quite
significant resources, throughout a vast and complex country.
So on that, I want to reassure you that resources are allocated in a way that
goes well beyond any definition of a French-speaker.
Senator Champagne: As you can imagine, as part of the work of our
committee — and I have been sitting on this committee since fall 2005 — we have
communicated with nearly all of the minority communities in our large country.
There is one thing in particular that bothers me very much. Some time ago, we
heard from people in Canada's Far North. They said that television and satellite
work there, but people forget it. Their link to the rest of the country is the
radio; their link is the CBC.
So I asked them, but you get nothing in French?
They said, yes, senator. On Friday nights, from 11 p.m. to midnight, the
English CBC network provides one hour of programming in French.
We are talking here about a certain number of francophones. It is not
downtown Montreal, but there are enough francophones for them to form an
association and come to tell us about their concerns.
Is there so little communication between CBC and Radio-Canada that all we can
provide to francophones in the Far North is a half-our or one hour of French
programming on Fridays at 11 p.m.? In this case, are you working within the
official languages framework of Canada?
Mr. Lalande: We will first describe what the situation is in the north
at this time.
Ms. Pleszczynska: Let us first look at the community in the Yukon; it
is a small community, but probably the largest one in terms of francophones or
French-speakers in the north, except outside northern Quebec, of course. This
community receives radio and television services from our British Columbia
programming from Vancouver. Service is therefore provided. We have a journalist
based in Whitehorse whose job is not only to showcase what is happening in this
region, but also to ensure that if anything can be put on the network, that
information can be passed along.
Earlier we talked about the regional sites on British Columbia's website. The
Yukon has its own region. It has its own part of the website containing
information that is specific to that community.
A few months ago, we began a dialogue with the CBC team in charge of
programming for the north. The CBC North team is in charge of English and
French-language programming for the north.
Senator Champagne: One hour a week at 11 p.m. is not ideal for parents
who want their children to hear French spoken on the radio.
Ms. Pleszczynska: I understand. That show is specific to some issues
in some communities. That does not mean that it is the only programming provided
in French. They can hear programming from Edmonton or Saskatchewan, or our
I wanted to explain that, a few months ago, we began discussing a review and
clarification of the mandate for Boréal hebdo with CBC North. What we are
trying to do is clarify whether the role of this program is to reflect life in
the north, francophones in the north, or aboriginal life in the north. We are
trying to clearly identify the role for this program. Based on the mandate we
will agree upon, we will simply broadcast the program from our regional stations
so that these stories and realities can be heard not only in the communities
themselves, but also from other stations, whether that is in Edmonton, Val-d'Or,
Rouyn, Sept-Îles or some of our Quebec regions where there are affinities with
northern stations, in our northern communities, for the issues found in the
Senator Champagne: You are going to have a difficult time convincing
me that the best CBC and Radio-Canada can do to provide service in French to
people in the Far North is Friday nights from 11 p.m. to midnight. As my
grandmother would say, you had better get up early in the morning, because you
are going to have quite a job convincing me of that.
Ms. Pleszczynska: There may be a misunderstanding about the scope of
the service provided. That program is specific to northern issues. This does not
mean that it is the only service provided in French to these communities. They
do receive the Radio-Canada programming broadcast on CBC North by satellite.
These communities do have access to Radio-Canada's national programming by
satellite. The show in question is specifically about issues in the north. It is
aimed specifically at that audience, rather than the service that includes
national broadcasting, because they do receive that programming.
Senator Champagne: I have another question, for Mr. Cormier. I am one
of those people who is interested in seeing what is happening all around the
country. Even when I am sitting at home, in Saint-Hyacinthe, I watch the news.
I would like to know why the Téléjournal newscast and that of the CBC
or Newsworld give the impression that we do not live in the same country.
They do not cover the same news at all; it is completely different.
If I am outside the country and I log on to my computer to see what is
happening at home, do you think, Mr. Cormier, that the news I see on the
Téléjournal and on the CBC will give me information on the same country?
Mr. Cormier: The broadcasts are aimed at two different audiences. In
terms of national stories, what comes out of the federal Parliament, the stories
are the same.
If you watch CBC, there are not many reports on Quebec, on the francophone
community in Canada.
Senator Champagne: The same is true the other way around. The news
covers only Quebec.
Mr. Cormier: We are trying to improve the scores. As I told you, we
were at 13.5 per cent. We were asked for 15 per cent. The communities also based
their commitment on this number a little bit.
We have also made efforts in other areas. We put together a first edition of
the Téléjournal with Céline Galipeau at 9 p.m. on RDI, whose mandate is
to provide increased representation of the regions. This newscast is longer than
the national newscast at 10 p.m., which is much more focused on national and
Senator Champagne: Céline Galipeau openly told us in Winnipeg that, in
any case, we should forget about the francophonie in Manitoba. Your very own
news anchor said those words.
Mr. Cormier: As I told you, we are currently doing that. There is also
a news broadcast called Le National which was broadcast in the late
evening. It has now been moved to dinner time on RDI, and provides a summary of
the news from around the country. It provides a lot of regional reports.
There is now much more programming being offered than even one year ago.
These are the kinds of efforts we are making. Obviously, the CBC will have very
different content from ours. In covering the Mayor Ford crisis, they sometimes
began with 15 minutes on that topic.
Senator Champagne: You could go to the U.S. and get the same thing.
Mr. Cormier: Yes, because the main audience is anglophone and its
concerns are being reflected.
We have, for example, been covering the Charbonneau commission for the past
year. It is the journalistic work of Radio-Canada that brought this problem of
corruption in Quebec forward. It is therefore difficult to ignore this kind of
As I was saying, we also try to bring national issues to the regions. We
broadcast special reports on RDI that are produced in the regions, which we
rebroadcast on RDI to bring them to the attention of the entire country. Shale
gas has been an issue in New Brunswick. Senator Poirier, as you very well know,
this is a big issue in your region.
There was extensive coverage of the shale gas development issue in New
Brunswick — Ms. Poirier, you are aware of the strong opposition to shale gas
development in your region — and it is a problem different from those in other
provinces. In Moncton, we recently produced a special one-hour report on shale
gas which was broadcast on RDI. We did the same thing for oil in the Lower St.
Lawrence. We have done all of that, but if the assessment is based only on the
Téléjournal at 10 p.m. — which is approximately a 32-minute broadcast that
increasingly includes international news and excludes advertising — it may not
entirely reflect everything that is produced on the regions and everything else
Senator Champagne: Lately, there has been a lot of airtime dedicated
on all networks to the problems facing two or three senators who have gotten
into trouble. This was covered extensively both in English and in French. That
is all that was talked about, so much so that we had the impression that we were
all being painted with the same brush. This happened both on the Téléjournal
and on CBC/Radio-Canada.
Mr. Lalande: I would like to add something. I think we also have to
look at the work and improvements we have seen over the past year, and I would
even say the past two years. Last week again, there was exemplary coverage of
significant issues and the country's perspective from an international point of
view on a Téléjournal program. Daily information is something you have to
monitor every day. The days go by quickly as do the years. I can tell you and
assure you that, over the past year, specific measures were taken. We reflected
on the feedback and opinions we received from various groups and took a number
of measures to improve the situation, particularly at the Téléjournal. I
wanted to remind you of this, as it happens every day.
Senator Chaput: To follow up on Senator Champagne's questions, Mr.
Cormier, you mentioned measures for representativeness. What, for you, are
measures for representativeness? I get the impression that we may have different
definitions of this.
Mr. Cormier: I can briefly go over again the vision we have for the
national coverage we are implementing. I would like to remind you that we added
two national reporters in western Canada to improve the perspective from that
region. This includes issues such as the Quebec charter of values, which was
covered extensively, and we ensured that we had a much broader perspective than
simply that of people in Quebec. We went to western Canada to see what people
thought, to Ontario and places outside the country as well, to see how countries
such as France and Great Britain dealt with these issues. What we are trying to
do is to provide a context for these issues and discover how francophones
outside Quebec deal with certain realities.
I was in Manitoba in the fall. We know that almost half of the students at
St. Boniface College are foreigners. Immigration is one of the survival
strategies for the francophone community in Manitoba. It is quite a change for
the community, and being aware of the current debate in Quebec on the issue of
integrating immigrants is very enlightening for them. In that sense, that is our
When I say ``tell the country's story,'' and bring issues of national
significance into the region, that is just one of the examples of what we are
doing. We may not be as far along as we would like to be, but that is the
approach we are developing and will continue to work on in the years to come.
The Chair: I would like to ask a follow-up question to Senator
Champagne's first question. It deals with the radio signal in Jasper National
Park. I am from Edmonton, and I know that people in Jasper National Park cannot
pick up the signal from Radio-Canada Edmonton. For several years now, people
living in these regions have been asking for services. What steps are you taking
to fix this problem?
Mr. Lalande: I do not have to remind you of the issues and
difficulties caused by our country's geography. Since 1974, we have greatly
improved the availability of our radio services. At that time, the government
granted Radio- Canada special funding to boost its reach into very small
communities. At that time, the government injected $62 million to improve
transmitters and receivers in the park, to ensure that basic service was being
provided in the smaller communities as well as in the areas that were
geographically very difficult to reach, namely the mountain regions. That was,
of course, several years ago, and the infrastructure has aged. We are now
grappling with aging infrastructure that must be replaced, and we must make some
difficult choices. We have to make choices in keeping with the changes over the
years and with the capital budget, but those choices are very difficult ones,
and we face them every year.
Offering service on the FM bandwidth — because we still offer AM services in
large cities that serve significant francophone populations — is a difficult
task. Jasper is one place where we would like to be able to install a
transmitter, but for the reasons I have just explained, other priorities come up
on a regular basis, and the transmitter cannot be provided because of the
density of the population there and the cost. It is a real and unfortunate
situation, but one that exists.
I will remind you that the special funding we received at the time from the
federal government represented a major investment. Forty years later, we must
realize that we no longer have the means to maintain the transmitters and admit
that we are facing an even greater challenge today. We are rising to that
challenge on a step-by-step basis.
The Chair: I know that other senators have questions to ask, but I do
want to take a moment to mention that the English radio signal is there. This is
a situation where francophones are not receiving the same quality of service as
Mr. Lalande: Unequal service is a reality in some communities. It is a
reality. The act specifies that service must be equal where means permit, where
Senator Rivard: Madam Chair, you may not believe me, but you just
asked exactly the same question I was going to ask, and I will tell you why. A
few weeks ago, I attended the Canadian Teachers Federation convention here in
Ottawa. The person sitting next to me at my table was a French-language teacher
in Jasper. He explained to me how difficult it was for his students to improve
their French, because they do not have French TV or radio. I was always
convinced that Radio-Canada's mandate required that radio and TV broadcasts be
in both languages throughout Canada.
I will not talk about the Yukon, at the other end of the country, but I was
surprised to hear that in Jasper, they could not get a word of French from
Radio-Canada. Can you confirm that is actually the situation?
Mr. Lalande: Yes, that is the case. There are some places in the
country, but they are very small places. As I said, the challenge is real.
Senator Rivard: That leads me to my next question: what criteria do
you use to measure whether or not Radio- Canada meets its official language
obligations? What are the criteria you use to tell us this evening that you have
met your objectives? How can you tell us you are fulfilling your mandate? Do you
conduct surveys? How can you show us this evening that you are meeting your
Mr. Lalande: First of all, I would point out that radio or TV service
is widely available across the country. It is not 100 per cent available, and to
be frank, I do not think 100 per cent coverage is achievable. We are always
striving to improve; that is what we do. We are at about 98 per cent. But the
remaining 2 per cent includes communities of 150 or 200 French-speaking people
in a region that is extremely difficult to reach. Considerable efforts are
undertaken to ensure that we maintain and improve the situation.
Secondly, I would comment on our presence in the regions of the country, on
the ground, with all of Radio- Canada's staff deployed throughout the country.
Clearly, we cannot be everywhere, but we are present in each province. We have
guiding principles stating that there will be a station in the capital. When we
are in a province, we set up in the capital because even if the francophone
population is perhaps higher in the capital, we believe that being in the
capital will enable us to reach out and be closer to the interests of these
Thirdly, I would mention the diversity and the contact of the staff members
in their interests, involvement and consultations. Because as Ms. Pleszczynska
said, the involvement of Radio-Canada staff — and not just management — in the
various places where they are deployed is such that we have greater awareness
and a duty to do everything that is possible within our means, and you know that
That is why we are very happy that we had to go through our licenses renewal.
I will emphasize one thing about that: for a host of reasons, Radio-Canada was,
for many years, not required to go back to the CRTC. We were happy that last
fall we had an opportunity to have that exchange with the CRTC which took into
consideration all of the elements and all of our responsibilities. It heard
8,000 interventions. I salute the CRTC for the time it took to listen to people
and to take into consideration all of those aspects to ensure that
Radio-Canada's framework of operations was clarified, with the results that we
are familiar with and the new licensing conditions we agree with.
I just want to assure you that respecting our mandate is very important to
us, as is offering adequate services to the entire population.
Ms. Pleszczynska: I would perhaps add as proof that our mandate for
official languages is important to us that if you look at the number of stations
across the country, you will note that 11 of the 21 radio stations and 7 of the
13 television production centres are in minority communities. That is much more
representative than the francophone population. And as Mr. Lalande said, we set
up our stations and put in place our programming not based on population, but on
representativity across the country.
Senator Rivard: The fact that Statistics Canada shows an increase in
francophones or bilingual people in certain so- called isolated regions may
influence your decision. Is Statistics Canada one of the tools that you use to
establish or expand your network as required?
Mr. Lalande: Of course. Resources fluctuate, so adjustments are
necessary. Mr. Cormier talked about adding two national correspondents. I would
like to clarify that we already had national correspondents. We added two
because we found the need was there. But these are people whose specific mandate
is to deal with national interests, not from a Quebec perspective, but from a
perspective based on where they are located. That complements the work of the
other correspondents that we have in Vancouver, Toronto, the Acadian Peninsula
and Ontario. So in that regard, there is some fluctuation. Even if it is not
always apparent, this data fluctuates on a yearly basis based on changes in
The Chair: We are going to start the second round. I would ask you to
be very brief in your questions and answers. We have about 15 minutes left, and
five senators want to ask questions.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Thank you, Madam Chair. You touched briefly
on this subject in the presentation you made earlier. I know that your licences
were recently renewed in 2013, and that the CRTC's decision includes conditions
covering, among other things, consultations with official language minority
Can you tell us if you tailored your 2015 Strategy Everyone, Every way taking
into account the new conditions imposed by the CRTC or whether you had prepared
your strategy prior to the CRTC's decision?
Mr. Lalande: Before the CRTC's decision, as Ms. Pleszczynska
mentioned, we had different consultation mechanisms. I can tell you that we are
in ongoing consultations through our regional branches, but also through the
meetings that we hold on a regular basis across the country, either private
meetings with smaller groups or with larger assemblies.
So these mechanisms already existed, and of course when we developed the 2015
Strategy, we drew a great deal on these meetings. What has changed is that with
our new licences, we have the obligation to more clearly codify these meetings
and we will put that in place. That was in fact one of the suggestions we made
to the CRTC, because we did see that something was not working with the
mechanisms. It did not seem satisfactory, we did not seem to understand each
other. We decided we would propose a new mechanism and see how we could work
with it. That is what we have started to do.
We will continue this ongoing dialogue which is our best source, I would say,
for ensuring that we capture and reflect these interests as Radio-Canada's
Ms. Pleszczynska: What is more, we are in regular conversation, beyond
these regional meetings, with associations like the FCFA, the FCCF, or
provincial associations. We meet regularly in person or on the phone. We make
representations when these institutions hold a general assembly. We are in
regular contact with the associations and these people, either in smaller groups
or in general assemblies.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: I have a short question about the statement
that you make on page 4.
The last sentence in the first paragraph reads as follows:
We have absorbed some of the loss of funding in other areas of
Does that mean that the money you thought would go to radio, either
anglophone or francophone in a minority community, adversely affected your
regional programming, namely in official-language minority communities? Is that
also reflected in your CRTC licensing conditions?
Mr. Lalande: First of all, it certainly did not adversely affect
regional programming, it strengthened it. That is what enabled us to maintain
programming for each station. It is something that did not exist before. The
funds that were moved did not come from the regional budget, but from other
areas of Radio-Canada. There was a rather significant movement of funds. We are
talking about several million dollars to ensure we could maintain the service.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: I thought it was the opposite, that you had
taken those funds to offset losses elsewhere. It is the opposite.
Mr. Lalande: Not everyone in the corporation applauded the move. When
action like that is taken, there is always tension. It was important for us to
reaffirm that component of Strategy 2015, and to maintain it regardless of the
difficulties we were facing. And you know the difficulties we faced with the
loss of the LPIF and the Deficit Reduction Plan.
Senator Charette-Poulin: I have two questions. Ms. Pleszczynska, if I
understood correctly, you said that there were 21 French-language radio stations
Ms. Pleszczynska: That is correct.
Senator Charette-Poulin: What are they, starting from the east? We
will start with the east because Mr. Cormier is from that region.
Ms. Pleszczynska: Prince Edward Island, Halifax, Moncton, Matane with
an office in Gaspé, Rimouski, Sept-Îles, Quebec, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières, the
Eastern Townships, Montreal, Rouyn, Ottawa-Gatineau, Toronto, Sudbury, Windsor,
Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Senator Charette-Poulin: I have a question for you as the person in
charge of ICI Radio-Canada Première. How many hours per week are produced by the
regional stations and broadcast nationally?
Ms. Pleszczynska: We have five hours of national programming produced
out of Quebec City on the Première chaîne. It is Bien dans son assiette
which is broadcast from Monday to Friday and rebroadcast for one hour on
Saturday. For now, that is the program that is produced outside of Montreal.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Only 5 hours per week with 21 regional
Ms. Pleszczynska: The main role of regional stations is not only to
produce a morning show — in most cases, it is a morning show and an afternoon
show, but not everywhere. Some stations just produce a morning show, and in one
station in Quebec, there is just one complete afternoon show with an hour in the
morning. Their role is also to produce news bulletins, information content that
can feed our national radio news programs, which provide content for our
national programs, but they are not in and of themselves production centres,
because they are small stations with resources that are truly dedicated to
service programming locally.
Only three stations are big enough to really be considered production
centres: Moncton, Quebec City and Ottawa. Quebec City and Ottawa produce radio
and television programming for the entire network.
Senator Poirier: I want to go back to the consultations for a few
minutes. When you go into a region to do consultations, like you did recently in
Moncton, do you invite people or post a public notice? How is that done?
Ms. Pleszczynska: We talk about it on the air, of course, but we also
put out an invitation to the public. Normally, public notices also appear in
local papers, because we want to ensure that people are in the know.
Senator Poirier: It is not just francophone organizations like the
SANB — the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau- Brunswick — or others?
Ms. Pleszczynska: Not at all.
Senator Poirier: Can you tell me about the consultations in Moncton?
What negative or positive comments came out of the consultations? What were the
Ms. Pleszczynska: There were some fears linked to independent
production. Some of our producers wanted to know how Radio-Canada could continue
to maintain investments in their productions. It was at a time when we had just
received the response from the CRTC on the LPIF. Of course, we had to abandon
the advantages of the funds earmarked for the regions, and so fewer independent
productions could be done in the regions. Producers were worried. We had a very
interesting conversation with them. They gained a better understanding of the
role of ARTV as a cultural broadcaster and for the potential content for ARTV.
That was one of the issues discussed.
There was also a discussion on the role of Radio-Canada in Acadia, as regards
Acadian issues. Does Radio-Canada Acadie have a role to play in protecting
institutions or journalism? It was a lively and interesting discussion.
Senator Poirier: Thank you very much.
Senator Chaput: Perhaps my question does not even need an answer, but
it is something that I want to share with you.
You say that you are independent in terms of programming and that you are not
subject to Part VII of the Official Languages Act. We all know that at this time
the Commissioner of Official Languages is saying one thing, and that you say
something else, and that it will have to be decided by a court.
Once again, I do not understand. Here is why: when you read the wording of
Part VII, it talks about positive measures, that are not defined. So you would
simply have to recognize that you have a responsibility. You would have the
right to develop your own positive measures, based on what the communities have
asked for and what they are asking for through the consultations. How would that
hinder your independence, since you would have the choice to develop your own
positive measures under Part VII? No one is telling you what to do. All you are
being told is to do something and that it is up to you to choose how it will be
I would ask you to carefully reread Part VII and the positive measures and
perhaps to consider it from another angle, because that is very important to us.
Mr. Lalande: It is duly noted.
Senator Champagne: Ms. Pleszczynska, I would like to come back to
something you spoke of earlier. You spoke very proudly about a new show called
Quelle histoire!, which is rooted in Radio-Canada's archives.
Ms. Pleszczynska: Yes.
Senator Champagne: I am going to trot out my usual hobby-horse and
tell you just how saddened and disappointed I was during the broadcast of all of
the shows intended to celebrate Radio-Canada's anniversaries, when nowhere did
we see, in all that has been done at Radio-Canada, the Grands Ballets canadiens,
with Ms. Chiriaeff, L'heure du concert, The Marriage of Figaro,
which won an Emmy Award in the United States. There was not a single one.
Everything that we took pride in. Not even five minutes in all of the
I said so when I went to Radio-Canada. No one could prove me wrong, because I
reviewed the CDs of everything that was broadcast on Radio-Canada. There was
nothing, neither on the radio nor on television. When it comes to your classical
archives, fortunately, I know that you kept a few because Ms. Côté kindly sent
me a few little treasures which made our lives so much happier.
However, how could you have made all these anniversary broadcasts without any
classical music? I do not understand. That was Radio-Canada's strength. Be it
L'heure du concert on Thursday nights, be it the great opera houses, be it
Ms. Chiriaeff and her ballets — there was nothing, I do not recall anything. It
is sad. I think of all those people that we will never see again, and you had
the opportunity to let us see them again. I know that it is my hobby- horse, I
am coming back to it. Our colleague, Senator De Bané, has his, and this is mine.
I find it horrible, and I am taking the liberty to tell you so in front of a
broader public audience.
Ms. Pleszczynska: Your point is taken, thank you.
The Chair: On behalf of the committee's members, I would like to thank
you, Mr. Lalande, Ms. Pleszczynska, and Mr. Cormier for coming to testify before
the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages.
I would ask you, Mr. Lalande, to send to the committee the information
requested by Senator Charette-Poulin. That would be greatly appreciated. And
please do keep up your efforts to ensure that CBC/Radio-Canada meets, and even
goes above and beyond, its obligations under the Official Languages Act.
(The sitting is suspended.)
(The sitting resumed.)
The Chair: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications
Commission (CRTC) is an independent public body that regulates and supervises
Canadian radio-television and telecommunication systems. The CRTC's role is to
supervise all broadcasting industry players, including CBC/Radio-Canada, and to
ensure that the objectives outlined in the Broadcasting Act are met.
The goal of today's meeting is to identify licencing criteria for our public
broadcaster, which help the corporation to better meet its obligations under the
Official Languages Act and the Broadcasting Act. To that end, we have witnesses
from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Allow me
to introduce to you Mr. Scott Hutton. After his presentation, senators will have
Mr. Hutton, you have the floor, and I would ask you to introduce your team.
Scott Hutton, Executive Director of Broadcasting, Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission:
Good evening, honourable senators. I would like to introduce to you my
colleagues from the commission. With me today is the Senior Manager of
French-Language Television, Ms. Renée Gauthier, and the Senior Policy Analyst of
Broadcasting, Mr. Guillaume Castonguay.
The CRTC appeared before this committee last year. It is a pleasure to do it
again to talk to you about the CBC/ Radio-Canada's obligations under the
Official Languages Act and certain aspects of the Broadcasting Act.
Last May, we renewed CBC/Radio-Canada's French and English language
television and radio service licences for a five-year period. When the decision
was announced, our chairman, Jean-Pierre Blais, said that this would allow
Canadians to continue to receive the high-quality services that they expect from
their national public broadcaster. He added that in a constantly evolving media
universe, CBC/Radio-Canada would continue to play a key role for the vitality of
English- and French-language Canadian culture throughout the country.
I would like to start this presentation by sharing with you a few details of
our decision and by explaining how the conditions that we have set will help
reinforce CBC/Radio-Canada's role as a pan-Canadian service that reflects and
meets the needs of Canadians in both official languages, contributes to Canada's
cultural life and plays a valued role in children's lives.
To make sure that the CBC/Radio-Canada can meet these objectives, we have set
minimums for the different types of programs that are essential to the
broadcaster's mission, which include drama, comedy and documentary programs.
More specifically, we have set a target of seven hours and nine hours per week
for Radio-Canada and the CBC, respectively, for these national interest
programs. We have also set a minimum of 15 hours per week for children's
As you know, the Broadcasting Act sets out certain objectives for the
Canadian broadcasting system and, in particular, what is expected of
CBC/Radio-Canada. The act explicitly states that CBC/Radio-Canada ``should
provide radio and television services incorporating a wide range of programming
that informs, enlightens and entertains.''
Additionally, it sets out three criteria that CBC/Radio-Canada must meet with
regard to official languages. The national public broadcaster must offer
services in English and French that reflect the particular needs and
circumstances of official language communities and linguistic minorities;
deliver equivalent quality of services in both languages; and reflect Canada and
its regions to national and regional audiences while serving the special needs
of those regions.
During our public consultation, we received more than 8,000 comments from
Canadians, including many that were submitted through our online consultation.
Many Canadians took the opportunity to tell us about the significance of the
role played by the national public broadcaster in fostering and preserving our
We also held a two-week public hearing in Gatineau. Indeed, some members of
this committee, the Honourable Senators Maria Chaput, Andrée Champagne and
former Senator Pierre De Bané, appeared before the panel of commissioners to
present their thoughts and ideas on the importance of CBC/Radio-Canada for
Many witnesses at the hearing gave evidence that spoke to the role of
CBC/Radio-Canada in supporting Canada's OLMCs. In particular, 13 groups and
organizations from OLMCs appeared to talk about the importance of CBC/
Radio-Canada in promoting the vitality of Canada's French- and English-language
cultures throughout the country.
Such considerations informed our decision to impose conditions of licence —
hard performance targets as opposed to broad expectations — that the broadcaster
must meet. These conditions will ensure that CBC/Radio-Canada continues to
fulfill its legislative obligations, serve the particular needs of OLMCs, and
present a balanced and diverse broadcasting schedule.
Allow me to share with you some of the details about these conditions. For
conventional television stations, we require that the CBC/Radio-Canada broadcast
programs created within OLMCs that also reflect their needs; that news updates
and information programs include OLMCs; and that a certain number of programs
produced within OLMCs be broadcast every week, including news updates within
each of its stations.
For specialized television stations, we have maintained mandatory carriage on
basic digital service of both 24-hour information services in OLMC markets. We
have also instructed CBC/Radio-Canada to produce programs for RDI that reflect
the concerns of Canada's major French-language regions and to earmark part of
ARTV's budget to purchase programs created by independent producers outside of
For radio services, we have asked CBC/Radio-Canada to ensure that the
national news and information programs on its networks reflect OLMCs. Along the
same lines, we have imposed strict licensing conditions requiring that CBEF
Windsor, the local Première Chaîne station in this market, broadcast 15 hours of
local francophone programs per week.
You may recall that in 2009, CBC/Radio-Canada greatly reduced the content of
CBEF's local programming. Public reaction to this decision was immediate. OLMC
listeners in the region complained and even created a coalition to save the
CBEF's francophone programs.
In 2010, the official languages commissioner brought the matter before
federal court, alleging that CBC/Radio- Canada had violated its obligations
under the Official Languages Act, because the corporation did not consult
southwestern Ontario's OLMC and that it had failed to correctly evaluate the
consequences of its decision. Throughout our license renewal hearing, members of
a coalition to save CBEF told us how important local French- language
programming is for their communities. They told us that, given their proximity
with the United States, they were at a disadvantage in maintaining their
Canadian identity, let alone their identity as francophones in a minority
community. They also mentioned that Windsor has one of Canada's highest
assimilation rates for francophones. It is with these concerns in mind that we
oppose strict licence conditions on CBEF Windsor.
I've listed a few of the very specific conditions of licence that we imposed
on CBC/Radio-Canada in our renewal decision. There are other more administrative
conditions that also bear mention. For example, we have mandated
CBC/Radio-Canada to hold formal consultations with OLMCs in each region of the
country at least every two years; report to the CRTC on the measures it takes to
meet the needs of these communities; provide the CRTC with data on how well
OLMCs believe CBC/Radio-Canada serves their interests and needs; and report
annually to the CRTC on all programs that are produced in OLMCs or for their
Madam Chair, honourable senators, the conditions of licence that the CRTC
imposed on CBC/Radio-Canada are positive measures taken to ensure that the
national public broadcaster continues to deliver on its Broadcasting Act and
Official Languages Act objectives and continues to enhance the lives and protect
the distinct cultural identities of Canadians in OLMCs across the country.
As required by the Broadcasting Act, we consulted CBC/Radio-Canada about
these conditions of licence before publishing them. Such a consultation enables
CBC/Radio-Canada to discuss any conditions that it perceives to be onerous.
It is worth noting that OLMC groups such as the Fédération des communautés
francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA) supported the conditions that we set.
Following our decision, the federation published a news release and
congratulated the CRTC for imposing licensing conditions to ensure that the
CBC/Radio-Canada strengthens its consultations with OLMCs in Canada and acts to
take their advice into account.
On that subject, I would like to add that several OLMC groups are currently
participating in our conversation on the future of the television system. In
October, we launched ``Let's Talk TV: A conversation with Canadians'' to give
Canadians the opportunity to tell us how they watch television, what they watch
and whether they are sufficiently informed to make programming choices and find
solutions if they are dissatisfied. We also invited Canadians to hold their own
events, which we call Flash Conferences. A few OLMCs have already held these
very dynamic events and others intend to do the same.
I am pleased to mention that people from OLMCs participate enthusiastically
in CRTC proceedings such as this one. The work done by the OLMC-CRTC Discussion
Group, which we created in 2007, is largely responsible. The group is a means of
communication and cooperation between the CRTC and the 27 official language
minority communities that are part of it. The group is also an important forum
for the CRTC to establish the best ways for communities to participate in its
public processes and to consider their situation when proceeding with analyses
and holding discussions.
At the beginning of the new year, we will publish a report on what we have
heard throughout the first phase of our conversation. I am sure that the members
of this committee will be interested in knowing what Canadians think of their
broadcasting system, of television in particular, and of the way it will evolve
to meet both current and future needs.
In the past year, the CRTC has taken other decisions that recognize the
broadcasting system's role in promoting linguistic duality. In August, for
example, we granted mandatory carriage to Nouveau TV5, a French-language
specialty channel that will broadcast two separate feeds. One of those feeds,
TV5 UNIS, will focus on the Canadian francophonie, particularly those in
official language minority communities. In our decision, we found that UNIS
would contribute significantly to the objectives of the Broadcasting Act.
Our decision also made ARTV, the national French-language arts specialty
television service maintained by CBC/ Radio-Canada, available in anglophone
markets. All distributers must offer ARTV, yet Canadians may choose to subscribe
to the service or not.
To conclude, the CRTC passionately believes in the importance of linguistic
duality and in the need to protect the rights of language minorities. We are
also proud to help support the objectives of the Broadcasting Act and the
Official Languages Act, and to protect the interests of OLMCs in Canada.
Those are a few of our recent decisions, and, more specifically, that was an
overview of the licencing conditions that the CRTC has set for CBC/Radio-Canada.
Our goal is to ensure that our national public broadcaster does not stop
offering to Canadians high quality programs in the official language of their
choice, regardless of where they live throughout the country, as well as to
ensure that it continues to meet its obligations under the Broadcasting Act and
the Official Languages Act.
My colleagues and I are pleased to answer your questions.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Hutton. We will now move on to questions.
The first question will be asked by Senator Fortin-Duplessis.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Welcome to all three of you; it is a
pleasure to hear you.
The CRTC renewed the Canada Broadcasting Corporation's licences last May.
This licence renewal exercise has not been done for 13 years, whereas under the
Broadcasting Act, licences cannot be valid for more than seven years.
Could you explain why there was such a disparity between the number of years
that passed between the previous licence renewal exercise and the licensing
period allowed under the act? The CRTC's decision is dated May 28, 2013, and it
is in paragraph 368.
Mr. Hutton: You are quite right, the CRTC's licences can be valid for
up to seven years. In the case of the Canada Broadcasting Corporation, the
licence renewal study was pushed back a few times. Naturally, the CRTC has this
opportunity to renew licences through what we call the administrative route.
That is the opportunity that we seized.
Why did we seize it? There were many circumstances. There were many options,
including the in-depth review of television policies. At the CRTC, licences are
granted for seven years, but the development of a policy to base those licences
on is also considered important. When it was time to renew, there were many
questions on the future of television, many problems, and that is why we put off
the study of CBC/Radio-Canada's licence for a little while.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: And so you are the ones who decided to wait?
Mr. Hutton: That is correct.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: It was not the CBC that put forward an
application for renewal.
Mr. Hutton: Not at all.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: What are the sanctions that can be imposed
on the CBC if it does not meet its conditions?
Mr. Hutton: Sanctions can be imposed on all permit holders, be it the
CBC, a community licence holder or a private licence holder. It varies. Usually,
when we raise an issue with an enterprise, we conduct an evaluation, more often
than not when the licence is being renewed. We hold discussions and we compare
the enterprise's conditions and expectations with its performance.
We have many tools in our regulatory tool box. Naturally, a formal discussion
during renewal motivates people to meet their objectives. We can also conduct a
more in-depth problem analysis. We can also tighten up licensing conditions; it
is possible to go from an expectation to a licensing condition to a more
restrictive licensing condition. There is a kind of escalator effect. When we
reach the end of the escalator, we can register our decisions with the Federal
Court of Appeal. We can also set shorter licensing periods that can also include
refusing to renew a license, which happens very rarely.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: According to you, has the CBC met its
conditions to keep its licence?
Mr. Hutton: I believe so. When it comes to the approach that we took
for the current renewal — which we just published in May — if we compare it to
the approach during the discussions held in 2000, we outline certain
expectations regarding many items. Television is evolving, the needs of
Canadians are evolving, and we are moving forward with renewal.
In the current case, we changed our outlook somewhat. We raised the
expectations surrounding licence conditions. Even though we outlined
expectations, and objectives have in general been met, there were a few areas
that were a bit weaker. After having consulted Canadians, a thousand of whom
participated, and after many presentations during hearings, we decided to focus
and to treat certain conditions more seriously. We therefore experienced an
evolution throughout the process.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Since you granted the licence, at the end of
May 2013, have you received any complaints about the CBC?
Mr. Hutton: I do not have the complaints log with me. Even though we
issued our decision in May, the licence period started on September 1, 2013.
That was about three months ago.
We often receive comments about the CBC, because it is our national
broadcaster. I am sure that we have complaints going through the resolution
process that applied to that period. We could follow up on the details of
certain complaints that we have received.
The Chair: If you could send us that information, Mr. Hutton, it would
be greatly appreciated.
Senator Poirier: Part of my question has already been answered. My
colleague asked it, and it had to do with sanctions in the event that the CBC
does not meet its obligations.
My question is as follows: when you renewed the CBC licence, you added
conditions; did you believe that the CBC would not meet its obligations under
the Broadcasting Act?
M. Hutton: At the commission, we take our obligations under the
Broadcasting Act very seriously, being a party to and responsible for
implementing positive measures under Section 41, Part VII of the Official
Of course, during our consultations, we heard some communities'
dissatisfaction. We also heard various complaints made by Canadians from all
regions. These complaints vary between the search for programming in general, to
which of both networks was the most balanced overall; it was not only about what
was popular, but about acting on a broader issue. We heard complaints from
Senator De Bané, who certainly raised the issue and worked very hard to ensure
that the message was understood, a message that we ourselves recognized and
added as a subject of discussion during the hearing on regional representation
in Radio-Canada's news, and with the CBC, and in particular, how OLMCs are
represented. Those are things that we heard.
Although the expectations did not perhaps outline certain clear goals, during
the last development, Canadians said certain things to us, and we tried to
listen and we tried, through the measures that we implemented, to address them.
It was part of trying to push CBC/Radio-Canada to go beyond the road that it had
travelled these last few years.
Senator Poirier: Your presentation mentioned that 8,000 people
throughout Canada shared their comments, be it at hearings or through online
consultations. These 8,000 people, could you tell us where they come from? In
terms of percentage, how many come from the east, from Quebec, from the west,
from the north? Where do these 8,000 people come from?
Mr. Hutton: The online consultations were fairly broad. People came
from every corner of the country and told us many things. Certain things about
CBC/Radio-Canada were positive, others said that it did not go far enough to
fulfil its mandate.
Senator Poirier: I am talking about percentages.
Mr. Hutton: I am getting there. I do not have the percentages.
Senator Poirier: The people who participated, these 8,000
participants, where did they come from?
Mr. Hutton: When we created the renewal notice, we received a clear
message from the regions outside of Montreal and the Greater Toronto Area that
pointed to dissatisfaction with services available in the regions. That was one
of the very clear messages that came out of those consultations.
I do not have the regional breakdown with me. I must tell you that it could
be quite difficult to produce that at this time.
Senator Poirier: You could not give us any percentage?
Mr. Hutton: I could not provide you with that. The clear message came
from the regions, outside of the major centres, regarding the representation of
their own region on the network. We also received a clear message from the OLMCs
telling us that there was a great deal of dissatisfaction as to the services in
Senator Poirier: In the case of the licence that was renewed for
CBC/Radio-Canada, do you ensure some follow-up or are they required to report?
In the past, it was every two years, if memory serves me well?
Mr. Hutton: We asked for various things. Obviously, they had
conditions of licence that we check on every year. They provide us with a report
concerning the objectives of some of those conditions.
We also gave them a mandate, as Mr. Lalande indicated, to carry out regional
consultations in each of the major regions of Canada every two years. This will
probably span a certain period of time. We also asked, in the annual report, for
them to reflect on what they heard and on the measures that they took to deal
with the shortcomings that were raised.
Senator Champagne: In your presentation, Mr. Hutton, you said that in
order to ensure that CBC/Radio-Canada can meet its objectives, you established
minimum thresholds for the kinds of programming that would be essential to the
broadcaster's mission. You were talking about drama series, comedies and
You heard me earlier on. I would like cultural programming to also be part of
essential programming. Today, young people who are graduating either from the
conservatory or the universities across the country do not have anywhere to go
to make themselves known. In the past, at Radio-Canada, there was all manner of
programming for young people. There was Banc d'essai and all kinds of
things that a young person could turn to to play their instrument or sing and
they were heard across the country. Often, there was a subsequent phone call
where they were told, ``We heard you, would you like to come and give a concert
in such and such a place?'' This no longer exists. Not only do they no longer
play the old programs, but now there is no current programming to help young
people who have studied for I do not know how many years in the conservatories,
whether it be the Conservatoire du Québec in Montreal, or in Quebec, McGill or
the Université de Montréal. These young people have no showcase to make
themselves known. That, in my humble opinion, is part of Radio-Canada's mission.
On the other hand, I would like to congratulate you and thank you for the
mandatory carriage that you granted to TV5. TV5 UNIS will do what I was hoping
Radio-Canada could do. It will do so for young filmmakers, authors and actors.
These people, given that there are offices across Canada, will be able to bring
a script to TV5 UNIS and say: would you help us to produce this? We are here, in
Manitoba, or there. And TV5 UNIS organized themselves, or they soon will be, to
I think it is a fantastic idea that the CRTC had to give them a second
channel, and that it is as we say a ``must carry,'' in other words has mandatory
carriage. This will help a lot, in my humble opinion, for young directors,
cameramen, actors and authors. They will have more opportunities with TV5 Unis.
If Radio-Canada was doing that for others, it would be a good thing; that is
what I was saying earlier on, I repeated myself, I said the same thing, but in
two different ways. Thank you for TV5 Unis; try to do something for
Radio-Canada, to put more pressure on them, so that they take care of our youth,
because they are not doing so now.
Mr. Hutton: Thank you for your acknowledgements. We have perhaps, I
must admit, in the context that you mentioned, captured less of the attention
and promotion of our youth. In the renewal decision, particularly with the
renewal of ARTV and the semi-compulsory carriage, we also implemented conditions
intended to seek programming outside of Quebec, to go into the OLMCs to look for
Within the framework of the renewal of the conventional CBC/Radio-Canada
channel, we also included, in what we call programs of national interest,
programming that is somewhat more specific, more difficult and perhaps less
common in a certain era, of which musical variety shows would be one. It is a
step in the right direction; but we take note of your comments concerning youth.
Senator Champagne: There are all kinds of shows. There are no
classical music programs left.
Mr. Hutton: Variety shows are more inclined to present songs; that is
what seemed to be missing and what was raised in public, so we included them.
Senator Champagne: There is no more opera, no more big concerts, there
is nothing left.
Mr. Hutton: It has been newly registered as a program of national
interest as of September 1.
Senator Champagne: Ah, thank you sir!
Senator Charette-Poulin: Mr. Hutton, you are educating me. I am
hearing the acronym OLMCs for the first time and it took me about 10 minutes to
understand that when you said OLMCs, you meant official language communities in
a minority situation. I am concerned somewhat that our audience might be
wondering what an OLMC is. I was wondering myself — I am sorry, but I come from
Mr. Hutton: I am sorry, that is part of our daily vocabulary at the
CRTC, we should have given more detail.
Senator Charette-Poulin: It is the little weakness of people in
Mr. Hutton: Indeed.
Senator Charette-Poulin: You were seated in the hearing room when we
had the honour of welcoming three representatives from the CBC as witnesses.
You heard the director general of regional services, also responsible for ICI
Radio-Canada Première, say that of all of the national programming broadcast by
Radio-Canada, five hours came from outside of Montreal.
I was listening when you reminded us of the CBC's three main
responsibilities. The third one was, and I will quote what you said:
To reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while
serving the special needs of those regions.
Serving the special needs of those regions, in my opinion, means regional
programming. But if I go back to the first part of that sentence, it is to
reflect regions to national audiences.
Do you think that the CBC is meeting its objective with five hours per week
of programming that is not produced in Montreal?
Mr. Hutton: You are quite right. Within the framework of reviewing
licences and conditions of licences for CBC/ Radio-Canada, there is the national
mandate, there is the local mandate, the OLMCs mandate and also the ability to
reflect one region to another.
We have provided, I must say, some expectations according to which this part
of the representativity must increase across all services provided by
CBC/Radio-Canada. In particular, for both television networks, we have also set
out conditions of licence to ensure that there will indeed be representativity
of different kinds of programming, but also in the regions to, improve what
Senator Charette-Poulin: Therefore there were no specific conditions,
no quantified requirements?
Mr. Hutton: There were no specific or quantified conditions. It is
really a more general condition to encourage an increase, at the end of the day,
because it seemed to us that it was something that was lacking. The way in which
we will manage this will indeed be through the conversations that they will be
having with people in the regions, in the OLMCs, which will report to us what is
happening over there as well. In this way, we hope we will see some progress in
I also listened to Mr. Lalande. I have to tell you that all is not bleak in
their case. We did impose conditions of licence and expectations on the
corporation, but as Mr. Lalande said, there are, naturally, periods of financial
difficulty for the corporation. There were a lot of questions raised, and that
is ongoing, but we realized today with their presentation before you, as was the
case during our hearings, that there has been progress and a better
understanding of the issues on the regional side and as regards the OLMCs,
precisely to ensure that there is better service in that area. Nevertheless,
there have been some encouraging developments, and several of the conditions and
expectations were even proposed by the corporation. Mr. Lalande mentioned it and
I did not want to leave you with the impression that the message had not started
to penetrate the corporation.
Senator Chaput: I believe, Mr. Hutton, that you must have noticed that
when we are from an official language minority community, we are much stricter
when it comes to the CBC and its obligations. You understand, I am sure, that
when a francophone lives in a province that is mostly anglophone, every service
in French counts and contributes to our growth. The loss of a service, however
small it may be, is a disaster. Therefore, we appreciate the conditions that the
CRTC imposed on the CBC at the time of the licence renewals.
Now we must also be fair in all this. It has to be said that the CBC has seen
its annual funding reduced. It must be said that envelopes that contributed to
helping us have been eliminated. There was one for local programming; it no
longer exists. So the CBC will no longer have access to the revenues of that
particular envelope for local programming. There was one, I have been told, for
capital, which was also eliminated. And if it even existed, perhaps that could
have solved the problem of Jasper National Park. There are the sports
activities. I do not really understand what was negotiated with Rogers, but if
the CBC loses the sports revenues, the hockey nights, that will result in a
further decrease in revenues.
When you will assess the CBC's activities in relation to the mandatory
conditions that were imposed on it, how will you assess the results? Do you take
lost revenue into consideration? How do you ensure that there is fairness and
justice on both sides?
Mr. Hutton: When we moved forward with the renewal, we took the
uncertainties that you have mentioned into account, as well as the cuts that had
already been announced and that they were facing. The commission took a
particular approach in this case because there were indeed a lot of risks, the
funding was uncertain, including in the advertising market, where one has to
reach the audience in order to receive the related revenues. You mentioned
hockey which was for the CBC, the English-language side of the corporation,
quite a significant source of revenue. You also mentioned other topics.
We had good discussions with the people at CBC/Radio-Canada, and we did
indeed ask questions about what the concerns were, and we made some assessments.
And the approach we chose to take was to put conditions in place, and we chose
the word ``minimum'' to make a specific point. The thing is that in several
instances, there were perhaps some gaps in their objectives. In the case of
Windsor, we increased the existing service because it was unsatisfactory.
In several areas where there had been the risk of a loss of service, we chose
to implement minimal conditions in order to ensure that the provision of service
would not fall below these minimums.
Of course the minimum levels were put in place taking into account the
various risks of loss of revenue and market changes over the licence period,
which is five years. We therefore expect that these conditions will at least be
reached, and if everything goes well, surpassed.
Senator Rivard: Sir, I asked CBC/Radio-Canada, earlier on, how they
assessed themselves in order to know if they were meeting their mandate
concerning official languages. We know that this comes under the CRTC.
Beyond the number and the quality of the complaints received, what are the
other evaluation criteria to assess whether they are indeed in compliance with
Official Languages Policy?
Mr. Hutton: We ourselves, at the CRTC, have what call the CRTC-OLMC
Working Group. This is a working group chaired by Ms. Gauthier that reaches out
to a good range of groups, 27 in each of the regions across all of the provinces
and territories in the country. We have discussions twice a year. We are also in
contact a bit more regularly, which keeps Ms. Gauthier rather busy.
Regardless of what is happening at the CBC, we asked about the OLMCs about
their needs and difficulties.
We asked CBC/Radio-Canada, within the framework of the licence renewal, to
consult. We have all of our figures and conditions of licence that we verify at
the CRTC, and they report to us on what is measurable and calculable. But what
we are looking for, and what you are looking for, is less the logical side of
things and more what is happening on the front lines; and we are expecting that
the corporation will carry out consultations, and, as it is indicated in the
decision, we expect that they all report on what they did and on what they will
do each year in order to meet the needs of the OLMCs.
The Chair: Senator Chaput made reference to the budgetary context the
corporation must face. And the CRTC has granted the corporation temporary access
to radio advertising revenue in order to allow it to face various financial
Several organizations representing the official languages communities in
minority situations, the OLMCs, reacted negatively following this announcement.
What would you say to the concerns that communities have in the face of this
new initiative by the CBC?
Mr. Hutton: I must say that the OLMCs are not the only ones to have
concerns; many Canadians from all regions, and even in the major urban centres,
have the same concerns.
We made the decision, indeed, to establish certain parameters. It is for a
three-year period. It was after all a rather serious issue to reintroduce
advertising on Espace Musique/CBC Radio 2.
We implemented measures to put in limits. Because what we understood from the
consultations was that there were all kinds of concerns; competitors in the
advertising market also had concerns with regard to their own services. There
were community radio stations which perhaps also had concerns about their own
revenues. But Canadians generally had serious concerns about several things,
including the sound and the non-commercial approach, the different approaches
taken by other radio stations, the public radio approach; they wanted this
element to be maintained. There were also concerns about the fact that the race
to find revenues would lead to a reduction of service or to changes in certain
To address these concerns, we tried to impose limits, namely four minutes per
hour, whereas commercial radio has no limits; it varies between 12 to 16 minutes
per hour. Naturally, these two services stream mostly music, but we have
nevertheless limited interruptions to twice per hour, per period, in order to
interrupt the music as little as possible.
For both services, we also imposed requirements, in terms of musical genre,
variety of music and the number of pieces each of them have to broadcast.
All of these things are done to try to maintain the sound, if I can put it
that way, or the public rather than commercial approach, while still allowing us
to collect revenues. A little earlier we talked about financial challenges,
problems or future risks — namely as far as hockey is concerned, for example. We
basically have to try to maintain and not cut back services even more.
It was, shall we say, the best of the worst-case scenarios. It was a decision
to include advertising, but to contain it, to make sure that the money coming in
from radio would be maintained during that period. So we put in place a certain
number of constraints to try to address those concerns, the main ones being the
sustainability and quality of CBC Radio 2 and Espace Musique.
Senator Chaput: Did you study the impact on community radio stations?
They are concerned, because their revenues are so small and they will lose
income from advertising.
Mr. Hutton: Of course we did financial assessments to see how much
revenue Radio-Canada could possibly get by making those changes.
We also studied the type of hosts at Radio-Canada as compared to those on
community radio or commercial radio.
We also put things in place to help community stations, since your question
was more specifically about those. We have a fund for broadcasters, to help them
maintain their services and to ensure a certain level of quality and
predictability. So, given of all the evaluations we have done and the measures
we have already put in place, we are confident that there will not be a
significant impact on commercial radio or, of course, on community radio.
Senator Charette-Poulin: I was surprised to hear the executive
vice-president of French-language services, Louis Lalande, say that only three
regional stations were able to produce national shows: those in Quebec City,
Moncton and Ottawa.
I remember, in the 1970s and the 1980s, hearing on national radio programs
which were produced in Sudbury, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Matane. Does the CRTC
have the authority and the means — I will use your words — to encourage Société
Radio-Canada to not deprioritize Radio-Canada's smaller stations?
Mr. Hutton: To answer your question about the CRTC's authority, yes,
we have it. Several things were done in the course of the renewal to not put,
shall we say, not the stations, but rather all of the regional services and all
of the services to official language minority communities, on the back burner.
We certainly have that authority.
I must say that we do not inspections, so to speak, to see which services are
available in which regions. Rather, we look at what is actually being broadcast,
so the minimum in terms of local production, licensing conditions requiring a
range of services for all of the regions and minority official language
communities. That is how we operate, but we have the authority to do so.
Senator Charette-Poulin: My question is not only about minority
language communities. I remember outstanding programs produced by the Chicoutimi
station. That is why I talked about Matane. If the responsibility of Société
Radio-Canada is really to reflect Canada and its regions to a national audience,
then there is a valid reason to make these regions known, like the northern
Saguenay region, which is very different from the one on the lower part of the
river, for instance.
Mr. Hutton: We put in place various conditions and expectations to
make sure that certain levels of programming are maintained. For example, we
expect the services to be maintained in the regions. At the very least, there
will be a presence. Everything starts with this presence.
Senator Charette-Poulin: Thank you.
Senator Chaput: I have a brief question. Why did you not impose
mandatory carriage on ARTV?
Mr. Hutton: Société Radio-Canada had made that request, and it was for
mandatory distribution or carriage. So when there is mandatory carriage, all
Canadians have to get it. It becomes mandatory for all Canadians — they
subscribe and pay whatever subscription fees apply. In this case, ARTV has made
the request, which was a smaller one, and it was to ensure that all Canadians
who had subscribed would receive it. We said yes to that request.
Senator Chaput: I understand, but as an example, if I take my
situation in Manitoba, we have ARTV, but we pay to get it, whereas mandatory
carriage would have put it in a package, correct? Or am I not really
Mr. Hutton: Very few services do not come with fees. They all have
what is called a wholesale subscription rate. Naturally, these rates, generally
speaking, are negotiated between the cable companies and the broadcasters. When
you subscribe to ARTV, you pay a rate to the distributor for your service
package, and the distributor pays the provider, which in this case would be
ARTV. There are various ways to subscribe to a service. Of course, a service can
be included in your basic rate. Some services are linked to basic rates. Those
services are included in mandatory carriage — they are called 91Hs — like, for
example, RDI in your area. ARTV is not among them, but if it were a basic
service, we would ask everyone in the community to subscribe. ARTV is basically
an optional service, that is, we do not force anyone to subscribe to it. That is
the difference. When you subscribe, you alone pay, as opposed to everyone paying
for a subscription. That is the difference.
Senator Chaput: We are not asking for the majority of people to pay
for ARTV, but if a minority of people want to watch it, then they must pay. If I
can explain myself that way.
Mr. Hutton: That is right, but the basic concept of ARTV is that it is
a more specific niche service, and that applies to everyone, whether they are in
a majority or a minority situation. What we wanted to do with our decision, and
this is what Radio-Canada wanted, was to give the opportunity to everyone who
wanted to subscribe to have access to this cultural service that showcases
artists, whether they are from Canada or elsewhere, but that also showcases all
of the country, and that it should be an option that people can choose.
Senator Fortin-Duplessis: I have a comment: I do not normally make
partisan comments, but enough is enough. When a corporation that depends on the
government is not accountable for its expenses, and we have no way of knowing
how the $1.2 billion that it receives is spent —
I am going to give you an example. For the winter Olympic Games in Vancouver,
money was flowing left, right and centre, but we were never able to find out
exactly how much money was spent. Maybe this is where the problem lies, with all
this spending. Maybe CBC/Radio-Canada needs to clean up its act, and then we
would realize that there is enough money for anglophones or francophones in
Mr. Hutton: I have made note of that. To understand this, we have made
numerous comparisons. Many of the comments, during the hearings, referred to
greater transparency. So, like other administrative measures, we have targeted
greater transparency with regard to their services and a better understanding.
We had also negotiated with them even before the hearings.
In their annual report, they are providing us with more information on a
yearly basis with their financial report to the CRTC, and we put that in the
public file which is available to just about everyone. It does not go into
detail, I must admit, for specific shows, but rather with regard to types of
shows, for example, sports. I do understand that you might be looking for a
The Chair: Honourable senators, there are no more questions. I would
like to thank our guests, Mr. Hutton, Ms. Gauthier and Mr. Castonguay. It is
clear that you have listened to the numerous individuals who have appeared
before you during the public hearings that you held. It is also clear that you
have heard the dissatisfaction expressed by Canadians with regard to certain
aspects of our CBC/Radio-Canada broadcaster.
We would like to thank you for having imposed stricter licensing conditions.
I was pleased to see that in your conclusion, you indicated that are
passionate, and that you believe passionately in the importance of linguistic
duality and the need to protect the rights of linguistic minorities.
We hope that you will vigorously maintain this passion and that your
decisions will reflect it. On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank you
for having appeared this evening.
(The committee adjourned.)