Licence Renewal – Corporate Panel Opening Remarks

November 19, 2012, Ottawa

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Steven Guiton:

Good morning Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Commissioners, staff.

My name is Steven Guiton and I am Vice President and Chief Regulatory Officer at CBC/Radio-Canada. With me this morning on the Corporate Panel are:

(Front Panel)
Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada,
Kirstine Stewart, Executive Vice-President, English Services, and
Louis Lalande, Executive Vice-President, French Services.

(Back Panel)
Marie-Philippe Bouchard, Executive Director of Strategic Planning
Neil McEneany, General Manager, Finance and Strategy
Stan Staple, Senior Director, Research and Strategic Analysis
Bev Kirshenblatt, Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs


We will be addressing the overarching corporate issues identified by the Commission in its Notice of Consultation. The French and English Media panels will then speak to the Corporation's proposals for the individual licensed services.

I will now turn it over to Hubert to begin our presentation.

CBC/Radio-Canada - Today and Tomorrow

Hubert T. Lacroix:

Good morning Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Commissioners, staff.

It is a pleasure to be with you this morning.

Much has changed in the broadcasting world since 1999 when CBC/Radio-Canada last appeared before the Commission in a licence renewal process. Back then, broadcasting was predominantly an analog business. There were a large number of regional players - broadcasters and distributors. DTH was just starting out. Video over the Internet was a nice idea for the future. Cell phones were used to make phone calls. There was no iPhone and no iPad. YouTube didn't exist nor did Facebook. Tweeting was the sound that birds made in the park.

The environment has changed - dramatically. And so have we.


While the Corporation has consistently led the way when it comes to adopting new technologies and serving Canadians via new platforms, we have, in the past 13 years, streamlined our operations and gained new efficiencies as we have evolved into an integrated multi-platform broadcaster.

We believe that our licence conditions and the regulatory framework applicable to our licensed services should reflect our evolution. That is why we have proposed a simplified approach which would impose a package of significant, high level commitments in key areas, and eliminate the plethora of obligations and soft commitments which typified the approach of the 1990's.

I will return to this point later. But right now, I would like to emphasize the one thing that has not changed: we remain Canada's national public broadcaster and have a mandate to serve all Canadians in the most effective and efficient way possible as the Broadcasting Act indicates.

And that is what we do day after day.

Everyone, Every Way is the name of our strategic plan - Strategy 2015 - for a reason.

At CBC/Radio-Canada, we are serving Canadians by means of:

  • two national over-the-air television networks
  • four national over-the-air radio networks
  • five specialty services
  • our Northern service - CBC North - in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages
  • two major online portals for news, sports, television, radio, music and regional services
  • four online music services
  • Radio Canada International online in five languages
  • podcasts
  • streaming
  • mobile wireless services and apps


We use all the available platforms to reach Canadians. And, as new technologies become available, we will make sure we are there, too. It is our obligation to serve Canadians in the way they choose to consume audio and video.

And choose they do.

80% of Canadians consume in fact our programming via one or more of our platforms every week.

And over 4,000 Canadians have participated in this licence renewal process in order to express their views to you.

Not all of these views are fully supportive, and we're sure you've got some interventions up there with you, Mr. Chairman, that may be from that group. But we are delighted and proud of the interest that Canadians have in our services, and the time that they have taken to make their views known. Here are some examples of what Canadians have to say about the Corporation's services;

QUOTES INDIVIDUAL INTERVENERS

“The CBC is a Canadian Institution that is part of our everyday life. It informs all that listen from sea to sea to sea of Canadian issues, talent, and values. It is the one voice that unites the minds of its listeners. No other television and, especially, no other radio station in Canada can lay claim to this like the CBC. Without the CBC - a strong CBC - Canada is a poorer country, and we are a poorer people. A strong CBC requires generous investment if it is to continue enriching our lives.”
Carol A. Deacon from Toronto, ON

“I feel that the CBC does a fine job of upholding its mandate.”
“…they offer a broad spectrum of Canadian programming that seems to offer something to just about everybody one thing I think that ALL Canadians can agree on is that they are a great source for news.”
Mark Furlong from Hampton, NB

“We are a great country, an informed country, and a fair and reasonable country in part because of the CBC. The CBC is an integral part of my life, from its news to arts to documentary programming. I am a teacher, and the CBC informs my teaching, provides me with reliable and valuable knowledge, programs, and video that I can share with my students. I support the CBC entirely.”
Francesco Napoli from Toronto, ON

“As a citizen and musician who’s deeply attached to his country, and always keen on learning more about its multiple facets, I see Radio-Canada as the Voice of the Nation, of our great country, which brings us all together, no matter how far apart we are or where we live.”
Francis Pomerleau, Montreal, QC

“I’m a native of Quebec, but I’ve also lived in Ontario, Alberta and, most recently, British Columbia, which has been home for the past 21 years now. Radio and television are invaluable tools for staying in touch with what’s happening in my country. I like to know what’s being created in Canada, whether in the arts, environment, politics, sports, spirituality, or other fields. Canadians are highly creative people and they barely get any exposure on the other TV and radio stations.”
Francine Portelance, Kelowna, BC


We are grateful for these comments.

They demonstrate the important contribution that we're making to the broadcasting system.

They confirm that “Everyone, Every way” is what should guide us.

Strategy 2015

At this point, I would like to show you a brief video on Strategy 2015 - our vision of the next few years.

videoVideo PresentationAs you have just seen, Strategy 2015 has three pillars: national spaces; regional spaces; and, digital spaces.

National spaces are about nation building - providing Canadians with programming that helps shape a shared national consciousness and identity. Events like the Olympics, historical documentaries, Canadian drama and nation-wide signature events. All of these types of programs contribute to the vision that Canadians have of themselves, of their society, of their culture and of their nation.

Like everything we do now, our approach to national spaces spans all of the platforms we have available to us: television, radio, online. This is a deliberate choice on our part. But it’s an easy choice, a necessary choice in the contemporary communications world. Audiences expect you to be everywhere - for everyone - in every way.

The second pillar of Strategy 2015 is regional spaces. We are committed to deepening our connection with the different regions of Canada and enhancing the ways we reflect them to the nation.

We have identified underserved areas and have created a plan to better serve those locations.

We have strengthened our approach to minority language communities.

We continue to serve the North in a unique manner and we are working on ways to improve our service of Aboriginal communities across the country.

And, once again, we are taking a multi-platform approach to engaging Canadians. The online platform allows us to reach remote and underserved areas, local communities, regional, national and international audiences.

For example, we identified Hamilton as an underserved area in Ontario with regards to our services but quickly realized that, because of spectrum constraints, the traditional over-the-air radio platform was not viable. So, we moved online and built a web presence specifically for Hamilton residents. It has been a tremendous success locally, providing local news and information as well as keeping Hamiltonians up to date on events and activities taking place in their city.

And that brings me to the third pillar in Strategy 2015 - digital spaces.

We have set ourselves the goal of doubling our commitment to digital platforms by 2015 - from 2.5% to 5% of our budget. We have been leading the way online since the mid 1990s and this financial commitment confirms our intention to accelerate that process.

We began with simple websites and streaming; then, came podcasts, Bande à part and Radio 3. Now we have added Tou.tv, CBC Music, Espace.mu. We are on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube.

Everyone. Every way.

This is more than just a slogan. It is our reality.

The three pillars of Strategy 2015 mark and guide our approach to the future. When faced with the recent budget cuts from DRAP and then the loss of the LPIF, it was Strategy 2015 which guided us when deciding what to cut and what to save. It was the filter through which every decision was taken.

In response to the cuts to our Parliamentary appropriation, we have preserved local and regional, we have preserved our presence in the regions by leveraging digital technology, and continued with our commitment to double the percentage of our digital expenditure.

In response to the loss of the Local Programming Improvement Fund, we chose to preserve as much as we could of the local and regional programming enabled by the LPIF and are making cuts elsewhere.

But let me be clear. This is challenging! We must adapt to both an ever-changing broadcasting environment and a shifting financial framework.

Ongoing change is the order of the day.

It is in that context that we have developed our proposals for the next licence term.

CBC/Radio-Canada's Proposal

As I have outlined above, CBC/Radio-Canada is a multi-platform content provider serving Canadians as individuals, as citizens and as members of many different communities across the country.

We are a single integrated broadcaster. When we look at news, for example, we see it across all platforms - conventional TV, radio, specialty and web. We develop and deliver our news content with an eye to all of the ways in which Canadians may choose to get it. We don't do TV first and then the web. Neither do we do TV and radio independently. It is one product - news - that is developed simultaneously for all of our platforms.

Consequently, our perspective is far from the one-platform-at-a-time approach that is used in the regulatory world. This isn’t our reality.

It is that fact - the multi-platform reality that we live every day - together with the financial challenges we face, as well as a changing broadcasting environment where audiences shift from one platform to the next - that has led us to develop and ask you for a streamlined, high level regulatory approach focusing on a package of key objectives.

Let me emphasize. We have elevated both the type of commitment - conditions of licence instead of expectations - as well as the substance of the commitment - such as the amount of Canadian content.

What we have stepped away from - is a host of lower level commitments that, in our view, are not compatible with the world we live and operate in. We are pleased to make serious regulatory commitments, but we want them to make sense in the current - and future - environment.

For example, in our view, why have genre-specific commitments for a particular platform when audiences may well move away from that platform or their preferences may shift or both. We should not be required to come back to the Commission every time we need to change what we are doing in order to serve Canadians properly.

Similarly, it makes no sense for the Corporation to make a commitment on hours or otherwise that is not financially sustainable. The financial challenges we face are daunting. But we will meet them. And we will balance our budgets. So, we cannot and will not make commitments that we know we may not be able to fulfill.

What we can do is make very serious commitments with respect to key objectives. But we need flexibility. That is what we have proposed.

Accountability

Finally, I would like to address the question of accountability.

CBC/Radio-Canada has a statutory mandate set out in the Broadcasting Act.

We have an independent Board of Directors.

We are accountable to Parliament through the Minister of Heritage.

We file an annual report to Parliament.

We are audited by the auditor general.

We are subject to the Access to Information Act.

We have an Ombudsman for each of our English and French language services.

And we are regulated by the Commission. Through licensing and your decisions. We also file an annual report with you every year that goes beyond the information requirements of any other broadcaster.

We work hard at all of these elements, and are very proud of our high levels of transparency and accountability, and of our continuous efforts to improve.

It is in that context that we have asked to have our administrative burden lightened by limiting what we report annually to the Commission.

We recognize the importance of measurement. In fact, a fourth element of our Strategy 2015 is the development of metrics for all of our activities. So, in addition to every report we just listed, we now publish a report card every year which allows Canadians to assess our progress against our plan.

We would be happy to use these measures as one means of providing the Commission with meaningful reporting.

I am confident that together we can work out an approach to reporting and to CBC/Radio-Canada's other obligations that will ensure that both the Corporation and CRTC plays their respective roles in the Canadian broadcasting system in the manner Parliament intended.

And I am also confident that the next five years for CBC/Radio-Canada will continue to be a time of tremendous challenges and tremendous accomplishments. It is an exciting time in the broadcasting world. By 2017, I am certain that Canadians will be much richer for the efforts we have all made to ensure that Canada has the best broadcasting system in the world.

We look forward to discussing our plans and our proposal with you over the next two days and then responding to interveners at the end of the hearing two weeks from now.

Thank you for your attention. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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