Good morning, Madam Chair, and members of the committee.
I would like to thank you for inviting us to appear today as part of your study on the media and local communities.
My name is Walter Duszara. I am the secretary of the board of directors of the Quebec Community Groups Network. With me today is Hugh Maynard, a past chairman of the QCGN and president of Qu’anglo Communications. Hugh has fulfilled many roles in English-speaking rural communities as a newspaper editor, CBC Radio freelancer, and consultant in community development for everything from community radio to multimedia community websites.
The QCGN is a not-for-profit representative organization that serves as a centre of evidence-based expertise and collective action. QCGN is focused on strategic issues affecting the development and vitality of Canada's English linguistic minority communities, which we collectively refer to as the English-speaking community of Quebec.
Our 48 members are also not-for-profit community groups. Most provide direct services to community members. Some work regionally, providing broad-based services. Others work across Quebec in specific sectors, such as health and arts and culture. Our members include the Quebec Community Newspapers Association, QCNA.
English-speaking Quebec is Canada's largest official language minority. A little more than one million Quebeckers specify English as their first official language spoken. Although 84% of our community lives within the Montreal census metropolitan area, more than 210,000 community members live in other regions of Quebec.
We have here a copy of our detailed brief and an annual report of QCGN. Unfortunately, we did not have time to have it translated, but copies are available to you, should you wish to have one. Our written submission goes into greater detail on the current media landscape and how dwindling media resources have impacted our community. This morning we will concentrate mainly on proposing possible remedies, or at least ways to limit the damage.
A vibrant, healthy, and diverse media serves to inform, encourage, embody, and advance public debate. It also provides a core indicator of the civic health of its community. Free-flowing, wide-ranging information and opinion enables and nourishes democracy. Local media that accurately reflect the community they serve is essential to help sustain democratic values and provide a framework for our communities to evolve.
These values are of even greater importance in situations characterized by minority linguistic and cultural status.
One of the roles of Canadian Heritage is embodied in its explicit commitment to enhance the vitality of official language minority communities. We would contend that an important and fundamental element of a commitment is to support and assist our development and would include ensuring access to information and news in the community's own language.
It is in this context that we are addressing you. Our challenge as English-speaking Quebeckers is to find ways to foster, support, and encourage quality media content that is local and relevant, even as news consumers now turn to digital sources in ever-greater numbers.
Coverage of issues with a unique impact on Quebec's English-speaking population, the kind of in-depth, day-to-day coverage that can realistically come from no other source than local or regional media, has been thinned out and is endangered.
Good morning, Madam Chairperson, and members of the committee.
Any question of providing commercial financial subsidies instantly raises an intractable set of fresh problems and must be rejected out of hand. Traditional boundaries governing government interaction with media ownership must remain in place.
However, clear opportunities exist to encourage and foster the development of new community-based media vehicles to supplement existing local coverage and to help replace locally relevant content where it has been thinned and, often, has disappeared. These ventures could be seeded so they have a chance to bloom in sometimes surprising and unexpected ways, including the digital sector. In some instances, these could help local media to grow, or in others to establish a digital presence.
Thus, we propose a substantive broadening of the Canadian periodical fund support mechanisms to include new and online media. This would require a concomitant increase in available financial resources. It would also offer the possibility for collaboration between major institutions of our community, such as the CBC, universities, and colleges.
Many journalists get their start working for the CBC, which acts as a de facto training ground. Providing the CBC and other local media with resources for internships in conjunction with university journalism and communications programs would help get some reporting boots on the ground and open the door for a new generation to become active in local and community media.
Any financing for such projects should be channelled through third parties. In this vein, the “Final Report on the Canadian News Media”, published in 2006 by the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, recommended that the definition of charitable foundations be broadened to allow for not-for-profit media to be included in this part of the federal tax regime. In addition, a portion of the Canadian Heritage strategic fund that's traditionally allocated to the development of official language minority community radio stations could be reoriented to include new community media ventures without excluding community radio. Two examples of this potential are the community hub websites GoGaspe.com—you can reference the links in the report—and valleyjunction.ca.
I declare my conflict of interest as being the owner of valleyjunction.ca, which so far has made $10 in Google ads. At least we've got it started.
These have been started by local individuals in the Gaspé, and where we are located, in the Chateauguay valley, southwest of Montreal. They're intended as information hubs for and about the communities they serve. Taking advantage of the Internet and social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, they directly involve residents and community organizations who can post stories and announcements about their activities, providing one-stop shopping for community information, with sections for business advertising, classified, and legal notices. With an entrepreneurial approach, multiple sources could be packaged for such projects. The use of crowdsourcing could provide an additional lever effect for financing completely outside any government orbit.
Since four out of five Canadians continue to read a newspaper at least once a week, our focus is not just on digital alternatives. Federal government spending on advertising in newspapers has fallen sharply in recent years. According to one report, this figure has plunged to $357,000, in 2014-2015, from roughly $20 million about 10 years ago. Room clearly exists to restore government ad placement with an emphasis on newspapers that cover local news.
CBC/Radio-Canada, a major source of news for many local communities, receives $946 million a year, and an additional $60 million annually has been promised, about $1 billion in total. QCGN believes that much of that stabilized funding should be used to restore local coverage in the regions. Minority-language community newspaper associations have further recommended that 1% of that $1 billion, or $10 million, be allocated to minority-community newspapers or their associations to support member services, sustainability, education, and recognition and retention of English and French-language journalists. This suggestion by the QCNA and its francophone counterparts is a good one that we believe could be broadened. We suggest the creation of a community media foundation, like the Community Radio Fund of Canada, to support community media across all platforms, as well as new media ventures such as the ones we suggested earlier.
We recommend that the provision of support require evidence of community ownership or involvement. This could be twinned with a paid internship fund to get journalism students to support such initiatives. This latter idea could be structured as government summer jobs or internship programs, such as the Young Canada Works in Both Official Languages program.
Madam Chair and members of the committee, thank you for inviting us to appear today.
My name is Ian Morrison. With me is Peter Miller, who has broad expertise in Canadian media issues, including local television, which, as you know, is synonymous with local TV news.
Television is the most important source of local news in Canada. When a December 2015 survey by ThinkTV asked Canadian adults which medium is their primary source of local news, 36% chose television, eclipsing newspapers at 23%, radio at 20%, and the Internet at 18%.
Peter collaborated with Nordicity to analyze the economic impact of the CRTC's Let's Talk TV policies in a major research report entitled “Canadian Television 2020: Technological and Regulatory Impacts”, released earlier this year. Its key findings are that by 2020, some 15,130 media jobs will be lost, and there will be a $400-million drop in Canadian program expenditures—that's 18% of what now exists—and a $1.4 billion hit to Canada's GDP, all of this as the direct result of Let's Talk TV regulatory changes.
The CRTC has yet to release any economic assessment of the impact of Let's Talk TV, suggesting a lapse in evidence-based decision-making. This loss has nothing to do with technological change and will greatly harm the future viability of local television news. The research study's authors have advanced proposals to reduce the negative impact of the CRTC's decisions by as much as 75%. They say:
|| This would not, in our view, require “turning back the clock” on all LTTV Decisions. It would merely require relatively minor “tweaking” that recognizes Canadians as broadcasting policy has always recognized them—not merely as consumers, but as creators and citizens too.
Compounding this hit, television stations in small and medium markets are particularly vulnerable to adverse economic trends, according to a second Nordicity-Miller study entitled “Near Term Prospects for Local TV in Canada”. That study concludes with the following:
|| ...Canada’s local television heritage is at risk of major cutbacks and station closures, which could be avoided, deferred or minimized by the...[CRTC’s] contemplated reallocation of mandatory Broadcasting Distribution Undertaking (BDU) “local expression” contributions, if...[focused on] small [private] and medium market TV stations.
The near term prospects study projects that up to half of local stations in small and medium markets, where there is often no local TV alternative, will fade to black by 2020 in the absence of CRTC action. This would lead to an estimated 910 layoffs of journalists and others who work to put local news on the air.
The study also found that the most vulnerable stations are independently owned and in small markets such as—
Madam Chair, I won't read out the names of 35 Canadian cities here; they're in my remarks.
When large market local stations are included, the study projects job losses of 3,490.
As you know, local TV, especially news, is very popular with Canadians. A recent Nanos Research poll found that 92% agree that local news is valuable to them, and 90% agree that their federal member of Parliament should work to keep local broadcasting strong in their community.
What can be done to protect local television news?
First, there's tax policy.
Internet advertising is driving structural change, first in print and now in television, as spending has increased eightfold to $3.5 billion since 2006—that's more than a third of all Canadian advertising—yet federal policies to support local media have not changed since the 1990s.
The Income Tax Act should be updated to exclude tax deductibility for foreign-owned or -controlled Internet advertising platforms in addition to cross-border broadcasters and newspapers, as is the case now. Tax deductibility should be restricted to Canadian-owned Internet sites.
Australia has recently moved to require Netflix-like foreign program distributors to collect sales tax. Rogers' Shomi, and Bell's CraveTV collect sales tax from Canadian customers but not their direct competitor Netflix.
The Canadian film or video production tax credit supports most independently produced Canadian programming other than local programming. You should recommend amending the eligibility rules to permit support for local news programming produced by local broadcasters. And we recommend that you invite officials from the Department of Finance to appear to outline options to keep more Canadian ad spending and subscribers' money in Canada.
And I have four more minutes to speak.
Second is CRTC policies.
The government has the right under sections 7, 15, 26, and 28 of the Broadcasting Act to ask the commission to reconsider decisions and policies in view of the government's broadcasting policies and priorities.
You should recommend that the government instruct the commission to increase BDU contributions in support of local television, amend the digital media exemption order to require foreign and domestic over-the-top—that's OTT—television broadcasters to contribute to Canadian programming, and ensure that Internet service providers and mobile operators are required to give priority to Internet-distributed Canadian local media through such measures as exemption from bandwidth caps.
You should ask the CRTC, Chair, to appear before you once the local television hearing decisions are announced. You should pose some questions about recent TV policies, including why, under Let's Talk TV, a majority of programs aired by Canadian broadcasters will no longer be required to be Canadian and a majority of channels distributed to Canadian households will no longer be required to be Canadian. And foreign broadcasters that distribute programs into Canadian households do not play by the same rules as Canadian broadcasters.
You should ask him to present evidence to support his statement that there is enough money in the system to fix the threats to local television, especially in small and medium markets. If you're not satisfied with his response, you should consider recommending to the government that it direct the commission to make the survival of local television a priority.
Third is the 600-megahertz spectrum auction.
Next year the spectrum will be repurposed in Canada and the United States. This will force Canadian broadcasters to purchase new transmission technology. Congress has allocated a portion of the windfall of that relocation to encourage local broadcasters to have the money to buy new transmitters. Canada has not done so. Funding this capital cost could make all the difference for independently owned stations in small markets for a small portion of the windfall.
Fourth, you should study measures adopted in the United States where local broadcasters benefit from numerous measures to strengthen local TV, including local market rights protection rules, strong restrictions on the importation of distant signals on U.S. DTH, and the doctrine of retransmission consent.
And finally, your committee should consider holding hearings in some of the small cities where local television news is most threatened. A good short list would include Saint John's, Rivière-du-Loup, Peterborough, and Kamloops.
Madam Chair, that's all we could pack into the 10 minutes we were given. We did not even mention the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Peter and I would be happy to respond to any questions from committee members, and we wish you success in your important work.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I thank the witnesses who are here this morning. You are all very competent and very well prepared.
Everyone here is very interested in this issue, in light of the technological changes and the threats to our cultural diversity and our sources of information. We are all very grateful to be here.
Let me say how happy I am to see how rigorous the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting are. I hope I am going to have time to speak to you, so I will hurry up.
My comments are addressed to the gentlemen from Quebec Community Groups Network and Qu'anglo.
I think that anglophones have never before contributed so much to cultural life in Quebec. A healthy complicity has sprung up. The professionalization of the Quebec star system has opened the doors to anglophone artists. I went on the gogaspe.com website. It is very inspiring for everyone and for community media, be it the written press, radio or others, who are perhaps less used to this very community-based approach.
You said that we should update the funding of various programs and ensure that the Internet aspect is considered like the others. Would this have an impact on the majority of your members? I think it would, because the anglophone minority is in Montreal and Quebec. These are markets that have broad Internet access.
The Internet of course has been a boon to be able to reach different communities and different groups from around the province and in the various centres of the province. However, it does not necessarily trickle down to the individual. In the regions in particular, access to broadband is difficult in many areas, impossible in some, and expensive everywhere.
If you look at the demographics of our population, somewhere in the vicinity of 25% of people are seniors. Not all seniors are comfortable with technology. Technology has basically invaded our space, whether we were ready or not. Some were ready, some were not. Putting all the emphasis on broadband or on digital media will not necessarily respond to the needs of the individuals.
There is an important feature to the digital aspects, if you like, or the digitization of information, the digital media, but it requires a support mechanism to be able to do what it needs to do. Our big concern is with the notion of local news and local information and being able to provide information that is analyzed from the perspective of the English-speaking minority. That capacity has been eroded to the point where it has almost disappeared. That is the area we're looking at most.
Our recommendations, when you have a chance to see the report, point to directions that we as spokesmen for the English-speaking minority feel require attention: moving towards ensuring that we have quality information available to our communities; moving towards ensuring that we protect some of the services we have now; and moving towards also engaging in not the protection necessarily of the media outlets that are there, but protecting the capacity-building, to ensure that as we move forward in time, young journalists, young entrepreneurs, young people have the resources to be able to experiment, to put forward new ideas, to make mistakes, to learn from mistakes, and to go forward.
That capacity right now is not there. The capacity of our existing media sources is diminishing quickly and disappearing quickly.
If I were in charge, I would develop a list of things that the over-the-top providers should be doing. At the very top of the list would be that they should be collecting the same taxes from Canadians as their Canadian competitors. It's just not fair that I can.... Well, until recently it was $7.99 a month, but I see in my morning feed that Netflix raised it by 30%. Supposing it's the new fee of $9.99, then, I just send them $9.99, but if Rogers charges me $9.99 for Shomi, I send them $9.99—I live in Ontario—plus 13%.
That's number one: there should be a level playing field for Canadian consumption taxes in the audio-visual system.
Beyond that, you'll find effectively that Canadian broadcasters are not taxed. They're required, through regulation under the Broadcasting Act, to put about 30% of their revenues into Canadian content. If you go down to the distributors—the Rogers, the Shaws, the Videotrons—they're required to put about 5% of their revenues into Canadian content.
Why would we allow a foreign company to come into Canada, reaching Canadian homes, and put zero, nada, into Canadian content? It's just not appropriate.
If there were no problems with the system, maybe other things would be more important, but I think we've presented evidence, and others will, that there's a crisis in the system and that therefore everyone should be contributing something.
Let me say that when we look at Canadian content we look at it in different ways. For those of you who have observed it, there has been a real switch to look at the economic benefits of production. We talk a lot about that, and we haven't talked as much about the cultural benefits.
The other thing—and this is what's vital to this committee—the big shift, the big trend, is that high-end drama is now easier to do than it ever used to be. Why? It's because we, in this country, got better at it. We got better at partnerships, co-productions, and exporting. If you are producing the high end, there is demand for it—this is the golden age of television—and you have an export market you go to.
However, if you are producing local news, you are relying on an ever-diminishing local advertising pool, and there is nowhere else for it to go. That is why we are in this unique period where the local stuff, the local newspaper and local television stations, which used to be completely profitable, are vulnerable. With the things we have worried about for 20 or 30 years, we are actually doing okay in, relatively speaking.
Here is an example of local. This is a French-language paper delivered to everybody weekly in my area. The local English paper has met its demise, and as a result it gets two pages in the middle. Those are three articles translated from French into English and, you will notice, rather poorly so. I am not criticizing the French-language publication, but the fact is the demise of the local media. The coverage in the news has become quite difficult. Outside of Montreal this is becoming the rule rather than the exception.
How do we replace that? We talked a bit about some of the multimedia models.
Into the second part, what that needs.... I'll give you an example. One of the Magdalen Islands, Grosse-Île, has about 700 anglophones, who lost their weekly newspaper five years ago. They have been trying to find a way to collaborate with the local French-language paper and with the local French-language community radio station, and also to provide their seniors with a publication and those kinds of things. They have a business plan and a model. It's all ready to go; they just don't have any competent personnel who can run it.
That's what we talk about with this fund. Is there a way to take a young journalist out of Concordia University, put them down in the Magdalen Islands for a year, give them an internship and some experience, and ship them back? They are trained a little bit, and it gives the community some expertise, some element so they can get these things going forward.
Lastly, with regard to the Internet, I live an hour southwest of Montreal, and when something starts in Montreal we get it where I live in about 10 years. The further east, north, or west you go, the more difficult it gets.
Canadian federal governments, of all political stripes—not the NDP, of course, but the other ones—have made commitments to rural broadband repeatedly over the last 20 years, and nothing has really substantially happened. The commitment in the latest budget would be a good idea if we could get that in there and expand rural Internet, because it is quite essential to all kinds of economic development, especially media delivery.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you all for being here today. Moreover, I thank and commend you for the work you're doing to maintain balanced access to French and English media.
I want to address the guests from QCGN today.
Half of my family are Montrealers, and I know from lived experience that anglophone content is readily available there. I want to focus on that 16%, I think it was, of your target audience who live outside of Montreal, in many cases in rural and smaller communities, who also deserve access to English and locally relevant content, whether it be through traditional outlets or digital outlets.
I'll ask my question in three parts and invite you to apportion the time that remains in any way you'd like.
The first is, what is the current state of affairs outside of Montreal, in rural communities, for access to locally relevant English content? The second part is, what is in your work plan to help improve that situation? The third piece is, what can this committee do and what can the Government of Canada do to accelerate and help the work that you're trying to do?
The state is that outside of Montreal you have the CBC, with a radio broadcast out of Quebec City, and then you have five or six local community radio stations and at this point fewer than 10 English-language community newspapers, all of which are either of limited range or in quite a bit of difficulty.
Attaching to the question from before, much of the English-speaking rural community is within access of radio and television from the United States. There's Derby Line in Vermont, as well, and publications. There is, then, easy access to English-language media, but there's not very easy access to local English-language media. There's CNN; there's lots of news on the airwaves, but not necessarily local coverage.
That comes back to questions of density of population. Obviously, on the Magdalen Islands, with 700 people, it's going to be very difficult to support a weekly newspaper again, but also, the institutions on the island of Montreal have great difficulty going off the island. For example, I work mainly in agriculture, so I get calls from CTV and the other news outlets about what's going on with crops or the weather, but when you say you're an hour from Montreal, they won't come out. Unless there's a flood or an accident—some great event—they just won't bother, and so the coverage is quite minimal.
Good morning, and thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you on this important issue of media and local communities.
My name is Ann Mainville-Neeson, and I'm vice-president of broadcasting policy and regulatory affairs at Telus. With me is Frédéric April, who manages our French language community station called maCommunauté for Telus' Optik TV.
Telus is one of Canada's large telecommunications providers. We're well known for our commercials with the nice little animals, but we also provide an IPTV-based TV service called Optik TV. It's an alternative to the cable and satellite companies. Optik TV is available in Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec. Unlike our competitors, who take an ownership stake in the content programming services and the networks that distribute these services, Telus does not own any programming services. We are not vertically integrated. Like most cable TV companies, we do operate a community television service, which is a public service that we offer in the areas in which we offer TV service.
Our approach to community programming is different from our competitors as well, though.
First, instead of operating a traditional community channel, the likes of which I'm sure you're familiar with here in Ottawa, Telus Optik Local programming breaks free from the scheduled channel and instead we offer our programming on demand. That allows us to offer convenience to our customers, but also to break free from the scheduling. We can offer programming in the length in which the programming requires. It could be a bite-sized bit of information, or it could be a longer-form documentary, or whatever the programming length is required for the content itself to be expressed.
Second, our community programming service is not only available on our Optik TV video-on-demand service, it's also available completely free online on our YouTube channel. We believe that it's important for our communities to be served with programming available, regardless of the television service provider that customers choose. We make our content available to everyone. We want the programming to be watched not just by our own customers, but by as many people as possible, including people living in the surrounding region, province, and indeed in the country and around the globe.
Most importantly, what truly distinguishes Telus' community programming is our heavy reliance on programming created by independent producers who reside in the local communities. Telus does not operate local studies for the creation of community programming. Instead Telus provides the voice to the communities served by Optik TV through funding for the local producers who can work at their creative arts in the communities in which they reside.
Telus' investment in Optik Local and maCommunauté, as well as its approach to production and availability of community programming, reflects the philanthropic philosophy and commitment to the communities we serve. Telus is proud to support sustainable communities and strong social outcomes. Providing a platform for community members to share stories and get informed on local issues is one of the ways that we give back to the communities.
Telus recently participated in the CRTC's review of the regulatory framework for local and community programming. One of the matters which was discussed, as Peter Miller has just informed the committee, was the determination of whether support was needed for the creation of local news by the television broadcasters. In that proceeding, Telus argued strenuously that the CRTC should not adopt a subsidy model for the production of traditional newscasts, and we did so for two reasons.
The first reason is that Telus is concerned that such a subsidy would be implemented at the expense of the diversity of voices that are provided by community television services. Telus submits that as an increasingly consolidated media communication sector, it is essentially important to prioritize information sources that are independent from the large media conglomerates.
The second reason for its position in the hearing is that we do not believe subsidizing traditional news models is sustainable. Nor do we believe that subsidies would constitute good public policy, given the changing technologies and consumer behaviours. For example, Statistics Canada reported a considerable decline in viewership on news on television, falling from 90% in 2003 to 78% in 2013. There is no doubt that the proliferation of media news information sources is at the root of this decline, but there's also the rise of social media and the increase of sharing on video platforms that does account for such a decline.
Telus knows from experience that optic local programming has the power to build an understanding and empathy between diverse community elements and inspire citizens to take action to better their communities. Many of the Optik Local stories are shared through social media, and they strike a chord, so to speak, in highlighting important societal issues not typically covered by mainstream media. The short, shareable programs of Optik Local therefore enhance the awareness of people, events, and issues in our communities.
Consider, for example, the social impact of the short documentary produced for Optik Local called Eastside Stories, which chronicles the spirit and struggles of the residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The program was viewed by tens of thousands of viewers, and shared by many of these viewers, and it had a strong impact on the understanding in that area. Indeed, the producer of that series indicated that many viewers have stated the content has changed their views on the homeless and opened their eyes to the gentrification issue of the Downtown Eastside and some of the grassroots initiatives popping up in the community.
Another example of the positive social impact of Optik Local programming is the short documentary about Staff Sergeant Baltej Dhillon, the first Sikh RCMP officer permitted to wear a turban as part of his uniform. Telus posted this program on its Facebook page, and it has reached over 33,000 viewers, many of whom also shared the story with their own networks and left positive comments on the site. This demonstrates these are important stories to tell, and we're encouraged to see that we can amplify their impact through social media.
We welcome the opportunities presented by new technologies and platforms that are enabling the creation and viewing of innovative forms of local programming. We embrace future opportunities as they emerge.
Here I'm really going to push the boundaries. In a recent TED talk, filmmaker Chris Milk spoke on creating the ultimate empathy machine by filming in virtual reality. Specifically, he described using virtual reality technology to shoot his film of a young girl living in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. This allowed viewers, or more accurately participants in this virtual reality experience to not only witness the experience of her onscreen, but essentially to climb through the screen and live the experience on the other side. What a powerful tool to truly engage viewers and create the empathy that is essential to positive action.
In conclusion, then, Telus believes it's essential for this committee to examine all the forms of local media, including those that are breaking away from traditional journalism formats as this can create the impetus for positive social change.
The point is there is no longer a better or best way to convey news and information. Telus hopes that the committee's study on media and local communities will embrace the development of non-traditional platforms and formats and distribution methods to better engage citizens, bring them together, and ignite positive social change in communities across Canada.
Thank you. I would be pleased to answer your questions.
The CRTC is considering drawing upon a fund that supports community programming. This would be added to the amounts we spend ourselves to improve this programming. This money would be allocated to traditional local broadcasters.
First, you need to know that these broadcasters are vertically integrated for the most part, and so they own the networks and the media services. For instance, Bell Media, which belongs to CTV, and other conglomerates, have the means to invest in their own businesses and to put incentives in place so as to obtain subsidies for specific services, even though they already make enormous profits from their other services.
Secondly, we fear that such subsidies will have an adverse effect on the independence of the information produced by our own services, for instance Optik Local.
Thirdly, the subsidies that may be given to traditional television services and news services will not ultimately encourage change, even though some changes may be necessary. Continuing to proceed in the same way as in the past may not be beneficial for the future.
So we feel that granting subsidies is not necessarily the right path to follow at this time.
Yes, one of the points that we wanted to make is that traditional journalism is not the only way to convey information; in fact, it's not just the means of distribution, but the many formats, from comedy, to short-form documentaries, to opinion pieces, all of which serve to inform people and create the locally informed citizen. We shouldn't dismiss those types of programming from our review of local news because, ultimately, it's not just about local news, but all the ways in which our communities are being informed.
If people aren't watching the news anymore and watching TV news—and certainly Statistics Canada is telling us that there has been a significant decline over the last 10 years—but we know that TV viewership is up, then they're watching other forms.
A significant part is entertainment, but I think there's also a significant part in the rise of documentaries and the rise of all kinds of other ways of getting informed.
When you look at these new technologies, like VR—and I do encourage you all to watch the TED Talks by Chris Milk—the importance of getting information and not only having facts told to us, which may or may not resonate with us as people, but also getting an emotional connection with the information and the way it's presented can ultimately lead to better outcomes.
Should we be focusing from a public policy perspective on creating programming that merely provides facts, or on the presentation of facts that may create that emotional connection that will ultimately lead to positive social change?
Ultimately what is the public policy goal of providing news? Is it to create local, informed citizens who will take their responsibilities for better communities in hand?