Members of the committee, thank you for inviting us back to talk with you about the mandate of CBC/Radio-Canada.
We has been following the work of this committee over the past nine months as you have studied our mandate. We are eager to discuss with you what you have heard, and your thoughts about what Canadians want from their national public broadcaster.
When we were here last March, we spoke about some of our recent successes in programs and in productivity. We also spoke about the tremendous changes sweeping the broadcasting environment, and the need for a new approach, a systematic review on a timely basis, a contract between the national public broadcaster and the citizens it serves.
Such an approach is essential if CBC/Radio-Canada is going to be able to continue to respond to the needs of Canadians. Public broadcasters in other countries have already followed a similar path. After mandate reviews that include widespread consultation, similar agreements have been established with public broadcasters in Ireland, Hong Kong, South Africa and, of course, in Great Britain with the BBC. I urge you to speak with them about their experience.
It's important to point out that this contract must continue to protect the arm's-length independence currently enshrined in the Broadcasting Act. Micromanagement of programming decisions, including specific demands on where programming is to be made and by whom, would create a bureaucratic nightmare that would stifle creativity and flexibility, and undermine the very essence of public broadcasting.
Under a contract, once expectations of the broadcaster are agreed upon, the public broadcaster should be responsible for making the decisions necessary to fulfill those expectations. For CBC/Radio-Canada, a new contract reviewed on a regular, predictable cycle would provide direction on what Canadians could expect from their national public broadcaster in return for a clear indication from government on its willingness to supply the necessary funding on a stable, continuing basis. This contract should be part of an ongoing, permanent process of regular, timely, and predictable reviews of our mandate.
Other witnesses have also expressed strong support for the concept of a contract, and I hope that you will endorse this proposal in your report. I can't stress how important I believe it is that you take the opportunity to reflect and recommend a new approach.
The Broadcasting Act hasn't changed in more than 15 years. During that time, the broadcasting environment has continued to change and has done so even since our last appearance in the spring. It's being buffeted by consolidation and ownership and changing viewing habits that are redefining what broadcasting means. Sure, Canadians still watch television and listen to radio, but more than ever they are watching the programs on their laptops, their BlackBerrys, their cellphones, and their iPods.
That is why we are no longer the company we were 15 years ago. We can no longer think of ourselves as a television company or a radio company or an Internet company. In fact, we are a content company, and we need to make, and are already making, programs that are, from their very inception, designed for all platforms. That philosophy is now ingrained in all of our services.
In short, we are programmers. Our job is to ensure that distinctive content created for, by, and about Canadians is available when Canadians want it and on whichever platform they are using. And that means, as well, that we need multiple services, not just one or two.
Our mission is to deliver public value to Canadians. That means programs that are relevant to people, programs that enrich their democratic and cultural lives, programs that reflect the tremendous diversity of this country and that build cohesion by showing what we all have in common. Our programs should also fulfill public policy objectives, by which I mean we need to offer a range of programs that are distinctive, intelligent, entertaining, and innovative.
In the last couple of years, we have recognized that our unique advantage in a crowded marketplace is our distinctive Canadian programming, and we have gone back to our roots and developed unique, indigenous content in drama, entertainment, and children's programs.
You have no doubt heard of the success of shows like Little Mosque on the Prairie. It entertains about a million Canadians each week and is now being broadcast in over 57 countries around the world, including Gaza and Israel.
And let's not forget Les Bougon, an audacious program that private broadcasters feared showing, that averages 1.2 million viewers on télévision de Radio-Canada.
Also, let me mention Afghanada, a unique CBC radio series that has developed a loyal audience throughout the country.
When you consider what we have been able to do with the resources we have, you can see that CBC/Radio-Canada does deliver great public value. Of course, no matter how compelling our programs, we can't succeed if audiences don't watch or listen to them. Audience size is not everything, but one can't have a public broadcaster without a public. If too few people are watching or listening, we will become irrelevant.
Mr. Chair, I would draw your attention to the programming mix of public broadcasters such as the BBC. There you will find programs designed to build audiences, as well as high culture offerings. And, if we are irrelevant, why should Canadians continue to invest in public broadcasting?
Audience size also affects our commercial revenue, which now makes up about half of our television budgets. If we lose audience, we lose revenue and the resources to produce Canadian programs. If we attract audiences and our revenue increases, we do not generate profits for shareholders, we generate more resources, which are put right back into developing better programs.
What is important is to offer a range of program genres, both popular and meaningful. We must remember that popular can be meaningful. Just think of Little Mosque on the Prairie or Les Bougon. Both programs deliver important social messages through humour.
Access to our programming is also critical. We must be sensitive to changing means of delivery. That is why we're using new technologies to reach new audiences. We've become a top provider of news and content on wireless devices. We broadcast our programs across North America on satellite radio. Podcasts of our programs are the choice of a new generation of young Canadians, with more than a million downloads a month. We have proven that you don't have to dumb down your programming to reach a younger audience.
Other witnesses have told this committee how important it is to have a strong presence in new media and emerging platforms. We're trying to make, and we are making, better use of our strengths, and we are restructuring accordingly. Many of our journalists are now filing reports in English and French for radio, television, and the Internet. That allows us to put more resources into bringing more stories to light.
But we want to reach the eight million French- and English-speaking Canadians who pay for CBC/Radio-Canada but don't currently have a local CBC/Radio-Canada radio service. The government asked for, and we provided, a plan that would bring local public radio, local news, local issues, to 15 of the fastest-growing communities across Canada that are deprived today of local public broadcasting. We included the cost—$25 million in capital cost and $25 million a year in operating costs—because we simply don't have the resources to do it without cutting services somewhere else. That plan was submitted to this committee in May 2007, and I hope that you will also be able to endorse it.
Increasing our local radio presence will help us improve our service to Canadians on one platform. If we are to continue to be relevant to Canadians, we must provide our content on all platforms: regular television channels as well as specialty channels geared to specific audiences.
A dramatic change has occurred over the past few years in television watching. While conventional general television will continue to be important, more Canadians, both English and French, look to specialty channels for their television. This season's viewing of specialty channels was 54% on the English side and 38% on the French side for the whole day. In most cases, viewers are looking for a particular programming genre: sports, news, high culture, children's programming, etc. It is obvious that the public broadcaster must serve Canadian viewers as they wish to be served.
We are reorganizing accordingly. That is why we are taking a significant enhanced position in ARTV and the Documentary Channel. That is why we will change the name and the programming mix of CBC Country Canada to be an arts and specialty channel. We must continue to develop specialty channels, such as a children's channel, perhaps in partnership with another public broadcaster, and a lead sports channel.
We must continue to develop a specialty channel dedicated to the expression of nationwide diversity, new cultures, opinions and regions. We must view public broadcasting in the future as a comprehensive array of services, because Canadians have demonstrated by their behaviour that that is what they want.
Our mandate must be to serve all Canadians. Public broadcasting is not a niche service. If it becomes one, it will be irrelevant to the people who invest in it and it will wither away.
Mr. Chair, over the past few years we have created a strong, efficient broadcaster. Canadians have come to us in increasing and record-high numbers, in English and in French, in radio and in TV. A contract with Canadians will result in enhanced relations with our shareholders and will position CBC/Radio-Canada for the future: nimble, willing to take risks, and never losing sight of its primary goal of enhancing the democratic and cultural life of the citizens of the country.
I hope that your report will be forward-looking and that you will create a road map for the future of public broadcasting. Strong, forward-looking recommendations from your review of a mandate of CBC/Radio-Canada can give us the tools to help us do this.
I am going to end my presentation on a more personal note.
I have appeared before this committee frequently during my mandate. I have always appreciated the discussions we have had and the consistent interest in CBC/Radio-Canada shown by committee members. I know that my successor, Mr. Hubert Lacroix, is looking forward to meeting with you soon, and I am confident that he too will enjoy working with this committee.
We look forward to answering your questions.
I will answer the question about RCI first and then I will answer the question about the francophone and anglophone markets.
RCI's basic mandate has absolutely not changed. However, you will have noticed that for several years, we have worked hard to integrate our radio, television and web resources with the same logic as almost all the media in the world, that is to try for a multi-platform approach. Radio Canada International is no different. Its services are now much more closely linked to those of Radio-Canada. This allows Radio Canada International to take advantage of, for example, Radio-Canada's communications, finance and buildings services, which I feel is sound management.
So Radio Canada International's budget may seem smaller because some amounts are now in communications, in finances, in facilities or elsewhere. Overall, the amounts spent on Radio Canada have not changed at all.
One thing has changed at Radio Canada International, however—and in my opinion, the change was made to better reflect reality. Radio Canada International now also produces programs intended for new immigrants to Canada. We realized that, with our ability to broadcast in Russian, Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish, it was perhaps a great waste of energy to broadcast only overseas, given what we know about immigration rates to Canada. So now we produce programs that welcome immigrants in different languages. This seems to me to be logical for Radio Canada International to do.
I think that this is all good news for Radio Canada International, which today has a much more relevant role than it used to have. It is good news in my opinion.
As to the French and English markets, they are different in many respects. That said, all answers are good, because Richard and I have to deal with the same questions. For example, the increase in platforms and the matter of rights are the same questions.
At times, the answers are not the same because the francophone market is heavily influenced by the Quebec market where Quebeckers have a very strong allegiance to their own television, and then by the importance that we all attribute to francophones outside Quebec. This is a completely different approach to broadcasting, and it does not exist in English.
There are two orientations, there is a business orientation that deals with major questions about administration, financial management, the technology watch. It makes sense to do this together because we are a single corporation with the same issues. But then, we have to adapt our approaches to our different markets because if we do not, the response we get will not be good.
Richard, do you want to add anything?
I believe that it's an important factor to try to develop programs in different regions. We do try to pursue that, particularly with our news and current affairs programming in English and in French. At the same time, one must recognize that like all countries there tends to be in our case two significant centres of production. I think it was Sylvain who told our board the other day that 95% of the members of Union des artistes live in Montreal.
We try to develop programs in Moncton and other places, but you sometimes have to transport the skill sets from Montreal to Moncton, so we do, for example, a co-production. The problem as well is that as people develop their skills, we can't give them all the work that they have. They have to be available to work with other independent producers, so they therefore tend to migrate to Montreal and Toronto. It's an inevitable pull. We don't say it's good or bad. Our position is that we do want to produce in different centres.
That's why we're rebuilding Vancouver at the present time. It's the second-largest English city in terms of CBC, well, in terms of the country. We are rebuilding our facilities there. We're putting a lot of money in to be able to produce.
What I was saying in the text is that it doesn't serve a purpose, at least as far as we're concerned, to say x percentage must be done in this area, y percentage must be done in that area, this kind of program must be done here, that kind of program must be done there. That is precisely what happened back in 1999 with the decision of the CRTC, which also proved not to be workable.
There is also a concern that we have—we live with it and have to work with it—that you're not eligible for certain grants unless the program is produced 150 kilometres outside of Moncton, outside of Toronto. That doesn't accept the reality of where the program producers live, where they want to work. Our job is to encourage them to move to different places to do it.
In a case like Little Mosque on the Prairie, a lot of the shooting was done in Saskatchewan, as I understand, but you're absolutely right, the core of the program was shot in Toronto or in Hamilton, because in fact that's where these people live and that's where they want to work. So we're always looking at a balance of doing it.
We do a much better job, I must say, and can do a much better job, in local radio. Remember that we see ourselves as a combination of services, a programmer that tries to do different things. The strength of CBC/Radio-Canada radio is its local programming. Everything is driven off local programming. That's why we feel there are eight million Canadians who are deprived of a service. In a city like Hamilton—I'm sorry, I'm going on—their local CBC radio show comes from Toronto. In Toronto, Andy Barrie is number one; in Hamilton, he's number seven. That's logical; he's basically Toronto-centric, but that's his job. We'd love to have a station in Hamilton.
Sure. This is something we've been working towards for a little while. We've been integrating different kinds of services. We integrated all of the support services, communications, human resources, and finances over the course of the last little while. For a lot of our regional operations we've been moving towards the integration of news. In French, I believe it was two years ago that they integrated fully. It was a logical step in terms of the path we've been coming along.
Concretely, it means a couple of things. First, I don't think the direction of English radio is going to change. I really think the direction of English radio has been very, very successful over the course of the last little while. One of the things I would say to people when I first came to the television side was if we could have a television service in English that was as clever, as successful, and that Canadians loved as much as the one we had in radio, I would be thrilled.
What it will allow us to do is a couple of things. On the point that Bob was making earlier on, the efflorescence of different kinds of platforms of one variety or another, whether Google-type platforms or Internet platforms or mobile platforms or whatever they happen to be, it'll make it easier for us to address all those kinds of platforms in a sensible way.
The other thing it will allow us to do is to in fact develop offers that are designed from the very beginning to run on all the different platforms. We've been experimenting with this for some time now in Vancouver. We asked ourselves: what does the news service of the 21st century look like, particularly local news service?
We said to ourselves that it has at the very least two really important characteristics. One is that it meets Canadians wherever they happen to be, on whatever sort of device they want to consume the news on. So we said it's obviously a multi-platform offer. It runs on radio, television, mobile devices, the Internet, etc., so that we can serve Canadians however they want to consume their news. So we would design it that way around.
The second thing we said to ourselves is--again, to use a metaphor--that we want to think less that what's involved in the news is a conventional broadcast model. It's no longer that I tell you the news; rather, it's a different thing, which is we engage in a conversation with Canadians as to what constitutes the news. It's an issue of stance.
What we would like to be able to do is offer a newscast that is much more networked and interactive, where Canadians can not only express their opinions as to what is important with respect to the news they cover, but they can also comment on the news as we present it and they can discuss among themselves how it is that the news is made. In the most radical form of it, they can actually upload to us content and, indeed, stories that become part and parcel of it, so that, one way to put it, no longer are we sending news in a broadcast model but rather a social network model.
I've been working on that in Vancouver. You can see, obviously, to be able to do it requires that you integrate all of your services, a common set of editorial priorities. As Robert was saying earlier on, journalists go out and collect the news not just for television and radio, but for the Internet and hand-held devices as well.
I will talk about the mandate first and then about the money.
Radio Canada's mandate is not changing, but, like media mandates everywhere, it is evolving. Look at the large international media outlets. When, for example, Radio Canada International goes on the air in French-speaking Africa or anywhere else in the world, we are up against the major international players like the BBC, Voice of America or Radio France Internationale. They have much greater resources and are able to offer complete and well-directed news services. RCI is much smaller, so it has to set itself apart from its competition.
Still from the standpoint of the democratic and cultural values that we want to espouse, we decide that RCI must be a tool that broadcasts Canadian democratic and cultural values overseas. Do we do that in newscasts only, or do we also do it with cultural shows about Canada of a more general and social nature? This question of programming is an interesting one.
Yes, there has been an evolution. The mandate has not changed, but it does adjust: if we really want to get democratic and cultural values out there, we have other ways to do it than just by news bulletins. The news produced by CBC in English and Radio-Canada in French is generally good, and, broadly speaking, covers what is going on in Canada.
Maybe there has been a shift towards programming whose content deals more with culture and society than information, but that seems to me to be simply a process of matching RCI's personality to the present reality of international broadcasting.
Is there less programming than previously? It is certainly true that the broadcasting technology used by the major international broadcasters has changed a lot. Short wave, for example, is much less effective in some markets today than the web, or programs on FM.
Radio Canada International is a multimedia outlet today, in my opinion. If you go on the RCI site, you will find a lot of video and audio. RCI has become a production unit that is quite specialized in world migration and immigration issues. This is because Canada is an important country that must be an example to the world in those matters. I see that as a major role.
The essence of RCI's mandate has not changed.
As to the finances, RCI has about $15 million that it can call on. Whether its communications money comes from a communications team, whether Radio Canada International is written on the cheque or whether the money comes from a communications team with Radio Canada written on their cheques, honestly, it makes little difference. I think that it is more effective to use a large team of communications specialists or a large team of financial people and include RCI in our structures, as we have done for many of our operations at the corporation, especially since Robert arrived. I just see it as good old efficient management and basic common sense.
I want to thank all three of you for returning to our table.
Mr. Rabinovitch, thank you for your many years of service to our public broadcaster. I suspect this will not be the last time you appear before this committee. We've had one past president of CBC appear before us during this mandate review. This may fall upon your shoulders some day, as well.
I did note that you made a number of very bold statements in your opening comments. Quite frankly, I'm encouraged by those. You're not a shrinking violet. You've clearly set out some of the financial challenges that CBC faces. You've also outlined what you believe are the minimum requirements to address the needs of the public broadcaster.
I also want to assure you that we are going to be hearing testimony from organizations like BBC, PBS, and perhaps the Australian public broadcaster, so we haven't closed that door yet.
In terms of the bold statements you made, it intrigued me that you actually made it clear that you cannot succeed if audiences do not watch or listen to your programs. You even made it in bold: “...but one cannot have a public broadcaster without a public.” That's the reality. What we do want is a broad audience for the programs we deliver. We can't be elitist. We have to focus in on serving the public that actually pays for the public broadcaster.
You also made a strong statement about micromanagement. Mr. Siksay raised that, and I believe Mr. Scarpaleggia did as well. Without getting into the details of what has been discussed in camera, I think it's fair to say that we've had some discussion about the issue of micromanagement, although I believe there's a consensus that we not get into micromanagement; we may have different definitions of what it means.
My question has to do with one issue that can perhaps be micromanaged to the detriment of CBC. That's the whole issue of Canadian programming. How much of it is there going to be? When do we deliver it? Do you see there is a role for this committee, or the government, to interfere by providing you with directives as to how that Canadian programming should be delivered, apart from the requirements of the CRTC imposed on you under your licencing requirements?
First, let me react to the beginning of your statement, that you cannot have a public broadcaster without the public.
That message comes out very clearly if you talk to France Télévisions or the BBC, that you cannot be an elitist organization. You have to have a mix of programming. That's why I try to say that the public broadcaster must have a mix of programming to attract people to it and in the process show them and give them different programs and different types of programs.
I strongly believe that. If you look at the BBC, they have a concept called “hammocking” where you have a very popular program, a very serious program, a very popular program. That's why they call it a hammock. But without that front end, the EastEnders or something like that, you cannot capture the audience to do the rest.
This is a very critical concept. Quite frankly, I would not want to see the CBC becoming PBS North, which has a 1.5% share and ultimately has lost the respect of the large population in terms of the funding that they need. They don't live off their fundraising campaigns. They do live off government funding.
Now, to your question, I think it's really important to begin to define what is and what is not micromanaging. I think your telling us to do more comedy and to do more variety shows is verging on micromanaging. Telling us to be an all-Canadian service with some “best of the world” is not micromanaging. That is reinforcing what the mandate of the public broadcaster in Canada should be.
As you know, we feel that the biggest hole is entertainment and drama on the English side, and I think it's perfectly legitimate for the committee to endorse or disagree with that as a concept without crossing the line into micromanagement. I'd get very concerned if you told us we have to do six and a half hours and we'd better give up our Friday nights to have comedies. Well, we'll have comedy--I think we're great at it--but the day may come when it's not the right genre to be pushing at any one time, and I'd be a bit concerned if you went down one more level.
But definitely, distinctive, Canadian, reinforcing some of the principles in the act--those principles were there in the 1968 act, yet if you looked at CBC at the time, the programming on prime time was highly American. I think my predecessors and we have moved very much towards doing more Canadian programming in prime time. But again we have to finance it somehow, and we have to attract that audience, because without the audience.... That's why having a hit like Little Mosque doing over a million to us is a home run. It shows it can be done and we can attract people, and quite frankly, you can also use humour to give a very serious message.
So I have to count on--I'll use the word advisedly--the maturity of the committee to decide where the line is in terms of micromanaging.
There is no correct answer here. The answer is a function of where one believes we should be going and how we should do it.
I believe it's quite simplistic to argue simply that because the Prime Minister appoints the president, therefore there is political intervention and interference. It's the same thing as appointing a Supreme Court justice. It's the same thing as appointing a Federal Court justice. They're appointed by the Minister of Justice or the Prime Minister, and it doesn't mean that therefore the justice system has been corrupted. The evidence is exactly the opposite, and I would say the evidence is exactly the opposite in the case of the CBC. It's an absolute red herring to argue about that.
I can say that in my eight years, I have never had any suggestion of interference from a minister or from the Prime Minister, and I can say the same for my predecessors. They have not had any intervention or interference. The government may not like some of our programming. They may be concerned in general, especially when we're going through something like a referendum or something of that nature, but they have been very discreet and careful as a government. I say it's the maturity of the government system to respect the role of the public broadcaster and the independence of the public broadcaster.
Remember, my appointment--it's almost over--is what we call in government “for good behaviour”, the same as for a judge. It's not an “at pleasure” appointment. I cannot be fired, except through a joint motion of the House and the Senate. It's designed deliberately to ensure the independence of the broadcaster when there is a change of government, because we are such a major source of news in the country.
One might argue the reasons for the president to be appointed by the board, but the argument that has been made about intervention and interference just doesn't hold up when you look at the facts over the last 50 years. It doesn't hold up at all. The boards have tended to be mixed, in all fairness, in all candour, and they have tended to be much more partisan or political than has the president. The president, whoever he has been in the past, has tended to wear the hat as a judge would. This is a unique job. It's a wonderful job. It's a tough job and one in which you feel every day the uniqueness of protecting the independence of the public broadcaster, because you know how dangerous and how fragile a plant this is.
Boards are quite different. Boards are very short-term. They can be or they are a gift of the minister or a gift of the government. Sometimes boards are excellent. Sometimes they are not that good. They tend to be, with all due respect, quite partisan, and unlike in the case of the BBC, which is the model people look at in which the board appoints the president but does not appoint the chair--the chair is appointed by the government.... If you look at the quality of the people on the board, they are the most exalted people in British society. The quality of people who go onto that board is very distinct, and for them to call the shots might be very different from the situation in our case, where we have a different tradition.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, let me congratulate our new president. I wish you all the best.
Bob and I go back a lot of years. In fact, I started on this committee in 1997 and sat here for probably four years. I can certainly say that you've done an excellent job.
As you indicated, the position is really non-partisan, and you're a terrific example of being non-partisan. I know that over the years you've taken time to talk to everybody, all the different caucuses, and made it a non-partisan position. So let me say thank you for your service to this country.
I've always been a great believer in the CBC, because I believe the CBC is sort of like the glue that keeps this country together, only because it's such a large country from coast to coast to coast. In terms of the future, I think it probably has an even bigger role to play than even in its past. I know the challenges, as you say, with all the different media modes today, but you have to be involved in every one of them.
In your initiative to go back to the community radio stations, it's almost like going back to the future. At one time, you did have stations in the smaller communities, and television stations as well. I know a lot of them were shut down.
I have the second-largest settled settled riding in the country. I know CBC is well utilized by rural Canadians in my riding. The two issues they have are that they just love the radio, because it really keeps them in tune with what's going on. There are portions of my riding that actually don't have a regional radio station. They have to rely on Saskatchewan and small FM stations that don't go too far.
But the other concern—maybe it's a dated thing—is television broadcast over the air. Maybe that is a thing of the past. So perhaps you can answer that question. Is over-the-air TV broadcasting a thing of the past?
Thank you very much for your comments. I really do appreciate them.
I have one correction: I don't think we have closed any radio stations over the last while. We did close some television programming. What we're talking about is the dramatic change in the demographics of this country. Where you live is one of the growth areas of the country; others are basically stabilized, and those areas are where most of the people we're not serving are, with the exception of certain parts of Ontario.
In terms of over-the-air broadcasting, we're now at the point at which 90% of people receive their television programming by satellite or cable, and eventually things like IPTV will be there. When I say “eventually”, it's there, but right now it's not working as well as it could be to make it really competitive, but 90% get their television in that way.
The interesting thing too, Mr. Mark, is that as satellites have gone up over the last few years, the underserved areas where that 10% is are not rural. The bulk of the underserved now are people who choose not to take cable. They live in Toronto. They live in Montreal. In fact, in Montreal the number of people who still get their service over the air is really quite high. This is a conscious, deliberate decision.
When we put in the accelerated coverage plan the government gave us to cover communities of 500 or more, it was because that was the primary way to receive television. That has now changed totally, and I wonder sometimes whether we're saddled with an old technology that we don't need any more.
We had a very funny situation that perhaps I shouldn't admit to. These towers are now getting old; we had a tower go down, and it took a week before anybody knew that the tower had gone down. In other words, nobody was listening. They were perhaps watching CBC, but they were watching CBC via their satellite. It would be cheaper to pay everybody who doesn't have satellite service in the outlying areas; it would be be cheaper to give them what we sometimes talk about as Freesat--give them a dish--than to renew this asset that we have.
Again, it's a question of where I would advise a government to add the money. I'd advise the government that we should do some digital over the air, especially in some of the big cities, but to limit it. Our plan is for 42; maybe we can get away with 20, because every cent I can save I can put into programming, and that is what we're really all about.
When it comes to those properties that we build ourselves, by and large the rights issue doesn't arise because we're making them ourselves. We control all of the rights from the very beginning. Where the issue arises is when we're working with other people, particularly independent producers.
The position we took originally with respect to the independent producers was as follows. We said look, nobody knows how this is actually going to work. We don't know. Because all these platforms are so new, we don't know what the costs are going to be in terms of exploiting them, nor do we know what the revenues will be going forward. What we do know is that we have to be there because we have to be wherever it is that Canadians are going if we're going to continue to be successful with Canadian shows.
We had proposed to the producers originally that we do this as a kind of joint venture. We said we were happy to distribute, whether on the television platform or to the other platforms--mobile platforms, Internet platforms, whatever it happens to be--and we'll treat it as though it was a program sale. We said that we'll split whatever revenue arises over and above the costs associated with distribution. That is what we put to them.
The producers have so far said, well, we don't know how comfortable we are with that so why don't we do something different. Why don't we do this: producers who are comfortable can say fine, we'll go ahead; those who are not will split the negotiation in two pieces: one piece around the television rights, and then later on, once they're concluded, a piece around the ancillary rights.
To be perfectly honest, this is not a terribly effective way to go at it. If you're building things that from the very beginning are designed to be exploited across all of the different platforms, then it's very difficult to separate the negotiation into platform pieces without finding yourself in difficulty.
I think that what is very, very important—and this is very difficult, very tricky—is to find models that will allow both parties to participate in the revenue in a way that is fair, recognizing that a lot of this is completely new territory and we have to actually explore it together.