Remer says if the CRTC establishes a new local news fund, community channels like his should be eligible to tap into that funding
Remer says advertising revenue isn't enough to keep his channel operating
CHCO's weekly newscast is only three minutes long, but it's an interesting concept. It's a joint venture between the network and the local newspaper, featuring shared news gathering resources and cross-promotion
When asked by the CRTC's Stephen Simpson if he'd increase the amount of local news on his channel with new funding, Remer says he'd "give it a shot," possibly expanding the show to five minutes and three days per week
The team from Rogers Communications is now making their way to the presentation table
It's a big contingent - about 12 people in all
In its video presentation, Rogers says it worked with more than 27,000 community groups last year with its local cable channels
Watt says Rogers is proposing a different solution to the local TV programming funding crisis.
The proposal has several components. The first is that 5% of revenues from TV service providers should be funnelled to funding local programming
Rogers says community channels should be mandated to provide local news and information programming in markets not served by a conventional television station, such as Moncton, Cornerbrook and Owen Sound
The final element is a new local news and information fund, totalling $33 million annually. Rogers says both private and public stations (i.e - the CBC) would be eligible to access the funding
Rogers has finished its presentation. CRTC chairman Blais says he's impressed by the amount of women on the Rogers panel (5 of 12).
It also operates 41 separate community channel feeds across Eastern and Atlantic Canada
Colette Watson, VP of Rogers TV, says the amount of subscribers in any given market determines how much funding their local Rogers channel will receive
Watson says the Rogers community channels operate with 10 volunteers for every one paid staff member
Rogers has 333 employees working at its community stations (appx. 274 full-time)
But Watson says some of its stations only have two paid FT employees
The number of volunteers at each station varies from 25 to 2,300, depending on market size and programming demands. When asked by Blais how they attract so many people, Watson says they "get 'em young," referring to co-op programs with local high schools
Blais asks if Rogers has an oversupply of volunteers. Watson says it depends on which channel.
Blais now asking if Rogers TV's partnerships with high school and university students lead to developing talent for the national television ecosystem. "Absolutely," Watson replies.
Watson says Rogers accepts about 70% of the local programming access requests it receives from the public. Decisions are made by each local station
According to Watson, the access requests that are denied usually contain inappropriate content (such as the "Blond Busty Beer Can Tournament" - an example provided by Watson) or are forwarded by advocates for special interest groups
In terms of making its content multi-platform, Watson says most of the challenges are related to copyright, not necessary regulation
But Watson is asking Blais to "modernize the language related to financing" for community cable channels, which would give Rogers greater flexibility to publish its local TV content online
Responding to a question from Blais regarding her salary, Watson says she's paid from the Rogers Media budget, not its community TV budget
Rogers says it's hoping the CRTC will allow it to pool its community cable channel funding (rather than on a market-by-market basis), so that all markets have access to upgraded equipment and increased local programming
Yikes. Watson says cable penetration is Canada is now below 50%. Not good news for this cable giant and its media properties
Watson says given the reduction of cable subscriptions, increased funding from the CRTC is necessary to keep community programming on the air
Watson says Rogers TV stations generate $1 million annually in sponsorship revenue
Blais says the CRTC is considering loosening its sponsorship rules on community cable stations. Asking the Rogers team for their thoughts
Watson says she feels the possible change in rules could negatively affect the ad market, especially in smaller regions
Rogers also says the number of potential advertisers is very small in many of the markets it operates local stations. Managing and producing the ad spots could be cost-prohibitive for both Rogers and potential advertisers
Blais asking Rogers team for their views on having community TV channels run by local non-profits rather than cable companies. He says it's a proposal he's been hearing throughout the first few days of hearings
Watson is getting visibly angry. She says the proposal to take away community TV from Rogers would "insult" the 333 employees working to produce programming on those stations
Watson says she doesn't know how the CRTC could possibly manage the hundreds or thousands of non-profit groups controlling local TV stations, should they take them over
Blais now asking Watson about ratings for Rogers' community stations. Watson says numbers show "people value the programming", but viewership has declined drastically
Despite uploading a good chunk of their content onto YouTube, Watson says they can't compete with user-generated content. She cites a recent example of an Ottawa children's choir show, which Rogers TV produced. Their video got 2,800 views, while a video taken by a parent on a cell phone received more than a million hits
Blais calls a mid-morning break. The proceedings will resume at 11:05 a.m.
The live blog for this event has concluded. Thanks for following along!