Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. Review of Canadian Media Industries

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1 PRESENTATION BEFORE THE Senate Committee on Transport and Communications Review of Canadian Media Industries Glenn O Farrell, President and CEO Canadian Association of Broadcasters Wednesday, February 23, 2005

2 1. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) is pleased to provide these comments with respect to the ongoing review of Canadian media industries by the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. 2. The CAB was formed almost 80 years ago, in the first wave of development of electronic "new media" -- radio. Indeed, in May 1920, almost 85 years ago, an experimental private radio station in Montreal, the forerunner of CFCF, broadcast what many believe to be the world's first radio program Since the 1920s, the CAB has been the national voice of Canada's private broadcasters. Today, the CAB represents the vast majority of Canadian programming services, including private conventional radio and television stations, networks, and specialty, pay and pay-per-view services. 4. The CAB commends this committee for its dedication in undertaking these important proceedings. The last review of media by a committee of the Senate was in 1970, in the committee headed by the Honourable Keith Davey, and the changes in the media landscape since 1970 form an important background for the work of the current committee. 5. We have appended to this submission an Appendix titled "Broadcasting in Canada -- then and now." In that Appendix, we have provided a statistical overview of broadcasting in Canada in and today. And the first thing that strikes one about that comparison is how very different Canadian broadcasting is today, compared to three decades ago. 6. In 1970, Canadians could choose from one of two Canadian television networks -- in English, CBC or CTV; in French, SRC or TVA. Only one in five Canadian households had cable television. For most Canadians, radio was limited to a few (mainly) AM stations. 7. Today, Canadians can choose from more than 100 Canadian television services, including conventional, specialty and pay channels. On a per capita basis, Canada has more indigenous television networks than any other country in the world. And FM radio has grown to add many more choices for Canadian radio listeners. Indeed, Canadian radio is one of the prime boosters of Canadian musical talent, and has been the launching pad for Canadian artists that now count their fans in the millions around the world. 8. So if we take the last Senate committee on the media, in 1970, as the starting point in measuring the growth of private broadcasting in Canada, we can say that much has changed, and much has been accomplished. 1 Donald G. Godfrey, "Canadian Marconi: CFCF, the forgotten first," Canadian Journal of Communication, September 1982, pp [accessed online]. 2 Or as close to 1970 as possible, given the availability of historical data. 1

3 9. And we think those two points -- change and accomplishment -- should form the basis for an assessment of how broadcasting may evolve in the next decade, by asking this important question: To what degree will current and anticipated changes make it easier, or harder, to continue that record of accomplishment? 10. As you know, the history of broadcasting in Canada to date has been the history of a regulated industry, balancing public and private components, and balancing our ability to tell Canadian stories in an economic reality dominated by a global entertainment market. As a result of technology, however, that balance is shifting, and shifting rapidly. 11. We could, of course, produce a "shopping list" of issues -- ranging from copyright reform to the satellite "grey market" to the coming expensive transition to digital transmission for Canadian radio and television. But, when we analyze the issues, we find that most of them can be related to the two general and fundamental issues that Canadian broadcasting must confront and solve: Fragmentation; and The erosion of traditional borders. 12. Alone, each of those issues would be complicated and difficult. But they are happening at the same time, with a compounding effect. 13. Let's start with fragmentation. More channels mean more choice and more opportunities to tell Canadian stories and reflect Canadian diversity. But more choice -- fragmentation -- also changes the economics of the market that is being fragmented. 14. Fragmentation is driven by many factors -- including digital technologies, consumer demand for more choice, and an increasingly borderless media environment. But the sheer volume of choices may be bringing us closer to a tipping point in how the economics of the media will work in the future. 15. And there is one economic reality that cannot be ignored -- as fragmentation divides the market into smaller and smaller slices, the relative share of resources available to any single outlet is also reduced. Yet the cost of acquiring popular programming continues to rise, so other costs must be reduced to make budgets fit the new fragmented reality. 16. One of the consequences of the fragmenting pressure on resources is that fragmentation makes it more difficult for conventional local stations to do local programming. That happens because many of the new, fragmented channels are also specialized in their content, and that impacts on the general services that had previously been the vehicles for the delivery of that content. 17. Another of the consequences the fragmentation of resources it to make it more difficult to invest in high-quality drama programs, particularly in English-language television. In part, that is why programming tends to be shared across a number of channels. 2

4 Figure 1. The two fundamental issues: Fragmentation and the erosion of traditional borders... MORE LICENSED CHANNELS FRAGMENTATION DOWNWARD PRESSURE ON UNIT COSTS HARDER TO DO LOCAL NEW BUSINESS MODELS NEEDED NEW REGULATORY MODELS NEEDED MORE UNLICENSED CHANNELS GREY MARKETS INTERNET DELIVERY PEER-TO-PEER FILE-SHARING EROSION OF TRADITIONAL BORDERS ACCELERATES THE PROCESS COMPOUNDS FRAGMENTATION CHALLENGES COPYRIGHT are the two fundamental issues facing broadcasting in Canada 18. The economic impact of fragmentation is significant, and that impact is made even more significant when it is combined with the fact that new technologies are having the effect of eroding traditional borders. 19. The erosion of traditional borders adds even more fragmentation to the new channels and services created within the Canadian system. The "grey market" for satellite services, expanding Internet distribution, and peer-to-peer file-sharing, all add to the number of choices and the further fragmentation of the audiences for radio and television. 20. And the erosion of borders also adds one further dimension -- it disrupts the copyright system on which the broadcasting industries are based. The extension of unauthorized distribution impedes the rights of copyright owners who are authorized in each market. And peer-to-peer file-sharing has the potential to remove some programming from the copyright industries altogether. This not only impacts broadcasters, but also creative talent and the production sector. 3

5 21. Indeed, we must recognize that we live in a world in which consumers not only can receive media content, they can also produce it, copy it, and distribute it. As illustrated in the Appendix to this submission, by the end of 2003, almost one third of Canadian households had the ability to manufacture their own CDs. 22. The degree to which Canadian broadcasting has changed can be illustrated by understanding the economic "value chains" in which Canadian radio and television operate. Historically, Canada's private broadcasters provided a link between content and consumers, with advertising as the primary source of revenue. 23. As the data in the Appendix indicate, for television in particular, the revenue sources have changed significantly over time, with subscription revenues exceeding advertising revenues in the Canadian television system since And for both radio and television, the volume of new choices, the different types of new choices, and the ability of consumers to copy, produce and distribute programming, have all made the value chains far more complicated than they were the last time a Senate committee considered the state of Canadian media. 25. The changing value chains are illustrated in Figures 2A and 2B for radio, and in Figures 3A and 3B for television. If we compare the value chains in 1970 with the value chains in 2005, we see a number of significant changes: The growing ability of consumers to move digital products from traditional distribution to peer-to-peer file-sharing adds to content producers' and broadcasters' concerns about copyright protection. As you know, this has already had a major impact on the music industry. The increased opportunities for advertisers and content producers to link with each other, and to link directly to consumers, thereby bypassing, in part, the traditional broadcast model. In 1970, content producers dealt primarily with broadcasters. In a fragmented market, content producers seek alternatives -- direct delivery of content to consumers; alliances; mergers with broadcasters; starting their own broadcast outlets. In 1970, advertisers dealt primarily with broadcasters. By 2005, cable and others may be selling advertising in competition with broadcasters. In fact, the Canadian Cable Television Association has applied to the CRTC for permission for its members to use commercial availabilities in non-canadian channels to sell advertising in competition with broadcasters, similar to the practice in the U.S. 26. And, of course, we must remember the sheer volume of fragmentation, because there is not only an increase in the number of types of media, but also an increase within each type. 4

6 Figure 2A. The audio continuum value chain in 1970: Commercial radio broadcasters As listeners CBC radio Content Producers Retail distribution As purchasers Figure 2B. The audio continuum value chain in 2005: Commercial radio broadcasters As listeners Content Producers CBC radio Non-broadcast radio Satellite radio Radio streaming & I net-only services Internet music subscription svces. Internet music sampling & sales Retail distribution As purchasers Advertisers Consumers Advertisers Consumers Peer-topeer filesharing (e.g., Kazaa) 5

7 Figure 3A. The video continuum value chain in 1970: Conventional TV Cable Advertisers Consumers Content Producers Movie theatres 6

8 Figure 3B. The video continuum value chain in 2005: Conventional TV Specialty TV Pay TV Early Internet applications Internet streaming to storage: TV&movies Cable and satellite Set-top boxes, PVRs and other devices Peer-topeer filesharing Consumers Advertisers Content Producers Internet streaming in real time: TV&movies Home video Movie theatres 27. These changing value chains mean that the way that each player in the system realized value from and for its activities in the past will be different in the future. They also illustrate in a graphic way the need for business and regulatory models for broadcasting to be updated, so they will be relevant to very different value chains than were in place in In a fragmented environment, with porous borders, the balance of regulation and public spending in broadcasting may well change. In terms of regulation, we think it is fair to say that the type of regulation we had in the past was, mainly, licence-conditiondriven. In a market with a relatively small number of players, there was concern that each of the licensees should include a diverse set of program types. 29. In today's market, with hundreds of broadcast choices (or thousands, if one includes the Internet), the focus of regulation has begun to move toward a systemdriven approach. Rather than seeking diverse program types within a single outlet, it is the multi-outlet system itself that provides the diversity of content -- from all-news to documentary to sports to multiple other channels for other specific interests. 30. Over time, we think that regulation must continue to evolve in this direction, with what we might call less "micro-management" at the level of a specific station or service, and more broad rule-makings that affect the system as a whole. Fortunately, the CRTC has begun to move in this direction. 7

9 31. In terms of public spending, and given the fact that resources are fragmenting, we think it is inevitable that there must be a reexamination of the balance of public support in broadcasting, with a particular focus on the types of content or genres that are difficult to produce because of the size, structure and location of the Canadian marketplace. 32. We know that this committee has expressed an interest in media consolidation. We believe it is important to understand that media consolidation is not a cause of the current trends in media, but is, in fact, another one of the effects of fragmentation and the erosion of borders. It is a response to fragmentation, as media seek to maintain economic units of scale in the face of fragmenting resources, by attempting to reaggregate fragments. 33. We have provided in the Appendix some data that compare television and radio in Canada in the 1970s and today. As can be seen from the data, there are more choices and less concentration in television today than was the case in And the data on radio indicate clearly that those re-aggregated groups rarely achieve the market shares that single services had in the past. 34. We hope that this committee, in considering the question of media consolidation, will keep these data in mind, and will also keep in mind that fragmentation is the cause, and consolidation is an effect. We hope your deliberations will recognize that reality. 35. We noted at the outset that if one compares today with 1970, we see a very different broadcasting environment, with far more consumer options and far more broadcasting and program choices. In that context, then, it is somewhat ironic that we feel the need to draw your attention to current and recent attempts to turn the clock back to a situation that was present in the threat to the Canadian television system from border stations that were taking revenue from Canada but not contributing to the development of the Canadian television system. 36. In fact, it was the Senate committee in 1970 that recommended that the Income Tax Act should be amended to remove the ability of Canadian advertisers to deduct the cost of advertising placed on non-canadian television services, if that advertising was aimed at Canadians. In the words of the 1970 committee: "This will curb the pirating of commercial dollars by stations just across the border which accept Canadian money but don't play by Canadian rules." That recommendation was subsequently incorporated into Bill C-58, enacted by Parliament in One of the most important parts of the proceedings on Bill C-58 was at another Senate committee, the Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. That Senate committee heard a number of schemes proposed by U.S. border stations to try to derail the proposed legislation. 3 Report of the Special Senate Committee on Mass Media, 1970, Volume I, p

10 38. One of those schemes can be described as follows: U.S. television signals (containing little or no Canadian content) reach Canada and are watched by many Canadians; A Canadian company is set up to sell the ads in those U.S. signals; The Canadian company transfers a portion of the ad revenue to the U.S.; The Canadian advertisers who buy the ads in the U.S. signals are allowed to deduct those expenses for income tax purposes; and As a quid pro quo, the U.S. television service offers to donate 25 per cent of its revenues to a fund to help produce Canadian programs Parliament rejected those schemes and enacted the legislation. It was an important step in the ongoing balancing act between Canadian broadcasting and the fact that we live next door to the largest entertainment market in the world. 40. It is ironic, then, that today, almost three decades later, other schemes are being proposed that would have exactly the same impact that would have occurred if Parliament had accepted the proposals of the U.S. border stations in As you know, a number of U.S. cable channels are carried on cable and satellite in Canada. It is estimated that, in 2003, those channels received $200 million (or more) in subscription revenues from Canada, while making no contribution to Canadian content. While the CRTC has allowed these channels to be carried in Canada, their availability in Canada was based, in part, on the fact that they did not compete for advertising with Canadian conventional and specialty services. 42. Over the past two years, however, a company called 49 th Media applied to the CRTC for permission to sell advertising in Canada in five of the most popular U.S. cable channels received in this country. In effect, 49 th Media proposed to turn those U.S. cable channels into fully-functioning competitive economic units in Canada -- competing for subscriptions and competing for advertising. The CRTC returned the application to 49 th Media because it was incomplete in some areas. 43. However, the CRTC is currently considering another application, from the Canadian Cable Television Association, for permission to sell commercial advertising in two minutes per hour in all of the major U.S. cable channels carried in Canada. 44. And here the parallels with 1976 are most striking. Just as the U.S. border stations in 1976 carried little or no Canadian content, the U.S. cable channels in which 49 th Media 4 The U.S. border station proposals are reported in the Appendices to the Proceedings of the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, Senate of Canada, Issue No. 93, June 16,

11 and the CCTA want to sell commercials would also carry no Canadian content. Just as the border stations promised to use a Canadian company to sell the ads, so 49 th Media or Canadian cable systems would be Canadian companies selling the ads. And just as border stations promised in 1976 to put 25 per cent of revenue into a fund for Canadian production, so 49 th Media and the CCTA have each promised to contribute 25 per cent of their advertising revenue to the Canadian Television Fund. 45. However, that proposed contribution is far less than the current spending on Canadian content by Canadian specialty services -- equivalent Canadian specialty services currently contribute more than 42 per cent of total revenues (advertising and subscriptions) to Canadian content. Proposals like those from the CCTA or 49 th Media offer to contribute a lower percentage (25 per cent) of only part of their revenues (advertising only). 46. Competition is a reality in a fragmented market. But unfair competition is something else again. We do not believe it is in the public interest to allow the introduction into Canada of competitive economic units with no Canadian content exhibition requirements and with little or no spending on Canadian programs. It is neither fair, nor good public policy, to allow non-canadian services to have access to Canadian audiences, subscriptions and advertising, at lower levels of public interest contributions than the Canadian services against which they compete. 47. We can apply the words of the 1970 Senate committee to this situation. If proposals like those from the CCTA or 49 th Media are allowed to create competitive economic units, in Canada, based on U.S. cable channels, they would be competitors "which accept Canadian money but don't play by Canadian rules." 48. If such schemes were to be approved, it would only be the beginning. What works for some non-canadian cable channels would soon be extended to all of them. And if it works for cable channels, why not conventional channels? An approval of schemes of this nature would, in effect, roll back the will of Parliament, as expressed in Parliament saw through this scheme in We hope you will see through it again in The data and analysis provided in this brief makes it abundantly clear that the very structure of the Canada s broadcast industry has changed dramatically since 1970, and continues to evolve on a daily basis. Against this fragmenting backdrop, Canada s private broadcasters remain committed to diversity. 51. Diversity is not a matter of corporate structure, it is a matter of mindset. Canada s private broadcasters have had to evolve as the country has evolved. Accordingly, the CAB is spearheading an unprecedented initiative to deal with the fair and accurate portrayal and representation of Canada's cultural diversity on television. 52. On the heels of the CAB s Cultural Diversity Action Plan, we have established an independent Task Force for Cultural Diversity on Television, comprised of representatives from the private broadcasting industry and representatives from 10

12 Canada s ethnocultural and Aboriginal communities. Informed by its research findings, the Task Force released its final report mid-july, and recommended best practices and industry initiatives to assist private Canadian television broadcasters with the overall advancement of reflection and portrayal of cultural diversity on television. 53. Broadcasters recognize that there is nothing about the corporate organization of a company that fosters or harms diversity; rather, it is a matter of attitude and responsibility. Canada s private broadcasters take their responsibilities very seriously. 54. The CAB appreciates the opportunity to share its views on the fragmented nature of Canada s media environment with this Committee, and commends its Honourable members for their diligent appraisal of this serious issue. 11

13 APPENDIX Broadcasting in Canada -- then and now A statistical comparison of Canadian broadcasting in the 1970s and today February 2005 NOTE: Data on Canadian radio, conventional television, specialty and pay services, and cable and satellite systems, are commonly released from six to 12 months after the end of the previous broadcast fiscal year (August 31) by the CRTC and Statistics Canada. At the time this Appendix was prepared, data for the 2004 fiscal year had not yet been released for all of the components of the system. 12

14 CANADIAN HOUSEHOLDS ARE EQUIPPED TO CONSUME -- AND TO PRODUCE -- MORE MEDIA THAN EVER BEFORE IN HISTORY In 1970, most Canadian households had radio and television (only 12% had colour TV sets; only 53% had FM radios). In 1970, one household in five had cable television. By 2003, colour TV, FM radio, VCRs, and cable or satellite service were almost ubiquitous the Internet was in more than half of Canadian households and almost one third of Canadian households could manufacture their own CDs. Figure A-1. Percentage of Canadian households with selected technologies, 1970 and 2003: % 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Television Radio Cable/satellite VCR DVD player Home PC Internet CD player CD writer Cell phone SOURCE: Statistics Canada. 13

15 SINCE 1975, THE NUMBER OF LICENSED CANADIAN RADIO AND TELEVISION SERVICES HAS MORE THAN DOUBLED Figure A-2. Number of licensed Canadian radio and television services, 1975 and 2004: Radio Television SOURCE: CRTC. (For 1975, the data are taken from the CRTC's Annual Report , and are for "licensed originating stations." For 2004, the data are taken from the CRTC's Broadcasting Policy Monitoring Report 2004, and exclude rebroadcasters. Television data include conventional, specialty and pay services. Data for both years include public and private services.) 14

16 BY THE END OF 2004, ABOUT 60 PER CENT OF CANADIAN HOUSEHOLDS HAD INTERNET ACCESS, AND CANADA WAS AMONG THE WORLD LEADERS IN HIGH-SPEED BROADBAND ACCESS TO THE INTERNET The growth of broadband Internet services creates a more competitive marketplace for radio and television, since broadband is better able to deliver similar types of content. Figure A-3. Estimated and projected percentage of Canadian households with Internet access, and with high-speed access, : 70 Internet access High-speed access % OF CANADIAN HOUSEHOLDS SOURCE: Statistics Canada; Communications Management Inc. 15

17 CANADIANS USE THE INTERNET FOR A WIDE VARIETY OF ACTIVITIES, MANY OF WHICH COMPETE WITH TRADITIONAL MEDIA Figure A-4. Percentage reporting use of the Internet for selected purposes, in Canadian households with home Internet access, 2003: General browsing Medical/health information Travel information/arrangements Government information Electronic banking View the news Playing games Financial information Sports-related information Obtaining/saving music Purchasing goods/services Listening to radio 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% SOURCE: Statistics Canada. 16

18 TELEVISION HAS FRAGMENTED, AND ITS REVENUE SOURCES HAVE CHANGED Between 1970 and 2003, the sources of revenue in the Canadian television system changed significantly with the growth of subscription revenues. Figure A-5. Advertising and subscription revenues in the Canadian television system (including public and private conventional TV, specialty services, pay TV, and BDUs), : $ MILLION Advertising Subscriptions SOURCE: Statistics Canada; CRTC; Communications Management Inc. (Data for subscription revenues are estimates for subscriptions paid for television services; subscriptions paid for Internet or other services are not included.) 17

19 AS THE TELEVISION MARKET FRAGMENTED, NEW OWNERSHIP GROUPS EMERGED, RESULTING IN VIEWING SHARES THAT ARE LESS CONCENTRATED TODAY THAN THEY WERE IN 1970 Figure A-6. Television tuning shares (all persons 2+) by ownership group, Canada, 1970 and 2002: CBC TM/TVA CBS ABC NBC Baton Selkirk Tele-Capital Canadian Marconi VanTel 1970 CONCENTRATION INDEX: 725 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% CTV/BGM CanWest Global CBC/SRC Quebecor/TVA CHUM Cogeco/TQS Astral Corus Time Warner Alliance Atlantis 2002 CONCENTRATION INDEX: 672 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% NOTES: SOURCE: BBM; Statistics Canada. 1. The "Concentration Index" is based on the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI), a commonly used measure of market competitiveness. The HHI is derived by squaring the market shares and adding up the results. An Index result under 1000 is considered unconcentrated; results between 1000 and 1800 are considered moderately concentrated. 2. The calculations for 1970 and 2002 are based on BBM diary data. A similar calculation, based on Nielsen meter data for the first half of the TV season, yielded a "Concentration Index" (HHI) of

20 RADIO, THE FIRST BROADCAST MEDIUM, STILL RECEIVES ALMOST ALL OF ITS REVENUES FROM ADVERTISING In 1970, radio advertising totaled almost the same amount as TV advertising, and radio and TV advertising revenues were each larger than subscription revenues in broadcasting. Figure A-7. Advertising and subscription revenues in the Canadian broadcasting system (including private radio, public and private conventional television, specialty services, pay TV, and BDUs), : 5000 Radio advertising TV advertising Subscriptions $ MILLION SOURCE: Statistics Canada; CRTC. (See Figure A-5 for additional note on subscription revenues.) 19

21 CONSOLIDATION IS A RESPONSE TO FRAGMENTATION, BUT, IN A FRAGMENTED MARKET, CONSOLIDATED GROUPS RARELY ACHIEVE THE MARKET SHARES THAT SINGLE OUTLETS HAD IN THE PAST In 1975, in Toronto, the first-ranked radio station -- CFRB -- had a 28.5 per cent share of tuning. By 2003, no single Toronto radio station had a tuning share greater than 9 per cent, and no commonly owned group of Toronto radio stations had a combined tuning share greater than 20 per cent. Figure A-8. Comparison of radio tuning shares in the Toronto CMA (all persons), CFRB in 1975, and selected station groups, 2003: 30% 28.5% 25% 20% 19.7% 18.6% 15% 10% 13.3% 9.9% 8.6% 5% 0% CFRB (1975) Standard(3) Rogers(4) Corus(3) CHUM(2) CBC(4) NOTE: Number of Toronto stations in ownership group in 2003 indicated in brackets. SOURCE: BBM. 20

22 BROADCAST INDUSTRY PROFITABILITY HAS BEEN CYCLICAL From 1970 to 2003, radio's profitability (as measured by PBIT) has been cyclical achieving a high point in 1972, falling to a loss position in 1993, and finally achieving, in 2003, a level just above that of Figure A-9. Profit before interest and taxes (PBIT), private radio, Canada, : 25% 20% PBIT % 15% 10% 5% 0% -5% SOURCE: Statistics Canada; CRTC. (NOTE: The CRTC commonly uses PBIT as a measure of profitability.) For television, profitability (as measured by PBIT) peaked in 1982, and has been lower in every year since 1990 than it was in Figure A-10. Profit before interest and taxes, combined data for private conventional television, specialty and pay services, Canada, : 25% 20% PBIT % 15% 10% 5% 0% -5% SOURCE: Statistics Canada; CRTC. NOTES: 1. Data for specialty and pay services are included from 1988 on. 2. In the above chart, the value for 2002 is 10.5% and the value for 2003 is 14.7%. If the new "diginets" are excluded from the data, the value for 2002 would be 14.6%, and the value for 2003 would be 17.4%. 21

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