CRTC ORAL PRESENTATION--TVNC SPEAKING NOTES

On November 6, 1997, TVNC appeared before the CRTC to make an oral presentaiton into the question of whether or not the CRTC should licence a third national television network and if doing so would further the objectives of the Broadcast Act.TVNC was represented by Abraham Tagalik, TVNC Chair and Gary Farmer.

GOOD AFTERNOON. MY NAME IS ABRAHAM TAGALIK AND I AM CHAIRMAN OF TELEVISION NORTHERN CANADA. I AM AN INUK FROM NUNAVUT. WITH ME IS GARY FARMER, A WELL-KNOWN ACTOR AND PUBLISHER OF ABORIGINAL VOICES MAGAZINE IN TORONTO.

WE HAVE COME BEFORE YOU TODAY TO RE-ITERATE TVNCıS POSITION THAT ANY DISCUSSION ABOUT A THIRD NATIONAL NETWORK MUST INCLUDE ABORIGINAL BROADCASTERS.

FIRST OF ALL, TVNC IS A NATIONALLY-LICENSED NETWORK, AND BY EXTENSION, WE BELIEVE IT IS ALREADY CANADAıS THIRD NATIONAL NETWORK. THIS MAY BE TRUE IN TERMS OF OUR LICENSE BUT IT IS NOT THE CASE IN TERMS OF DISTRIBUTION. THIS MUST BE ADDRESSED.

SINCE 1991, TVNC HAS PROVIDED MORE THAN 80 HOURS PER WEEK OF QUALITY, ABORIGINAL AND NORTHERN PROGRAMMING. WE HAVE WORKED DILIGENTLY TO ASSIST OUR ABORIGINAL MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS AND INDEPENDENT PRODUCERS GET THEIR STORIES ON AIR. WE BELIEVE ABORIGINAL PROGRAMMING ENCOURAGES CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND BENEFITS ALL CANADIANS. AS A RESULT OF THE CRTCıS DECISION WE ARE NOW ON THE LIST OF ELIGIBLE SATELLITE SERVICES. WE HAVE A NATIONAL LICENSE. BUT WE DO NOT HAVE NATIONAL DISTRIBUTION.

THE QUESTION BEFORE YOU TODAY, AS STATED IN THE ORDER IN COUNCIL, IS TO DETERMINE IF ADDITIONAL NETWORKS WOULD SERVE THE OBJECTIVES OF THE BROADCASTING ACT. I SAY TO YOU THAT TVNC ALREADY DOES. LET ME EXPLAIN.

  1. THE ACT STATES "THE SYSTEM WILL BE OWNED AND CONTROLLED BY CANADIANS." TVNC IS A PUBLIC NETWORK AND OPERATED FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL CANADIANS. IT IS ALSO GOVERNED BY A BOARD OF DIRECTORS, WHO ARE ALL CANADIAN.

  2. THE SYSTEM MUST PROVIDE A "PUBLIC SERVICE ESSENTIAL TO THE ENHANCEMENT OF NATIONAL IDENTITY AND CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY." TVNC IS A NETWORK UNLIKE ANY OTHER IN THE WORLD. WE HAVE SOMETHING UNIQUE TO OFFER AND A WAY FOR ALL CANADIANS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ABORIGINAL PEOPLE. WHAT CAN BE MORE CANADIAN THAN CANADAıS FIRST NATIONS? IN THE RECENT THRONE SPEECH, THE GOVERNMENT SET FORTH ITS COMMITMENT TO "INCREASING KNOWLEDGE OF CANADA AND UNDERSTANDING AMONG CANADIANS." WE WANT TO DO OUR PART TO ASSIST THE GOVERNMENT IN REALIZING THIS NATIONAL GOAL.

  3. "TO SAFEGUARD, ENRICH AND STRENGTHEN THE CULTURAL, POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC FABRIC OF CANADA." AGAIN, TVNC MEETS THESE CRITERIA. THERE IS CURRENTLY NO OTHER NETWORK IN CANADA THAT CONSISTENTLY BROADCASTS QUALITY, ABORIGINAL PROGRAMMING. TVNC HAS BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN THE NORTH IN STRENGTHENING ABORIGINAL LANGUAGE AND CULTURE AND GIVING ALL NORTHERNERS A LOOK INTO THE MANY TRADITIONS OF OUR PEOPLE. WE WOULD LIKE TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT ACROSS CANADA.

    AS YOU ALL KNOW, TELEVISION IS A VERY POWERFUL MEDIUM. IT CAN BE USED TO DESTROY OR TO BUILD UP CULTURE. TVNCıS MANDATE IS TO ENCOURAGE ABORIGINAL CULTURE AND LANGUAGE. WE EXIST BECAUSE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE SAW THAT TOO MUCH SOUTHERN-BASED, NON-ABORIGINAL PROGRAMMING WAS DESTROYING OUR LANGUAGES AND CULTURE. WE TOOK HOLD OF THE TECHNOLOGY AND WE BEGAN TELLING OUR OWN STORIES. THIS IS VERY POWERFUL. ABORIGINAL PEOPLE HAVE MUCH TO SHARE WITH THE REST OF CANADA. WE ASK FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW YOU.

  4. MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE BROADCASTING ACT EXPLICITLY RECOGNIZES THE SPECIAL PLACE OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLES WITHIN CANADIAN SOCIETY, AND STATES THAT "PROGRAMMING THAT REFLECTS THE ABORIGINAL CULTURES OF CANADA SHOULD BE PROVIDED WITHIN THE CANADIAN BROADCASTING SYSTEM." THE MUCH-ANTICIPATED REPORT ON THE ROYAL COMMISSION ON ABORIGINAL PEOPLES ALSO SAYS THE SAME THING AND ADVOCATES THE ESTABLISHMENT OF "A THIRD NATIONAL BROADCASTING NETWORK, AN AUTONOMOUS ABORIGINAL SERVICE SIMILAR TO THE CBC..." TVNC CAN BE THIS NETWORK AND IT COULD BE MADE POSSIBLE WITH SUPPORT FROM THE CRTC.

I WOULD NOW LIKE TO TURN TO THE PRIORITIES YOU SET OUT IN THE ORDER IN COUNCIL FOR THIS HEARING AND SHOW YOU HOW TVNC ADDRESSES THOSE PRIORITIES REQUIRED OF NATIONAL NETWORKS.

THE CRTC HAS STRESSED THAT IT IS CONCERNED WITH INCREASING THE QUALITY AND QUANTITY OF CANADIAN PROGRAMMING. AS I HAVE SAID, YOU WILL SEE PROGRAMMING ON TVNC THAT YOU WILL NOT SEE ON ANY OTHER NETWORK. WE DO NOT BROADCAST MAINSTREAM AMERICAN PROGRAMS, WE DO NOT ACQUIRE FOREIGN DRAMA SERIES. WE ARE DEDICATED TO ORIGINAL, CANADIAN PROGRAMMING.

THE ORDER IN COUNCIL ALSO STATES THAT NATIONAL NETWORKS SHOULD CONTRIBUTE TO A REGIONAL AND NATIONAL PROGRAMMING PRESENCE. TVNC BROADCASTS PROGRAMS THAT ARE PRODUCED IN ALMOST EVERY REGION OF CANADA. IN FACT, NEXT WEEK, TVNC WILL BROADCAST THE NATIONAL ABORIGINAL CAREER SYMPOSIUM FROM OTTAWA BUT IT IS IRONIC BECAUSE IT IS A NATIONAL PROGRAM BUT IT WILL ONLY BE SEEN ON TVNC. THERE ARE ALSO MANY MORE ABORIGINAL PRODUCERS FROM ACROSS CANADA WHO WOULD GLADLY PROVIDE MORE PROGRAMMING.

THE ORDER IN COUNCIL STATES THAT ANOTHER PRIORITY IS TO MAINTAIN AND INCREASE THE BROADCAST PRESENCE OF DISTINCT CANADIAN PROGRAMMING. I ASSURE YOU, AS I HAVE ALREADY MENTIONED, TVNC IS UNIQUE AND THE PROGRAMMING IS DEFINITELY DISTINCT. FOR EXAMPLE, DID YOU KNOW THAT THE INUIT BROADCASTING CORPORATION PRODUCES A CHILDRENıS PROGRAM THAT TEACHES SYLLABICS AND TRADITIONS IN INUKTITUT? OR IN-DEPTH PROGRAMMING ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF THE MINING INDUSTRY ON ABORIGINAL PEOPLE IN LABRADOR. OR THAT OUR PROGRAMS ARE BROADCAST, NOT ONLY IN ENGLISH AND FRENCH BUT NEARLY 15 DIFFERENT ABORIGINAL LANGUAGES? I BELIEVE THIS IS DISTINCT PROGRAMMING THAT ALL CANADIANS SHOULD HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE.

IT IS CLEAR TO US AT TVNC THAT WE HAVE MUCH TO OFFER AND MUCH TO PROVIDE TO THE ENTIRE CANADIAN BROADCASTING SYSTEM. BUT, AS I STATED AT THE BEGINNING, TVNC DOES NOT HAVE NATIONAL DISTRIBUTION. DISTRIBUTION UNDERTAKINGS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO GIVE US ACCESS AND BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF AVAILABLE CHANNEL CAPACITY, TVNC IS UNABLE TO ACHIEVE OUR VISION OF A NATIONALLY-DISTRIBUTED ABORIGINAL SERVICE. THE CRTC HAS BEEN VERY SUPPORTIVE OF TVNC IN THE PAST AND WE APPRECIATE YOUR EFFORTS. BUT SOMEHOW, THERE ARE MORE STEPS TO BE TAKEN. WE SEE NEW SPECIALTY SERVICES BEING LICENSED AND GET DISTRIBUTION BUT WE HAVE BEEN LEFT BEHIND. WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT. THE FUTURE OF ABORIGINAL BROADCASTING RESTS WITH YOU TODAY.

WHEN NORTHERN NATIVE BROADCAST ACCESS PROGRAM WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1981, IT WAS ORIGINALLY THE GOVERNMENTıS INTENTION TO ALSO ASSIST SOUTHERN ABORIGINAL DISTRIBUTION. THIS NEVER MATERIALIZED. THIS MEANS THAT SOUTHERN ABORIGINAL PRODUCERS ARE FACING THE SAME PROBLEMS WITH ACCESS THAT NORTHERN PRODUCERS FACED ALMOST 20 YEARS AGO. IT IS NOW TIME TO CORRECT THE SITUATION. WHY DOES TVNC, WHICH PROVIDES CULTURALLY-RELEVANT, ALL-CANADIAN PROGRAMMING, HAVE TO FIGHT SO HARD FOR ACCESS IN THE CANADIAN BROADCASTING SYSTEM, ESPECIALLY AGAINST AMERICAN CHANNELS?

IN THIS CURRENT ENVIRONMENT OF DIMINISHING FUNDS AND THE MOVE TOWARD GREATER ABORIGINAL SELF-DETERMINATION, WE HAVE TO FIND INNOVATIVE WAYS NOT ONLY TO SURVIVE BUT TO THRIVE AND PASS ON THIS LEGACY TO OUR CHILDREN.

TVNC IS SEEKING NATIONAL DISTRIBUTION. WE HAVE FOUGHT HARD FOR RECOGNITION AS AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE. WE DONıT BELIEVE WE ARE A SPECIALTY SERVICE, TARGETING A NICHE AUDIENCE LIKE THE GOLF OR SPACE CHANNEL. IF TVNC IS DISTRIBUTED ON A WIDER SCALE, WE COULD GENERATE THE REVENUE NEEDED TO ENSURE OUR PROGRAMS STAY ON THE AIR. THIS WOULD NOT BE AN ADDED BURDEN TO SUBSCRIBERS. IF TVNC IS ADDED AS A BASIC SERVICE TO ALL HOUSEHOLDS, IT WOULD COST AS LITTLE AS 8-9 CENTS PER SUBSCRIBER. THIS COMPARES TO THE WEATHER NETWORK WHICH COSTS MORE THAN 20 CENTS. IS A FEW CENTS TOO MUCH TO ASK TO MAINTAIN ABORIGINAL LANGUAGE AND CULTURE AND TO ENSURE A VOICE FOR ABORIGINAL PEOPLE IN THE MEDIA? WE DONıT BELIEVE SO.

WE ARE ALSO NOT PURSUING A SPECIALTY LICENSE BECAUSE WE ARE COMMITTED TO MAKE SURE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE CAN HAVE AFFORDABLE ACCESS TO ABORIGINAL PROGRAMMING. IF WE WERE A SPECIALTY SERVICE, ONLY AVAILABLE IN A PACKAGE FOR PERHAPS UP TO $20 EXTRA PER MONTH, HOW WILL ABORIGINAL PEOPLE ON LIMITED INCOMES (AND THERE ARE MANY) BE ABLE TO SEE US? THEY WOULDNıT. AND WE LOSE PART OF THE AUDIENCE WE ARE TRYING TO REACH.

MANY OF THE INTERVENORS HERE TODAY ARE ALSO CONCERNED WITH THE AMOUNT OF CANADIAN PROGRAMMING. SOME OF THE STATION GROUPS SAY IT IS DIFFICULT TO MEET THE CANADIAN PROGRAMMING REQUIREMENTS. I WOULD SAY THAT TVNC GLADLY TAKES UP ITS RESPONSIBILITY AS A NATIONAL NETWORK. WE DONıT WANT TO LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF CANADIAN PROGRAMMING. IN FACT, NEARLY 95% OF ALL TVNC PROGRAMMING IS CANADIAN AND WE PROVIDE JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR CANADIANS. OUR ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING IS VERY VALUABLE TO OUR AUDIENCE. THERE ARE MANY, MANY MORE CANADIAN ABORIGINAL PRODUCERS OUT THERE WHO WOULD LIKE TO TELL THEIR STORIES BUT THERE IS NOT ENOUGH FUNDING FOR THEM. THIS IS A SHAME. TVNC WANTS TO BE ABLE TO OFFER LICENSE FEES TO ABORIGINAL PRODUCERS AND CONTRIBUTE TO PROGRAMMING COSTS THE WAY CBC AND OTHER BROADCASTERS CAN. WE HAVE MADE SOME PROGRESS BECAUSE WE WORKED WITH DEPARTMENT OF CANADIAN HERITAGE TO ENSURE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE GET ACCESS TO THE NEW CANADA TELEVISION AND CABLE PRODUCTION FUND. WE WOULD LIKE TO DO MORE. TO DO THIS, WE MUST BE NATIONAL, NOT ONLY IN NAME BUT IN RECOGNITION, DISTRIBUTION AND FINANCING. IF TVNC IS DISTRIBUTED ON CARRIAGE SUCH AS DUAL STATUS, WE COULD PUT RESOURCES INTO PRODUCTION FUNDS AND HELP CREATE EVEN MORE CANADIAN PROGRAMMING.

SO BEFORE I TURN THIS OVER TO GARY FARMER TO SAY A FEW WORDS, I WOULD ASK YOU TO CONSIDER WHETHER OR NOT TVNC MEETS THE OBJECTIVES OF THE ACT. WE BELIEVE WE DO. THEREFORE WE ARE ASKING THE CRTC TO ENCOURAGE ABORIGINAL PROGRAMMING BY ENSURING THE WIDEST POSSIBLE DISTRIBUTION OF TVNC AS PART OF A BASIC SERVICE ON ALL LARGER DISTRIBUTION UNDERTAKINGS. THIS COULD BE ACHIEVED BY GUARANTEEING ACCESS FOR TVNC UNDER THE ACCESS RULES AND GRANTING TVNC DUAL STATUS, SIMILAR TO THAT ENJOYED BY SOME EXISTING SPECIALTY SERVICES. WE KNOW THAT, IN SECTION 9 OF THE BROADCASTING ACT, THE CRTC HAS THE AUTHORITY TO ASSIST TVNC IN ACHIEVING ITS GOALS. THANK YOU


HELLO. AS ABRAHAM HAS MENTIONED, MY NAME IS GARY FARMER AND I HAVE JUST RETURNED FROM THE NATIVE AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL IN NEW YORK CITY AND I WILL TELL YOU THAT THERE IS EXTRAORDINARY ABORIGINAL TALENT OUT THERE. BUT ABORIGINAL PRODUCERS IN THE U.S. OFTEN FACE THE SAME PROBLEMS WE DO IN THAT THERE IS NO DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM TO CONSISTENTLY BROADCAST OUR ABORIGINAL PROGRAMS. TODAYıS HEARING PRESENTS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE CRTC TO RECOGNIZE AND SUPPORT A NETWORK THAT NO OTHER COUNTRY HAS.

I WORK AS AN ACTOR AND A DIRECTOR. I HAVE TRIED TO WORK WITHIN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA SYSTEM FOR MANY YEARS BUT IT HAS BEEN DIFFICULT. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE HAS TAUGHT ME THAT MAINSTREAM PRODUCERS AND DIRECTORS AND NETWORKS DO NOT UNDERSTAND ABORIGINAL PEOPLE AND ABORIGINAL CULTURE.

I THINK ABORIGINAL BROADCASTING CAN SET A NEW STANDARD IN TELEVISION. ONE THAT RESPECTS AND UNDERSTANDS ABORIGINAL CULTURE AND LANGUAGE AND BASED UPON THE TRADITIONS OF CONSENSUS AND RESPECT THAT ARE PIVOTAL TO AN ABORIGINAL UNDERSTANDING. WE WANT TO TELL THE TRUTH OF OUR EXISTENCE FROM OUR OWN PERSPECTIVE.

GIVE US A CHANCE TO TAKE THE MEDIUM OF TELEVISION AND USE IT FOR ABORIGINAL PEOPLE. I BELIEVE IT IS TIME TO ALLOW US TO TAKE CONTROL OF IT TO BENEFIT OUR PEOPLE AND SHARE OUR TRADITIONS WITH NON-ABORIGINAL PEOPLE.

SELF-ESTEEM IS THE LARGEST PROBLEM WE HAVE IN ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES. I EDIT ABORIGINAL VOICES MAGAZINE. WE DO THIS TO ENCOURAGE ABORIGINAL PEOPLE. THAT'S ALSO WHY WE NEED AN ABORIGINAL NETWORK. THE CHEAPEST SOLUTION TO HEALING FOR OUR PEOPLE IS TO ENSURE WE ARE PROUD OF OUR HERITAGE AND OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

I STRONGLY SUPPORT THE IDEA OF A NATIONAL ABORIGINAL NETWORK. IN FACT, I AM WORKING WITH TVNC IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AN ADVISORY COMMITTEE TO WORK WITH SOUTHERN ABORIGINAL TV PRODUCERS AND COMMUNITIES. TVNC HAS THE EXPERIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE TO MAKE IT WORK. I WAS WITH TVNC AT AN ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS MEETING ON TUESDAY AND A RESOLUTION WAS PASSED SUPPORTING TVNC. (RESOLUTION ATTACHED). I WOULD ASK YOU TODAY, COMMISSIONERS TO CONSIDER WHAT WE HAVE SAID. YOUR SUPPORT IS VITAL TO OUR SUCCESS. THANK YOU.