August 27, 1958

LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

In so far as the Minister of Trade and Commerce is concerned, he said that the Canadian government's policy has been directed towards giving Americans the same opportunities in Canada as are given to Canadians and that was said within the context of television programs, films and magazines. I express the hope that it will not be applied to television in Canada.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan (Minister of National Revenue)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

It will not.

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LIB

Louis-Joseph-Lucien Cardin

Liberal

Mr. Cardin:

I am reliably informed that shortly before March 31 the hon. Minister of Transport-and he is in the house and is able to confirm whether my information is correct-promised to provide immediate television service at Flin Flon, Manitoba. I am just wondering whether the minister can tell the committee whether this service has been provided or whether it is the intention of the department to provide it in the relatively near future.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan (Minister of National Revenue)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

No, this television service has not been rendered, Mr. Chairman, and with all due respect to the hon. gentleman I do not think the Minister of Transport promised that it would be. I happen to know something about this matter, not from the Minister of Transport but because this problem has again arisen in the last few weeks. There were promoters from the United States who-

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Surely the Minister of Transport is not going to leave the committee when we are discussing what he said.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan (Minister of National Revenue)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

-were telecasters using a substitute for microwave on the telephone lines and who wished to do this in Manitoba, as I recall it. They wanted a chance to prove whether this system could be substituted for the microwave and asked to be allowed to develop the system in Manitoba. I have seen the correspondence in this matter and the Minister of Transport at that time told them that if this could be developed it would be a very cheap way to establish television in Flin Flon and in many other areas. They were asked to go ahead by the government of Manitoba and they went ahead and just before the election, as some hon. members here may know, the government of Manitoba entered into an arrangement with them for that very purpose,

but I am told that when they attempted to carry out this proposal it did not work out satisfactorily at all. I believe, however, that the former government of Manitoba was intending to carry on experimental work in that direction. Whether or not the present government so intends I do not know but I believe that is the matter to which my hon. friend refers.

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CCF

Douglas Mason Fisher

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Fisher:

I want to ask the minister, in connection with the programming of the C.B.C., what plans have been made with respect to the program "The Nation's Business" and whether the introduction of two C.B.C. correspondents into the gallery of this house is a preliminary to the establishment by the C.B.C. of its own television correspondents in Ottawa rather than handling the matter, as at the present time, by farming the work out to various members of the press?

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PC

Robert Simpson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Simpson:

I had thought that possibly when we were discussing item 54 I would like to bring certain matters to the attention of the committee and of course of the minister responsible for the providing of funds to the C.B.C. from this parliament. I now wish to raise a situation which is becoming of increasing concern to the people whom I represent in the constituency of Churchill.

The hon. member who has just sat down mentioned the situation at Flin Flon. I do not now intend to launch into a throne speech, because I know I would be called out of order if I did so at this stage of the session. However, there are certain aspects I must mention about my constituency in order to bring out my point. My constituency comprises roughly 180,000 square miles, taking up almost three-fifths of the province of Manitoba. The matter which is of greatest concern to my people with respect to television is that at the present time there is not one single square mile of that area which is serviced by C.B.C. television. There are many other matters which are of interest and which have been discussed with C.B.C. officials, but when representations have been made to the C.B.C. respecting the possibility of servicing this area, we have often been told that we are too far removed from existing C.B.C. network facilities. This is not quite so, because the more largely populated areas of my riding, particularly those of Swan River, Flin Flon and The Pas, are not so very distant from existing facilities. When one speaks of the far north it is a different proposition altogether, but in regard to Swan River, for instance, which is a large agricultural area, it is only a matter of possibly 175 air miles from Winnipeg and less from Brandon. Extensions to the populated areas of

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Flin Flon and The Pas would probably necessitate covering some 375 miles, so it will be seen that it is not right for the C.B.C. to continually say that Churchill is too far removed from present facilities. The people of the area believe, and I think justly so, that as they are being taxed in the same way as anyone else in Canada, therefore they should share in the benefits provided by such facilities as the C.B.C.

As a result of recent correspondence and discussions, the C.B.C. informs me that until the present time no private applications have been received for television station licences in the area. Undoubtedly that is correct, but I do know of one or two private concerns who are interested in going into this area but before setting up stations they would like some idea as to just when the C.B.C. network would be available to them. The area in which I live, namely, Flin Flon, as well as other Manitoba areas, are to a large extent sports minded and, as in the case of the rest of Canada, are interested in seeing such live network programs televised by the C.B.C. as the world series, the Grey cup, the Saturday night hockey games and so on. They would also like to receive the national news service.

Some of these station operators feel that if they were to go in on a private licence and to operate with kine recordings this might just serve as a deterrent to the C.B.C. ever coming in and giving them a network.

These are the problems facing people interested in applying for private station licences, and I would like to suggest to the C.B.C. that the mere fact in itself that we have an area from which we have as yet not received applications for television licences, is a direct challenge to the C.B.C. to give serious consideration to servicing such areas in order that it may become a truly national body. In areas already serviced by private stations there is not the same degree of need but in areas where there are no private stations and where no applications have been forthcoming I believe there is a direct obligation on the C.B.C. to give this question full consideration.

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CCF

Douglas Mason Fisher

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Fisher:

Mr. Chairman, would the minister answer my questions at this time?

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan (Minister of National Revenue)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

Would the hon. member repeat his questions? I believe he was asking a question about a specific station.

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CCF

Douglas Mason Fisher

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Fisher:

I asked about the situation with respect to "The Nation's Business". I also asked if the C.B.C. has any plans to in-stal a permanent C.B.C. correspondent who will appear somewhat in the way Stanley Burke does at the United Nations. The other question related to the prospect of installing

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low power relay stations at Manitouwadge and Armstrong. In both cases I made representations. In one case I sent a lengthy petition to the chairman of the C.B.C.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan (Minister of National Revenue)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

At the moment there is no thought of arranging for a correspondent here. I think that is a matter to which consideration will be given but there is no immediate decision forthcoming on it.

As far as "The Nation's Business" is concerned plans have been finalized to start that next month, I believe, or at least in the immediate future. It will come into being again in the fall and winter months.

The hon. gentleman can rest assured that the problem to which he referred is well along in the planning stage. I would not want to suggest he could expect developments there this year in the construction line at any rate but I would be hopeful that in another year real progress could be made in helping to solve the problem which I know is a difficult one. The C.B.C. is faced with a tremendous problem. It has moneys which though large in total amount are small when one thinks of the number of requests that come to it from all over Canada for the construction of power relays, new stations and things of that kind. It has had to try to deal with the problem on the basis of the funds available, on the basis of need and on the basis of the investigations of the officials of the Department of Transport and the C.B.C. I can assure the hon. member that the problem of the area to which he refers is receiving careful and detailed study at the moment and I believe he will be reasonably well satisfied with the progress that will be made there in the not too distant future.

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CCF

Douglas Mason Fisher

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Fisher:

Thank you, very much. One of the recommendations of the Fowler commission which the minister mentioned in the house was that the dominion network be allowed to lapse. I wonder if that is the intention? I hope it is not. If the two networks continue I wonder if it would be possible for the C.B.C. to give a fairly hard figure as to what it would cost to annually pipe through dominion programs to small communities now receiving trans-Canada programs so they would have both. In other words they would be provided with a choice of program.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan (Minister of National Revenue)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

I am advised the cost would be very high indeed. I can also tell the hon. member that no immediate consideration is being given to the question. That is not just an euphemistic term. No consideration is being given at the moment nor will any be given in the immediate future to the abandonment of the dominion network. Certainly

no decision will be taken on that at least until after the new directors of the C.B.C. have been appointed and have had an opportunity of surveying the whole situation and obtaining the advice of their technicians and also, I presume, the board of broadcast governors. If any decision of that nature were contemplated it will be a long while in the future and certainly the house would have ample notice of it before it materialized.

The hon. member for Churchill raised the question of television service in his constituency and also referred to the inadequacy of the radio service which they are presently enjoying. He has pressed me on this matter on various occasions and I have had to give him the same answer I have had to give other hon. members of the committee to the effect that this is a matter within the control of the C.B.C. and within the limits of its funds the C.B.C. is attempting to achieve the best possible distribution.

I am pleased to tell the hon. member that in so far as radio is concerned at any rate immediate developments are taking place with respect to the northern service. We are very hopeful that the radio need will be met in the immediate future. Progress has been made, it is past the planning stage and work is being done. I hope and expect that the hon. member will be reasonably well satisfied with what transpires so far as radio is concerned.

But television is another proposition. It is easy to say that all Canadians should be treated equally and we sympathize and agree with that view but distance certainly makes a vast difference in cost. The cost of extending a microwave system to that area would be prohibitive at the moment and to do it in other ways would also be an expensive proposition. Probably the reason why no private television station has been established there is because it would require an undertaking from the C.B.C. to extend its program service and at the moment the C.B.C. is not financially in a position to deal with the problem. However, we have solved the radio problem, I think. Next winter, after the board has been appointed and the C.B.C. has been reconstituted, I am sure whoever happens to be the minister responsible for the C.B.C. at that time will have pressure brought to bear on him again by the hon. member for Churchill to do something for his area which is badly in need of television service as every one realizes.

I wish to be perfectly frank with the hon. member and tell him there are no immediate plans. I would almost go further and say there is no immediate hope of solving the television problem at this time in that area.

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LIB

Guy Rouleau

Liberal

Mr. Rouleau:

Mr. Chairman, there has been much talk recently about the construction of a new building in Montreal which will house all the services of the C.B.C. in that city and also as to the site of that new building. I wonder if the minister is in a position to tell the committee if he is contemplating the construction of such a building and, if so, if an agreement has been reached as to the site of that building?

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan (Minister of National Revenue)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

Mr. Chairman, the minister has a very voluminous mail at all times and one of the matters which has added to the volume has been the number of people in and around Montreal who have written the minister advising him that they have the only available land for the C.B.C. and that it is an excellent buy and should be bought at once. But seriously, there has been no agreement entered into with respect to the purchase of land though, as I have said, many sites have been offered. The C.B.C. has investigated and will continue to investigate any lands offered for sale but no decision has been made. The need is known to the C.B.C., to me and to the government and there is included in these capital estimates, we hope, sufficient moneys with which to purchase the land during the coming year if the committee sees fit to pass these estimates and if the C.B.C. is satisfied as to the availability and price of the land.

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LIB

Guy Rouleau

Liberal

Mr. Rouleau:

I should like to tell the minister there is still much land available in the constituency of Dollard not too far from the national film board and we would welcome such a building.

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CCF

Douglas Mason Fisher

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Fisher:

I hate to come back to the question of low power relay stations but I feel I must. I think we have nine in my constituency and we hope to make it eleven. The cost figure given by the C.B.C. for these low power relay transmitters ranged between $800 and $1,300. The installation costs range between $3,500 and $6,500. I have talked with telegraph men in several communities involved and they say all that is necessary to allow them to broadcast is a simple turn of the switch. I am prepared to accept the explanation.

Let us get to this other request that I have had from the nine communities involved. They want to know why they cannot have the dominion network programs rather than the trans-Canada programs. It is a matter of opinion, but generally the dominion network programs are lighter and more popular with the people. Several times the man in charge of the relay has thrown the switch and sent out the dominion network programs. He has

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been checked up for it later. Those switches have won a great deal of popular support in the community.

One of the other points I would like to bring up is in connection with the low-power relay stations. I have had requests from two communities which would like to know whether they can use the low-power relay transmitter to make local announcements when the station is not broadcasting or at the end of its schedule or before the schedule begins. They would like to know whether they can make public announcements in relation to things going on in the community; they wondered whether some sort of regulations could be worked out that would allow this and perhaps they could even pay for the time.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan (Minister of National Revenue)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

Perhaps I have to revise my statement about giving consideration to putting another station in there in the immediate future. The hon. member tells me he has nine in his constituency, which I think is more than any other member in the house has. Perhaps he has too many now. We may have to give consideration to changing some and putting them in other places.

As far as changing from the trans-Canada to the dominion is concerned, I am told by the corporation officials that this is impossible. We have a national network. The trans-Canada facilities are there. To make a change such as the hon. member suggests would involve an expenditure of money such as- well, we would have to sell those nine low-power stations he has there to find money to pay for it, and I am sure he would not want that.

It is true the cost of installing those low-power stations is not great. I was bothered about that. I understand the cost of installing is, as he said, from $800 to several thousand dollars. I would say that what he and some of his friends have overlooked is that it is no good to instal them unless you get the programs. When we get programs that are under contract with the communications system we have to pay so much a mile for the programs, and the farther away the relay station is the more the corporation has to pay, and that is where the cost comes in. It is not the installing of the low-power relay but the operation of it afterwards, under the contract that we have with the communications system which is carrying the program at the time. If it is, say, 10 miles away, that is one thing. If it is 50 miles or 100 miles away, the cost goes up proportionately, and the cost is given in the contract for each one of those low-power relays. You cannot say you can carry it in this way, and so on. That

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is the cost of the operation and that is why it is more difficult. The more we have to instal the more costly it is.

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PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

In view of the fact that the province of Newfoundland is not included in the microwave network-I understand it is the only province in Canada not included in the network-will the minister tell the committee at this time when this handicap of our province will be overcome and when the microwave network will be put through to Newfoundland? In St. John's we have one of the finest independent television stations in Canada. However, it is operating under a handicap in so far as it is not connected with the national network because the microwave does not reach Newfoundland.

One other question; perhaps the minister can advise the house as to the capital expenditure the corporation has planned for the province of Newfoundland in the ensuing year?

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August 27, 1958