August 24, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)

PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

I think I need a new transmitter this morning. As I was saying, they are. required to state their case in the presence of senior officials of the CJ3.C. Then thej^ retire, and in camera the board of governors hears and decides on their representations. No opportunity is given to the private broadcasters to make any rebuttal

or to correct any misapprehensions there may be on the part of the board. It is said in the report that the private broadcasters have no grievance, but that method of hearing their representations is a serious grievance in itself. To me it seems intolerable. The one recommendation which the Canadian Association of Broadcasters made to the committee was one which they had reiterated for many years before former committees. It was this:
We believe and recommend that the public interest would be served by creating a radio board of appeal-an independent tribunal holding open meetings to which both branches of the radio industry possess free access in the customary judicial manner.
This has been an urgent and burning question for some years, and although the report says "Your committee in making these suggestions desires very emphatically to declare that it is not even tentatively giving its blessing to the proposals," the committee was by no means unanimous on that point.
The position of CFRB has been dealt with ably by the hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming). It is not for CFRB that I am speaking particularly, but for the metropolitan area of the city of Toronto, and farther afield than that, in connection with CFRB. Its coverage extends as far as London on one side on Kingston on the other and far to the north. There is no doubt that CFRB has given this area a splendid service. It was established before the committee that CFRB has the largest listening audience notwithstanding the two public stations of the C.B.C. serving this area. I am certainly not convinced by the evidence given before the committee that any better service can be given than is given by CFRB; nor am I convinced that we shall get as good a service by C.B.C. taking over that wave length. If CFRB is deprived of its present wave length, it will be required to spend at least $300,000' on new equipment, without compensation of any kind when it is assigned a new wave length. This is a very serious matter. I do not agree that no compensation should be paid. I am not a lawyer, ' and I cannot express any opinion on the legal position as to compensation. Certainly that is not a question for the committee to decide, but one for the courts. But not only that; at a time like this, when taxes are so high, the least we can expect is that a government or a government corporation should try to reduce its expenditures as much as possible. The taking over of these three wave lengths, in Calgary and Winnipeg and CFRB, Toronto, is going to cost the corporation anywhere from one to two million dollars; as a matter of fact nearer two million dollars.

Radio Broadcasting
The corporation in its operations over the last couple of years, instead of making money, has gone behind in the neighbourhood of $300,000. Also it has not set up a reserve. It is said that this is only a matter of bookkeeping, but the facts are clear: if you make a deficit and do not put up a reserve you have lost that much money.
Station CURB have given a good service to the city and region. Thinking that they would be able to retain their wave length, at considerable expense over the years they have developed their facilities and have encouraged professional talent, in this respect doing something which a great many stations have not done. I have spoken to a good many professional people in the city, both on CURB and CBL, and I know what they have been doing. I believe they deserve some consideration, as do the listeners of Toronto. Further than that, this private station CFRB has not cost the taxpayers of Canada one cent, and over the years has paid into the treasury taxes in the amount of $575,000. If C.B.C. takes over this wave length the corporation will be required to spend on the station they take over, for equipment for broadcasting alone, at least $300,000.
Private stations are being reiegated to the position of subservient vassals of the C.B.C. by the policy of the broadcasting corporation. The very fact that it is said they like a broadcasting chain goes to show that they want to get on the chain, but instead of being developed they are being dominated more and more all the time. Mr. Dunton stated in the committee that in the scheme of radio there is a "big place" for local commercial stations. The national radio authority, he declaimed, sought to encourage their operation on a local basis, "under impartial and benign supervision." But it is abundantly clear that what he called "a big place" is destined to diminish to the point of being negligible, if not invisible, under the actual and ruthless application of C.B.C. policies.
I want to say a word about radio frequencies. We can go back to the time when Mr. Bennett had the investigation made and the commission set up. One reason for this was the increasing chaos in the field of broadcasting ; things were getting in very bad shape. The second reason was that Canada was losing channels to the United States, and while the voice of the broadcasters singly could not be heard, the voice of the government of Canada diplomatically could be heard. Order was brought about through the North American conference, frequencies were allotted to 63260-335i
Canada, and a Canadian programme was outlined. But times have changed very rapidly. Is Canada again going to lose and suffer more radio interference through the policy which the C.B.C. have followed of keeping down the power of stations which should go up? It seems to me it is a stupid policy. Not only that, but when the conference took place the officials and engineers of C.B.C. were the ones who were there making the arrangements. At that time the private broadcasters asked that they also be represented-they had a big stake-but that was not permitted. It is all very well to say that we have the best engineers in the country, and so on, but you know that in a big law case one does not depend on one person; he calls in counsel and gets their opinions. Canada is a country of approximately twelve million people scattered over a vast area. As time goes on, there is no doubt about it, we shall fill up and we shall need all the channels we can get for our broadcasting.
In regard to radio frequencies we had the evidence of Colonel Bailey, professor of electrical engineering at the university of Toronto, a man of very high standing, who did a great deal of secret work during the war for the government of Canada. He must be a good engineer; he received the O.B.E. for his services in a technical field. Profesor Bailey has been before the radio committee in times gone by, and has pointed out at various times that through the policy of the C.B.C. of keeping the power of stations down to one kilowatt and less, we were losing channels and that we will be losing more all the time. As a matter of fact I believe it was through his evidence that the new policy of allowing five kilowatts as the maximum for private stations was decided upon. I take a little credit to myself for that. But if this policy is still followed and we do not have our stations go up to full power, Canadian stations will be in a much inferior position and will be subject to more interference all the time from the United States. Professor Bailey stated at a meeting of the committee in 1943:
I think that after the war is finished and we get the completion of the occupation of frequencies on the Havana agreement, we will be perturbed as to how small our coverage is, especially at night.
In his evidence on page 433 before the committee this year, in answer to a question which I asked him if, by keeping power down, we were in danger of more and more interference from the United States, he said:
While admittedly the Toronto area is probably the worst area in Canada because it projects down so close to the American border,
Radio Broadcasting

the tendency is more and more that people to the south of us are filling up the air with five to fifty times the speed which we are.
He gave some very interesting information as to the difficulties. As soon as possible we should give our stations the opportunity to go to their full power. If Canada has lost the full use of the channels which were allotted to her, and if she loses more in the future, the C.B.C. and government policy will be directly responsible for this arbitrary action.
It is wrong to say that we have two types of broadcasting in Canada. There are or should be three. We have a national system, a high-power network, but there are also the regional stations, of which no mention was made. A regional station such as CFRB could be more useful if it were high powered and it covers a larger area than a single community; but there are also the small community stations. Some of these stations are not really doing the job because they have been hampered by arbitrary limitations of their power. There should not be such limitations. In Canada to-day we have three networks; the trans-Canada, consisting of seven C.B.C. stations and seventeen basic stations affiliated with them, operating sixteen hours; the French network, three C.B.C. and eight basic stations affiliated with the C.B.C.; and then there is the dominion network which has one C.B.C. station and twenty-eight private stations.
The policy is to operate the dominion network longer, that is, to increase the number of hours on the air; and the reason given is that the listener should have a choice of two programmes. I agree that in certain parts of Canada there should be a choice of two programmes, but the private stations have not found it possible to bring this about. In my section there are a number of choices of programmes. There is a choice among many private stations; there is a choice among United States stations, so that Ontario listeners in that section have more than two selections.
Why spend the taxpayers money to give them more than they have now? It is better to use the private stations already established and let them go up to their full power in the meantime. Changes in radio to-day are so rapid that we do not know what will happen in the near future. Why not wait, therefore, for a year or two, and allow the private stations to go up to their full power? In fact, make them go up, instead of biting off more than you can chew and losing more money on the corporation in the next year or so.
The question of networks comes up. Without networks, stations cannot perform their

proper function. There is no doubt about that. It was stated in the committee that the private stations could not be allowed to buy wire from the wire companies because C.B.C. had to have the use of the wire. But the C.B.C. does not use all the wires in Canada; there are many more. There is no reason why from time to time private stations should not be allowed to perform the function of network broadcasting, thus giving the people another choice. Not only should they be allowed to do it; I say they should be made to do it in the interests of the country.
A word now about radio fees. Last year we collected 84,260,379 and the cost of collection was $527,435, or about twelve per cent of the amount collected. These were licence fees for private receiving sets only. There were 1,745,916 licensees from whom we collected money last year. There is also the cost of policing, seeing to it that people pay their fees. There were 8,749 convictions last year. The sum of $2.50 is collected from a man who has one radio set and from the man who may have fifteen sets. That is what is paid, and the old pensioner has to pay the same sum, $2.50, for his receiving set. There is no justice in that. But why should a person, because he has a radio, have to pay a licence? Why should not the person who listens pay, whether he has a set or not?

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   CORPORATION TO RECEIVE LICENCE FEES- ADVANCES ON ACCOUNT OF CAPITAL EXPENDITURES
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