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ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 85-159

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Decision

Ottawa, 1 April 1985
Decision CRTC 85-159
Western World Communications Ltd. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - 841321300
Rawlco Communications Ltd.Regina, Saskatchewan - 841385800
At a Public Hearing in Regina on 6 November 1984, the Commission considered competing applications by Western World Communications Ltd. (Western World) and Rawlco Communications Ltd. (Rawlco) to amend the broadcasting licences for their respective AM radio stations, CJWW Saskatoon and CJME Regina, by changing their technical parameters. Western World proposed to change its authorized frequency from 1370 kHz to 750 kHz, and Rawlco from 1300 kHz to 760 kHz. The applications are technically mutually exclusive.
The 750 kHz and 760 kHz frequencies were allotted under a bilateral agreement concluded between Canada and the United States. Both licensees are anxious to improve the quality of the signals of CJWW and CJME outside of their immediate urban markets, so that they can be received more consistently in the neighbouring towns and rural areas. The evidence submitted by the licensees in this regard includes their statements on the inadequate quality of their signals, together with maps outlining the existing and proposed contours of the stations which show how these problems would be overcome.
In its application, Western World stated that its 1370 kHz frequency does not permit CJWW to transmit a signal of consistent strength to many of Saskatoon's neighbouring communities such as Birch Hills, Maymont, Radisson, Allan, Kenaston, Handley and Dundurn. Most of these communities are located within a 50-mile radius of Saskatoon and have an affinity with Saskatoon. The licensee's radiation pattern is particularly restricted in the direction southeast of Saskatoon and also in the northwest, where the signal of CFOK Westlock must be protected. Since other Saskatoon broadcasters do not experience this difficulty, the licensee argued that "when Saskatoon merchants spend their radio advertising dollar we are unable to give them the opportunity to reach as many potential consumers as our competitors". It added that communities as far away as 100 miles consider Saskatoon as their socio-economic "hub" city.
Following engineering studies, the licensee has concluded that the use of the 750 kHz frequency will not only improve the quality of its signal to communities which are adjacent to Saskatoon, but will also enable the licensee to provide a stronger signal in Saskatoon itself. The licensee estimates that the new frequency will enable CJWW to increase its potential daytime audience from 287,000 to more than 511,000, with an approximate night-time increase of 21,000 people. With an improved technical service, the licensee considers that CJWW will now be able to compete with other local broadcasters on an equitable basis.
With respect to programming, Western World stated that it provides a popular, high quality service, based on a country music format featuring live concerts and interviews with Canadian artists, which, it emphasized, is distinctively different from other country music stations in Saskatchewan. The licensee also indicated that its blend of regionally-oriented news, sports and community services, and its involvement in many Saskatoon-area activities, will be extended throughout this area with a more reliable signal.
The Commission has taken into consideration the interventions received from James B. Farrell, Sharon Pippin and Gordon International Ltd., all of Saskatoon, in support of Western World's application. It has also considered the interventions received in opposition from Northwestern Broadcasting Co. Ltd. of North Battleford, Radio CJVR Ltd. of Melfort, the Melfort and District Chamber of Commerce, and Gooselake Broadcasting Co. Ltd. of Rosetown, on the grounds of potential audience fragmentation and loss of advertising revenues. The Commission notes, however, that the interveners did not substantiate such claims and that the licensee firmly indicated, as part of its application, that the bulk of its advertising revenue will continue to come from advertisers in Saskatoon.
In presenting its competing application, Rawlco stated that its 1300 kHz frequency, while adequate enough to serve Regina, does not enable the licensee to provide a reliable signal to communities beyond a 50-mile radius of Regina during the day, particularly to the south-eastern part of Saskatchewan. The problem becomes more severe at night, reducing the radius noted above to approximately 35 miles. Moreover, the licensee stated that other Regina AM radio stations, and CHAB Moose Jaw, have more effective frequencies which enable them to provide reliable signals throughout southern Saskatchewan, 24 hours per day. Rawlco argued it operates CJME at a competitive disadvantage to these broadcasters.
Rawlco said that, with the 760 kHz frequency, reliable daytime coverage would be extended by 50 miles in all directions, and at night, to the north and to the west, from a radius of 35 miles to 70 miles. Many more communities in rural Saskatchewan would thus be able to receive CJME's signal with consistent quality, day and night. Rawlco indicated at the hearing that, with the requested frequency, it should be able to provide a better signal to a potential of some 382,000 listeners.
In discussing the technical alternatives, including a power increase, the licensee concluded, based on an engineering study, that no other frequencies are available in the Regina area which would effectively extend CJME's signal coverage.
Rawlco also emphasized that, with the exception of CHAB Moose Jaw, CJME is the only contemporary music format station which operates in southern Saskatchewan. Rawlco cited its locally-oriented news, sports, weather and public service programming as a major benefit for Regina's neighbouring communities.
The Commission received numerous interventions in support of the Rawlco proposal, including those presented at the hearing by Mayor L. Schneider of Regina, Mr. J. Tompkins of the University of Regina, Mr. W. Walker of Rocanville, Mr. K. Lutz of Melville, Mr. T. Thoen of Wynyard and Mr. W. Blaisdell, President of the Regina Chamber of Commerce.
The Commission recognizes that both Western World and Rawlco experience difficulty in providing a reliable quality signal to communities immediately outside of their major urban market, and considers that, in both cases, the neighbouring areas around Saskatoon and Regina could benefit from the proposed improvements in the licensees' respective signals.
In reaching its decision, the Commission has weighed the evidence and arguments presented during the hearing, particularly with respect to the optimum use of this scarce frequency. On balance, the Commission has determined that the Western World proposal, which will enable Western World to improve its signal in Saskatoon, and extend its distinctive, community-oriented programming throughout central Saskatchewan, constitutes the better use of the available frequency and is the most practical and economic solution to CJWW's coverage problems. The Commission also notes that there are no other viable technical options available to Western World which would effectively improve its present signal coverage as much as the 750 kHz frequency.
Notwithstanding the merits of Rawlco's competitive proposal, the Commission notes that Rawlco operates both an AM and an FM station in Regina, and an AM station in Saskatoon. With respect to the latter, in Decision CRTC 85-127 dated 11 March 1985 the Commission has approved an application by Rawlco which was also considered at the 6 November Public Hearing for a change in the frequency of CKOM Saskatoon which will strengthen its signal and extend its day-time coverage area to encompass Regina, Swift Current and Lloydminster. The Commission also considers that, on balance, Western World, which does not own another radio station, has a greater need to strengthen its presence in this region to become competitively viable.
Accordingly, for all of the above reasons, the majority of the members of the Commission have decided to approve the application by Western World for CJWW by changing the frequency from 1370 kHz to 750 kHz. The competing application by Rawlco is therefore denied.
In accordance with paragraph 22(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act, the Commission will only issue the licence amendment, and the authority granted herein may only be implemented, at such time as written notification is received from the Department of Communications that it will issue an amendment to the Technical Construction and Operating Certificate.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General