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ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 85-54

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Decision

Ottawa, 25 January 1985
Decision CRTC 85-54
Westcom Radio Group Ltd. (formerly QR Radio Ltd.)
Calgary, Alberta - 830675500
CHUM LimitedBrooks, Alberta - 841379100
At a Public Hearing in Calgary on 10 November 1984, the Commission considered two applications by Westcom Radio Group Ltd. (formerly QR Radio Ltd.) (Westcom) and CHUM Limited (CHUM) to amend the broadcasting licences for their respective AM radio stations, CHQR Calgary and CIBQ Brooks, by changing their technical parameters. Westcom proposed to relocate the CHQR transmitter site 5 miles south-east of the present site and change its authorized frequency from 810 kHz to 770 kHz. CHUM proposed to increase the transmitter power of CIBQ from 1,000 watts (day-time) and 250 watts (night-time) to 10,000 watts (day and night) and to change its authorized frequency from 1340 kHz to 770 kHz. The applications are technically mutually exclusive.
The 770 kHz frequency was allotted under a bilateral agreement concluded between Canada and the United States. Both licensees wish to remedy certain technical problems and improve signal quality within their respective service 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.
Westcom stated that, under its present technical parameters, many of the communities within its service area, which are within a 30 mile radius of Calgary, including Black Diamond, Bragg Creek, High River, Okotoks, Turner Valley and Strathmore, lose their reception of the CHQR signal at night when the licensee adjusts the station's radiation pattern to accommodate U.S. signal protection requirements.
Westcom indicated that the rapid encroachment of urban growth south of Calgary on its current transmitter site has exacerbated radiation problems in the city of Calgary itself. The licensee also informed the Commission that the Government of the Province of Alberta has recently indicated its intention to expropriate a portion of CHQR's transmitter site in the near future. For these reasons, the licensee must find another site for its transmitter.
With regard to night-time coverage, Westcom confirmed that antenna adjustments to protect U.S. signals have become increasingly onerous and that a change in transmitter site alone would be insufficient to overcome this difficulty. A change to the 770 kHz frequency, however, would enable CHQR to improve the reliability of its signal at night, and extend its service area approximately 25 miles south and some 40 miles further north-east without risk of interference. The 770 kHz frequency would also enable CHQR to extend its day-time signal to the west as far as Banff and to the east towards the Saskatchewan border.
Westcom claimed that its proposal is the only practical solution to its current technical difficulties.
Westcom also emphasized the distinct regional programming service that it provides to the Calgary area, and pointed out that CHQR's blend of easy listening music, regional news, sports coverage and community service programming is not receivable in many areas at night, when some of its most popular programs are broadcast. The licensee cited Calgary Flames hockey games and classical music programs as popular night-time programs which southern Alberta communities cannot receive adequately because of the poor quality signal.
In presenting its competing application, CHUM indicated that it was requesting the 770 kHz frequency and an increase in power to 10,000 watts for CIBQ Brooks in order to improve the quality and reliability of its signal in the Brooks area. The licensee stated that "the night signal is virtually unusable in the populated rural areas that lie to the north and east of Brooks" and that even some areas in Brooks itself experience this problem. It also noted that the town of Bassano and a number of other communities near Brooks including Gem, Rosemary, Duchess, Patricia, Cessford and Millicent do not receive a consistent radio signal, even though, "they represent 50% of the total population of the prime service area of CIBQ," and, therefore, "only 9,500 of the 17,000 residents in the Brooks and Newell County area have access to CIBQ day and night."
CHUM was anxious to ensure that its rurally-oriented programming service, which it states is the only such service in this region and reflects CIBQ's involvement in the community activities of the Brooks area, is extended with a reliable 24-hour per day signal to neighbouring communities who have common social and economic interests. These communities have very few media outlets, and, therefore, do not have access to the advertising opportunities which, in the licensee's view, an improved CIBQ service would provide. The importance of CIBQ's role in serving the Brooks area was also emphasized in a presentation at the hearing by Mayor Clayton Hayes of Brooks. Several other interventions were submitted in support of CHUM's proposal from interested local parties, who also attested to the need for improved signal quality.
The Commission has weighed carefully the arguments and the evidence presented by Westcom and CHUM to justify their requests to use the 770 kHz frequency. It recognizes that both licensees have serious problems with regard to signal quality in their respective service areas, and that their efforts to take remedial action are entirely appropriate. In reaching its decision, the Commission had to consider the optimum use of this scarce frequency, the alternative technical options available to each licensee, and the public interest. On balance, the Commission has determined that the Westcom proposal, with a power of 50,000 watts, will make better use of the 770 kHz frequency, and solve CHQR's technical problem in Calgary, and extend its full-time service to communities near Calgary in a satisfactory manner. The Commission is also mindful that CHQR serves a potential audience of some 600,000 people, and that there are no alternative frequencies available for Calgary. On the other hand, CIBQ, which according to CHUM, serves approximately 17,000 people, has other frequencies available to it.
The Commission has also taken into consideration Westcom's statement that it will not actively solicit advertising outside of the city limits of Calgary.
Accordingly, the Commission approves the application by Westcom Radio Group Ltd. to amend the broadcasting licence for CHQR Calgary by changing the frequency from 810 kHz to 770 kHz and changing the location of the transmitter site 5 miles south-east of the present site.
The competing application by CHUM Limited is therefore denied. Notwithstanding the above, the Commission acknowledges the concerns raised by CHUM with respect to the need for a signal of consistent quality. As discussed at the hearing, the Commission notes that other frequencies are available in the Brooks area and encourages CHUM to consult with the Department of Communications with a view to finding another viable alternative to resolve its technical difficulties.
With respect to the intervention received from CFCW Ltd. regarding the protection of the CFCW Camrose signal, the Commission notes Westcom's willingness, stated at the hearing, to work out a mutually acceptable arrangement with the intervener in this regard.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General