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ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 85-55

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Decision

Ottawa, 25 January 1985
Decision CRTC 85-55
CHQT Broadcasting Limited Edmonton, Alberta - 823059100
CHUM Limited Stettler, Alberta - 841377500
At a Public Hearing in Calgary on 10 November 1984, the Commission considered two applications by CHQT Broadcasting Limited (QT) and CHUM Limited (CHUM) to amend the broadcasting licences for their respective AM radio stations, CHQT Edmonton and CKSQ Stettler by changing their technical parameters. QT proposed to change its authorized frequency from 1110 kHz to 880 kHz. CHUM proposed to increase the transmitter power of CKSQ 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 1400 kHz to 880 kHz. The applications are technically mutually exclusive.
The 880 kHz frequency was allotted under a bilateral agreement concluded between Canada and the United States. Both licensees wish to improve the technical reliability of their signals, so that their respective audiences can receive a quality service during the day and throughout the night. 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.
CHQT broadcasts on the same 1110 kHz frequency as KFAB Omaha, Nebraska, and, accordingly, must adjust its radiation pattern at night to avoid interference with that station. As a result, many communities to the immediate south of Edmonton lose CHQT's signal at night. QT stated that
 because of our requirement to protect Omaha at night, people in rural areas to the south and southeast of Edmonton, in communities such as Leduc, Beaumont, Wetaskawin, Camrose, Bittern Lake, to name a few, and many people living on acreages near southeast Edmonton either cannot get us after we have changed to night pattern, or there is so much interference they tune us out. In winter months, the night pattern restriction extends through most or all of our early morning programming and through half of our drive-home, and all of our evening programming.
As the city of Edmonton continues its expansion to the south, the licensee expects the severity of this problem to increase, which would place CHQT at a competitive disadvantage to other Edmonton broadcasters.
The licensee also noted that CHQT has encountered interference problems in south-west Edmonton with the signal of CKST St. Albert, which uses the 1070 kHz frequency.
With the 880 kHz frequency, QT expects that it will not have to limit its night-time radiation pattern to such a significant extent, and that listeners in many of Edmonton's neighbouring communities to the south will enjoy a signal of consistent quality, day and night. While the licensee recognized that other frequencies are available in the Edmonton area, it stated that none would give CHQT the quality or reliability of signal that would be obtained through the use of 880 kHz. The licensee also indicated that a change of transmitter site was not an acceptable solution since such a measure could jeopardize the quality of its signal in downtown Edmonton, and may in fact be precluded because of siting constraints imposed by the Edmonton International airport.
QT described its programming as "easy-listening, middle-of-the-road" which is "unique to AM radio in Alberta," and stated that many of its listeners have expressed their frustration at losing this service at night. In this regard, the Commission acknowledges receipt of more than 90 interventions and petitions from listeners in many communities throughout central Alberta and from various elected representatives, in support of the QT application. Many of the interveners commented on CHQT's distinctive programming service, and emphasized their desire to receive its signal, free of interference, 24 hours per day.
In presenting its competing application, CHUM indicated that the current technical parameters for CKSQ are inadequate for the provision of "a reliable, interference-free, full-time signal to the residents of Stettler and, more importantly, the immediate surrounding rural area." CKSQ's problems are particularly acute at night, when interference affects the signal in Stettler, and prevents it from reaching other neighbouring communities such as Bashaw, Donalda, Alix, Mirror and Erskine with listenable quality. CHUM also stated that the unreliable signal places CKSQ at a competitive disadvantage with stronger radio signals from Calgary and Edmonton that reach into the rural areas which it is attempting to serve. The licensee considers that such competition is "seriously undermining CKSQ's access to sufficient advertising revenue necessary for the provision of high quality local radio service."
The licensee also pointed out that its programming, which is specifically oriented to the rural communities in the Stettler area, should be available through a reliable signal, and emphasized that most of the area cannot receive the service at night. With the revised technical parameters, CHUM stated that it would be able to provide all of the communities within the county of Stettler with a quality signal, and virtually double the audience that can receive the signal on a reliable basis from approximately 5,600 to 11,900.
Numerous interventions were received from citizens in this area, as well as from elected representatives, supporting the licensee's proposal to improve the reliability of its signal. Deputy Mayor D. Herbert of Stettler and Mr. A. Malone, M.P. for Crowfoot, both appeared at the hearing to emphasize the importance of quality local radio service for rural communities such as Stettler and to support CHUM's application.
The Commission considers that both licensees provided compelling arguments to support their proposals. In considering any request for a scarce frequency, the Commission must consider its optimum use, the alternative technical options available, and the public interest. On balance, the Commission has determined that the QT proposal, with a power of 50,000 watts, will make better use of the 880 kHz frequency, and enable the licensee to overcome significant technical problems in the Edmonton area. The Commission is also mindful that CHQT serves a potential audience of more than 800,000 people, whereas, at most, CHQT estimates the potential audience of CKSQ to be approximately 12,000. Moreover, there are other frequencies available in the Stettler area which CHUM could use.
The Commission has further considered QT's assurances not to solicit advertising in Stettler and other adjacent rural markets:
 We're not trying to get any business at all. We don't sell in any of the small communities.
Accordingly, the Commission approves the application by CHQT Broadcasting Limited to amend the broadcasting licence for CHQT Edmonton by changing the frequency from 1110 kHz to 880 kHz.
The competing application by CHUM Limited is therefore denied. The Commission nevertheless acknowledges the concerns raised by CHUM with respect to the need for a consistent quality signal. As discussed at the hearing, the Commission notes that other frequencies are available in the Stettler area and encourages CHUM to consult with the Department of Communications with a view to finding another viable alternative to resolve its technical difficulties.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General