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ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 87-150

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Decision

Ottawa, 2 March 1987
Decision CRTC 87-150
Muskoka-Parry Sound Broadcasting Limited
Huntsville, Ontario - 861382000
At a Public Hearing held in the National Capital Region on 1 December 1986, the Commission considered an application by Muskoka-Parry Sound Broadcasting Limited (Muskoka Broadcasting) for a broadcasting licence for an English-language FM radio station at Huntsville on the frequency 97.7 MHz (channel 249C), with an effective radiated power of 5,000 watts.
The applicant currently holds an AM licence to operate CFBK Huntsville, a CBC affiliate. It now proposes to move this undertaking to the FM band in order to overcome severe technical problems that have limited its ability to provide adequate radio service to its entire coverage area and to improve its position in the face of competition from distant signals which have severely eroded CFBK's night-time audience. Following studies which revealed that the costs involved in improving the AM service were prohibitive, the applicant concluded that an FM service was "the only viable method of maintaining and improving local service in North Muskoka".
The Commission questioned Muskoka Broadcasting on certain technical aspects of its proposal, noting that the proposed use of the frequency 97.7 MHz was mutually exclusive with the application by Hugh and Michael Mackenzie for an FM licence to serve Bracebridge (861249100) and that this Class C frequency, which has a potential maximum power of 100,000 watts, would be underutilized at the proposed 5,000 watts.
In response to questioning, the applicant indicated its willingness to find another frequency or channel if required by the Commission to do so. It also confirmed that it had proposed a modest power operation to avoid infringing on the Orillia and Parry Sound markets and that it had no plans to operate at a higher power.
The Commission has examined all the factors involved, including the improved coverage to be realized from an FM signal in Huntsville, the extension of local and CBC programming to small communities such as Dorset, Minden, Kearney and Haliburton, the applicant's commitment to a strong local programming component and the strong community support expressed in the numerous interventions and letters received and is satisfied that approval of this application is in the public interest.
Accordingly, the Commission approves the application by Muskoka Broadcasting to operate an English-language FM radio station at Huntsville but on a Class B frequency to be agreed upon by Muskoka Broadcasting and the Department of Communications. It will issue a "first service" FM licence expiring 31 August 1991, subject to the conditions specified in this decision, including the conditions with respect to the use of a new frequency, and those which will be contained in the licence to be issued, and upon surrender of the current licence for CFBK Huntsville.
In accordance with paragraph 22(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act, the Commission will issue a licence to the applicant if it is in receipt of written notification from the Department of Communications, within four months of the date of this decision, that a Class B frequency has been found for this operation and that it will issue a Technical Construction and Operating Certificate. No licence will be issued if the Commission does not receive this notification within said period, or such further period as the Commission may, upon receipt of a request for extension before the expiry of the said four months, deem appropriate under the circumstances.
The Commission will also issue a new AM licence to Muskoka Broadcasting to continue the operation of CFBK in accordance with the proposals set out in its application, upon surrender of the current licence. The new AM licence will expire six months from the date of implementation of the new FM service or on 30 June 1988, whichever is the earlier date, and will be subject to the conditions specified in the licence to be issued.
Upon implementation of the FM station, the programming will be as described in the FM Promise of Performance, with the new AM undertaking rebroadcasting all of the FM programming for a "phasing-in" period not to exceed six months. The AM undertaking will then cease operation and the FM station will be the only radio broadcasting undertaking operating in the market. The Commission considers that the applicant's proposal to rebroadcast the FM programming on the new AM undertaking for a six-month period is reasonable, and should allow adequate time for listeners in the area to adjust to the presence of the new FM station.
The FM station will operate in the "Group I" music format. It will continue to broadcast much of the current programming of CFBK, including some 25 hours per week of CBC English-language AM network programming. In this regard, the Commission notes the CBC's statement in an intervention submitted with respect to this application, that "the proposed Huntsville FM transmitter would be a definite improvement vis-à-vis CFBK-AM, particularly at night".
The Commission reminds the applicant of its obligation to submit a new FM Promise of Performance should the CBC proceed with the establishment of a separate service in the area and terminate its affiliation agreement with the applicant.
The Commission notes that, as a "first service" licensee, Muskoka Broadcasting will not be subject to the 150 minute daily maximum for commercial messages applicable to joint and independent licensees. At the hearing, however, the applicant stated that it would endeavour to stay within the 150 minute limit by the end of its first licence term and would accept any Commission decision to impose such a limit. It has also made a weekly commitment to foreground programming of 24.6%, well above the minimum requirements for joint and independent licensees.
The Commission attaches particular importance to the promotion of Canadian talent and notes, in this regard, that Muskoka Broadcasting will continue to produce and broadcast annual talent shows at the Huntsville, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge fall fairs. It will also participate in a regional talent search and contribute $1,000 annually to FACTOR/ CTL. In total, the annual budget for the development of Canadian talent is $4,500.
The Commission notes the applicant's commitment to broadcast 1 hour of traditional and special interest music per week and reminds Muskoka Broadcasting that the minimum Canadian content level for such music is 7%.
It is a condition of the FM licence that construction of the new station be completed and that it be in operation within twelve months of the date of receipt of written notification from the Department of Communications that a Class B frequency has been found and that it will issue a Technical Construction and Operating Certificate or such further period as the Commission may, upon receipt of a request for extension before the expiry of the said twelve months, deem appropriate under the circumstances.
It is also a condition of the FM licence that Muskoka Broadcasting adhere to the CAB self-regulatory guidelines on sex-role stereotyping, as amended from time to time and accepted by the Commission.
The Commission acknowledges the intervention from Mr. Alfred Richmond opposing this application, but notes that the purpose of the intervention was primarily to support the application by Hugh and Michael Mackenzie (861249100), which was referred to earlier in this text and will be the subject of a separate decision to be issued shortly.
Fernand Bélisle
Secretary General