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ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 87-377

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Decision

Ottawa, 2 June 1987
Decision CRTC 87-377
Radiomutuel (1985) Limited Hull, Quebec - 853049500
Standard Broadcasting Corporation Limited Ottawa, Ontario - 860840800Radio Nord Inc. Ottawa, Ontario - 860863000
Following a Public Hearing in the National Capital Region on 1 December 1986, the Commission approves the application by Radiomutuel (1985) Limited (Radiomutuel, the applicant), to operate a French-language FM radio broadcasting undertaking in Hull, on the frequency 104.1 MHz (channel 281B), with an effective radiated power of 7,600 watts. The Commission will issue a licence expiring 31 August 1990, subject to the conditions specified in this decision and in the licence to be issued.
The competing applications by Standard Broadcasting Corporation Limited (Standard) and Radio Nord Inc. (Radio Nord) are denied.
These applications were submitted following a call issued by the Commission on 21 January 1986 (Public Notice CRTC 1986-16) for applications for FM radio broadcasting undertakings to serve Ottawa and Hull. The three applications were competing in terms of the market to be served, since all proposed to serve the National Capital Region. The applications by Radiomutuel and Radio Nord were also technically mutually exclusive in that they both proposed to use the last Class B commercial frequency available in the region, 104.1 MHz. These two applications were also competing in terms of programming, as both proposed "dance music" stations operated in the Group IV music format.
The Ottawa/Hull metropolitan census region is the fourth largest urban centre in Canada with approximately 756,000 residents, of whom 247,000 are Francophones. It is distinctive by virtue of its geographic situation which straddles the border between the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. Its demography is also unique in that it is composed basically of the country's two main linguistic groups: 67% of households are English-speaking and 33% French-speaking. Over 60% of the francophone population of the region live on the Quebec side of the border, while 40% live in Ontario.
The market is served by seventeen radio stations, twelve of which operate in English and five in French. Excluding non-commercial services, there are nine English- and three French-language commercial stations. The five English-language commercial FM stations offer diversified programming services covering each of the Group I, II and III music formats. The only French-language commercial FM station, CIMF-FM Hull, operates in the Group I music format. Tuning to out-of-market stations by the francophone audience is minimal.
In light of the above and based on the evidence on file, the Commission has concluded that the introduction of a new FM radio station in the National Capital Region market is desirable. The Commission considers that there is a real need for a new French-language radio service in this region and that the introduction of a new FM station directed at an audience of young adults, as proposed by Radiomutuel, will contribute to the diversity of radio services available in the Ottawa-Hull area while ensuring a better balance between English- and French-language radio services.
In addition to the above-mentioned factors, the Commission has also taken into account the region's economic situation and growth potential, the financial position of existing radio broadcasters and the possible impact on them of a new commercial FM station. In the Commission's opinion, given the existing situation, the operation of a new FM station on a joint basis with an established AM station would have the best chance of success, given the cost of introducing a new FM service. Such a proposal would also have the least economic impact on existing stations.
In this regard, the Commission notes that the economy of the National Capital Region has shown a relatively steady growth over the past few years. Retail sales have enjoyed sustained growth since 1982, with appreciable increases in 1985 and 1986. Moreover, a 1986 market study conducted by the Financial Post indicated that Ontario is 7% above the national average in terms of retail sales volume, while the Ottawa-Hull region is at a level 9% above the average.
With respect to the competing applications which were denied, the Commission has noted the local and community-oriented nature of Radio-Nord's proposal. However, during the hearing, a more detailed examination of this applicant's programming proposals revealed that they were unrealistic in light of the human and material resources proposed. The Commission also noted the attractiveness of Standard's proposal, which called for a Group I English-language FM station, with an emphasis on contemporary music. The Commission did, however, have a number of concerns about the potential negative impact of such a station on other English-language stations in the market, as well as the weakness and vagueness of its proposals for spoken word, foreground and mosaic programming, particularly in terms of the human resources which would be required to fulfill these commitments.
Radiomutuel proposed to operate a new French-language FM station on a joint basis with CJRC Gatineau. The station would be operated in the Group IV format, dance music, with equal content from subcategories 51 and 52 (pop and rock-softer, and pop and rock-harder). At the hearing, the applicant emphasized that this is an alternative and complementary music format not currently offered by any French- or English-language FM station in the region. The target audience for the new FM station is young adults in the National Capital Region in the 18 to 34 age group.
The applicant also pointed out that it already has the necessary resources and technical and human expertise since it operates three other dance music, Group IV radio stations in the province of Quebec, CKMF-FM Montreal, CHIK-FM Quebec City and CIMO-FM Magog and its rebroadcaster CIMO-FM-1 Sherbrooke, which the applicant effectively controls. The Commission considers, therefore, that, given the sizeable resources at its disposal as well as the nature and characteristics of its proposal, the applicant is in a good position to ensure the viability of this project as a joint operation in the dance music format, which has proven successful in other markets.
The applicant has made a commitment to broadcast 20% foreground and 50% combined foreground/mosaic programming, levels considerably higher than the Commission's minimum requirements for joint stations. The foreground programs will deal with topics of general interest including general commentary, music, public affairs and science. A full-time researcher will ensure the implementation of a network of local resource persons in various fields, and six researcher/ hosts will provide structured verbal content for the documentary programs.
Although the applicant stated that most of its programs will be produced locally, it also mentioned at the hearing that it would encourage an exchange of documentation and research for foreground programs among its radio stations. Given the size of the market and the available resources, and recognizing that the pooling of enrichment material could contribute to improved program quality, the Commission is nevertheless concerned that an excessively high proportion of material from outside sources could undermine the local orientation of the station and the service it is required to provide to the community. Accordingly, the Commission expects the licensee to increase gradually the proportion of locally-originated programming and enrichment material and to submit annual reports in this regard during the licence term. The Commission has also noted the proposed exchange of programs with other Radiomutuel stations, which could represent five to seven hours of air time per week.
With respect to news, the FM station will benefit from the Radiomutuel news service and from the CJRC team of journalists, to which will be added two additional full-time reporters assigned exclusively to the new station. Their responsibilities will include ensuring that a different approach is utilized for the newscasts of the FM station. In addition to its regularly scheduled newscasts, the applicant elaborated on its news bulletin format which will provide in-depth coverage of certain topics, depending upon the day's events and the interests of its audience. The Commission will monitor closely the licensee's efforts in this respect and encourages it to ensure that there are adequate local and regional news and information services.
As part of its program for the promotion of Canadian talent, "Opération Talcan", the applicant has made a commitment to introduce an annual local talent contest in co-operation with Outaouais producers. The annual budget for this project is $105,000, of which $30,000 would be in direct costs. The station will broadcast the three semi-finals and the final competition and the winner will be awarded $5,000 in order to record a demo tape. Moreover, the applicant committed to contribute 1% of its annual air-time revenue to Musicaction, up to a maximum of $20,000 per year provided that its annual revenue is at least $750,000. At the hearing, the applicant estimated that it would contribute more than $600,000 in direct and indirect costs over five years for the development of Canadian talent, of which $112,500 would be spent in the first year. These amounts are in addition to Radiomutuel's current commitments with regard to its other radio stations. The Commission expects the licensee, during the term of this licence, to submit annual reports on its activities in support of Canadian talent.
The Commission notes that the applicant has proposed to broadcast a level of 55% French-language vocal music. It has examined this proposal in light of the above-mentioned commitment to promote Canadian talent, and of the proposed Group IV music format. The Commission notes that, under similar circumstances, it has already approved a level of 55% French-language vocal music for CKMF-FM, CHIK-FM, CIMO-FM and CIMO-FM-1. The Commission, therefore, approves, as a condition of licence, the proposed minimum level of 55% French-language vocal music for a period ending no later than 31 March 1989. As noted in Public Notice CRTC 1986-67 dated 19 March 1986 on "French-language Popular Music", the Commission intends to review the availability of French-language recordings at the end of a two-year trial period and reminds the licensee that "the 55% level is a minimum to be surpassed if possible and that 65% remains the objective." The Commission will closely monitor the licensee's efforts to promote francophone artists in its programming.
It is a condition of licence that construction of the undertaking be completed and that it be in operation within twelve months of the date of this decision 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.
The Commission notes that the Department of Communications has indicated that this proposal is acceptable from a technical standpoint, provided that any interference affecting air traffic signals or communication services in the region is resolved in a satisfactory manner.
It is a condition of licence that the applicant adhere to the CAB selfregulatory guidelines on sex-role stereotyping, as amended from time to time and accepted by the Commission.
The Commission has taken into consideration the written interventions submitted by Télémédia Communciations Inc., licensee of CIMF-FM and CKCH Hull, which opposed the three applications described herein because of their potential impact on the market. It has also taken into account the intervention submitted by CHEZ-FM Inc., licensee of CHEZ-FM Ottawa and CHEQ-FM Smiths Falls, which raised similar concerns in its comments to the Commission. The Commission has also noted the intervention presented at the hearing by the Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario (ACFO) in support of Radio Nord's application, which, in its opinion, proposed programming that would have better reflected Franco-Ontarian life. The Commission has also considered the many written interventions submitted in support of these applications.
Fernand Bélisle
Secretary General