ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 87-754

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Ottawa, 17 September 1987
Decision CRTC 87-754
Communications communautaires des Portages
Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec - 870415700
Following a Public Hearing in Montreal on 12 May 1987, and for the reasons set out below, the Commission denies the application to renew the broadcasting licence for community radio station CION-FM Rivière-du-Loup, which expires on 30 September 1987.
The Commission authorized the operation of a French-language FM community radio station in Rivière-du-Loup in Decision CRTC 81-866 dated 7 December 1981, noting that "this application proposes innovative programming that complements existing services." The Commission also noted that, at the hearing, the applicant had emphasized the importance of covering events and activities in the various communities to be served. With regard to the proposed Promise of Performance, the Commission stressed the importance of the applicant's comments to spoken word, foreground and mosaic programming, and stated that it was "concerned about the additional human resources which might be necessary to fulfill these commitments". The Commission therefore expected the applicant to "take all necessary measures to achieve quality programming." With regard to music, the Commission noted that the proposed station would be operated in the "Traditional MOR" format and would present diversified musical fare within the general popular music subcategory. With respect to advertising, the Commission noted that the applicant had proposed to limit itself to the maximum of 4 minutes of restricted advertising per hour allowed by the Commission.
Since its inception, CION-FM has experienced serious and persistent compliance difficulties, despite being cautioned repeatedly by the Commission. The Commission's analyses of the station's programming in December 1982, January and June 1983, and January 1984 revealed ongoing non-compliance with respect to advertising and indicated a musical orientation contrary to its Promise of Performance, which emphasized general popular music. The analyses also showed that the level of French-language vocal music was well below the 75% commitment and that, overall, CION-FM's programming had little community orientation. On each occasion, the licensee failed to reply to the Commission's letters inviting it to comment on the results of the analyses.
In Decision CRTC 84-301 dated 29 March 1984, denying the licensee's application to increase the broadcasting of restricted advertising, the Commission reminded the licensee that the 1982 and 1983 analyses had found that it "was not complying with its condition of licence pertaining to the broadcasting of restricted advertising." The Commission indicated that it would be reviewing the matter further at the next licence renewal. In two subsequent decisions (CRTC 84-625 and 85-149 dated 31 July 1984 and 28 March 1985, respectively), the Commission renewed CION-FM's licence for short periods, reminding the licensee that any failure to comply might compromise the subsequent renewal of its licence.
The Commission conducted another analysis of CION-FM's programming of the week of 16 to 22 September 1985. In Decision CRTC 86-599 dated 26 June 1986, published following the 18 March 1986 public hearing in Montreal, the Commission noted that its analysis of the week in September 1985 "revealed not only that the licensee had failed to apply corrective measures with respect to advertising, but also that ... its performance had deteriorated considerably in virtually every area of its authorised Promise of Performance ...". The Commission added that:
 At the time, almost 75% of the station's air-time consisted of music, and none of its programming was directly related to local concerns. This related serious doubts concerning the station's community orientation and the distinctive nature of its programming.
The Commission also noted that in a program self-assessment of the same week in September 1985, the licensee acknowledged its non-compliance with respect to spoken word programming, hits and traditional and special interest music.
Consequently, the Commission renewed CION-FM's licence for a period of only one year, until 30 September 1987, and required that the licensee "take immediate steps to rectify the serious problems revealed by the analyses ...". The Commission indicated that these corrective measures were to include programming aimed at achieving the minimum objective of 35% spoken word programming set out in the community radio policy and the licensee's commitments to 30% foreground and 85% combined foreground/mosaic programming. In accordance with its Promise of Performance and the Group IV music format, the licensee was also to offer highly diversified music programming using most, if not all, of the subcategories in category 5 (Music-General) and including at least 65% French-language vocal music. The Commission added:
 Moreover, the Commission strongly urges the licensee to take advantage of this short renewal period to undertake an in-depth review of its approach to community radio ... Should the licensee conclude from this review that it cannot or does not wish to opt clearly for a genuine community station, it may choose to submit an application for an independent FM station ...
After signifying its intention to conduct further analyses of CION-FM's programming in order to monitor the station's compliance, the Commission concluded that:
 As part of its consideration of the next licence renewal application, the Commission will invite the licensee to a public hearing at which it will have to demonstrate its compliance beyond all doubt, or show cause as to why its licence should be renewed. The Commission warns the licensee that any deviation from the requirements contained in the present decision, in its conditions of licence, in the community radio policy or the FM regulations, may jeopardize the renewal of its licence.
In CRTC Notice of Public Hearing 1987-29 dated 16 March 1987 regarding the hearing of 12 May 1987, the Commission indicated that it intended to review with the licensee the concerns mentioned in Decision CRTC 86-599 and to discuss the reasons why its licence should be renewed by the Commission. In addition, the Commission indicated that it would discuss the licensee's apparent non-compliance with subsections 8(5) and (6) of the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the regulations), following its failure to submit logger tapes for Saturday, 29 November 1986, from 5:30 p.m. to midnight, and for Friday, 19 December 1986.
In connection with the public hearing of 12 May 1987, the Commission asked the licensee to submit a self-assessment of its performance for the week of 24 to 30 November 1986. The Commission itself conducted an analysis of the foreground programming and French-language vocal music broadcast by CION-FM during that week and a music analysis of 24 November 1986.
Pursuant to its examination of the results of the analyses noted above and the discussions on this matter at the public hearing in May 1987, the Commission notes that, with the exception of advertising, the licensee still has not succeeded in resolving its problems with regard to compliance with its commitments in virtually the same areas noted a year earlier, namely, spoken word and foreground programming, music and community participation.
In its self-assessment of November 1986, the licensee indicated that its level of spoken word was 29%. At the hearing, the licensee stated that it was achieving a level of approximately 28% in this regard and that it would find it difficult to do better without rethinking its current programming. In its new Promise of Performance, the licensee proposed a level of 27.7%, a proposal which had been previously denied in Decision CRTC 86-599 and which would have further widened the gap between the station's performance and the 35% objective set out in the community radio policy.
With respect to foreground programming, the licensee's self-assessment indicated that it was respecting its commitment with a level of 30%, while the Commission's analysis for the same period indicated a level of only 10.3%. At the hearing, the licensee acknowledged that its self-assessment did not reflect the reality of the situation, as there had been a disparity between its plans and what was actually broadcast on the air. It added that at the time of the hearing, its level of foreground programming was approximately 15%. The Commission's analysis also revealed that only 9 foreground programs out of 38 dealt with subjects of local or regional interest and that the majority of the foreground programming was of a musical character. The Commission also notes that in its new Promise of Performance, the licensee once again proposed to broadcast 30% foreground programming and admitted at the hearing that it did not expect to be able to meet that commitment.
With respect to the station's music format, the licensee's self-assessment indicated that it was broadcasting in an unauthorized format (Group I) and was offering little diversity by confining itself to popular music subcategories 51 and 52, in spite of requirements to the contrary. The self-assessment also indicated that the licensee was broadcasting a level of French-language vocal music of 60%, rather than the minimum level of 65% requested by the Commission at the time of the last renewal. Similarly, the Commission's analysis revealed little musical diversity, a predominance of subcategory 52 music (Pop and Rock- Harder), and a French-language vocal music level of 58.2%. The new music format proposed by the licensee was ambiguous with respect to both group and diversity. The Commission also notes that the proposed reduction in the level of French-language vocal music to 60% has been implemented without its authorization and that the licensee stated at the hearing that it would be very difficult for it to respect the level of 15% hits it had proposed.
In terms of community participation, the licensee indicated that 60% of its programming is produced by volunteers, mostly in the evening and on weekends, and that 7 hours of airtime are available to the community for commercial-free programming. The commitment in this respect was 12 hours 10 minutes per week and the licensee is proposing a reduction to 10 hours. The Commission notes that the programs analysed hardly reflected the scale of community participation indicated by the licensee. Foreground programs had only very limited community content and the music analysis of 24 November 1986 indicated that 12 of the 18 hours in that day were devoted exclusively to the broadcasting of musical selections.
With respect to advertising, the Commission's analysis found the station was in compliance on 28 November 1986, but the Commission was unable to conduct a similar verification of 19 December 1986 as a result of the licensee's failure to comply with the regulatory requirements regarding logger tapes. The licensee stated at the hearing that it had taken steps to rectify the situation.
The Commission notes that the new Promise of Performance proposed by the licensee would perpetuate and even exacerbate its current problems, particularly with respect to spoken word programming, French-language vocal music and musical diversity. Furthermore, as the licensee itself admitted at the hearing and given the very limited human resources at its disposal, the licensee would not be able to honour the commitments contained in its Promise of Performance or the requirements of the regulations and the community radio policy.
Having considered all the evidence submitted at the public hearing and the licensee's answers to the questions asked, the Commission has concluded that the renewal of CION-FM Rivière-du-Loup's licence under the present circumstances would not be in the public interest because the licensee has demonstrated its inability to respect its original community service mandate on the basis of which its licence was issued.
Among other considerations, the Commission notes the licensee's inability to comply with its Promise of Performance and conditions of licence, despite the unequivocal formal notice served in June 1986 in Decision CRTC 86-599 and the previous warnings. The Commission notes in this regard that its most recent analyses revealed, for the sixth time in five years, a serious and persistent state of non-compliance with several of its commitments.
Consequently, in accordance with the provisions of the Broadcasting Act, CION-FM Rivière-du-Loup is to cease operation no later than 30 September 1987, the date on which its licence expires.
The Commission received two written interventions regarding this application from local broadcasters Radio CJFP Ltée, on behalf of CJFP Rivière-du-Loup and CHGB La Pocatière, and CIBM-FM Mont-Bleu Ltée, on behalf of CIBM-FM Rivière-du-Loup. Both stressed that CION-FM was subjecting them to unfair competition by failing to respect its mandate as a community station.
Radio CJFP Ltée also underlined the need to deal with this matter in order [TRANSLATION] "to ensure a future for both private radio and community radio, two types of undertakings which can offer complementary services in an area such as ours." The Commission shares the view expressed in this intervention and wishes to emphasize that this decision does not signify that the Commission has concluded there is no place in the Rivière-du-Loup area for a genuine community radio station offering a real alternative to existing radio stations. The Commission would therefore be willing to consider new applications for the operation of a community radio station in accordance with the terms of the community radio policy and proposing commitments commensurate with the human and material resources available in the communities to be served.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

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