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ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 91-192

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Decision

Ottawa, 10 April 1991
Decision CRTC 91-192
Revocation of the licence for the radio broadcasting undertaking CKBS Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, issued to Radio St-Hyacinthe (1978) Ltée
On 16 January 1991, Radio St-Hyacinthe (1978) Ltée (Radio St-Hyacinthe) requested the revocation of the AM radio broadcasting licence it holds for station CKBS Saint-Hyacinthe. The licensee proposed to continue serving this community through CFEI-FM Saint-Hyacinthe, which it operates.
Radio St-Hyacinthe explained that this restructuring of its radio operations was necessitated by its unsuccessful efforts over the past few years to revive station CKBS. Owing to the present state of the economy and competition within the market, the licensee has determined that the Saint-Hyacinthe area market cannot support two local radio stations, even when operated on a joint basis. It noted that such comparable markets as Shawinigan, Joliette, Granby and Saint-Jean are served by only one local station. The licensee said it can serve the local population better by focusing its efforts exclusively on the FM station. CKBS began broadcasting in 1959, while CFEI-FM commenced operations in March 1988. A short time later, on 10 June 1988 (Decision CRTC 88-406), the Commission approved applications by Radio St-Hyacinthe for authority to transfer control of CKBS and CFEI-FM to Cogeco Inc. (Cogeco). Through various subsidiaries, Cogeco operates three other radio stations and four television stations in Quebec. At the time it acquired control of Cablenet Limited in 1990 (Decision CRTC 90-744), Cogeco became the fifth largest multiple system cable television operator in Canada, serving some 400,000 subscribers.
The Commission is particularly concerned about the closure of CKBS because it comes only two and one-half years after the station was acquired by Cogeco, and because it may have an impact on local radio service.
With regard to transfers of control or ownership, the Commission considers that the onus is on the applicant to demonstrate that the application filed represents the best proposal in the circumstances and that the transaction is in the public interest. In transactions of this kind, the Commission normally requires the applicant to propose a package of benefits commensurate with the size and nature of the transaction and that the benefits be implemented according to the timetable outlined in the application.
Decision CRTC 88-406, which authorized the acquisition by Cogeco of CKBS and CFEI-FM, stated that "the Commission has carefully assessed Cogeco's financial and managerial resources and its commitments with respect to local service". Cogeco pledged to honour all of the conditions and commitments with respect to each of the stations, to maintain and enhance their local involvement and distinctive character, and to contribute to the development of the FM station. The quantifiable benefits of the transaction outlined by Cogeco represented $195,000 over five years.

The Commission notes that the licensee has renewed its pledge that its commitments relating to the transfer of control will be honoured. The Commission, however, has serious concerns about the situation that has developed and its impact on the service provided to the public. It will thus examine the situation carefully at the next renewal of the CFEI-FM licence, which expires 31 August 1992.
Moreover, when considering future applications for authorization to transfer ownership or control of broadcasting undertakings, the Commission will take into account the applicant's commitments relating to the maintenance of the service concerned.
Pursuant to the licensee's application, and in accordance with paragraphs 6(1)c) and 15(1)a) of the Broadcasting Act and on the recommendation of its Executive Committee, the Commission hereby revokes the licence issued to Radio St-Hyacinthe (1978) Ltée for CKBS.

Allan J. Darling
Secretary General