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ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 97-119

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Decision

Ottawa, 27 March 1997
Decision CRTC 97-119
Coopérative de travail de la radio de Granby
Granby, Quebec - 199610522Granby and Waterloo, Quebec - 199605383
Competing applications for a new French-language FM radio programming undertaking
Following a Public Hearing in Montréal beginning on 2 December 1996, the Commission approves the application by the Coopérative de travail de la radio de Granby (the Coopérative) for a broadcasting licence for a French-language FM radio programming undertaking at Granby, on the frequency 104.9 MHz, channel 285A, with an effective radiated power of 200 watts.
The Commission notes that the Department of Industry has advised that the channel to be used by the station will be 285A rather than 285B1, as had been indicated in CRTC Notice of Public Hearing 1996-12 dated 4 October 1996.
Subject to the requirements of this decision, the Commission will issue a licence expiring 31 August 2002. This licence will be subject to the conditions specified in this decision and in the licence to be issued. The licence term granted herein, while less than the maximum of seven years permitted under the Broadcasting Act, will enable the Commission to consider the renewal of this licence in accordance with the Commission's regional plan and to better distribute the workload within the Commission.
The competing application by Radio Concept inc. (Radio Concept) to carry on a French-language FM radio programming undertaking at Granby, on the same frequency as proposed by the Coopérative, and a transmitter at Waterloo is denied.
Procedure
At the hearing, the Coopérative raised an objection regarding procedure, alleging that Radio Concept had filed several significant amendments to its application, particularly relating to news and spoken word content. The Coopérative argued that the CRTC Rules of Procedure state that an application may not be amended or varied after the Notice of Public Hearing is published, except with the permission of the Commission. The Coopérative stated this was a last-minute manoeuvre by Radio Concept to improve its application, after reading the Coopérative's filed application. The Coopérative, therefore, asked the Commission to deny the amendments.
In reply, Radio Concept argued that the new components were not amendments, but merely details elaborating on its original application, as published. In the Commission's view, the details provided by Radio Concept do not amend or vary the application, and accordingly, the Commission does not consider that approval was necessary to add these new components to the applicant's file. Alternatively, even if the new components constituted amendments, the Commission considers, in the circumstances, that adding these components to the file would not have deprived interveners of a reasonable opportunity to take part in the public process, and that authorizing the additions would have been in the public interest.
The Applications
The Granby market was served for many years by a local radio station, CHEF Granby. Les Journaux Trans-Canada (1982) inc., licensee of CHEF, closed the station in January 1996, citing as reasons economic factors and the weakness of the advertising market in the Granby area.
The Commission has assessed the potential of the Granby market. The assessment concluded that the market's advertising base can support one local radio station, despite competition for listeners by out-of-market radio stations such as CITE-FM-1 Sherbrooke and CKOI-FM Verdun, and the print and other broadcast media in Granby which generate some of their revenue there. The Commission considers, however, that the market cannot support more than one station. Therefore, although both applicants filed acceptable proposals, the Commission notes that the Coopérative and Radio Concept applications are mutually exclusive in terms of technical characteristics and also in terms of market.
In assessing the two applications, the Commission considered several factors, including the applicants' experience in broadcasting and their commitment to the proposal they put forward; the programming proposed; and the financial forecasts submitted for each.
The proponents' experience in broadcasting is a key factor to the success of the plan. In assessing the Coopérative's application, the Commission considered the fact that the six Coopérative owners are former employees of CHEF, and between them, possess several years of broadcasting experience in the Granby market. The Commission also considered the fact that all Coopérative employees must also be members of the Coopérative, a fact which adds to the applicant's commitment to the project.
With regard to programming, both applicants committed to produce and broadcast 126 hours a week of local programming. Sixty-five percent of the Coopérative's news will be locally produced and 35% will be regional; whereas, Radio Concept planned to broadcast only 15% local news and 15% regional news each week, with most news programming coming from national sources.
At the hearing, the Coopérative indicated that the programming on its station will be complementary to that of the other stations available in the market. It will broadcast more live programs than pre-recorded programs. The Coopérative also indicated that all musical selections will be chosen locally to suit the tastes of its audience. Its local programming will include spoken word content that addresses the interests of the community, such as local weather and sports reports as well as interviews with local and regional figures in the news. In addition, the station will offer free air time to allow cultural, social and community groups to promote their activities on its program entitled "Ce qui se passe chez nous" [community events]. The Coopérative added that it plans to get involved in community life by attending press conferences and cultural, social, community and sports events in the area. The Commission is of the view that the Coopérative's proposal was better structured and planned in terms of programming.
At the hearing the Commission also considered the financial aspect of the applications. Having examined the applicants' proposals, and being aware of the level of expenditures incurred by the defunct station CHEF Granby, the Commission was concerned that the applicants had underestimated their expenditures. The Coopérative, in addressing the Commission's concern, argued that the use of computers, new work methods, reduced staff, and participation in the program "Aide aux travailleurs indépendants" [assistance for self-employed workers], which provides 55% of the individual's pay for the first year, will help to keep the station's expenses lower than those of CHEF. The Coopérative added that the owner-employees of the station agreed to a variable pay scale indexed to monthly revenues. The Commission is satisfied with the explanations provided by the Coopérative at the hearing. The Commission has taken into account the points raised by Radio Concept at the hearing, but has concluded that the Coopérative's proposal is financially viable.
In light of all of the foregoing, the Commission is of the view that the Coopérative's application is the best proposal in the circumstances and that the public interest will be better served by this approval.
It is a condition of licence that the licensee broadcast 126 hours of local programming each week.
It is a condition of licence that the station not operate in the specialty format, as defined in Public Notice CRTC 1995-60 or as modified from time to time by the Commission.
It is a condition of licence that the licensee adhere to the guidelines on gender portrayal set out in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) "Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming", as amended from time to time and accepted by the Commission. The application of the foregoing condition of licence will be suspended as long as the licensee remains a member in good standing of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
It is also a condition of licence that the licensee adhere to the provisions of the CAB's "Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children", as amended from time to time and accepted by the Commission.
In Public Notice CRTC 1992-59 dated 1 September 1992 and entitled "Implementation of an Employment Equity Policy", the Commission announced that the employment equity practices of broadcasters would be subject to examination by the Commission. In this regard, the Commission encourages the applicant to consider employment equity issues in its hiring practices and in all other aspects of its management of human resources.
This authority will only be effective and the licence will only be issued at such time as construction of the undertaking is completed and it is prepared to commence operation. If construction is not completed within twelve months of the date of this decision or, where the applicant applies to the Commission within this period and satisfies the Commission that it cannot complete construction and commence operation before the expiry of this period, and that an extension of time is in the public interest, within such further periods of time as are approved in writing by the Commission, the licence will not be issued. The applicant is required to advise the Commission (before the expiry of the twelve-month period or any extension thereof) in writing, once it has completed construction and is prepared to commence operation.
The Commission acknowledges the written interventions received regarding these applications.
This decision is to be appended to the licence.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General