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ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 99-151

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    Decision

    Ottawa, 21 June 1999

    Decision CRTC 99-151

    Metromedia CMR Montréal Inc.

    Montréal (Verdun), Quebec - 199802195Montréal, Quebec - 199802187Montréal, Quebec - 199807236 - 199807244 - 199811600Montréal, Quebec - 199807228 - 199807210

    15 February 1999 Public Hearing
    in Montréal

    Summary

    The Commission examined the above competing applications for the use of the AM frequencies 690 kHz and 940 kHz in Montréal. Metromedia CMR Montréal Inc. and Metromedia CMR Broadcasting Inc. proposed using the frequencies for their existing AM radio programming undertakings, the French-language service CKVL Verdun and the English-language service CIQC Montréal. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio Nord inc. proposed to use the frequencies for new radio programming undertakings.

    The Commission approves the applications by Metromedia CMR Montréal Inc. and Metromedia CMR Broadcasting Inc., and denies those by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio Nord inc.

    The Commission's decision to approve these applications is based on the following:

    ·  CKVL and CIQC will be able to cover their listening areas better, thereby correcting their longstanding signal reception problems;

    ·  better signal coverage should allow the stations to improve their financial situation, to enhance the diversity of information sources available in Montréal, and compete more effectively;

    ·  both stations propose to operate in the talk format, which is more suitable for AM than music;

    ·  the impact of this decision on other stations should be negligible; and

    ·  the two best AM frequencies still available in Montréal will be utilized.

    Background

    1.  The AM frequencies 690 kHz and 940 kHz became available after Decisions CRTC 97-293 and 97-294 dated 4 July 1997, in which the Commission approved the conversion of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation stations CBF and CBM Montréal to the FM band. In Decision CRTC 97-293, the Commission denied the application by Metromedia CMR Montréal Inc. to convert CKVL to FM, which was competing with respect to technical parameters. The objective of that application was to correct CKVL's longstanding signal reception problems on its existing AM frequency.

    2.  In April 1998, the Commission received licence amendment applications from Metromedia CMR Montréal Inc. (Metromedia CMR), licensee of CKVL Verdun, and from Metromedia CMR Broadcasting Inc. (CMR Broadcasting), licensee of CIQC Montréal, to use the 690 kHz and 940 kHz frequencies, respectively, for their stations.

    3.  Consistent with its practice, the Commission issued a call for applications from parties interested in using the frequencies (Public Notice CRTC 1998-72 dated 23 July 1998). In response to this call, the Commission received three additional proposals: one from the CBC, and two from Radio Nord inc., for a total of five applications to be heard at the February 1999 hearing.

    The applications

    4.  Metromedia CMR, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CMR Broadcasting, applied to amend the licence of CKVL Verdun to allow it to broadcast on 690 kHz instead of 850 kHz, and to increase night-time transmitter power from 10,000 watts to 50,000 watts. The daytime transmitter power would remain at 50,000 watts.

    5.  CMR Broadcasting applied to change the frequency of CIQC Montréal from 600 kHz to 940 kHz and to increase the station's daytime transmitter power from 10,000 to 50,000 watts, and night-time power from 5,000 to 50,000 watts.

    6.  Metromedia CMR and CMR Broadcasting both proposed to offer an all news service with a local and regional focus. The applicants also revised their program format by adopting a "news-wheel" approach. They also insisted that their applications were not severable.

    7.  Radio Nord inc. filed two applications to carry on new AM radio programming undertakings with a country music format: a French-language station on the 690 kHz frequency and an English-language station on 940 kHz, each transmitting at 50,000 watts by day and by night. Radio Nord inc. also stated that its application for a French-language country station was not severable from its application for an English-language station. The applicant was prepared, however, to operate the English-language country station on its own.

    8.  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation proposed to carry on a French-language all-news national radio service on the 690 kHz AM frequency. The Corporation proposed a format based on a "news-wheel" approach. The proposal also called for a French-language all-news national radio network, with the above new undertaking as the mother station. In case the Commission denied its application for the 690 kHz frequency, it also applied for the 940 kHz frequency.

    The Commission's decision

    9.  The Commission approves the applications filed by Metromedia CMR and CMR Broadcasting. The competing applications by Radio Nord inc. and the CBC are consequently denied. Since the CBC had indicated that its network licence application was conditional upon the approval of its proposed all-news service, that application also is denied.

    10.  In approving the applications by Metromedia CMR and CMR Broadcasting, the Commission primarily considered the technical difficulties that CKVL and CIQC had been experiencing for several years. In their applications and at the hearing, the licensees submitted that the AM frequencies currently used by CKVL and CIQC do not allow the stations to provide satisfactory coverage to the market within their coverage areas. International agreements require that they reduce CKVK's transmitter power from 50,000 to 10,000 watts, and CIQC's transmitter power from 10,000 to 5,000 watts, during the hours of darkness. At the lower power levels, they lose a substantial number of listeners, particularly during the morning and afternoon rush hours. This represents a relatively lengthy period between September and April.

    11.  Given the exceptional quality of the 690 kHz and 940 kHz frequencies, CKVL and CIQC should be able to improve their signal reception quality. Since these frequencies are "clear channels", i.e., the contour in which they are free of interference from other stations is very large, the licensees can maintain their transmitter power at 50,000 watts between sunset and sunrise to properly serve their listeners. As well, with their improved signal coverage, the stations should be able to improve their financial situation and compete more effectively in the market.

    12.  The two applicants will set up two separate newsrooms, each with its own director. CKVL will have 22 journalists, nine of whom will serve it exclusively and 13 who will also work jointly for the Canadian Press. CIQC will have nine journalists dedicated to it exclusively and four will be shared with Canadian Press. In addition, Metromedia CMR will hire 16 more journalists to work for CKVL and CIQC.

    13.  The Commission is confident that approval of these applications will benefit the communities within the coverage areas of CKVL and CIQC and the Canadian broadcasting system as a whole.

    14.  Métromédia CMR is authorized, by condition of licence, to simulcast the programming of CKVL on frequencies 850 kHz and 690 kHz for a period of six months. At the end of this period, the Commission expects the licensee to stop using frequency 850 kHz.

    15.  Broadcasting CMR is authorized, by condition of licence, to simulcast the programming of CIQC on frequencies 600 kHz and 940 kHz for a period of six months. At the end of this period, the Commission expects the licensee to stop using frequency 600 kHz.

    16.  In accordance with section 22(1) of the Broadcasting Act, the above-mentioned amendments will only be valid when the Department of Industry certifies to the Commission that a Broadcasting Certificate has been or will be issued.

    17.  The Commission has considered all of the supporting and opposing interventions with respect to these competing applications.

    This  decision is to be appended to each licence. It is available in alternative format upon request, and may also be viewed at the following Internet site:

    www.crtc.gc.ca

    Secretary General