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ARCHIVED -  Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2003-43

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Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2003-43

Ottawa, 12 February 2003
Russ Wagg, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated
Fort St. John, British Columbia
Application 2002-0242-4
Public Hearing at Toronto, Ontario
17 September 2002

Low-power FM radio station in Fort St. John

The Commission approves the application by Russ Wagg, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, to operate a low-power English-language FM radio station in Fort St. John, British Columbia.

The application

1.

The Commission received an application by Russ Wagg, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated (OBCI), for a licence to operate a low-power English-language FM radio programming undertaking in Fort St. John, British Columbia.

2.

The applicant stated that all of the station's programming would be locally produced. It would offer a solid gold light rock music format that would feature the top hits of the 70's, 80's and 90's as well as current adult contemporary hits, and target the 25 to 49 demographic group. The spoken word programming would include news, weather, sports, road reports and community bulletin boards.

3.

The applicant confirmed that it would operate the proposed station in compliance with the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the Radio Regulations). It stated that at least 35% of the category 2 (popular) musical selections aired in any broadcast week would be Canadian, and confirmed that it would abide by a condition of licence restricting the level of hit material to no more than 49% in each broadcast week.

4.

The applicant indicated that it did not intend to participate in the plan developed by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) for contributions by radio licensees to Canadian talent development. Under this plan, based on the size of the Fort St. John market, a radio licensee would normally be expected to contribute a minimum of $400 in each broadcast year to eligible third parties for the development of Canadian musical and other artistic talent.

5.

Instead, the applicant proposed to direct its Canadian talent development contributions to an annual talent search within the Fort St. John area. The applicant made a commitment to devote $2,500 to the talent search in the first broadcast year of the licence term and to increase its annual contribution by $200 in each subsequent broadcast year, reaching a minimum contribution of $3,700 in the seventh year. Over a seven-year licence term, it would contribute at least $21,700 to this project.

Interventions

6.

Four parties submitted interventions opposing this application: the CAB, Standard Radio Inc. (Standard), licensee of CHRX-FM and CKNL Fort St. John as well as CKBL and CHSU-FM Kelowna, British Columbia, NL Broadcasting Ltd, licensee of CKRV-FM and CHNL Kamloops, British Columbia and OK Radio Group Ltd., licensee of Alberta stations CKYX-FM Fort McMurray and CFGP-FM Grande Prairie.

7.

According to the interveners, applications for licences to operate low-power radio stations should be examined with the same scrutiny and considered in accordance with the same regulatory requirements as proposals for full-power radio stations. The interveners submitted that the Commission should not allow new low-power entrants into the Canadian radio market until it had issued a determination on proposed revisions to its licensing policy for low-power radio stations set out in Proposed policy framework for community-based media, Public Notice CRTC 2001-129, 21 December 2001.

8.

The interveners argued that low-power radio stations should provide niche-focused services, such as tourist and weather information stations, which would offer diversity of voices in the broadcasting system and complement, rather than compete, with existing radio stations. Specifically, the interveners submitted that the applicant's proposed service would be competitive with local radio stations in Fort St. John and that the Commission should issue a call for applications from other parties interested in serving that community. None of the interveners, however, asked to appear at a public hearing.

The applicant's reply

9.

The applicant responded that low-power radio stations are subject to the same regulatory requirements as full-power radio stations. The applicant submitted that, as the only licensed broadcaster serving the area from Chetwynd to Fort Nelson, Standard currently has the complete monopoly of radio and television services in the northeastern region of British Columbia. In the applicant's view, this media consolidation has resulted in a severe reduction in programming reflecting local and community concerns in the Fort St. John market.

10.

The applicant argued that residents of the community would benefit from its proposed radio station, which would be locally owned and operated and which would offer extensive local coverage. It further argued that its proposed solid gold music format would target a market which presently is not being served by either of Standard's stations because they offer a country music format on the AM band and a Top 40 music format on the FM band, respectively. The applicant added that it expected to draw its listeners mostly from people who currently must tune to out-of-market radio stations to hear the music format it was proposing to offer on its station.

The Commission's analysis and determination

11.

Consistent with its practice with respect to applications for new radio stations, irrespective of whether they are proposals for low-power or full-power operations, the Commission has carefully examined this application taking into consideration, among other things, the impact of the proposed station on existing radio services in the market to be served.

12.

The Commission issued its revised licensing policy for low-power radio stations in Policy framework for community-based media, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2002-61, 10 October 2002 (Public Notice 2002-61). As stated in the licensing policy, the Commission will generally require licensees of conventional low-power radio stations to adhere to the Radio Regulations, unless otherwise specified by condition of licence. Among other things, the Commission also stated that it expects applicants for broadcasting licences to operate low-power services to show how their programming proposals will contribute an additional diverse voice to the markets served, present programming that complements that of existing licensees in that market and fulfil demonstrated community needs.

13.

Like higher-power stations, conventional low-power radio stations are subject to the conditions of licence set outin New licence form for commercial radio stations, Public Notice CRTC 1999-137, 24 August 1999 (Public Notice 1999-137).

14.

The Commission notes that, in the present case, the applicant proposed to exceed the minimum contribution to Canadian talent development generally required as a condition of licence with respect to a commercial radio station operating in a small market like Fort St. John.

15.

The Commission also notes that currently Standard is the licensee of the two local radio stations as well as the local television station in the Fort St. John market and, therefore, provides the only local broadcasting voice in the airing and discussion of public issues. The Commission finds that the proposed station would provide listeners with an alternate choice and offer another voice that could reflect a different perspective on various issues of local interest. In addition, the Commission considers that the applicant's plans to introduce a different music format than what is currently found within the market would provide listeners with more choice in music.

16.

The Commission finds that the proposed station, particularly as a low-power operation, would not have an undue negative impact on the operations of the existing commercial radio stations competing for audiences and advertisers within the Fort St. John market. Standard is the licensee of four radio stations in the region including the two in Fort St. John as well as one in Dawson Creek and another in Fort Nelson. Combined, these four stations capture an 84% share of all radio listening in Fort St. John.

17.

The Commission further notes that the Department of Industry (the Department) has indicated that there are other FM frequencies available in the Fort St. John radio market.

18.

In light of the above and consistent with The Issuance of calls for radio applications, Public Notice CRTC 1999-111, 8 July 1999, the Commission determines that a call for competing applications is not necessary.

19.

Based on all of the foregoing, the Commission approves the application by Russ Wagg, OBCI for a broadcasting licence to operate a low-power English-language FM radio programming undertaking in Fort St. John at 100.1 MHz (channel 261LP) with an effective radiated power of 50 watts.

Issuance of the licence

20.

The licence will expire 31 August 2009 and will be subject to the conditions set out in Public Notice 1999-137. The licence will also be subject to the following condition:

The licensee shall, by condition of licence, contribute a minimum of $2,500 in direct cost expenditures to Canadian talent development in the first broadcast year of the licence term, increase its contribution by a minimum of $200 in each subsequent broadcast year, and make a minimum contribution of $3,700 in the seventh broadcast year of the licence term. These contributions shall be directed to an annual talent search in the Fort St. John community, as described in the application.

21.

The Commission reminds the licensee that all direct cost expenditures related to Canadian talent development must comply with the criteria set out in An FM policy for the nineties, Public Notice CRTC 1990-111, 17 December 1990, which describes initiatives generally accepted by the Commission.

22.

The Department has advised the Commission that, while this application is conditionally technically acceptable, it will only issue a broadcasting certificate when it has determined that the proposed technical parameters will not create any unacceptable interference with aeronautical NAV/COM services.

23.

The Commission reminds the licensee that, pursuant to section 22(1) of the Broadcasting Act, no licence may be issued until the Department notifies the Commission that its technical requirements have been met, and that a broadcasting certificate will be issued.

24.

Given that the technical parameters approved in this decision are for a low-power unprotected FM service, the Commission also reminds the licensee that it will have to select another frequency if the Department so requires.

25.

The Commission will only issue the licence once it has received documentation confirming that:
  • an eligible Canadian corporation has been incorporated in accordance with the application in all material respects.
  • the licensee is prepared to commence operations. The undertaking must be operational at the earliest possible date and in any event no later than 24 months from the date of this decision, unless a request for an extension of time is approved by the Commission before 12 February 2005. In order to ensure that such a request is processed in a timely manner, it should be submitted at least 60 days before this date.

Employment Equity

26.

In accordance with Implementation of an employment equity policy, Public Notice CRTC 1992-59, 1 September 1992, the Commission encourages the licensee to consider employment equity issues in its hiring practices and in all other aspects of its management of human resources.
Secretary General
This decision is to be appended to the licence. It is available in alternative format upon request, and may also be examined at the following Internet site: http://www.crtc.gc.ca

Date Modified: 2003-02-12