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ARCHIVED -  Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2003-497

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Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2003-497

  Ottawa, 7 October 2003
  Big Pond Communications 2000 Inc.
Thunder Bay, Ontario
  Application 2002-0479-3
Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2002-67
1 November 2002
 

CJUK-FM Thunder Bay - Technical change

  The Commission denies the application to change the authorized contours of CJUK-FM Thunder Bay by increasing the station's effective radiated power.
  The application

1.

The Commission received an application by Big Pond Communications 2000 Inc. (Big Pond) for authority to change the authorized contours of the radio programming undertaking CJUK-FM Thunder Bay, a low-power FM station, by increasing the effective radiated power of the station from 37 to 15,000 watts, relocating the transmitter to a site approximately 19 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, and increasing the effective antenna height.

2.

Big Pond stated that the purpose of the proposed changes was to rectify CJUK-FM's signal deficiencies and to provide a reliable signal to all of the Thunder Bay central market area.
 

Interventions

3.

The Commission received 15 interventions in connection with this application. Nine interventions were submitted in support of the application, two offered comments and four expressed opposition.

4.

The interventions offering comments were submitted by Bob Snow and Eddie Doran. They expressed the view that the licensee had not fulfilled its commitment to promote local talent, and that, if the application were approved, the licensee should be required to do so. The interventions in opposition were submitted by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), C.J.S.D. Incorporated (C.J.S.D.), Newcap Inc. (Newcap) and Northwest Broadcasting Inc. (Northwest).

5.

C.J.S.D. is the licensee of CKPR and CJSD-FM Thunder Bay. Newcap is the owner and licensee of CJLB-FM Thunder Bay, and Northwest is the licensee of CFQK-FM which serves Kaministiquia, a summer cottage area near Thunder Bay. C.J.S.D., Northwest and Newcap all expressed the view that Big Pond was attempting to circumvent the low-power radio policy guidelines by using a "back door" approach to obtaining a high-power radio station licence. C.J.S.D. and Newcap further stated that the recent launch of CJUK-FM and CFQK-FM have moved C.J.S.D and Newcap from a "marginally profitable to a significant deficit position" in the market. The interveners were of the opinion that if the Big Pond application were to be approved, the revenues of the high-power radio stations in the market would decline further.

6.

In addition, Northwest stated that the 2002 BBM audience survey results indicate that CJUK-FM currently has a reliable and acceptable signal within the licensed secondary contour area, reaching the "entire city and the rural communities" of Thunder Bay. Northwest suggested that the survey results indicate that no increase in power for CJUK-FM is necessary.

7.

The CAB opposed the proposal on the grounds that, in cases where low-power licensees apply for technical amendments that would result in the attainment of protected status, the Commission should issue a call for competing licence applications in the affected market. The CAB stated that approval of the application would "do a disservice to both the broadcasting system at large, and to audiences served by additional diversity of voice and programming services resulting from the presence of low-power services in the community."
 

The applicant's response

8.

In response to the interveners' concerns, Big Pond stated that, when it applied for a low-power radio station, it did so as a new entrant looking for an affordable way to operate a commercial radio station in the Thunder Bay market, and not intending its application to be a "foot in the door route" to a high-power station. The licensee stated that it competes successfully with the C.J.S.D. and Newcap radio stations by operating in a format that is not available in the market, by hiring experienced and popular announcers, by providing an alternative news voice and by participating in community activities.

9.

With respect to the interveners' suggestions that the proposed power increase is unnecessary, Big Pond stated that many of the supporting interventions indicated that residents of Thunder Bay continue to be frustrated at the poor quality of CJUK-FM's signal. Big Pond stated that the proposed power increase would not affect any area outside the Thunder Bay central area, specifically that the power increase is not intended to add significant new numbers of listeners, but to better serve the existing audience.

10.

With respect to the CAB's concern that Big Pond's application should result in the issuance of a call for competing applications, the licensee stated that such a process would not resolve the poor quality of CJUK-FM's signal, and could potentially further fragment the Thunder Bay audience.

11.

With respect to interveners' comments that CJUK-FM has not fulfilled its mandate to promote local talent, the licensee noted that a condition of CJUK-FM's licence requires the licensee to contribute $4,000 each year to a talent search contest, and stated that it has surpassed that requirement.
 

The Commission's analysis and determinations

12.

The Commission has considered the views of the applicant and of the interveners, including the issue of whether the present circumstances necessitate the issuance of a call for competing applications. In Policy framework for community-based media, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2002-61, 10 October 2002, the Commission noted that, when a low-power station files an application to change its operating class to one that has protected status under the Department of Industry's rules, the Commission could decide to issue a call for competing applications.

13.

The Commission reaches determinations as to whether the issuance of a call is warranted on a case-by-case, taking into consideration a variety of factors. Generally, where the licensee of an advertiser-supported, for profit radio station proposes to change its technical parameters in order to increase the size of the market it serves, the Commission would consider a call for competing applications to be in the public interest. However, before issuing any such call, the Commission must be satisfied that the market has the capacity to sustain the expanded competition for radio advertising revenues that would result from approval, either of the initial application or of that by a competing applicant proposing a new service.

14.

Alternatively, where the licensee of a low-power station seeks authority to make technical changes, not for the purpose of increasing the size of its market, but to overcome deficiencies associated with its existing technical parameters, and where such changes would alter the station's operating class to one that has protected status, the Commission expects the licensee to file compelling evidence that its authorized technical parameters are not adequate to provide the service as it was originally proposed.

15.

CJUK-FM is a commercial, low-power FM radio station. The licensee, Big Pond, has applied to change CJUK-FM's authorized contours by changing the station's technical parameters in a manner that would, incidentally, alter its operating class to one that has protected status. The Commission has noted the applicant's argument that its proposal is not intended to increase the size of its market or add significant numbers of new listeners, but to overcome the technical shortcomings of the station's existing signal.

16.

The Commission has also noted the views of opposing interveners who disagree with the applicant's arguments, and believe that the Commission should issue a call for competing applications. The Commission, however, has determined that the Thunder Bay market does not have the financial capacity to support the competition for advertising revenues that would be created by the entry of a new commercial radio service, and that a call for competing applications would thus be inappropriate at this time. Accordingly, any decision the Commission might render with respect to these opposing views would be of no practical significance.

17.

With respect to Big Pond's arguments about deficiencies associated with the station's present technical parameters, the Commission is of the view that the applicant has not presented compelling evidence of either economic or technical need for the proposed changes to the signal of CJUK-FM.

18.

Accordingly, the Commission denies the application by Big Pond to change the authorized contours of CJUK-FM Thunder Bay by increasing the effective radiated power from 37 to 15,000 watts, relocating the transmitter to a site approximately 19 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, and increasing the effective antenna height.
  Secretary General
  This document is available in alternative format upon request, and may also be examined at the following Internet site: www.crtc.gc.ca 

Date Modified: 2003-10-07