ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2003-571

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Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2003-571

  Ottawa, 14 November 2003
  Charles McPherson, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated
Fort Frances, Ontario
  Application 2003-0568-2
Public Hearing in the National Capital Region
29 September 2003

Native FM radio station in Fort Frances

  In this decision, the Commission approves an application by Charles McPherson, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, to operate a not-for-profit native Type B FM radio station in Fort Frances and the Couchiching First Nation territory. The new station will feature programming in English and in the Ojibwa language.

The application


The Commission received an application by Charles McPherson, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated as Couchiching Community Radio (CCR) for a broadcasting licence to operate an English- and Aboriginal-language Native Type B FM radio programming undertaking in Fort Frances. The applicant proposed to operate the station at 92.3 MHz (channel 222LP) with an effective radiated power of 50 watts.



The applicant indicated that, in each broadcast week, the new station would broadcast an average of 126 hours of programming and proposes to devote a minimum of 5% of each broadcast week to Aboriginal language programming. As the station becomes more established, the applicant also proposes to increase native content programming to better reflect the needs of the native community.


Programming plans indicate that the station would offer live interviews, news, local sports and weather, along with community announcements of upcoming events affecting the Couchiching First Nation.


The applicant stated that it is dedicated to the development of local Aboriginal talent and planned to eventually add more music in the Ojibwa language. It also proposed to broadcast the games of the local Borderland Thunder junior hockey team.


The plans for the new station indicated that it would offer a classic rock music format along with Aboriginal musical talent "for the development of our community and to support the rich culture of our First Nation." Native-language programming would include Story Time, a one-hour Sunday morning reading in the Ojibwa language.


The applicant also planned to offer opportunities for native youth to train for careers in broadcasting. The applicant indicated that broadcasting equipment had been purchased to facilitate a youth training course for local high school students.

Canadian talent development


With regard to Canadian talent development, the applicant indicated that it would ensure that 10% of all music broadcast would be performed or composed by Aboriginal talent.



An intervention in opposition to this application was received from Fawcett Broadcasting Limited (Fawcett), licensee of CFOB-FM Fort Frances. CFOB-FM's current format is "adult contemporary" music and information programming. CFOB-FM broadcasts 79 hours of local, station-produced programming each week, including a strong local news and information orientation with a particular focus on Fort Frances and the surrounding area.


Fawcett noted that the applicant had not provided its sources of revenues. The intervener stated that it was therefore unable to accurately estimate the impact of approval of the application on the financial stability of CFOB-FM, but expressed its opinion that the approval of the application will have a negative impact on that station.


Fawcett is of the view that the proposed station would operate as a commercial station, competing for audience and advertising revenue in the Fort Frances market and surrounding area. Fawcett argued that the applicant has proposed to operate in the same format as that of CFOB-FM. Fawcett also contends that, although the applicant has proposed to operate at low power, the signal will reach the Fort Frances central market area. Fawcett is of the view that these two factors will erode its audience. Fawcett points out that the Fort Frances radio market has been losing revenues and that it anticipates a further loss of a minimum of 10% advertising revenue, if this application were to be approved.


Fawcett further argued that the applicant has additional advantages, namely that it would be eligible to acquire government grants and that it would be able to raise funds through different activities.


Fawcett listed the following reasons why the application should not be approved:
  • The proposed station would be a "Trojan horse". While it would be characterized as a native radio station, it would in fact be a second commercial FM station seeking entry into a market that barely sustains a single commercial Canadian FM station.
  • The stability of the entire Fawcett group of stations is dependent upon the success of each.
  • The Fawcett group derives the vast majority of its revenue from a combined central marketing area with a population of only 32,000. The population of this market has been in decline for the past seven years, including a 5.2% decline in Fort Frances.
  • The Fawcett group's aggregate profit margin in 2002 was 5.2%. Recently announced closures and layoffs in the primary pulp and paper industry will continue to adversely affect profit margins.
  • The applicant should clearly reflect the local community in both spoken word and music programming.
  • There exists the possibility that a net increase in interference toward CFOB-FM would result from the operation of the proposed undertaking.

The applicant's reply


In response to the Fawcett intervention, the applicant indicated that the Couchiching First Nation is comprised of 790 residents within the reservation and another 1,085 Aboriginal persons residing in Fort Frances. The proposed radio station would serve this Aboriginal population with a distinctive voice.


The applicant stated the recent introduction of new businesses had highlighted the growth in the community, and that human resources staff at the paper mill had indicated that, with the current strength in the market no downsizing is planned.


The applicant stated its intention to seek financial support from its band council, and to solicit Aboriginal advertising. It stated that its plans for revenue from under-identified and new advertisers in the community would not unduly affect the commercial activities of CFOB-FM. The applicant is of the view that approval of its application will attract advertisers that will relate to the needs of its distinct audience. It stated that "diversity of voice and content should facilitate growth in the market."


The applicant added that the proposed format and target audience will be distinct from that offered by CFOB-FM, and that it does not expect to compete with Fawcett in relation to format or target audience. "This diversity may draw advertisers but only insofar as our product relates to their needs. As we have distinct products we are unable to see a major impact to Fawcett Broadcasting and alternatively we would expect heretofore unidentified sources of revenue to come to market."


The applicant also maintains its classic rock format along with Aboriginal music and programming is different from the "adult contemporary" musical format offered by CFOB-FM and stated "we will not be carrying the same music as CFOB-FM at any given time." Further, the applicant stated it is "open to increasing the hours of native content."


With respect to the intervener's technical concern, the applicant stated that the Department of Industry (the Department) had concluded that an increase in interference toward CFOB-FM resulting from the operation of the proposed station would not be likely.

The Commission's analysis and determination


The Commission notes that this application is for a native, community-based, not-for-profit radio station, which would derive revenues from government grants, advertising and fundraising activities such as memberships and bingo. Taking into consideration the applicant's distinct target audience and the different sources of revenue available to it, the Commission is of the view that the applicant will not compete with CFOB-FM for listeners and advertisers.


In Conversion of AM radio station CFOB to FM, Decision CRTC 2001-591, 17 September 2001, the Commission approved an application by Fawcett for authority to convert CFOB to the FM band, in order to give its listeners access to a higher quality sound. The Commission notes that in the Rainy River district in 2002, CFOB-FM achieved a 63% reach and an audience share of 46% of all hours tuned, making it the highest ranking radio station in the market.


The Commission also notes that, while it has been unprofitable for a number of years, CFOB-FM is the only local radio station presently serving Fort Frances. Fawcett will continue to be an operator of a station in a single-station market, with the programming flexibility inherent in that status.


For the above reasons, the Commission is of the view that approval of this application is not likely to have a significant negative effect on CFOB-FM.


With regard to the technical concern expressed by the intervener the Commission has taken into consideration the applicant's response on the matter as well as the technical comments it received from the Department. In granting technical approval to the application, the Department concluded that there is no real possibility that a net increase in interference toward CFOB-FM would result from the operation of the proposed undertaking. The Commission therefore determines that Fawcett's concern has been adequately addressed by the applicant.


With respect to the applicant's plans for CTD, the Commission is aware that, as a not-for-profit station, the proposed undertaking would not be able to dedicate a large budget to financial assistance for talent development initiatives, in comparison to those of commercial radio stations. It notes, however, the applicant's plans for the development of Canadian talent, and is satisfied that providing increased airplay for Aboriginal musicians would be beneficial to the careers of such artists.


The Commission is satisfied that the programming service proposed by the applicant is consistent with the objectives of the Broadcasting Act, in particular its support for the provision of programming reflective of Canada's Aboriginal cultures.


The Commission therefore approves the application for a broadcasting licence to operate an English- and Aboriginal-language Native Type B FM radio station in Fort Frances at 92.3 MHz (Channel 222LP) with an effective radiated power of 50 watts.


Consistent with the applicant's commitment, the Commission has imposed, as a condition of licence, that a minimum of 5% of all programming will be broadcast in a Canadian Aboriginal language.

Issuance of the licence


Consistent with the Commission's Native Broadcasting Policy, Public Notice CRTC 1990-89, 20 September 1990, the licence will be for a Native Type B FM radio programming undertaking. The licence will expire 31 August 2010. It will be subject to the conditions set out in the appendix to this decision.


The Commission expects the applicant, within 90 days of the date of this decision, to submit all necessary documentation to support the fact that the licensee will be a not-for-profit organization, whose structure provides for board membership by the native population of the region to be served.


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.


The Commission reminds the applicant 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.


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


Furthermore, the licence for this undertaking will be issued once the applicant has informed the Commission in writing that it 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 14 November 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.
  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: 

Appendix to Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2003-571


Conditions of licence


1. A minimum of 5% of all programming shall be broadcast in a Canadian Aboriginal language.


2. In each broadcast week, a minimum of 35% of all musical selections from Category 2 - Popular music shall be devoted to Canadian selections played in their entirety.


3. The licensee shall 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 approved by the Commission.


4. The licensee shall adhere to the provisions of the CAB's Broadcast code for advertising to children, as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.

Date Modified: 2003-11-14

Date modified: