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ARCHIVED -  Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2010-117

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  Route reference: 2009-598
  Ottawa, 26 February 2010
  Rawlco Radio Ltd.
Regina, Gravelbourg, Swift Current and Warmley, Saskatchewan
  Applications 2009-1146-3, 2009-1147-1 and 2009-1148-9, received 14 August 2009
 

CJME Regina – New transmitters in Gravelbourg, Swift Current and Warmley

  The Commission approves the applications by Rawlco Radio Ltd. to amend the broadcasting licence for CJME Regina in order to add FM transmitters in Gravelbourg, Swift Current and Warmley. The implementation of the transmitters in Gravelbourg and Warmley is subject to the notification by the Department of Industry discussed in the decision.
 

The application

1.

The Commission received applications by Rawlco Radio Ltd. (Rawlco) to amend the broadcasting licence for the radio programming undertaking CJME Regina in order to add FM transmitters in Gravelbourg, Swift Current and Warmley.

2.

The transmitters would operate as follows:
  Location Frequency Effective radiated power
  Gravelbourg 107.1 MHz (channel 296C1) 100,000 watts
  Swift Current 101.7 MHz (channel 269C) 100,000 watts
  Warmley 107.3 MHz (channel 297C) 100,000 watts

3.

Rawlco stated that the purpose of the applications was not to address signal deficiencies but rather to extend CJME's News/Talk programming to underserved areas in southern Saskatchewan, namely the communities of Gravelbourg, Swift Current and Warmley. It emphasized that these transmitters will have no local programming and are in no way meant to be local News/Talk services. Instead, the proposed transmitters would provide CJME's News/Talk service focusing on provincial issues and would therefore add to the diversity of radio services in these communities.

4.

The Commission received interventions in support of the applications. The Commission also received an opposing intervention by Fabmar Communications Ltd. and Harvard Broadcasting Inc. (the intervener), who operate stations in Melfort and Regina, Saskatchewan respectively. The interventions and the applicant's reply are available on the Commission's website at www.crtc.gc.ca under "Public Proceedings."

5.

Having examined the applications, the interventions and the applicant's reply, the Commission considers that the primary issues to be determined are as follows:
 
  • Would approval of the applications add to the diversity of programming and news voices in these markets?
 
  • Would approval of the Rawlco applications permit it to circumvent the normal competitive process and gain "back door" entry into the markets of Swift Current and Moose Jaw?
 
  • How do the Rawlco applications compare to previous similar applications?
  Would approval of the applications add to the diversity of programming and news voices in these markets?

6.

Currently, the market of Gravelbourg is served by the French-language community station CFRG-FM, as well as the transmitter CBKF-FM-1, which rebroadcasts the French-language programming of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) station CBKF-FM Regina. Swift Current is served by the English-language commercial stations CKFI-FM and CIMG-FM, which are operated by Golden West Broadcasting Ltd. (Golden West), as well as by CBK-FM-4, which rebroadcasts the English-language programming of the CBC station CBK-FM Regina. Warmley currently has no local radio station. However, the Commission notes that the proposed transmitter in Warmley would reach the communities of Estevan and Weyburn, each of which is currently served by two Golden West stations, namely CJSL and CHSN-FM Estevan and CKRC-FM and CFSL Weyburn.

7.

Consequently, although the intervener submitted that approval of the applications would not contribute to the diversity of voices, the Commission notes that these communities have little or no access to commercial stations aside from those operated by Golden West. The Commission also notes that Golden West submitted an intervention in support of the applications, evidence that it sees the proposed programming as distinct from that which it currently offers. Given that Golden West is the sole commercial operator in these markets at this time, the Commission considers that approval of the applications would add to the diversity of programming and news voices in these markets. Specifically, CJME's News/Talk service would offer programming that is not currently available and that could be of great interest to listeners in Gravelbourg, Swift Current, Warmley and their surrounding areas, as indicated by the surveys commissioned by the applicant.
  Would approval of the Rawlco applications permit it to circumvent the normal competitive process and gain "back door" entry into the markets of Swift Current and Moose Jaw?

8.

The intervener submitted that approval of Rawlco's applications would permit the applicant to circumvent the normal competitive process and gain "back door" entry into the markets of Swift Current and Moose Jaw (through the Swift Current transmitter). It argued that this would be particularly egregious in the case of Moose Jaw, which the Commission determined in Broadcasting Decision 2006-190 could not support a new player, instead granting a third licence to Golden West. The intervener maintained that if the Commission considered that service should be enhanced in these markets, it should be done through a competitive call for originating stations, not by extending an out-of-market service.

9.

In reply, Rawlco noted that CJME already has and will continue to have a very good signal in Moose Jaw. According to Rawlco, the proposed FM signal from Gravelbourg (120 kilometers away) would be inferior to its current AM signal and would therefore have no impact on the Moose Jaw radio market.

10.

Based on the proposed contours, the Commission agrees with Rawlco that it would not be gaining "back door" entry into the Moose Jaw market as a result of the Commission's approval of its applications. Specifically, the Commission notes that CJME currently covers Moose Jaw with its 15 mV/m contour, which provides a very good signal. Furthermore, Moose Jaw is located just beyond the edge of the 0.5 mV/m contour of the proposed Gravelbourg FM transmitter, which would not be enough to provide reliable reception of the FM signal in that city.

11.

Finally, the Commission notes that under the revised policy concerning the issuance of calls for radio applications set out in Broadcasting Public Notice 2006-159, proposals for new radio undertakings (including AM to FM conversions) will generally result in a call for applications with the following exceptions:
  • proposals with very little or no commercial potential or impact, including some low-power applications;

  • proposals to provide the first commercial service in a market;

  • proposals by the sole commercial operator in a market to improve service to the market, either through an AM to FM conversion or a new station;

  • proposals to provide the first commercial service in the other official language in a market or to convert the only station in the other official language from AM to FM; and

  • proposals to convert stations from AM to FM in markets with two or fewer commercial operators.

12.

In the present case, no calls were issued as the applications are for transmitters in locations where spectrum scarcity is not an issue.
  How do the Rawlco applications compare to previous similar applications?

13.

According to the intervener, Rawlco is seeking to establish a full-power News/Talk network that would reach well beyond CJME's licensed service area. The intervener stated that Rawlco has not demonstrated technical needs that would justify approval of such an extension and submitted that the Commission has consistently denied such applications. Specifically, it referred to Broadcasting Decisions 2005-82, 2007-350 and 2008-25, in which the Commission denied the addition of FM transmitters in Penticton and Vernon, Winnipeg and Owen Sound to rebroadcast the programming of CILK-FM Kelowna, CJOB Winnipeg and CFOS Owen Sound respectively. The intervener also submitted a list of "very limited circumstances" where the Commission has approved these types of applications:
  • the proposed FM transmitter improves the signal quality and coverage of the originating AM station and is supported by legitimate technical evidence;

  • the application is for low-power FM transmitters and limited to the confines of the existing AM signal it is supplementing; and

  • the end-result of the application will not be to extend the reach of the station via the FM band into highly populated markets in adjacent areas that either have or could support their own originating radio service.

14.

In its reply, Rawlco emphasized that southern Saskatchewan has a small population spread over a vast area and that there are still a number of unused FM frequencies in the province. It submitted that as a result the precedents cited by the intervener are not relevant, noting for example that a low-power transmitter using one of the last available FM frequencies in southern Ontario will likely cover a larger population than a 100,000 watt transmitter in southern Saskatchewan. Rawlco argued that a precedent that would be more closely related to its own applications was the approval in Decision 2001-747 of an FM station in Melfort with FM transmitters in Waskesiu Lake and Dofeo (situated 120 kilometers south of Melfort), which is currently operated by Fabmar Communications Ltd. Rawlco reiterated that it was not trying to compete with local broadcasting or to establish local FM stations in other markets but rather to establish a province-wide News/Talk service focusing on provincial issues that would complement the local radio stations. It emphasized the valuable role played by CJME in allowing the people of the province to debate current affairs. According to Rawlco, the transmitters would add to the diversity of voices in the proposed markets without hurting the local broadcasters. Additionally, it noted that the economics of News/Talk would be prohibitive for a local broadcaster and argued that this might be the only opportunity for these communities to have access to this type of programming.

15.

With respect to the CILK-FM precedent raised by the intervener, the Commission notes that Broadcasting Decision 2005-82 noted not only that the applicant's proposals would result in a significant increase to the station's coverage into the adjacent radio markets of Penticton and Vernon but also that the applicant indicated an interest in introducing local programming into these markets in the future. The Commission therefore concurred with the concerns expressed by the interveners that the applicant's proposals would result in the station's entry into the affected markets in a manner that would circumvent the normal competitive process. In the present case, the Commission notes Rawlco's statements that the transmitters will have no local programming and are in no way meant to be local News/Talk services. The Commission further notes that since the programming offered by the FM transmitters would not be considered local programming, the applicant could not solicit or accept local advertising from the markets in which the proposed transmitters would operate.

16.

With regard to the CJOB precedent raised by the intervener, the Commission notes that the application sought to address signal deficiencies arising from night-time signal reductions required by condition of licence. The Commission noted in Broadcasting Decision 2007-350 that night-time reception of CJOB in the south of Winnipeg had likely always been poor and that Winnipeg's urbanization was not a recent phenomenon. While the Commission has generally approved applications for nested FM transmitters in cases where the applications were made to supplement coverage in principal market areas, such applications, unlike the CJOB application, proposed Class A or low-power transmitters. The Commission also noted that the licensee owned and operated one AM and two FM stations in the Winnipeg market. While the Commission recognized that the station would continue broadcasting as an AM service, it agreed with some of the interveners and considered that the addition of the proposed transmitter under the technical parameters proposed would result in the licensee's having three FM presences in Winnipeg.

17.

Similarly, with respect to the CFOS precedent cited by the intervener, the Commission notes that the application also sought to address alleged daytime and night-time signal deficiencies. The proposed FM transmitter was to provide listeners with consistent reception in Owen Sound and throughout the Grey Bruce Region. The Commission noted in its decision that the type of signal deficiency identified by the licensee was not a new or unique issue but a problem associated with broadcasting in the AM band that all AM broadcasters face. It also noted that the area to be covered by the proposed 3 mV/m contour of the FM transmitter would exceed the area covered by the 15 mV/m daytime contours of CFOS. Finally, as in the case of the CJOB application, the Commission took into consideration the fact that the licensee owned and operated one AM and two FM stations in the Owen Sound market. While it recognized that CFOS would continue broadcasting as an AM service, the Commission agreed with opposing interveners and considered that the addition of the proposed transmitter under the technical parameters proposed would result in the licensee's having three FM presences in Owen Sound. The Commission felt that this additional presence would give the licensee an advantage in the market and could limit the future diversity of voices in the market.

18.

In the present case, the Commission notes that there is no scarcity of frequencies in southern Saskatchewan. Therefore, the Commission is not concerned that approval of the proposed transmitters would have a significant impact on frequency availability in the communities of Gravelbourg and Swift Current, as well as in the communities of Estevan and Weyburn, which are found in the proposed Warmley transmitter's 0.5 mV/m contour. Further, given the strong presence of Golden West in the markets of Swift Current, Estevan and Weyburn and the nature of the proposed programming, the Commission concludes that approval of the proposed transmitters would not have an undue impact on existing commercial stations in those markets.

19.

The Commission notes that approval of this application would create a precedent, as it would be approving three high-power transmitters to re-transmit content from an originating station with the transmitter coverage falling outside the CJME market. The Commission notes, however, that high-power transmitters offer greater coverage in sparsely populated areas, as indicated by Rawlco in its reply, and would appear to provide a reasonable technical solution to extend the coverage of CJME to the southern portion of Saskatchewan. Additionally, the Commission notes that it has approved similar applications to add transmitters to extend the coverage area of a commercial radio station. In Broadcasting Decision 2006-310, for example, it approved the addition of transmitters in Peace River, High Prairie, Fairview, Valleyview and Saddle Hills, Alberta to rebroadcast the programming of CKYL Peace River. The decision noted that while the application proposed to use five different FM frequencies for the rebroadcasting of a single station, the communities to be served were located far from large population centers. Finally, the Commission noted the number of drop-in frequencies available in the area and concluded that future growth of the Peace River radio market would not be compromised by approval of this application. Similarly, in Broadcasting Decisions 2008-315 and 2008-316, the Commission approved applications by Rawlco to operate FM transmitters at Big River, Saskatchewan to rebroadcast the programming of CHQX-FM and CKBI Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The applications were not based on technical needs but rather were to extend CHQX-FM and CKBI's signals to the community of Big River.
 

Conclusion

20.

The Commission is of the view that in this particular instance, approval of the applications would be in line with previous exceptions. In reaching this conclusion, the Commission has taken into consideration the limited number of Canadian radio services currently available in the proposed markets, the nature of the programming to be provided by CJME (News/Talk format) and the number of frequencies still available in the communities in question.

21.

The Commission concurs with the applicant that the proposal might represent the only opportunity for these communities to have access to this type of programming, particularly in light of the economics of the News/Talk format. The Commission notes, however, that there is currently no condition of licence that requires CJME to operate in a News/Talk format. Consequently, in order to ensure that the News/Talk format will remain available to the communities of Gravelbourg, Swift Current and Warmley, the Commission has decided to impose the following condition of licence:

The authorization to operate the Swift Current, Warmley and Gravelbourg transmitters is subject to the condition that CJME Regina devote more than 50% of the broadcast week to programming drawn from category 1 (Spoken Word).

22.

In light of all of the above, the Commission approves the applications by Rawlco Radio Ltd. to amend the broadcasting licence for CJME Regina by adding FM transmitters in Gravelbourg, Swift Current and Warmley. The transmitters will operate under the following parameters:
  Location Frequency Effective radiated power
  Gravelbourg 107.1 MHz (channel 296C1) 100,000 watts
  Swift Current 101.7 MHz (channel 269C) 100,000 watts
  Warmley 107.3 MHz (channel 297C) 100,000 watts

23.

With respect to the transmitter in Swift Current, the Department of Industry (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.

24.

The implementation of the transmitters in Gravelbourg and Warmley is subject to the notification by the Department discussed in paragraph 25.

25.

The Commission reminds the licensee that pursuant to section 22(1) of the Broadcasting Act, this authority will only be effective when the Department notifies the Commission that its technical requirements have been met and that a broadcasting certificate will be issued. Therefore, in the absence of the notification by the Department, the applicant will not be able to implement the transmitters approved in this decision.

26.

The transmitters 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 26 February 2012. In order to ensure that such a request is processed in a timely manner, it should be submitted in writing at least 60 days before that date.
  Secretary General
 

Related documents

 
  • CKBI Prince Albert – New transmitter at Big River, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-316 , 19 November 2008
 
  • CHQX-FM Prince Albert – New transmitter at Big River, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-315 , 19 November 2008
 
  • CFOS Owen Sound – New transmitter in Owen Sound, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2008-25, 6 February 2008
 
  • CJOB Winnipeg – New FM transmitter in Winnipeg, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2007-350, 7 September 2007
 
  • Revised policy concerning the issuance of calls for radio applications and a new process for applications to serve small markets, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-159, 15 December 2006
 
  • CKYL Peace River – New FM transmitters at Peace River, High Prairie, Fairview, Valleyview and Saddle Hills, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2006-310, 24 July 2006
 
  • CILK-FM Kelowna – Transmitters in Penticton and Vernon, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2005-82, 28 February 2005
 
  • New FM radio station in Melfort, Decision CRTC 2001-747, 7 December 2001
  This decision is to be appended to the licence. It is available in alternative format upon request and may also be examined in PDF format or in HTML at the following Internet site: http://www.crtc.gc.ca.