ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-234
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Route reference: Part 1 application posted on 9 July 2012
Ottawa, 9 May 2013
La radio campus communautaire francophone de Shawinigan inc.
CFUT-FM Shawinigan – Licence amendments
By majority decision, the Commission denies an application to change the frequency and the authorized contours of the French-language community radio station CFUT-FM Shawinigan, and to relocate the transmitter site. Although approval of the application would have allowed the licensee to improve the quality of its signal, the Commission finds that the proposed technical parameters would exceedingly expand the service area and could have an undue negative impact on the market.
1. La radio campus communautaire francophone de Shawinigan inc. (Radio Shawinigan) filed an application to:
- change the frequency of the French-language community radio station CFUT-FM Shawinigan, Quebec, from 91.1 MHz (channel 216A1) to 92.9 MHz (channel 225A);
- modify the authorized contours by increasing the effective radiated power (ERP) from 199 to 3,700 watts (maximum ERP from 250 to 3,700 watts with an effective height of antenna above average terrain from 9.2 to 123.7 metres); and
- relocate the transmitter site from Shawinigan to Mont-Carmel.
2. The licensee indicated that the proposed changes would improve the quality of signal in the authorized service area to the benefit of listeners, advertisers and partners residing in the regional county municipalities (RCMs) of Shawinigan, Les Chenaux, Mékinac and Maskinongé, which currently struggle to receive CFUT-FM. According to Radio Shawinigan, these changes would also allow it to improve the financial position of the station and to ensure its long-term viability.
3. The Commission received numerous interventions in support of this application. The public record for this proceeding can be found on the Commission’s website at www.crtc.gc.ca under “Public Proceedings.”
4. In Broadcasting Decision 2011-660,1 the Commission denied an application to amend the broadcasting licence for CFUT-FM. In examining that application, the Commission considered a number of issues, including the technical need, the economic need and the licensee’s compliance with its regulatory requirements. In that decision, the Commission noted that:
- other technical options could have been proposed by the applicant to avoid too large an expansion of its service area;
- the financial projections filed did not sufficiently demonstrate that the technical amendments requested would meet a compelling economic need;
- the amendments would result in adding a radio station to the RCM of Maskinongé, which would reduce advertising sales for the French-language community radio station CHHO-FM Louiseville and thus have an undue negative impact on the latter’s viability; and
- the non-compliance of the licensee regarding the filing of annual returns was closely related to its amendment application.
Commission’s analysis and decisions
5. After examining the public record for this application in light of applicable regulations and policies, the Commission considers that the issue it must address is whether the licensee has taken into consideration the Commission’s conclusions set out in Broadcasting Decision 2011-660, specifically in regard to:
- the expansion of its licensed area;
- economic need; and
- market impact.
6. The Commission notes that analysis of the compliance of CFUT-FM as part of the examination of this application revealed that since the publication of Broadcasting Decision 2011-660, the station has been in compliance with respect to the filing of annual returns.
Expansion of the service area
7. The licensee submitted letters in support of the application, as well as complaints from businesses and listeners concerning the poor signal quality in Shawinigan-Sud, Grand-Mère, Saint-Georges-de-Champlain, Saint-Gérard-des-Laurentides, Lac-à-la-Tortue and Saint-Jean-des-Piles. The licensee also filed maps demonstrating that the existing 3 mV/m and 0.5 mV/m contours serve neither the above-mentioned communities nor the RCMs of Mékinac, Maskinongé and Les Chenaux.
8. The Commission notes that the proposed contours are similar to those that it denied in Broadcasting Decision 2011-660. More specifically, the 3 mV/m contour is almost the same while the 0.5 mV/m contour extends further to the south and fully covers Trois-Rivières.
9. Further, the licensee indicated that it had considered other options to improve signal quality and coverage, including the possibility of adding transmitters so that its signal could be captured by the targeted population. However, according to the licensee, this option would not be viable because it would require a different frequency for each transmitter and due to challenges that would need to be overcome to ensure consistent coverage, given the mountainous terrain included in its service area. Radio Shawinigan instead proposed to increase the height of its transmitter and to reposition it more toward the center of its service area. According to the licensee, the proposed parameters would allow it to adequately cover the aforementioned municipalities without having to resort to transmitters and without having to unduly increase the signal power.
10. Although the licensee filed several complaints to demonstrate the technical need as well as maps showing the current coverage, the Commission finds that the licensee has not addressed the technical issues raised in Broadcasting Decision 2011-660 and that it could have considered other options. Further, the Commission concludes that the proposed contours would greatly increase the coverage of the station well beyond the RCM of Shawinigan. In light of the foregoing, the Commission finds that Radio Shawinigan must consider other technical options that would enable it to offer a quality signal to the entire population residing in its service area without significantly expanding it.
11. The Commission notes that CFUT-FM’s revenues have increased since its launch in 2006. Moreover, the total revenues recorded by CFUT-FM for the station’s first six broadcast years greatly exceed the revenues that the licensee projected for the seventh broadcast year in its 2005 licence application.
12. Further, the licensee seems until now to have been able to generally adjust its expenses to the level of revenues generated by the station. The Commission notes that the projections provided by the licensee forecast an increase in its revenues whether the application is approved or denied.
13. In light of the foregoing, the Commission concludes that the licensee has not demonstrated a compelling economic need to justify the requested technical amendments.
14. In Broadcasting Decision 2011-660, the Commission indicated that the RCM of Maskinongé was already served by CHHO-FM. The Commission was of the view that the amendments proposed by CFUT-FM would have resulted in the addition of a radio station in the RCM of Maskinongé, which could have had an undue negative impact on the viability of CHHO-FM.
15. The Commission notes that the contours proposed in the present application would include a more significant part of the area served by CHHO-FM than that which the Commission denied in Broadcasting Decision 2011-660. Further, the Commission notes that the applicant expressed its intention to focus its marketing activities primarily in the RCM of Shawinigan and “occasionally” in the municipalities of Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc and Saint-Boniface-de-Shawinigan, both located in the RCM of Maskinongé. That said, the applicant could still solicit advertising revenues outside the RCM of Shawinigan.
16. Although CHHO-FM did not oppose this application, the Commission notes that the applicant did not provide any evidence of CHHO-FM’s support or any agreement between the two parties. Consequently, the Commission remains of the view that the addition of a radio station in the RCM of Maskinongé could introduce a competitor for CHHO-FM and could have an undue negative impact on that station. The Commission therefore concludes that Radio Shawinigan did not address the concerns raised in Broadcasting Decision 2011-660 regarding CHHO-FM.
17. After examining the complete record for this application, the Commission finds that the licensee did not adequately take into account the Commission’s conclusions set out in Broadcasting Decision 2011-660. Consequently, the Commission denies the application by La radio campus communautaire francophone de Shawinigan inc. to amend the broadcasting licence for the French-language community radio programming undertaking CFUT-FM Shawinigan.
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