ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2015-107
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Route reference: Part 1 application posted on 10 September 2014
Ottawa, 27 March 2015
City Church Halifax
Spryfield, Nova Scotia
CIRP-FM Spryfield - Technical changes
The Commission denies an application to change the authorized contours of the English-language, low-power specialty (Christian music) radio station CIRP-FM Spryfield.
- In Broadcasting Decision 2013-723, the Commission denied an application by City Church Halifax (City Church) to amend the broadcasting licence and change the authorized contours for the English-language, low-power specialty (Christian music) radio station CIRP-FM Spryfield by changing its frequency from 94.7 to 97.5 MHz and increasing its effective radiated power (ERP) from 50 to 454 watts.
- While the Commission acknowledged CIRP-FM’s legitimate technical issues, it considered the proposed changes to constitute an inappropriate use of spectrum and noted that approval of its application would have permitted the station to expand its presence into the Halifax radio market without undergoing the Commission’s competitive-entry process.
- Subsequently, City Church filed an application to change the authorized contours of CIRP-FM by changing the channel class from LP (unprotected) to A (protected) and the antenna’s radiation pattern from non-directional to directional, and by increasing the average ERP from 50 to 452 watts (maximum ERP from 50 to 700 watts) and the effective height of antenna above average terrain (EHAAT) from 22.1 to 25.1 metres. All other technical parameters would remain unchanged. The Commission did not receive any interventions regarding this application.
- The applicant indicated that the proposed changes were not necessary for the financial viability of CIRP-FM, but to resolve technical deficiencies and to yield an improved quality of signal within the authorized coverage area in Spryfield and neighbouring communities. It added that the poor signal reception was attributable to the unique topography of the Spryfield region.
When a licensee files an application to change its authorized contours, the Commission expects it to demonstrate a compelling technical or economic need justifying the proposed technical change. In light of this expectation and the information provided in the application, the Commission considers that the issues to be addressed are as follows:
- Did the applicant demonstrate a compelling technical need for the proposed changes?
- Did the applicant propose an appropriate technical solution?
- Would approval of the application compromise the integrity of the Commission’s licensing process?
- To demonstrate the technical need for the proposed changes, City Church submitted letters of support and complaints claiming reception issues, mainly within the primary service contour. After examining the licensee’s submissions, the Commission is of the view that the station suffers from legitimate reception issues-particularly toward the north-west, west and south-west. It therefore finds that the applicant has demonstrated a compelling technical need.
- The proposed changes would enable the station to reach the neighbouring communities it wishes to serve and to improve service to areas in close proximity. However, the changes would also result in CIRP-FM expanding its coverage north into the Halifax radio market, giving it access to a significant portion of the downtown population.
- City Church outlined in its application other possible solutions that it had explored to improve its reception issues, including alternate transmission sites, various power scenarios and erecting a tower at the existing transmitter site. It stated that these solutions were not economically feasible and that it had presented the best option for providing a better service to its licensed service area.
- However, the Commission considers that there are other solutions that could improve service to Spryfield and neighbouring communities while avoiding an expansion of the service toward the Halifax market area. Accordingly, it finds that the applicant’s technical solution is not appropriate.
Integrity of the licensing process
- The Commission notes that when a radio licensee applies for amendments that would change a station’s status from unprotected to protected, it is concerned that the licensee may be attempting to enter the market on a protected basis without having to compete with other applicants.
- Given that CIRP-FM was originally licensed to serve the community of Spryfield and that the proposed changes would allow the station to expand in the Halifax radio market, the Commission finds that approval of the application would compromise the integrity of the competitive-entry licensing process.
- In light of all of the above, the Commission denies the application by City Church Halifax to change the authorized contours of the English-language, low-power specialty (Christian music) radio programming undertaking CIRP-FM Spryfield by changing the class from LP (unprotected) to A (protected) and the antenna’s radiation pattern from non-directional to directional, and by increasing the average ERP from 50 to 452 watts (maximum ERP from 50 to 700 watts) and the EHAAT from 22.1 to 25.1 metres.
- The Commission notes that if City Church wishes to file a similar application in the future, it will have to do so by filing an application to obtain a new broadcasting licence, in accordance with the new process for low-power radio stations seeking protected status set out in Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2014-554.
- A targeted policy review of the commercial radio sector, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2014-554, 28 October 2014
- CIRP-FM Halifax - Licence amendment and technical change, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-723, 19 December 2013
- Christian music FM radio station in Spryfield, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2011-591, 16 September 2011
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