How to Apply for a Broadcasting Licence

The Basics

  • You need a frequency from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada as well as a licence from the CRTC to operate an over-the-air broadcasting station in Canada.
  • Time and costs involved in preparing a licence application will vary. Applicants sometimes engage the services of a broadcasting specialist.
  • Normally, the process takes from 8 to 18 months depending on whether or not there is a competitive process. Read the CRTC's Quarterly Report on Service Standards for Processing Broadcasting Applications for more information.
  • Broadcasting Circular CRTC 2006-1 - Streamlined processes for certain broadcasting applications - expedited process

Forms and My CRTC Account

  • Application forms and information packages are available on the Broadcasting Forms page. Please specify the precise type of service you are proposing: for example, if you want to set up a radio station, is it an AM, Community or Campus FM; very low power FM (10 watts ERP, or less), low power FM (50 watts ERP, or less), or a regular, high-power FM station?
  • Some application forms are available for viewing and downloading under Forms and My CRTC Account on our Internet site.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

You must apply to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for a frequency and broadcast certification. Available frequences are scarce in some major urban areas.

For more information, call Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada toll-free at 1-800-328-6189 or check its website for offices across the country.


Will any application to the CRTC be considered?

Applications must meet certain minimum criteria in the following areas:

  • ownership;
  • financial capacity;
  • technical capacity;
  • programming requirements.

A market study may be required to confirm the demand for the proposed service and to show how it will increase diversity in the market. A market study must also address the effect the new service would have on existing broadcasters.

What happens to an application?

  • CRTC staff review applications to make sure they are complete.
  • Once an application is complete, the CRTC may call for competing applications.
  • An application, or applications in the case of competing applications, will be scheduled for a public hearing.
  • The application(s) is announced in the Canada Gazette at least 60 days before the hearing and the public is invited to provide written comments supporting or opposing the application.

The Public Hearing

  • The applicant and anyone who provided written comments on the application may be asked to appear at the public hearing to provide additional information.
  • Should the CRTC decide it has enough information to make a decision about the application, it may not be necessary for anyone to appear in person.

CRTC Decision

  • After the hearing, the CRTC reviews all of the information and decides to:
    • approve the application;
    • approve part of the application;
    • deny the application.
  • All decisions are publicly announced.
  • If a new broadcasting licence is granted, the new licensee is typically given one year to launch its service.

Participating in the Public Process

Your ideas, opinions and comments help the CRTC:

  • evaluate applications for new broadcasting licences as well as changes to existing ones;
  • evaluate the performance of licensed broadcasters (i.e. radio and television stations), cable companies, multipoint distribution systems (MDS) such as LOOK TV, Skycable and Image Cable and direct-to-home (DTH) satellite services - i.e. Bell ExpressVu and StarChoice;
  • update its policies.

Read how you can participate.