ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-29
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Route reference: 2012-370
Ottawa, 30 January 2013
8045313 Canada Inc.
St. Catharines and the Niagara Region, Ontario
Application 2012-0369-5, received on 24 March 2012
Public hearing in Montréal, Quebec
10 September 2012
English-language AM radio station in St. Catharines
The Commission denies an application by 8045313 Canada Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate an English-language commercial AM radio station in St. Catharines and the Niagara Region, Ontario.
1. The Commission received an application by 8045313 Canada Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate an English-language commercial AM radio programming undertaking to serve St. Catharines and the Niagara Region, Ontario. The new station would operate at 1220 kHz (class B) with a transmitter power of 10,000 watts daytime and nighttime.
2. The proposed station would offer a mix of music from the past and the present, including emerging artists, and would primarily target those between 18 and 45 years of age. The station’s programming would be primarily in the English language, but a maximum of 15 hours per week would consist of third-language programming in Filipino, Tamil, Russian, Portuguese, and South Asian languages.
3. The proposed station would provide 107 hours of local programming per broadcast week, of which 7 hours would be devoted to local news. Three and a half hours of local programming would consist of “Top of the Hour News Briefs.”
4. The applicant proposed to exceed the basic annual contribution to Canadian content development (CCD) required by section 15 of the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the Regulations). Specifically, the applicant would devote, over and above the required basic annual CCD contribution, a total of $47,000 over seven consecutive broadcast years upon commencement of operations. Of this amount, 20% would be devoted to FACTOR or MUSICACTION, with the remaining allocated in varying amounts to community theatre, a community talent show, a variety of youth recording contracts and community sponsorship of Canadian artists.
5. The Commission received two interventions in opposition to the application – one from Canadian Multicultural Radio (CMR), operator of CJSA-FM Toronto, and one from Mr. Rashid Latif Ansari (Mr. Ansari). The Commission also received two interventions commenting on the application, one from Radio 1540 Limited (Radio 1540), licensee of CHIN and CHIN-FM Toronto, and one from Mr. Lee T. The public record for this application is available on the Commission’s website at www.crtc.gc.ca under “Public Proceedings.”
6. CMR raised various concerns about the operation of the applicant’s station CJVF-FM Toronto. In reply, the applicant submitted that comments regarding CJVF–FM were not relevant to its application for a new radio station to serve St. Catharines and the Niagara Region.
7. Mr. Ansari submitted that the applicant had not conducted a third-party survey to support the viability of the proposed station and, in particular, had not submitted evidence that the projected advertising revenue would be achievable from the local market. Mr. Ansari further submitted that the applicant had not provided evidence that the proposed programming would meet the needs of St. Catharines residents or that the proposed format would fill an available niche. In reply, the applicant indicated that it had conducted an “on the street” survey and noted that a previous AM station on frequency 1220 kHz had been popular in the community for 45 years.
8. Radio 1540 did not oppose the licensing of a new station to serve St. Catharines and the Niagara Region but stated that it would be concerned if the licensee had plans to direct its ethnic programming to the Toronto market. Radio 1540 submitted that the third-language programming proposed by the applicant did not reflect the ethnic composition of St. Catharines and the Niagara Region. The intervener added that the signal would be accessible to listeners in Toronto, a market whose composition includes a substantial number of people in ethnic groups that the applicant is proposing to serve. Radio 1540 further submitted that the applicant had provided little information respecting the programming that the applicant intended to provide. In reply, the applicant stated that, while it was true that the signal of the proposed station would come into Toronto and other areas, it intended to focus on its English-language programming and that it planned to primarily serve St. Catharines and the Niagara Region. The applicant stated that it was willing to accept a condition of licence requiring it to devote the majority of its programming to programming that is of direct, particular and specific relevance to residents of St. Catharines and the Niagara Region.
9. Mr. Lee T submitted that, due to nighttime interference from nearby AM stations, another frequency might be better suited for the station. The applicant did not reply to Mr. Lee T’s intervention.
Commission’s analysis and decisions
10. When examining an application for a new commercial radio station, the Commission generally evaluates the evaluation in its entirety, including the proposed programming, and particularly local programming. The Commission also examines plans related to CCD and the quality of the business plan.
11. The Commission is concerned about the lack of detail that the applicant has provided about the programming that the proposed station would broadcast, particularly given the competitive state of the St. Catharines and the Niagara Region radio market. The sample music list that the applicant submitted did not include sufficient detail for the Commission to properly analyse the music format and the Commission is unclear about the applicant’s programming commitments. With respect to spoken word programming, the Commission considers that the applicant’s submissions lacked detail with respect to the type of spoken word programming that would be offered and how the proposed service would meet the particular needs and interests of the communities it proposed to serve. The Commission is further of the view that given the competitive state of the St. Catharines and the Niagara Region radio market, which includes three local commercial stations and receives many stations originating outside the market, it might prove difficult for the proposed station to establish a programming niche that would be attractive to local listeners.
12. In response to concerns expressed by interveners that the station would target third-language programming to those in the Toronto area, the applicant proposed a condition of licence stipulating that “the majority” of its programming would be of direct, particular and specific relevance to residents of St. Catharines and the Niagara Region. Despite this commitment, the Commission considers that the potential for the station to target programming to listeners outside St. Catharines and the Niagara Region remains.
Canadian content development
13. The Commission is concerned about the lack of clarity with respect to the applicant’s commitments to CCD that persists in spite of two requests by Commission staff to the applicant to provide clarification and detail.
14. While the applicant made a commitment to devote $47,000 over seven consecutive broadcast years to CCD over and above the required basic annual contribution provided for under the Regulations, the breakdown of contributions that the applicant provided totalled only $43,400.
15. As well, despite multiple requests for clarification, the applicant did not provide details as to how the initiatives other than the contributions to FACTOR and MUSICACTION would qualify as eligible initiatives as defined in the Commission’s Commercial Radio Policy 2006, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-158, 15 December 2006.
16. The applicant indicated that it had conducted a street survey and cited the performance of CHSC – the local station that had previously operated on 1220 kHz – as evidence of the demand for, and the viability of, the proposed station. The Commission notes, however, that the applicant provided little in the way of empirical evidence demonstrating a demand for, or viability of, its proposed station. As well, the concerns expressed above regarding the applicant’s programming plans call into question the viability of its business plan.
17. The Commission is also concerned that no supporting interventions were submitted by local residents or businesses demonstrating a need or desire for a new station in St. Catharines and the Niagara Region.
18. The Commission is of the view that the applicant has provided insufficient information regarding programming commitments and the eligibility of its proposed CCD initiatives and insufficient evidence to demonstrate the need for and viability of the proposed station. The Commission further considers that the applicant has provided inadequate assurance that the programming of the proposed station would exclusively serve the needs of those living in St. Catharines and the Niagara Region. The Commission considers that the applicant’s responses to interventions and the Commission’s multiple requests for clarification did not satisfactorily address the concerns raised by interveners and the Commission.
19. In light of all of the above, the Commission denies the application by 8045313 Canada Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate an English-language commercial AM radio programming undertaking to serve St. Catharines and the Niagara Region, Ontario.
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