ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 85-13

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Ottawa, 9 January 1985
Decision CRTC 85-13
Moffat Communications Limited Hamilton, Ontario - 831982400
Slaight Communications Inc. Richmond Hill, Ontario - 841386600CKMW Radio Limited Brampton, Ontario - 841666100
At a Public Hearing in Hull on 2 October 1984, the Commission considered competing applications by Moffat Communications Limited, Slaight Communications Inc, and CKMW Radio Limited to amend the broadcasting licences for CHAM Hamilton, CFGM Richmond Hill and CKMW Brampton respectively by changing their frequency to 820 kHz and by modifying the site and power of their transmitters.
The three applications were submitted in response to Public Notice CRTC 1984-98 dated 25 April 1984. In that Notice, the Commission invited licensees of AM radio stations who were contemplating a change from an existing frequency to one of those made available for Canada's use under the terms of a 17 January 1984 bilateral agreement with the United States to apply without delay.
All of the applicants indicated that their proposals were intended, first and foremost, to overcome certain technical problems and limitations associated with their present frequencies and to improve the quality of their signals within the stations' existing service areas. The evidence submitted by the licensees in this regard includes their statements concerning particular reception problems related to the inadequate quality of their signals, together with maps outlining the existing and proposed contours of the stations which purport to show how these problems would be overcome.
In the case of CHAM, Moffat Communications Limited noted that the station's service area encompasses Hamilton and Wentworth, and includes the communities of Stoney Creek and Grimsby. The applicant argued that CHAM was at a significant disadvantage in relation to other stations operating in the Hamilton market area due to the inadequacy of its signal, particularly in the Stoney Creek and Grimsby areas. It indicated that the problems were in large part due to the proximity of the antenna site to high-rise buildings and high-voltage transmission lines, compounded by night-time interference from U.S. stations. The licensee of CHAM claimed that the proposed changes in technical parameters would solve these problems, particularly to the southeast and west of Hamilton. It also indicated that its proposal would offer a comparatively weak and uncompetitive signal in Toronto and would leave viable alternatives for other broadcasters to improve the quality of their signals.
Slaight Communications Inc. stated that the service area of CFGM extends beyond Richmond Hill to encompass the entire Regional Municipality of York. The applicant claimed that CFGM's signal in the York Region is inadequate and continues to deteriorate due largely to technical problems at the existing site and the increasing numbers of high-rise buildings in that area. It stated that the problems are compounded by a deficient night-time signal and are most significant in the northeast, east and southeast portions of York. While the applicant agreed that one effect of its proposal would be to improve significantly the quality of CFGM's signal reception in Toronto, it stated that its primary purpose was to improve service in the York Region.
In discussing current deficiencies in the night-time coverage, the applicant recognized that the proposed change in parameters would still leave service unimproved in some parts of the York Region but expressed the view that these problems could be resolved.
CKMW Radio Limited stated that, while the primary obligation of CKMW is to the Brampton area, the station's service area encompasses the entire Peel Region, including Mississauga. It noted that the station's signal is adequate in Brampton but is weak or inaudible in some parts of Mississauga. The applicant acknowledged that its proposal would allow the delivery of a good quality signal to much of Toronto but argued that this would only be coincidental to the fact that service would improve in the Peel Region.
The Commission considers that a determination of what constitutes the primary service area of a radio station is reached, only in part, through reference to the station's contours. In the Commission's view, a station's service area is essentially defined by what is specified on the station's licence and further clarified by the Commission in its decisions. Such clarification, when provided by the Commission, is for the purpose of ensuring that the broadcasting service offered by the station remains primarily focused on the community which it is licensed to serve.
The Commission notes that the primary service area of CHAM Hamilton, as defined by its licence and in the Commission's decisions, is the City of Hamilton. The Commission also expects CHAM, as part of its mandate, to provide a service directed to the particular needs and interests of listeners in the Greater Hamilton area which includes the communities in Hamilton's immediate vicinity. Similarly, and as stated in Decision CRTC 76-393, "CFGM was originally licensed to serve Richmond Hill and York County and continues to have a responsibility to orient its service primarily to that area." For its part, CKMW is authorized by its licence to serve Brampton; in Decision CRTC 83-673 which approved the acquisition of the station's assets by its present owners and authorized the inclusion of additional ethnic programming in CKMW's schedule, the Commission acknowledged the applicant's plans to direct this programming to Peel. It reminded the applicant, however, that: "it is the community of Brampton, located within the greater Peel region, which is the primary service area of CKMW and that this should clearly be reflected in CKMW's programming particularly in its local news coverage."
The Commission has considered all of the arguments advanced by the licensees in support of their respective proposals, particularly with regard to the extent of the technical constraints they are experiencing in their efforts to provide an adequate service to listeners within their authorized service areas. The Commission has also carefully assessed the effectiveness of their proposals to resolve these problems.
The Commission acknowledges that all of the stations are encountering certain signal coverage deficiencies and limitations. In arriving at its decision, the Commission has taken into account all the above-noted factors and has determined that, on balance, the proposal by Moffat Communications Limited represents the best use of the 820 kHz frequency in that it will improve significantly CHAM's signal quality throughout its service area. In particular, coverage will improve substantially in the Stoney Creek and Grimsby areas which are currently receiving very inadequate service, as well as in other neighbouring communities located on the outskirts of Hamilton to the southeast and to the west.
Moreover, the new technical parameters of CHAM Hamilton should put the station on a more equitable and competitive footing with other Hamilton stations. While the strength of the signal will increase in all directions, the Commission does not consider that this improvement will have any significant competitive impact on other stations located outside of CHAM's service area, due to the relatively greater strength of their signals in the markets they serve.
Accordingly, the Commission approves the application by Moffat Communications Limited to amend the broadcasting licence for CHAM Hamilton by changing the frequency from 1280 kHz to 820 kHz, by increasing the daytime power from 10,000 watts to 50,000 watts, and by changing the transmitter location from a site near Hamilton to a new site at Binbrook.
The competing applications by Slaight Communications Inc. and by CKMW Radio Limited are therefore denied. With regard to the deficiencies in signal coverage experienced by CFGM Richmond Hill and CKMW Brampton, the Commission encourages the licensees to consult with the DOC with a view to finding other viable alternatives to resolve their technical difficulties.
The Commission further wishes to acknowledge the interest and concerns expressed in the many interventions submitted in respect of the three applications.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

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