ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 85-354

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Ottawa, 21 May 1985
Decision CRTC 85-354
Ronald A. East, representing a company to be incorporated
St. Albert, Alberta - 850132200
Following a Public Hearing in Regina on 26 March 1985, the Commission approves the application for authority to acquire the assets of CKST St. Albert from St. Albert Broadcasting Limited and for a broadcasting licence to continue the operation of that undertaking.
The Commission will issue a licence to Ronald A. East representing a company to be incorporated, upon surrender of the current licence. The licence will expire 31 March 1990 and will be subject to the conditions specified in the licence to be issued. This authority will only be effective at such time as the Commission receives documentation establishing that the company has been incorporated in accordance with the application in all material respects.
Applicant's Ownership
The Commission notes that the applicant will be incorporated as a limited partnership, with Balsa Broadcasting Corporation Ltd. (Balsa) as the general partner, and a number of limited partners whose financial investment in the limited partnership shall be proportionate to their shareholdings in Balsa. Control of the applicant will reside with Central Interior Cablevision Ltd. by virtue of the terms of the proposed partnership agreement and its ownership of 51.7% of the voting shares of Balsa. Central Interior Cablevision Ltd. and its principals have ownership interests in a number of broadcasting stations and cable television undertakings in British Columbia. The second largest shareholder of Balsa (33.3%) will be Saskatoon Telecable Ltd., which company is active in radio broadcasting in Saskatoon as well as in the cable industry in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The applicant indicated that it is Balsa's intention to broaden its shareholder base through the addition of key staff as shareholders, so that none of the applicant's limited partners and no single shareholder in Balsa would of more than a 49% interest in the station. The applicant also advised the Commission of its intention to terminate the limited partnership, and to proceed with the general partner as both licensee and owner of CKST, at such time as the station becomes profitable. The applicant is reminded that any such changes would require the prior approval of the Commission.
History of CKST St. Albert
St. Albert Broadcasting Limited was originally licensed by the Commission in April 1978, to provide "a distinctive alternative programming service to St. Albert with programming directed primarily to meet the needs and interests of this particular community" (Decision CRTC 78-275). From the outset, the company experienced financial and other difficulties which led to a transfer of control to QCTV Ltd. in 1980 (Decision CRTC 80-756). In its 1980 decision, the Commission emphasized the importance it placed on the commitment made by QCTV Ltd. "to ensure that CKST provide a truly local service to the City of St. Albert in accordance with the original licensing decision."
Notwithstanding the considerable financial investment in the station made by QCTV Ltd., CKST has to date remained unsuccessful in achieving viability against the strong competition offered by stations operating in the nearby Edmonton market and has continued to incur substantial losses, to the detriment of its ability to fulfill its primary mandate of providing a local St. Albert service.
The Current Application
The Commission considered the current application against the background of events described above. In particular, the Commission examined the strength of the applicant's commitment and ability to reinstate a high quality service directed to the residents of the St. Albert area and, at the same time, to pursue a business plan designed to broaden the station's revenue base and ensure its financial viability. The Commission notes in this regard the following commitment made by the applicant:
 The original purpose of the CRTC in licensing CKST need not be changed ... CKST will be a St. Albert station, programmed and operated to provide the people of St. Albert, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Morinville and surrounding area with a distinct feeling that CKST is "their" radio station. Yes Edmonton listeners and advertisers will be essential to our viability, but the foundation of our success will be the provision of a first class service to our home territory.
The Commission also notes the applicant's plan to hire an experienced radio broadcast executive to manage the station's day-to-day operations, who would have full access to the resources and broadcasting expertise of the applicant's principals, The applicant indicated further that, in accordance with Alberta law, a majority of Balsa's board of directors will be Alberta residents and that, to assist in reflecting the local aspect of CKST, as many as three residents from the St. Albert area will be appointed to serve either as directors or as members of a station advisory board.
The applicant proposes to begin with a basic staff, and then to commence a steady increase in advertising and local information programming directed to St. Albert and area listeners. Initially, and except during the morning and afternoon prime time hours when live programming will originate, CKST will make extensive use of automation equipment now installed at the station. The applicant stated, however, that its goal is "to bring the station to a profit level, then add the cost of additional staff for more local programming." The Commission places considerable importance on this statement by the applicant, and expects it to incorporate additional live, locally-oriented programming into the overall CKST program schedule as the station's revenue base expands.
In the Commission's view, a vital component of the applicant's local program service will be its proposed "Pulse" features. These short audio clips, dealing primarily with St. Albert-oriented subjects, will be largely the responsibility of station staff but will also draw upon contributions from station listeners and other resources available in the community. The applicant stated that it would produce a minimum of 30 of these features per week which will supplement its regular news programming and will "provide a constant flow of ... listener ideas, concerns, complaints, observations and opinions."
CKST will be operated consistently in an adult gold music format which, according to the applicant's market research, will fill an existing void in the market and respond to the needs of a large potential audience in the area. Much of the music broadcast on CKST will be purchased from a syndicated taped music service, into which the applicant will insert the 30% Canadian content required by regulation. In this regard, the Commission reminds the applicant of its commitment to ensure that the Canadian content music is scheduled reasonably throughout all hours of the broadcast day.
Based on the applicant's overall program proposals, its firm commitment to re-establish and maintain the local identity of CKST, the soundness of its business plan outlined at the hearing, and the experience and successful performance of the applicant's principals in the operation of broadcasting undertakings elsewhere in Western Canada, the Commission is satisfied that approval of the application is in the public interest, The Commission will follow closely and with interest the applicant's progress in implementing the proposals described above.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

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