ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1985-194

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 26 August 1985
Public Notice CRTC 1985-194
Table of contentsPages
1. History 2
2. The 23 April Public Hearing 4
3.The Commission's Criteria for Community Radio 8
i. New Definition 9 ii. Role and Mandate 9 iii. Community Support 10 iv. Special FM Licence 11 v. Types of Licences 12 vi. Commercial Activity 14 vii. Spoken Word 15 viii. Foreground and Mosaic Formats 16 ix. Music 16 x. Hours of Broadcasting 17 xi.Networks and Acquired Program 17 ming xii. Local Artists and Musicians 18 xiii. AM Community Radio 18 xiv. Student Radio 19
4. Implementation 19
For related documents: see FM Radio in Canada: A Policy to Ensure a Varied and Comprehensive Radio Service, 20 January 1975; Decision CRTC 75-247, 27 June 1975; Policy Statement on the Review of Radio, Public Notice CRTC 1983-43, 3 March 1983; Decisions CRTC 84-300, 84-301 and 84-302, 29 March 1984 and CRTC 84-625, 31 July 1984; Public Notices CRTC 1984-201, 31 July 1984, CRTC 1984-315, 20 December 1984 and CRTC 1985-34, 22 February 1985
On 22 February 1985, the Commission issued Public Notice 1985-34, entitled "Review of Community Radio 23 April 1985 Public Hearing." This discussion paper followed a series of preliminary consultations on community radio held by a special committee of the Commission in October 1984 with community and student broadcasters and their representative organizations, as well as with private broadcasters in those Quebec communities served by community stations.
The topics discussed during these consultations included the role and definition of community radio, sources of funding and financial support, and the commercial activities of community stations in communities also served by private radio stations. Also discussed were such aspects as the impact of competition and commercial activity on community programming, the type and quantity of advertising appropriate for community stations, adherence to the Promise of Performance, and the hours of broadcasting necessary to provide an adequate and effective service.
In its February 1985 Notice, the Commission proposed a new definition for community radio which would include references to its mandate to provide broadly-based programming and a forum for community expression. The Commission further proposed that all community FM stations be included under one class of licence: Special FM, which would have had three subcategories (Types A, B and C) defined by the number of stations serving a community. Differing criteria for the programming and commercial activity of each of the three subcategories of community station were also proposed.
In addition, the Commission indicated its intention to discuss whether student radio stations should be permitted to broadcast pre-recorded national messages without restriction as to the type of advertising.
The Commission requested interested parties to submit their comments for discussion at the 23 April 1985 Public Hearing.
1. History
In its FM Policy statement, published in 1975, the Commission stated that community FM radio should provide a complement to private radio by being different in its objectives, ownership and financing. It was also to be innovative in its programming and its relationship with its audience and to surpass the minimum programming requirements outlined in the Policy.
In Decision CRTC 75-247 which granted licences to student stations CKCU-FM Ottawa and CJUM-FM Winnipeg, the Commission expressed concern about the impact of commercial activity on the programming of community and student stations. Nevertheless, it authorized a form of "restricted" commercial activity.
In its 1983 Policy Statement on the Review of Radio, the Commission expanded its definition of "restricted" commercial activity to permit the inclusion of the price, name and brand name of a product in messages broadcast by community stations, but continued to disallow references to convenience, durability or desirability or other comparative or competitive references. It also stated that it was not prepared to authorize the use of pre-packaged national advertising messages.
At a public hearing held on 13 December 1983 in Hull, the Commission considered applications by three community radio stations for amendments to their licences to permit them to increase the authorized number of minutes of advertising per hour. In its subsequent decisions, the Commission denied the proposed amendments on the grounds that approval could result in an increased comercialization of community radio. The Commission stated that it wished to review this issue in the larger context of a public hearing addressing the nature and role of community radio and the regulatory framework which should apply to it.
In Public Notice CRTC 1984-201 dated 31 July 1984 the Commission announced that, prior to holding a public hearing on the matter, it wished to consult with community and student broadcasters and their representative organizations, as well as with private broadcasters. As mentioned earlier, these consultations were held in October 1984.
2. The 23 April 1985 Public Hearing
In response to its 22 February 1985 Public Notice, the Commission received a total of 39 comments. These were submitted by student and community radio associations (l'Association des radiodiffuseurs communautaires du Québec - ARCQ, and the National Campus/Community Radio Organization - NCRO), francophone associations representing communities outside Québec interested in establishing community radio services in their areas, the World Conference of Community-Oriented Radio Broadcasters, 15 community radio licensees (13 from the Province of Quebec, 1 from Vancouver and 1 from Kitchener), six community radio projects, private broadcasters' associations (the Canadian Association of Broadcasters CAB and l'Association canadienne de la radio et de la télévision de langue française - ACRTF), and four private licensees, the Ministry of Communications of the Province of Quebec, five Quebec regional community associations interested in the media in their areas, and two individuals who work in community and student radio. Twenty-three interventions were presented at the hearing.
In their submissions, community and student broadcasters stated that there was a need for a more flexible regulatory framework which would allow them to define their own programming orientation in response to the needs of their listeners. They submitted that the community nature of their stations is guaranteed by their community ownership and management. Private broadcasters expressed their concern that public funds were being used to underwrite competition with their services; they recommended that community stations be required to provide only programming that is complementary to that offered by private stations. In general, community broadcasters indicated that they would not accept such a role if it implied that they would be restricted to the broadcast of programs that private radio is unwilling or unable to produce. Many community broadcasters thus consider ed that the Commission should not be more demanding with community radio than it is with private radio.
Most intervenors agreed that community radio should provide for ownership, management and programming by the community. They also agreed with proposals that community radio permit access by individuals and groups from the community, although many argued that programming resulting from such access should address audiences whose special needs are not otherwise served by radio. While some intervenors felt that community stations should offer a wide variety of musical programming, others were of the opinion that the music broadcast should reflect the tastes of the audiences that they have chosen to serve.
Community and cultural groups outlined the important role they believe community radio must play in providing programming responsive to local needs for information and cultural expression. In particular, francophone groups from outside Quebec stressed the need for community radio in their communities in order to safeguard their culture. Although all intervenors felt that community radio should reflect the community that it serves, others felt that it also has a clear role to play as an agent of social change.
All but one of the intervenors agreed that community stations should fall under a single class of licence; there was some disagreement, however, on the three types proposed by the Commission. While all accepted that community stations in markets not served by other stations should be treated differently than other community radio stations, there was some concern as to the proposed differing definitions of Type B community stations serving communities with only one other FM station and Type C community stations serving communities with more than one other FM station. Community stations argued that the imposition of definitions based on the number of other FM stations in a community was unfair, and that they should be able to choose the type most suitable to their community. They also took exception to the proposal whereby a community station would have to relinquish its status as a Type A or B at licence renewal and adopt another type with more demanding criteria should a new radio station be licensed during its licence term. Indeed, community broadcasters did not believe that they should be defined in relation to the availability of private stations in their community.
Although private broadcasters expressed concern regarding the potential impact on their revenues that extensive commercial activity by community stations could have, some also commented that the limited nature of commercial messages that community stations are permitted to broadcast is ineffective, and could lead advertisers to question the value of radio in general as an advertising medium.
Various community stations stated that rising costs and shrinking or static budgets make it essential to their survival that they be allowed to expand their commercial activity. Some expressed concern, however, about the pressures that such activity can place on programming, community participation and financial support. Others, however, expressed the view that additional advertising revenues can be used to improve programming, they proposed the removal of restrictions on the type of advertising, and suggested that an hourly average of at least 6 minutes of advertising per hour with a maximum of 8 minutes per hour, if not more, be permitted. Many noted that a diversity of funding sources is the best guarantee of a station's independence. The NCRO stated that student stations should be permitted to engage in a level of commercial activity similar to that permitted for community stations.
One of the more controversial issues was the level of spoken word programming proposed by the Commission. Most intervenors stated that a required level of 60% or even 40% of spoken word programming would be excessive, would lead to a lowering of quality of programming and be too demanding for volunteers. However, the ARCQ indicated its willingness to accept a reasonable minimum for spoken word programming.
Finally, some intervenors stressed that the Commission has the means at its disposal to deal with licensees which do not comply with the conditions of their licences, and that it would thus be unfair to impose a set of criteria on all community broadcasters to deal with isolated cases where problems occur.
3. The Commission's Criteria for Community Radio
In light of the needs of the communities served by community radio stations, and the problems that these stations have experienced in terms of their financing, commercial activity and programming; and taking into account the October 1984 consultations, the Commission's working paper (Public Notice CRTC 1985-34), the views expressed at the 23 April 1985 hearing, and the flexibility necessary in the regulation and supervision of community radio, the Commission hereby announces the criteria and requirements to be taken into account by applicants seeking new licences or the renewal of current licences for community radio stations who, based on the nature of their community ownership and community programming, qualify for such recognition.
Except where otherwise indicated, all community stations will be subject to the same rules as other FM stations and will operate with the same degree of flexibility.
i. New Definition
The current definition of community radio requires community ownership and community participation in decisions on programming matters. Community ownership and operation alone however, do not necessarily guarantee community-oriented programming. The new definition, therefore, also includes reference to specific programming criteria designed to ensure that the programming be authentically community-oriented, that community participation exist at all levels, and that the programming be different from that of other stations within a given market. Accordingly, the Commission will now define a community radio station as follows:
Community: This station is characterized by its ownership, programming and the market it is called to serve. It is owned and controlled by a non-profit organization whose structure provides for membership, management, operation, and programmming primarily by members of the community at large. Its programming should be based on community access and should reflect the interests and special needs of the listeners it is licensed to serve.
ii. Role and Mandate
The Commission continues to expect community radio to develop innovative and alternative forms of community-oriented programming that contribute to the diversity and variety of radio services within a community. It also expects community radio to focus on all aspects of the community, by offering programming which examines issues affecting all of its members, as well as programs which deal with matters of interest to specific elements within it, such as neighbourhoods, surrounding towns, villages, and specific interest groups.
iii. Community Support
The support and involvement of the community underly the existence of a community radio station. These can be measured by the number, nature and diversity of the individuals and groups who:
-participate in the ownership and management of the station;
-assist in financing the station by purchasing memberships, making donations and organizing funding drives; and
- take part in the production of programs that reflect community interests, concerns and activities.
In preparing their Promises of Performances, applicants will be expected to reserve as much time as their individual circumstances permit, for programming produced by groups and members of the community at large, particularly those with special programming needs.
In its discussion paper, the Commission expressed concern about the overemphasis placed by some community stations on professionalism and high production standards. At the hearing, several intervenors stated that production quality should not be considered as an obstacle to community-oriented programming and may, infact, be crucial to its development. The Commission recognizes that quality is necessary in radio production. All the same, production standards should not be set at a level that only professionals and the more skilled volunteers can attain. Specifically, as noted by the licensee of CKIA-FM Quebec City, production standards should not involve a "careerist" approach, nor should they intimidate potential volunteers from producing programs.
Because a community station must provide a service to the entire community it is licensed to serve and relies significantly on its support, the Commission will not, as a rule, licence more than one station to serve any given community.
iv. Special FM Licence
This class of licence encompasses community, institutional (including student) and educational radio. Most community stations hold special FM licences, although some hold independent FM or first service FM licences similar to private radio stations. Given the special nature of community radio stations, the Commission will, henceforth, issue special FM licences to new and current community radio licensees which meet the criteria set in this announcement.
Any existing community radio licensee or new applicant that does not wish to adhere to these special criteria may apply, at any time, for an independent FM or a first service FM licence, depending on its circumstances. Such applications will undergo the same analysis, and will be considered under the same procedures, as applications for licences to operate new radio services. This includes calls for competing applications.
Canada is a signatory to an international agreement that reserves a number of FM frequencies for non-commercial, educational stations. These frequencies are not generally available for commercial use by either independent or first service FM licensees. Applicants for first service or independent FM licences, including those currently occupying frequencies reserved for non-commercial and educational use, therefore must select a frequency allocated for commercial use.
v. Types of Licences
Community radio takes many forms. The nature of the service provided in one location differs from that offered in another, just as the communities themselves differ in terms of their resources, the needs and interests of their residents, as well as their access to other local broadcasting services. Therefore, the Commission wishes to:
- allow for greater flexibility in the operation of community radio, particularly in terms of programming and commercial activity while preserving its unique nature;
- minimize the possibility that a community station might have to change its status should additional radio services be licensed in its community;
- simplify the classification process; and
- to take into account the presence of AM stations and the local servces they, too, are required to provide in the communities for which they are licenced.
Accordingly, the Commission has established the two following types of community radio licences, within the Special FM class of licence:
Type A: A special FM licence for community radio is a Type A licence if, at the time the licence issued or renewed, no other AM or FM radio licence to operate a station, in the same language in all or any part of the same market, is in force.
Type B: A special FM licence for community radio is a Type B licence if, at the time the licence issued or renewed, at least one other AM or FM radio licence to operate a station in the same language, in all or any part of the same market, is in force.
The terms "market" and "station" as used above are defined in Section 2 of the Radio (FM) Broadcasting Regulations.
If, at the time of licence renewal, there is a new AM or FM station broadcasting in the same language and serving the same market, Type A licensees must submit a Promise of Performance and a Description of Programming which would take into account the criteria for a special FM community licence, Type B.
The Commission recognizes, however, that this may cause some hardship for stations required to change status from Type A to Type B. It further acknowledges that the development of the market by Type A licensees could be of benefit to a new radio broadcaster. At the same time, the Commission considers that the new broadcaster should not be placed at a disadvantage as to advertising time and programming requirements. According ly, in considering applications for licence renewal in such circumstances, the Commission would be disposed to discuss with the licensee and all interested parties, including other licensees concerned, possible variations of conditions generally applicable to Type B stations.
vi. Commercial Activity
As originally proposed, advertising for Type A stations will be limited to a maximum of 250 minutes per day, up to a maximum of 1,500 minutes per week, for stations broadcasting between 6 a.m. and midnight seven days a week, otherwise 20% of a station's total broadcasting time. There will be no restriction on the type of advertising permitted.
For Type B stations, the Commission will generally permit an average of 4 minutes per hour per day, with a maximum of 6 minutes in any single hour. Moreover, the Commission will remove the current restrictions on the type of advertising which community radio licensees are permitted to broadcast, including the restrictions on pre-packaged national commercial messages. Existing licensees will be required to make an application to amend their licences should they wish to take advantage of these changes.
The Commission considers that these broadened provisions will enable community stations to increase their revenues and, hence, their ability to serve all of the listeners they are licensed to serve. Nevertheless, the Commission considers it essential that such licensees continue to seek funding for their operations from a diversity of sources, particularly from within the community, as a means to ensure the continued interest and support of the community and to lessen the effect of advertising on programming.
In the Commission's view, it is also important that appropriate standards and guidelines be established in respect of advertising broadcast on community stations. It therefore encourages ARCQ, in consultation with its members, to take the initiative in developing such an advertising code, which should be adhered to closely by community stations and may be confirmed as conditions of licence.
vii. Spoken Word
The Commission has decided not to impose any specific requirements for spoken word programming, contrary to what had been initially proposed in its discussion paper. The Commission, however, stresses the importance of spoken word in community-oriented programming, and expects commitments in this regard to be substantial. Applicants for new licences or for licence renewal will be expected to explain how their proposed spoken word levels will satisfy the requirements and goals of a community-oriented programming service and what means they propose to ensure that such programming will not be replaced by musical programming. The Commission views a minimum of 35% spoken word programming to be a useful target for Type B stations and will evaluate applications accordingly, taking into account the individual circumstances of each community.
viii. Foreground and Mosaic Formats
The Radio (F.M.) Regulations require independent, joint and CBC FM licensees to devote portions of their broadcast week to programs in the foreground format. The requirement is 12% for independent FM licensees and 20% for joint and CBC FM licensees. Notwithstanding these requirements, and in accordance with specified guidelines, the Commission expects independent FM licensees to devote at least 33% of the broadcast week to programs in the foreground or mosaic formats; for joint FM licensees, the expectation is 50%.
Because foreground and mosaic programs are particularly well suited to community-oriented programming, the Commission will continue to expect community radio licensees to exceed the minimum requirements of the FM policy.
ix. Music
In order to serve the musical tastes of all segments of the community, a community station should offer highly diversified musical fare. It should not specialize in a specific musical format which would attract a particular age group only and disenfranchise the rest of the community, thereby possibly discouraging the latter from participating in community radio.
Community radio stations should therefore seek to provide a balanced selection of music using most, if not all, of the subcategories in category 5 (Music - General). They should also provide a broad range of traditional and special interest music (category 6). The Commission notes that the format of such stations would generally fall within Group IV.
x. Hours of Broadcasting
At the public hearing, community broadcasters indicated that a consistent schedule, with at least a certain minimum number of hours of service each day, is necessary to provide an adequate service. Accordingly, applicants shall continue to indicate in their Promises of Performance, the number of hours and minutes in each programming category and the total amount of broadcast time.
Depending on the needs of each community, however, and the availability of volunteers and community groups, a community station may increase or decrease the number of hours it broadcasts per week by 20% without having to apply to the Commission, provided that it maintains a reasonably consistent programming schedule, and that the percentages in each category and subcategory be maintained as specified in its Promise of Performance.
xi. Networks and Acquired Programming
Because of the lack of radio services in their communities, and the size of the communities themselves, some Type A stations may wish to affiliate with a network, or acquire programming from other radio stations, rather than sign off after their local programming periods. Nevertheless, the Commission expects licensees to broadcast as much local programming as their individual circumstances permit. Applicants and licensees will also be expected to explain how any such network arrange ments or acquired programming would complement, rather than replace, local programmming.
The Commission is prepared to approve the affiliation of Type B stations with networks, provided that these networks are for programming produced by community stations or for national news services. Stations subscribing to national news services should continue to give a high priority to local news.
xii. Local Artists and Musicians
Community stations should continue to give emphasis, commensurate with their resources, to the broadcast of live shows and concerts by local artists and musicians, and to other forms of local and regional artistic expression.
xiii. AM Community Radio
Currently, all community stations make use of FM frequencies. All new AM community stations must assume the same role and mandate as that set out in this document for FM community stations. Specifically, the AM community station would be expected to garner the same kind of community support, and would be subject to the same programming criteria and limitations on commercial activity as FM community stations. These would be confirmed as licence conditions.
xiv. Student Radio
Student stations will now be permitted to broadcast pre-packaged national commercial messages. Nevertheless, the Commission will maintain its current restrictions on the types of advertising student radio stations may sell, until such time as it has completed consultations on this matter with student broadcasters and other interested parties.
4. Implementation
Some of the 23 community radio licences in Canada expire on 30 September 1985, and these are renewed until 31 March 1986 (see Decision CRTC 85-697 released today). Applications for the renewal of licences expiring in 1986 will be considered at public hearings to be held in early 1986.
At these hearings, the Commission will also consider applications for new community FM stations, which have been held back by the Commission pending completion of its review of community radio. These applicants will be expected to review their applications and, if necessary, complete new Promise of Performance and Description of Programming forms, taking into account the criteria set out in this document.
The Commission reminds its licensees that they are required to conform to their existing Promises of Performance and conditions of licence until such time as amendments to their licences are approved by the Commission.
In evaluating the performance of its licensees, the Commission will consider their ability to comply with their existing commitments and conditions of licence.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

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