ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1985-34

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 22 February 1985
Public Notice CRTC 1985-34
Review of Community Radio - 23 April 1985 Public Hearing
Table of Contents Pages
1.  Background 2
2.  Consultation 5
3.  Proposals 7
Proposed modification to the 8 definition of community radio
A proposal for a single class 11 of licence: special FM, covering three types of community service
4. Proposed Criteria for the Three 13 Types of Licence
a) Suggested criteria for 14 Type A licences
b) Suggested criteria for 15 Type B licences
c) Suggested criteria for 16 Type C licence
5. Student Radio 18
6. Public Hearing 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 and CRTC 1984-315, 20 December 1984.
In its Public Notice CRTC 1984-201 of 31 July 1984 entitled "Community Radio", the Commission announced its plans to consult with community broadcasters and other interested parties during the fall of 1984, in order to evaluate more precisely the environment in which community radio is evolving, to examine the nature and extent of its problems and to consider solutions proposed by community broadcasters.
In Public Notice CRTC 1984-201, the Commission also stated that these consultations would be followed by a public hearing in 1985. Accordingly, on 20 December 1984 (Public Notice CRTC 1984-315), the Commission announced that it would hold a public hearing on a proposed policy for community radio on 16 April 1985. This hearing has now been rescheduled and will be held on 23 April 1985 in the National Capital Region.
Prior to the public hearing, the Commission invites the public and all interested parties to submit their views and comments on the matters dealt with in this document. In the following pages, the Commission presents a general description of the development of community radio over the past decade together with a summary of its consultations; also set out are the various proposals regarding community radio that emerged from the consultations conducted during the fall of 1984, and the Commission's views regarding these proposals.
1. Background
The Commission issued the first licence for a community-student radio station to CKRL-FM Quebec in 1972. It stated that the station's programming should be innovative and that its corporate structure should provide for the membership, management, operation and programming of the station by the community and the general public. The first licence for a community radio station outside of Quebec was issued in 1973 to Wired World Inc. of Kitchener, Ontario.
In its 1975 policy statement on FM radio, and as noted by applicants for community and student radio stations themselves, the Commission stated that community radio stations should complement and provide an alternative to private radio in terms of their objectives, types of ownership, management and financial resources, and that they should be innovative in their programming formats and attentive to the advice and feedback from listeners. In further keeping with the objectives and undertakings expressed by applicants for community radio stations, the Commission stated that community radio should endeavour to go beyond the minimum programming requirements set out in the FM policy.
In Decision CRTC 75-247 which issued licences for student stations CJUM-FM Winnipeg and CKCU-FM Ottawa, the Commission expressed concern with respect to the potential impact of advertising on the programming of community and student stations. Nevertheless, and with certain limitations, it authorized a form of "restricted" commercial activity. The restrictions, concerning the number of minutes as well as the type of advertising permissible, applied to all community stations across Canada as well as to all student stations devoting a portion of their programming to programs produced by individuals and groups outside of the campus area.
In 1983, in its Policy Statement on the Review of Radio, the Commission responded to requests by community broadcasters by broadening its definition of "restricted" commercial activity to permit stations to mention the price, name and brand name of a product. In order to limit the potential impact of such advertising on community programming, the Commission stated that it was not prepared to permit the broadcast of prepackaged national advertising messages. Moreover, it encouraged the efforts of community broadcasters to diversify their funding sources as a means to avoid excessive reliance on revenue derived from commercial activities.
There are now 23 community-owned and programmed radio stations in Canada, 21 of which are in Quebec; the other two are located in Vancouver and Kitchener. In addition, there are approximately 60 stations serving remote and native communities, and 19 student radio stations broadcasting programming directed not just to campus residents, but to the community as a whole.
The development of community radio in Quebec is due in large part, to subsidies and support provided by the provincial government through its Community Media Assistance Program (CMAP), augmented by support provided under federal job creation programs.
The proliferation of community stations in Quebec, however, has created a growing demand which the various sources of government funding have not been able to meet; as a result, a number of community stations in Quebec have been confronted with serious financial difficulties during the past few years. With an average of only 10% of their funding derived from the community, each station has tried, by various means, to stabilize its financial position, sometimes through increased commercial activity. Moreover, some licensees have modified their programming to the point where they have some difficulty complying with their Promise of Performance, which constitutes a condition of licence.
It is against this background that, in July 1984, the Commission announced plans for a series of consultative meetings on community radio with the parties concerned, in order to examine and assess this sector of the Canadian broadcasting system.
2. Consultation
Following its notice of 31 July 1984, the Commission undertook consultations with community broadcasters in Quebec, private broadcasters operating in Quebec communities served by community stations, and associations representing the interests of various broadcasters such as l'Association des radiodiffuseurs communautaires du Québec (ARCQ), the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) and l'Association canadienne de la radio et de la télévision de langue française (ACRTF). The Commission also invited community broadcasters outside Quebec, as well as student broadcasters, to submit their views in writing. The consultative committee was chaired by Réal Therrien, Vice-Chairman of the Commission.
The Commission would like to thank all those who took part in the consultations. Their contributions were of considerable assistance to the Commission in formulating the proposals contained in this document.
Among the main topics of discussion set out in Public Notice CRTC 1984-201 was the role that should be played by community radio. In general, community broadcasters expressed the view that community radio should be defined by reference to the community it is supposed to reflect and animate; particular emphasis was placed on accessibility, immediacy and adaptability. On the other hand, private broadcasters consider that community radio should offer an alternative to private radio and that it should, like the cable television community channel, place primary emphasis on accessibility. They stated particular concern regarding the amount of music broadcast by a number of community stations, at the expense of community-oriented spoken word content; the private broadcasters suggested that this was an attempt to focus programming on a specific age group in the community (18 to 34), instead of on all elements of the community. Many of the community broadcasters agreed that they play rock music to attract a young audience, but stated that their spoken word programming is nevertheless directed at the entire community. The general view expressed was that ratings are important to community stations just as they are to any media; because of this, some community stations overemphasize professionalism and high production standards. In most cases, however, staff are responsible for fostering and encouraging public participation in the station's activities and for the training of volunteers.
The funding of community stations was also discussed during the consultations. Sources of funding tend to be the same in most instances, and can be broken down as follows: 25% from the Quebec government (CMAP), 30% from various federal subsidies, 35% from advertising and 10% from the community. Concerned that subsidies might soon diminish, many community stations are striving to become financially self-sufficient, sometimes through increased commercial activity. A number of community broadcasters maintain, however, that the commercialization of community radio must be avoided. Private broadcasters generally acknowledged that government assistance should be continued but were of the view that, once a community station loses the support of its community, it effectively ceases to fulfill its purpose. Private broadcasters in some regions complained about increasing rate card competition between private radio and community radio. In other areas, private broadcasters found that advertising by community radio stations did not generally affect the profitability of their stations. While both sides had varied opinions on the type and quantity of advertising that should be allowed, the majority of the community broadcasters requested that restrictions on national advertising be removed.
Community broadcasters called for greater flexibility with respect to compliance with the Promise of Performance, in view of the fact that their programming varies in many cases according to the availability and expertise of volunteers. Generally, private broadcasters considered that, like themselves, community stations should be made to comply fully with their Promises of Performance. They acknowledged, however, that community stations have a high turnover in their volunteer staff, and noted that the majority of the Promises of Performance submitted in the past have been very ambitious and, in some cases, even unrealistic. Furthermore, community broadcasters believe that they must broadcast a minimum of one hundred hours per week in order to provide adequate service. For their part, private broadcasters do not consider any such minimum number of hours of broadcasting to be necessary provided that the programming is truly oriented to the community and does not consist primarily of music programming, such as that offered by private radio.
3. Proposals
Although the opinions expressed during the consultations were varied and diverse, the Commission considers that it is possible to identify two predominant concerns:
-  the need to define the role of community radio, taking into account the distinctive characteristics of the communities served; and
-  the need to find a mechanism that would provide community radio with the flexibility necessary for it to operate in accordance with its overall mandate.
The Commission emphasizes that the following proposals do not call into question the purpose and role of community radio; rather they are intended to promote discussion towards determining the most appropriate means of clarifying this role and allowing it to develop. The Commission is aware of the difficulties encountered in attempting to apply general criteria to specific cases, given the diversity of communities across the country; it is therefore prepared to take into account the particular circumstances of individual community broadcasters.
The Commission also emphasizes that the proposals fall within the framework of the present FM regulations and general policy, and that no amendment to the Radio (FM) Broadcasting Regulations is proposed hereby.
Proposed modification to the definition of community radio
In the Commission's Public Announcement of 19 July 1976 on its policy with respect to the broadcast of FM signals on cable, the Commission defined a Special Community FM licence as follows:
 Community station: This station is owned or controlled by a non-profit organization whose structure provides for membership, management, operation, and programming primarily by members of the community at large.
Although the above definition makes reference to programming, emphasis is given to the ownership and structure of community radio. It was clear from the definitions of community radio proposed during the consultations that a wider definition of community radio is necessary in order to encompass all of its distinctive characteristics; in addition to ownership and structure, such a definition would have to include reference to a number of factors, including the specific purpose and role of community programming within a given market.
Such a definition should take into account:
i) Authentically community-oriented programming, produced by and for the community. This is assured through participation by the various age and interest groups within the station's service area, and would be best achieved by placing emphasis on:
-  the relevance and diversity of programs rather than the number of hours produced;
-  programs which clearly complement those broadcast by other stations; such programs can be directed to the entire community and deal with issues affecting all of its members, or focus on smaller geographic units (neighbourhoods, villages) or specific interest groups within it;
-  spoken word programs;
-  foreground and mosaic programs which reflect the community service provided.
ii) Different and more varied music programming. While it is clear that community programming must consist primarily of spoken word programming, community radio has and, in some cases, must play a role in offering music in areas where there are few or no sources of high fidelity stereo music. In areas served by a number of FM stations in the same language, the availability of choice and diversity in music becomes particularly important. Community radio should endeavour to broadcast a greater range of music selections rather than concentrate on hits.
In order to respond to the varied tastes in the community rather than those of any single age or interest group, community radio should draw its music programming from all types of popular and traditional music (categories 5 and 6).
iii) The support and involvement of the community in its station. Such support and involvement may be measured in terms of the number, nature and diversity of the individuals and groups that:
-  participate in the ownership and management of the station;
-  contribute to the station during fund drives, and assist in their organization; and
-  take part in the production of programs that reflect community interests and events.
Staff, therefore, must take an active role in animating and training volunteers in program production. They must be aware of community concerns, be accessible, and able to communicate their knowledge of radio program production.
For the purpose of discussion at the public hearing, the Commission now proposes that the present definition of community radio, and its emphasis on ownership and structure, be amended as follows, to take into account each of the factors outlined above; so that, in future, equal emphasis is given to the specific kinds of programming that this class of station should provide to the community:
 Community station: This station is characterized by its ownership, programming and the market it is called to serve. It is controlled by a non-profit organization. Its structure provides for membership, management, operation and programming by members of the community at large. Its programming is based on accessibility to air time and reflects the interests of its listeners. Its target audience with respect to both spoken word and music programming must be very broad.
Note: the terms "market" and "station" are defined in Section 2 of the Radio (FM) Broadcasting Regulations.
A proposal for a single class of licence: SPECIAL FM, covering three types of community service
Community stations now hold either a first radio service, independent FM or special FM licence. In order to simplify its regulation and more clearly define community radio in relation to other elements of the broadcasting system, the Commission proposes that all community stations that wish to be recognized as such, and that meet the ownership and programming requirements, be included under the same class of licence, namely, the special FM licence.
Under this special FM class, community category, the Commission proposes to establish three types of service for community radio, in order to provide the necessary flexibility to take into account the distinctive characteristics of each market served.
Type A:  A special FM community licence serving a market that has no other AM or FM station broadcasting in the same language at the time the licence is granted or renewed.
Type B:  A special FM community licence serving a market that is served by, at most, one FM station that is broadcasting in the same language and is engaged in local commercial activity at the time the licence is granted or renewed. (The market could also be served by AM stations).
Type C:  A special FM community licence serving a market served by two or more FM stations that are broadcasting in the same language, and are engaged in local commercial activity at the time the licence is granted or renewed.
4. Proposed Criteria for the Three Types of Licence
The Comission considers that, by its nature, a community radio station must be, first and foremost, a station that serves the community and provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and dialogue within the community it serves. This would generally require a significant level of spoken word content.
Under the proposals contained herein, applicants would no longer be required to indicate the number of hours per category or the total number of hours of broadcast in their Promises of Performance. They would only indicate percentages in each content category. Thus, if there was an increase or decrease in the number of hours of broadcast, the percentages would remain the same for each content category. The hours of broadcast would therefore be based on the broadcaster's capabilities, the needs of the community and the availability of volunteers. However, the Commission requests comments on whether it should require a minimum number of hours of local programming and, if so, what that minimum should be.
In their Promises of Performance, applicants should reserve periods of time for programming produced by other community groups.
Community stations should continue to give emphasis to the broadcast of live shows and concerts by local artists and musicians, and to other forms of local and regional artistic expression, as the station's financial resources permit.
Community radio should offer diversified music fare and, as a general rule, should avoid concentrating on any one type of music. In their Promises of Performance, applicants should provide for a balanced selection of music from each subcategory in category 5 (Group IV as indicated in the Promise of Performance) and category 6.
Any substantial amendment to the Promise of Performance must be submitted to the Commission for approval.
In addition to the criteria specific to community radio, all criteria contained in the FM policy would apply to community radio.
a) Suggested criteria for Type A licences
In view of the limited size of Type A community radio stations, the size of the communities they serve, and the limited resources available to them, the Commission does not propose any specific criteria for spoken word and music programming or any specific percentage of foreground and mosaic programming. Advertising would 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 and midnight seven days a week, otherwise 20% of a station's total broadcasting time. There would be no restriction on the type of advertising.
Because they serve areas where there is no other radio service in the same language, other than that which may be provided by rebroadcasting transmitters, Type A community stations could affiliate themselves with a network or acquire programming from other radio stations. The Commission, however, expects licensees to broadcast some local programming each week.
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, the licensee would have to submit a Promise of Performance taking into account the criteria for a special community licence, Type B or C, as the case may be.
b) Suggested criteria for Type B licences
Since Type B community stations serve communities with little access to stereo music on the FM band, it is proposed that the programming of this type of station could be predominantly musical. A ratio of 60% music to 40% spoken word has been proposed by some participants. According to other suggestions, foreground and mosaic format programming should account for a sizable part of programming, and foreground format programs alone should represent at least 20%. It was generally agreed that licensees should provide a comprehensive service to all communities within their service areas.
Music programming should offer the greatest possible diversity in order to respond to the varied tastes of all members of the community.
The advertising framework for this type of station would be broadened. Currently, a station which holds a special FM community licence, regardless of the market it serves, is limited to 4 minutes per hour of restricted advertising as defined in Public Notice CRTC 1983-43 dated 3 March 1983.
Given the mandate that the current proposals would extend to Type B community radio stations, the Commission proposes that, in future, they be permitted to broadcast an average of 4 minutes of advertising per hour, as measured over the course of a broadcast day, and up to a maximum of 6 minutes of advertising in any one hour. Moreover, the Commission proposes to remove the restrictions on the type of advertising permitted. Among other things, this would allow the broadcast of pre-packaged national commercial messages.
The Commission considers that this broadened framework will enable all Type B community stations, which generally provide a regional service, to increase their revenues, and hence, their ability to serve each of the groups within their communities.
If, at the time of renewal, there are two or more other FM stations broadcasting in the same language and engaged in on-going commercial activity in the same market, the licensee would have to submit a Promise of Performance taking into account the criteria for a special community FM licence, Type C.
c) Suggested criteria for Type C licences
Type C community stations, operating in areas already served by a number of FM stations in the same language, would be expected to play an even greater complementary and alternative role to commercial radio. A consensus seemed to emerge that the programming broadcast by Type C radio stations, which usually operate in urban environments, should consist predominantly of spoken word content given the great variety of music programming available in such markets.
The Commission, however, wishes to discuss at the hearing the minimum acceptable level of spoken word programming, 60% according to some suggestions, and minimum levels of foreground and mosaic programming that would be appropriate. The general view expressed was that foreground programming by itself could represent at least 30%. While the Commission would expect spoken word content to predominate in the programming of this type of station, it is prepared to take into account the situation of individual community broadcasters. The music programming of Type C community stations should contain no more than 10% hits.
Because the focus of Type C community radio is essentially at the local, and even neighbourhood level, it should concentrate its efforts and financial resources accordingly.
Newscasts in particular should be strongly local in orientation. Accordingly, Type C stations should consider the appropriateness of devoting large sums of money to subscribe to national news services, given the abundance of national and international news sources available in urban areas.
Advertising broadcast by Type C community stations would continue to be limited to 4 minutes per hour; the Commission, however, would remove its restrictions on the type of commercial activity and on pre-packaged national messages.
The Commission emphasizes that, in line with the above proposals, any community-owned licensee or applicant may choose to apply for an independent FM licence at any time. In such cases, they would lose the prerogatives that would be attached to a community radio licence under these proposals, and would be subject to the same rules as other independent FM stations. In addition, such applications could lead to a call for other applications which would then be considered on a competing basis. Moreover, a community station wishing to alter its status may be obliged to change its frequency since some frequencies are reserved for non-commercial use only.
5. Student radio
In Public Notice CRTC 1984-201, the Commission stated that it planned to include student FM radio in its consultations in light of its development and greater involvement in the community.
Student radio stations fall under the "institutional" category of the special FM class of licence and are thus not part of the "community" category. Under the Commission's current policy, however, they must provide programming directed to the entire community, and not only the campus, in order for them to be authorized for the broadcast of "restricted" advertising. According to the student broadcasters, a significant number of student radio stations do, in fact, reflect this dual campus/community orientation.
In this context, the Commission does not propose any changes to its general policy respecting student radio stations at this time. Nevertheless, it is prepared to discuss at the hearing whether student radio stations should be permitted to broadcast pre-registered national messages without restriction as to the type of this advertising, as has been proposed above with respect to community radio stations.
6. Public Hearing
The proposals contained herein are put forward by the Commission for consideration and discussion by all interested parties prior to the Public Hearing on 23 April 1985.
Without limiting the content or scope of the matters to be considered, the Commission will wish to focus at the hearing on the proposals contained in this notice and on the issues referred to in Public Notice CRTC 1984-201.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

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