ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1986-67

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 19 March 1986
Public Notice CRTC 1986-67
French-language Popular Music
For related documents see: letters from the Chairman of the CRTC to the Chairman of the ACRTF dated 28 November 1973 and 12 June 1974; "Renewal of broadcasting licences for AM and FM stations in Montreal and in surrounding areas", Public Notice dated 25 September 1980, p. 9; "Policy Statement on the Review of Radio", Public Notice CRTC 1983-43, p. 16; "Task Force on French-language Popular Music", Public Notice CRTC 1985-100; Report of the Advisory Committee on French-language Music; letter from the Chairman of the CAB to the Chairman of the CRTC dated 30 January 1986.
The Commission has always considered that licensees of French-language stations should play a significant role in the broadcasting of French-language artistic expression. Since its inception, the Commission has raised this question at public hearings and has asked licensees of French-language radio stations to ensure that their programming includes higher proportions of French language music.
In 1972, the Commission announced its criteria on this matter in a letter sent by the Chairman of the Commission to the Chairman of the Association canadienne de la radio et de la télévision de langue française (ACRTF). The Commission then required that 65% of popular vocal music selections broadcast on French-language stations be in French. According to the Chairman of the CRTC:
These criteria would seem to me to reflect the intention of the broadcasters to ensure a much larger place to the music of French-language authors, composers and interpreters, and present, as much as possible to listeners, the music which reflects the cultural orientation of their surroundings.
However, over the years the Commission has taken the availability of French-language titles into account, particularly for stations broadcasting largely rock music, by allowing some rock-oriented stations to lower the level to be broadcast.
Consultative Committee on French-language Music
In a Public Notice dated 22 May 1985, the Commission announced that it would establish a consultative committee of representatives of the broadcasting, recording and enter tainment industries, as well as performers, government officials and other experts in the field to study the difficulties experienced by French-language stations in complying with their minimum authorized levels of French-language music selections and the appropriate contribution that broadcasters could make to aid in increasing the production of French-language records.
The Public Notice followed a Public Hearing at which the Commission heard applications to renew the licences of three Montreal French-language FM stations. At the hearing, the Commission discussed with the licensees their requests to reduce the minimum of French-language music they were required to broadcast as well as the ways in which their programs intended to aid new musical talent could produce new French-language recordings. The Commission concluded that it did not have enough information to decide what the level should be.
The terms of reference of the Consultative Committee were to assess the nature of the problem, particularly the availability of French-language recordings for each genre of popular music, whether produced in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada, in France or in other French-speaking countries. The Committee also was asked to examine the most effective ways in which francophone broadcasters, in association with the recording industry and other interested parties, could stimulate and promote new French-language musical talent.
On 16 July 1985, the first meeting of the Consultative Committee was held in Montreal. The group included francophone private broadcasters and their associations, representatives of the CBC, MuchMusic and CFTM-TV, community radio broadcasters, representatives of the Quebec recording industry, performers, musicians, authors and composers and their associations, the publisher of Radio activité (a French-language trade publication) as well as representatives of the Federal Department of Communications, the Ministère des Affaires culturelles du Québec, the Ministère des Communications du Québec and the Société de développement des industries de la culture et des communications (SODICC) as well as representatives of the CRTC.
The Consultative Committee appointed 12-member task force jointly chaired by Jean-Pierre Coallier of CIEL-FM, Longueuil and Denys Bergeron of the Association de l'industrie du disque et du spectacle du Québec (ADISQ). The Task Force included five broadcasters, representatives of the record industry, performers and composers as well as the federal and provincial governments.
The Work of the Task Force
The members of the Task Force met seven times over the summer and fall of 1985. They undertook a rigorous analysis of the problems facing both the radio and music industries by identifying areas of concern, prioritizing them and suggesting solutions in each area. The Task Force also commissioned a statistical study of the availability of French-language music in each of the musical sub-categories over the previous two and one-half years. In addition, the Task Force was provided with several studies undertaken by the Commission's staff including an analysis of Statistics Canada's data on the annual releases of French-language records from 1977 to 1983.
The Task Force completed a report with recommendations on a wide range of topics addressed to the Commission, both levels of government and the broadcasting and recording industries. However, members of the Task Force were unable to reach a consensus on the appropriate level of French-language music broadcast by French-language stations and a number of suggestions reflecting the diverging points of view were included in the report.
The Task Force submitted its report to the Consultative Committee for review and the Consultative Committee met in November and discussed the report. After inclusion of the comments of some of the members of the Consultative Committee, the report was submitted by the co-chairmen to the Commission on 5 December 1985. The report was published by the Commission. Copies in English and French are available from its Information Services and its Regional Offices.
Most broadcasters who participated in the Task Force did not endorse the recommendations of the majority of the Task Force and subsequently formed a working group under the auspices of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB). They submitted a separate report to the Commission on 30 January 1986, copies of which are available from the Commission's Information Services and its Regional Offices.
The Research
The Task Force drew a number of conclusions from the research available to it:
l. From l977 to 1983, there was a constant reduction in the total of French-language Canadian and foreign long-playing records released in Canada. In 1977, 242 French-language albums were released, which represented 11.2% of all English- and French-language albums released. In 1983, the number of French-language albums had fallen to 132 or 5.4%.
2. Production remained stable from January 1983 to July 1985, with  136 albums and 398 singles in 1983, 120 albums and 391 singles in 1984, and 59 albums and 203 singles from January to June 1985.
3. There has been a constant release of new pop and soft rock material, with an average of 75 albums per year since 1983. However, production of Canadian French-language rock, country and other music has been low, with 20, 14 and 12 Canadian rock albums in 1983, 1984 and from January to June 1985 respectively; and 26 Canadian albums in 1983, l7 in 1984 and 2 from January to June 1985, for all other categories including country. At the same time, production of foreign French-language rock music has slightly increased, with 8 albums in 1983, 16 in 1984 and 8 from January to June 1985.
4. There has been a gradual reduction since 1981 in the inventory of French-language records available in Montreal record stores: in one case, as dramatic a decrease as 70%.
5. French-language radio stations in the more remote regions of Quebec and those outside Quebec have greater difficulty in obtaining French-language records, in particular, foreign records not available for sale in Canada.
6. The problem of obtaining French-language records is more acute for rock, country and "dance" format stations.
The Consultative Committee made 36 recommendations addressed to the Commission, the Federal and Quebec governments, broadcasters and the record industry. These recommendations address a number of topics including the distribution of French-language records, the taxation of foreign records, the role of television broadcasters and of the CBC in promoting Canadian francophone talent, the unscrambled distribution of MuchMusic on the cable audio band, the distribution of French-language records, the training of recording engineers, producers and artist managers, government underwriting of concert tours, the production of music video clips, the provision of risk capital for record production, the marketing of records and copy right.
The Consultative Committee discussed at some length the initiatives proposed by the Ministère des Affaires culturelles du Québec and the federal Department of Communications as well as the new initiative undertaken for the stimulation of French-language recordings by a number of broadcasters entitled MUSICACTION.
The Commission urges all concerned parties to seriously consider the report and stresses the importance of the recommendation that the Consultative Committee has directed to the radio industry, the music industry and the two levels of government to better co-ordinate their efforts to develop francophone musical talent.
Indeed, the Commission believes that if more French-language records are to be produced, it will result from the convergence of efforts by broadcasters to promote these recordings through airplay and to become more involved in the stimulation of recorded production through their own individual initiatives and through joint undertakings; by governments which propose to provide assistance through subsidies, loans and investment, support for training, development of infrastructures and adequate copyright legislation; by the recording industry which should provide itself with all the necessary financial and human resources it needs and which should aggressively market its product; and by the Commission which intends to continue to require that French-language recordings be broadcast in fair proportion and that Canadian broadcasters continue to actively support Canadian artists, and in particular francophone artists.
The Level of French-language Music
As stated earlier, members of the Task Force did not reach a consensus on the level of French-language music to be broadcast. Consequently, three proposals were submitted:
a) The performers and composers proposal
 The Union des artistes (UDA) representing performers and the Société professionelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec (SPACQ) representing authors and composers recommended that the Commission maintain the level at 65% and freeze the levels of those stations already authorized to broadcast a lower percentage.
b) The co-chairmen's proposal
 The co-chairmen recommended that the Commission maintain its present policy of 65% as an objective until the various programs to assist the music industry have the desired result. When examining pplications from licensees to reduce the percentage of French-language music broadcast, the Commission would judge each case on its merits, taking into account:
l. the station's authorized music format and its compliance with it;
2. the scheduling of French-language music in its program schedule;
3. the effectiveness of the concrete ongoing measures taken by the licensee to contribute to the development of French-language musical talent;
4. the average percentage of French-language music broadcast by the licensee over the previous years;
5. the competition in the market.
 The co-chairmen also recommended that the Commission should follow developments closely through consultation and that it should review its requirements in 1988.
c) The broadcasters' proposal
The CAB recommended that:
l. francophone stations dedicate the predominant part of their musical programming to French-language music;
2. these new guidelines be implemented immediately for a three-year trial period;
3. the Commission, in evaluating the performance of francophone stations, take into account all their efforts to encourage the French fact in their respective markets;
4. francophone broadcasters commit to maintain and expand their efforts to promote the French fact;
5. francophone broadcasters through their associations try to augment their initiatives to collaborate with the recording industry;
6. a committee of broadcasters be established to meet three times a year to review the role of the radio industry in relation to the music industry and to review the evolution of the initiatives promoting the French fact within the context of the availability of French-language music.
A group of English-language broadcasters operating in Quebec also submitted a comment with the CAB report. They recommend that no reduction be permitted since there is no guarantee that with a lower commitment, French-language music would be scheduled evenly throughout French-language stations' program schedules.
The Commission's Position
The Commission has closely reviewed the research and analysis submitted by the Consultative Committee and the arguments advanced by all the parties concerned. It has been greatly aided in its deliberations by the comprehensive work undertaken by the Consultative Committee and the Task Force and wishes to thank all those who contributed to it.
The Commission must recognize that there has been a serious reduction in the availability of French-language recordings in all areas of music and that the problem is more acute in the rock, country and "dance" music for mats. The Statistics Canada figures indicate also a significant reduction in the overall number of French-language recordings released each year. The problem is further compounded by the growing specialization of the music formats of radio stations. While many stations played a wide variety of music in the l970s, the licensing of new stations has caused many stations, especially those in the larger centres, to search out a unique niche in their markets. This reduces the number of records that are appropriate for these stations to broadcast.
The Commission is also aware that this problem is not only a Canadian one. Many of the new private FM stations in francophone Europe broadcast very little French-language music.
However, the Commission considers that a large reduction in the airplay of French-language music is not an appropriate response to the relative lack of French-language recordings. It also considers that licensees have an important role to play in the development of new Canadian francophone talent and that this role must include the broadcast of recordings by new and established French-language artists as well as other forms of encouragement. In addition, the Commission is concerned that the individual programs of talent encouragement currently administered by licensees which were intended to increase the number of French-language recordings have not done so. There fore, the Commission encourages the radio industry to develop and participate in joint initiatives such as MUSICACTION so as to ensure that such programs are effective.
The Commission also encourages broadcasters and their associations to increase their efforts to seek new sources of international French-language music neither well-known nor widely distributed in Canada.
The Commission also considers that the licensees of French-language television stations have an important role in the increased exposure and development of Canadian French-language music. In granting a new television license to Réseau de télévision Quatre Saisons, the Commission noted the licensee's plans to broadcast programs to stimulate the Quebec artistic community and "to help revitalize the Quebec recording industry by broadcasting French-language video music". Similarly, in renewing the licences of CFTM-TV, Montreal and Radio-Québec, the Commission indicated that it would expect the licensees to provide exposure for Canadian French-language performers.
The Commission also intends to discuss this matter with the CBC when it considers the renewal of its network licences.
The Commission continues to encourage licensees of French-language television stations to increase the production of programs featuring Canadian francophone musical talent, particularly with developing artists, to provide air time and production facilities for French-language video clips, and to participate in joint programs such as MUSICACTION and VIDEOFACT, as their individual circumstances permit.
The Commission finds a great deal of merit in the proposals submitted by the Committee's co-chairmen. In particular, the Commission agrees that the scheduling of French-language music as well as concrete measures by broadcasters to aid in the development of French-speaking talent are significant factors in evaluating applications by broadcasters to reduce the level of French-language music broadcast. It also notes the co-chairmen's opinion that the Commission should review its French-language music standard in 1988 when programs designed to assist Canadian French-language recordings will hope fully have achieved the desired results. Furthermore, the Commission considers that the 65% criterion should be maintained as an objective.
The Commission is not convinced, however, that a case-by-case approach, without a stated minimum, is the fairest one and is concerned that it may be more difficult to administer than a generally applicable guide line.
Therefore, the Commission has decided to lower the guideline for the broadcast of French-language recordings to 55% for a period of two years to give the various levels of government and private talent development programs the time to increase the number of records available.
This new level will be applicable immediately for French-language AM stations. The Commission reminds these licensees that the 55% level is a minimum to be surpassed if possible and that 65% remains the objective. The Commission will review these licensees' efforts to develop Canadian francophone musical and other talent at the time of their licence renewals.
It reminds all French-language FM radio licensees that they are required by conditions of their licences to broadcast 65% of their vocal music selections in French, unless otherwise authorized. There fore, those FM licensees wishing to lower their French-language music content must apply to the Commission before implementing any reduction. The Commission will deal with each application as expeditiously as possible but will nevertheless review each proposal with close attention to specific proposals for the development and exposure of French-language musical talent and French-language culture. These proposals should include a substantial budgetary commitment, particularly in terms of direct spending, for individual initiatives and for joint undertakings for the stimulation and the promotion of Canadian French-language recordings, as licensees' individual circumstances permit.
The Commission must stress that this decision is a temporary measure. The Commission is confident that the convergence of all the initiatives by broadcasters, the music industry and by government can go a long way to stimulate French-language music in Canada. The Commission supports the federal and provincial governments' proposals to implement their own programs to assist the Canadian music industry in this objective.
In adopting this temporary measure, the Commission wishes to stress its intention to return to the 65% requirement governing French-language recordings as quickly as a revitalized supply of the product makes it feasible to do so. With this purpose in mind, the Commission will continue to monitor the situation and review the availability of French-language recordings at the end of the two year trial period to determine if the situation has improved sufficiently to permit such a return at that time.
The Commission wishes to express its appreciation and gratitude to all those who contributed their time and expertise to this review.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

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