ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 88-435

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Ottawa, 28 June 1988
Decision CRTC 88-435
Radio Etchemin Inc.
Lévis, Quebec -873860100
Following a public hearing in Quebec City on 7 March 1988, the Commission denies the application by Radio Etchemin Inc. for a licence to operate a French-language FM radio station in Levis on the 106.3 MHz frequency (channel 292C) with an effective radiated power of 54,350 watts. The applicant had indicated that, if this application were to be approved, it would cease the operation of its AM station, CFLS Lévis.
The primary coverage area of CFLS includes Lévis and the neighbouring communities on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, across from Quebec City. The current licence for this station, which has been broadcasting since 1967, expires 30 September 1990. Radio Etchemin Inc., which is the licensee company and the applicant in the prsent instance, is indirectly controlled by Mr. René Coulombe, who also holds an indirect controlling interest in Clival Inc., the licensee of station CJVL Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce, Quebec.
The applicant indicated that this application was submitted because of the coverage problems that CFLS has been experiencing on its present frequency of 920 KHz, which is subject to substantial restrictions, particularly at night, and because of its desire to provide better service to its principal market, namely the south shore, and to the Quebec City market. The applicant stated that it had examined other means of continuing to serve the south shore and that it had invested some $200,000 to convert its AM facilities to stereo operation and $100,000 to increase the station's power from 1,000 to 10,000 watts. It added that, despite these efforts, it still cannot adequately serve certain portions of the south shore at night, including Saint-David-de-l'Auberivière, an area bordering Highway 20, and the western portion of the county of Lévis.
At the hearing, the applicant stated with respect to the present application that [TRANSLATION]: "the continuity of radio service to the south shore of Quebec City by means of a south shore broadcaster is at issue and it is a matter of our survival". The Commission notes in this regard that CFLS's total revenues have been decreasing steadily since 1983 and that the station incurred a substantial loss in 1987.
According to the applicant's programming proposals, the Lévis FM station would operate in the Group IV music format, with 44% of its musical selections from subcategory 51 (Pop and Rock -Softer) and 56% from subcategory 52 (Pop and Rock -Harder). The applicant also proposed that 9% of its programming would be foreground material and the combined foreground-mosaic programming would total 33%. It also proposed to broadcast a 55% level of French-language vocal music and to contribute $15,000 annually to Canadian talent development in the form of twice-monthly, hour-long programs with the participation of radio students from a number of colleges.
At the public hearing, five broadcasters from Quebec City and the area intervened in respect of this application. Four interveners were opposed to the application and the fifth suggested certain changes. In addition, twelve area municipalities and organizations submitted written interventions in support of the application.
The objections of Télémédia Communications Inc., the licensee of CITF-FM, Les Entreprises Télémédia Inc., the licensee of CKCV Quebec City, Radiomutuel Inc., the licensee of CJRP and CHIK-FM Quebec City, Les Entreprises de radiodiffusion de la Capitale Inc., the licensee of CHRC and CHOI-FM Quebec City, and Radio Montminy Inc., the licensee of CFEL-FM Montmagny, are based primarily on the fact that most of the Quebec City radio stations have experienced financial difficulties in recent years. They claimed that a new FM station would make the situation worse and disrupt the market's equilibrium, that the proposed programming would not add to the diversity of FM services currently available in the Quebec City area and that any proposal to operate a new FM station in this market should be dealt with by way of a call for applications given the very limited number of FM frequencies still available. The licensee of CFEL-FM Montmagny pointed out that if this application were approved, its own market would be contained within the central market area of the proposed Lévis station, and that it was attempting to protect CFEL-FM's sources of revenue as the station has only been broadcasting since June of 1987. The fifth broadcaster to intervene at the hearing, CJMF-FM Ltée, the licensee of CJMF-FM Quebec City, suggested that the programming proposals should be amended so that the station would be different from those already in existence and that, if CFLS is truly to be a local station, the proposed power should be reduced.
The Commission considers that a new FM station in Lévis operating on the 106.3 MHz frequency with an effective radiated power of 54,350 watts would effectively serve the entire Quebec City area market. As such, the implications of the present application must be considered with this in mind and with due regard for the original mandate of CFLS, as set out in Decision CRTC 71-175 dated 27 April 1971, which authorized the tansfer of control of the licensee company to Mr. René Coulombe:
... this station was originally authorized because of the insistent need that has been expressed for a local radio station in Lévis. The Commission is of the opinion that the new owner should maintain in Lévis and the neighbouring communities of the south shore, the characteristics of a local station.
The Commission also notes that it authorized the operation of three new FM stations in the Quebec City market in the early 1980s and that a wide range of music is currently available in this area. In this regard, it points out that the intended audience and the specific portion of the Group IV music format which the applicant intended to provide are very similar to those of three FM stations in Quebec City, specifically, CHIK-FM which also operates in the Group IV format and is authorized to broadcast 50% musical selections derived from subcategory 51 and 50% from subcategory 52, CJMF-FM which operates in the Group II format and CHOI-FM which operates in the Group I format, which offer "adult contemporary" music. Accordingly, the Commission considers that the proposed programming would add little diversity to the programming presently available in this highly competitive market which is in the process of stabilizing. It has also taken into account the inherent weaknesses of the application itself, particularly with respect to its budgetary projections for programming and station staff, and the lack of detail as to the local content of the proposed programming.
Furthermore, the arguments advanced by the applicant both in its application and at the hearing have not convinced the Commission that the technical constraints associated with CFLS's present frequency are the only cause for the sharp audience decline it has experienced since 1983 and its related financial problems. Nor is the Commission convinced that using an FM frequency to alleviate the problems associated with the present AM frequency is the best or only solution in the circumstances. The Commission notes, for one thing, that CFLS increased its power from 1,000 to 10,000 watts in October 1982 and that between 1979 and 1982, while broadcasting with a power of only 1,000 watts, it attracted the second largest total audience in the Quebec City market with a listener share that ranged from 39% to 44%, while its audience share has decreased to just 4% in 1987. It further notes that, according to the documentation submitted with its application, the licensee has not carried out an in-depth study into the advantages of selecting another frequency on the AM band.
The Commission acknowledges that there are serious technical limitations associated with the operation of station CFLS on the current frequency of 920 KHz, particularly at night when the station's interference-free contour is only a small fraction of what it is during the day, covering roughly only part of the city of Lévis and Lauzon. In view of all of the information available to it which indicates that other technical solutions are available to the licensee on the AM band, one of which would be to use the 870 KHz frequency that is already allocated to the Quebec City area, the Commission encourages the licensee to consult with Communications Canada and CRTC staff should it wish to improve its coverage in its principal service area, namely the south shore of Quebec City, either by retaining its antenna at the present site or moving it.
At the hearing, the licensee also referred to the fact that CFLS has experienced interference from CKCV Quebec City since the latter station recommenced broadcasting from its antenna site at Saint-David-de-l'Auberivière, as well as interference from CBO Ottawa since that station increased its power to 50,000 watts on the frequency 920 KHz in 1983 and, that since CFLS raised its power level to 10,000 watts, there has been a continuous whistling sound on the frequency 920 KHz.
In a report submitted at the request of the Commission following the public hearing, Telemedia Communications Inc. indicated with regard to CKCV, that the problem is due to normal overloading and the inability of radio receivers that are in the immediate vicinity of radio transmitting towers to discriminate signals. The report stated that the phenomenon is localized and affects a limited number of people and that this is not a new situtation for CFLS inasmuch as CKCV was operating from the Saint-David site until 1980. For its part, Communications Canada has indicated that only two complaints have been received since CKCV began broadcasting from Saint-David in Novwember 1987 and that neither involved CFLS.
With regard to CBO Ottawa and the American station WJAR, and in view of the fact that both of these stations were already broadcasting on the same frequency as CFLS before the latter station went on-air, Communications Canada has indicated that reference was made in CFLS's technical brief to the possibility of night-time interference and that this explains the serious limitations on its night-time contour. The Commission notes, however, that CFLS is also protected from interference by these two stations within its night-time contour. Moreover, Communications Canada has indicated that there have been no complaints recently in this regard. Communications Canada has also pointed out that the whistling is due to intermodulation which ca be a problem with certain radio receivers and that the listener can normally eliminate it by tuning to the upper portion of the 920 KHz frequency and that it has not received any complaints with regard to this problem in respect of CFLS. The Commission also notes that the 870 KHz frequency referred to above is not susceptible to this whistling problem.
The Commission is also concerned about the licensee's inability to provide proper logger tapes for the programming broadcast by CFLS during the weeks of 3 to 9 January and 24 to 30 January 1988. On two occasions, the licensee submitted logger tapes that did not correspond with the periods specified by the Commission in its request. The licensee explained at the public hearing that the problem had resulted from improper identification of the logger tapes and the boxes in which they are kept and said that it had taken steps to ensure that the problem would not recur.
In this regard, the Commission reminds the licensee of the requirements of subsections 8(5) and 8(6) of the Radio Regulations, 1986 concerning the furnishing of logger tapes and it puts the licensee on notice that it intends to review the licensee's compliance with its own commitments and with Commission policies and regulations when it next considers the renewal of CFLS's licence which expires 30 September 1990.
In the interim, the licensee is required to submit to the Commission within 60 days of the date of this decision a report attesting to the fact that it has taken the necessary measures in respect of logger tapes and describing its efforts to eliminate sex-role stereotyping in broadcasting, as required in Public Notice CRTC 1983-211 dated 16 September 1983, to which the licensee has not yet responded.
Fernand Bélisle
Secretary General

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