ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 96-717

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Ottawa, 28 October 1996
Decision CRTC 96-717
Radio Communautaire du Saguenay inc.
Jonquière, Quebec - 952290500
Licence renewal
Following a Public Hearing held in Québec beginning on 9 July 1996, the Commission renews the licence for Type B community radio programming undertaking CHOC-FM Jonquière, from 1 November 1996 to 28 February 1997, subject to conditions in effect under the current licence, as well as to those conditions specified in this decision and in the licence to be issued. The reasons for this short-term renewal are set out below. The Commission notes that the licence for CHOC-FM was recently renewed, for administrative reasons, for a period of two months, from 1 September to 31 October 1996 (Decision CRTC 96-524).
The licensee informed the Commission at the outset of the hearing that CHOC-FM had discontinued broadcasting the previous week for financial reasons. It indicated it could no longer [TRANSLATION] "fulfil its responsibilities with regard to (its) employees" and therefore it had to discontinue station operations. The licensee also indicated that [TRANSLATION] "Under the present circumstances, with the existing staff and what is happening, we are not in a position this morning to request a licence renewal because we cannot demonstrate that we will be able to fulfil our responsibilities." The licensee added, however, that it was hopeful the station's financial situation would improve and that it would be able to resume operations. After discussing its financial situation with the Commission at the hearing, the licensee requested a licence renewal for three to six months to allow it to seek solutions to its problems and to consult the general public regarding the station's future.
The Commission had called Radio Communautaire du Saguenay inc. to appear at the July 1996 hearing to discuss its apparent non-compliance with subsection 2.2(5) of the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the regulations) which requires AM or FM licensees licensed to operate in the French language to devote, each broadcast week, 65% or more of their vocal musical selections from content category 2 to musical selections in the French language and schedule those selections in a reasonable manner throughout each broadcast day. In Notice of Public Hearing CRTC 1996-5 dated 10 May 1996, the Commission advised the licensee that it would be expected to show cause at the hearing why the Commission should not issue a mandatory order requiring it to comply with subsection 2.2(5) of the regulations.
Analysis of the programming broadcast by CHOC-FM during the week of 12 to 18 March 1995 revealed that the level of French-language vocal music broadcast by the station was 57.1% instead of 65%, which is the minimum level required by the regulations; the licensee acknowledged its non-compliance, noting that its self-evaluation yielded a figure of 58%. During questioning on this matter, the licensee indicated that its staff had been reduced due to financial problems, and that the station was essentially being operated by volunteers. The work of managing and supervising a group of over 30 volunteers was being carried on by the only two regular employees remaining on staff: the director and the secretary. The licensee further indicated that, once it realized it was not in compliance, it put a system in place that [TRANSLATION] "has proven effective, because it is monitored every week and we regularly check the volunteer's work or totals to ensure that they do their calculations accurately and use the correct method".
The Commission notes that, since 1986, CHOC-FM has received six short-term licence renewals due to its non-compliance, and that the licensee has now failed four times to comply with the requirements relating to French-language vocal music.
Although the station has once again contravened the regulations, the Commission considers that issurance of a mandatory order would serve no purpose, particularly given that CHOC-FM is not operating now and its future is still uncertain. In order that it may assess CHOC-FM's situation at an early date, the Commission has decided to grant a licence renewal for four months only.
The Commission is gravely concerned that the station is not operating at this time and that the licensee was unable to demonstrate at the hearing that it will be capable of resuming station operations and fulfil its regulatory and other obligations. Accordingly, the Commission puts the licensee on notice that if it wishes to have its licence renewed beyond 28 February 1997, it must show cause why the Commission should grant such a renewal.
Since the hearing, the licensee has advised that it is considering different options for resuming station operations. Over the next few months, the Commission will closely monitor implementation of the licensee's plan for a new start-up.
The Commission notes that the licensee's Promise of Performance includes a commitment to devote a minimum 5% of all music programming to material from Category 3 - Traditional and Special Interest Music.
It is a condition of licence that the licensee broadcast no more than 6 minutes of advertising in every hour of broadcast, and that it broadcast no more than an average of 4 minutes of advertising for every hour of broadcast up to a total of 504 minutes of advertising per week, in accordance with the community radio policy for Type B stations.
In Public Notice CRTC 1992-59 dated 1 September 1992 and entitled "Implementation of an Employment Equity Policy", the commission announced that the employment equity practices of broadcasters would be subject to examination by the Commission. It considers that community radio stations should be particularly sensitive to this issue in order to reflect fully the communities they serve. It encourages the licensee to consider employment equity issues in its hiring practices and in all other aspects of its management of human resources.
The Commission acknowledges the intervention submitted by the Association des radiodiffuseurs communautaires du Québec in support of this licence renewal.
This decision is to be appended to the licence.
 Allan J. Darling
 Secretary General

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