ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 98-106

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Ottawa, 7 April 1998

Decision CRTC 98-106

Radio Nord inc.

Val d'Or, Amos and Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec - 199708327

Conversion of CKVD from AM to FM - application approved

1. Following a Public Hearing in Québec beginning on 27 January 1998, the Commission approves the application for a broadcasting licence for a French-language FM radio programming undertaking at Val d'Or, on the frequency 104.3 MHz, channel 282C, with an effective radiated power of 100,000 watts, and a transmitter at Rouyn-Noranda, on the frequency 98.3 MHz, channel 252A, with an average effective radiated power of 862 watts.

2. Subject to the requirements of this decision, the Commission will issue a licence expiring 31 August 2004. This licence will be subject to the conditions specified in this decision and in the licence to be issued.

3. Radio Nord inc. (Radio Nord) currently operates the AM radio programming undertakings CKVD Val d'Or, CHAD Amos and CKRN Rouyn Noranda. The licensee has indicated that it will cease operation of those undertakings following the implementation of the FM station. The Commission will not issue a licence for authority to carry on the proposed new FM undertaking until the licensee surrenders the licences currently issued for CKVD, CHAD and CKRN, for cancellation by the Commission.

4. In its application, the applicant indicated the following:

[TRANSLATION] There will be no major changes in the existing programming. ... Only technical changes will be made. We intend to close three AM broadcasting undertakings to be able to operate one regional FM station that will share the facilities currently owned by Radio Nord inc.

5. At the hearing, the applicant argued that its AM radio stations in the Abitibi region have been running at a deficit for the last five years, and that its application aims to consolidate all of its broadcasting undertakings in Abitibi and make them profitable in order to [TRANSLATION] "ensure the survival of a radio service that has been broadcasting to the Abitibi region since 1948". The applicant also claimed that converting to FM will enable it to broadcast a signal with a significantly superior sound quality in the daytime and at night, allowing it to win back listeners that have abandoned AM radio and to provide better service to several communities that are poorly served because of the weakness and configuration of the AM signal. The applicant further indicated that it has to replace the obsolete equipment in its stations and that the investment required for FM equipment is significantly lower than that required for AM equipment.

6. Radiomutuel inc. (Radiomutuel), licensee of CJMM-FM Rouyn-Noranda and CJMV-FM Val D'Or, intervened in opposition to the conversion of CKVD to FM. The intervener raised several concerns at the hearing. In particular, Radiomutuel is concerned that Radio Nord could change its programming by expanding its musical content. In addition, the intervener expressed concern that, since Radio Nord already operates CHOA-FM Rouyn-Noranda, which targets the 35-54 age group, the applicant could operate its new FM station in the same format as Radiomutuel now occupies, which targets the 18-35 age group. Finally, Radiomutuel noted that Radio Nord currently operates all the commercial television stations, two FM stations and three AM stations in Abitibi-Témiscamingue. It argued that, in view of Radio Nord's existing dominant position, approval of this application would give Radio Nord an undue competitive advantage with respect to advertising revenues.

7. For the above reasons, Radiomutuel asked the Commission to deny Radio Nord's application or, at a minimum, to impose a condition of licence requiring that programs broadcast by Radio Nord between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday to Sunday, contain a minimum of 60% spoken word content. In addition, the intervener asked the Commission to require Radio Nord to affiliate exclusively with the Radiomédia inc. network.

8. In response to Radiomutuel's intervention, Radio Nord reiterated that it is not targeting the 18-35 age group and that its programming will appeal to a different audience from that of Radiomutuel. With regard to the condition of licence proposed by the intervener relating to the level of spoken word on the new station, Radio Nord argued at the hearing that such a condition of licence would be unacceptable because it would add 20% to 25% to its programming expenses, and would be inconsistent with its goal of profitability. Radio Nord, however, stated, at the hearing, that it could agree to a 40% level of spoken word. In addition, Radio Nord stated that it is prepared to comply with an amended condition of licence with respect to network affiliation requiring that programming other than local programming originate exclusively from the Radio Nord inc. and Radiomédia inc. networks.

9. Accordingly, it is a condition of licence that programming other than local programming originate exclusively from the Radio Nord inc. and Radiomédia inc. networks.

10. Moreover, the Commission expects that the new station be operated in the same format as CKVD and notes the licensee's commitment that 40% of the programming broadcast will be spoken word. The Commission also notes the licensee's commitment to maintain one journalist in each of the four major communities in the Abitibi region, namely Val D'Or, Amos, Rouyn-Noranda and La Sarre.

11. In view of the applicant's financial situation and the commitments it made at the hearing relating to the format, level of spoken word and target audience of the new station, the Commission considers that approval of this application is in the public interest. In reaching its decision, the Commission also considered the commitment made by Radio Nord inc. at the hearing to continue its overall annual contribution of $1,000 in direct expenditures for Canadian talent development for CKLS-FM La Sarre, CKRN Rouyn-Noranda, CKVD Val D'Or and CHAD Amos, even after the latter three stations are closed. The Commission is satisfied that the new station will have a minimal impact on the competing stations in the region and that the conversion of CKVD to FM will ensure the survival of a valuable radio service that has been serving the region for over 50 years.

12. It is a condition of licence that the licensee refrain from soliciting or accepting local advertising for broadcast during any broadcast week when less than one-third of the programming aired is local. The definition of local programming shall be as set out on page 8 of Public Notice CRTC 1993-38, or as amended from time to time by the Commission.

13. It is a condition of licence that this station not be operated within the Specialty format as defined in Public Notice CRTC 1995-60, or as amended from time to time by the Commission.

14. The licensee is required, by condition of licence, to make payments to third parties involved in Canadian talent development at the level identified for it in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) Distribution Guidelines for Canadian Talent Development, as set out in Public Notice CRTC 1995-196 or as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission, and to report the names of the third parties associated with Canadian talent development, together with the amounts paid to each, on its annual return. The payments required under this condition of licence are over and above any outstanding commitments to Canadian talent development offered as benefits in an application to acquire ownership or control of the undertaking.

15. It is a condition of licence that the licensee adhere to the guidelines on gender portrayal set out in the CAB's Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming, as amended from time to time and accepted by the Commission.

16. It is also a condition of licence that the licensee adhere to the provisions of the CAB's Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children, as amended from time to time and accepted by the Commission.

17. The Commission notes that this licensee is subject to the Employment Equity Act that came into effect on 24 October 1996 (1996 EEA), and therefore files reports concerning employment equity with Human Resources Development Canada. As a result of a consequential amendment to the Broadcasting Act, the Commission no longer has the authority to apply its employment equity policy to any undertaking that is subject to the 1996 EEA.

18. This authority will only be effective and the licence will only be issued at such time as construction of the undertaking is completed and it is prepared to commence operation. If the construction is not completed within twelve months of the date of this decision or, where the applicant applies to the Commission within this period and satisfies the Commission that it cannot complete construction and commence operation before the expiry of this period, and that an extension of time is in the public interest, within such further periods of time as are approved in writing by the Commission, the licence will not be issued. The applicant is required to advise the Commission (before the expiry of the twelve-month period or any extension thereof) in writing, once it has completed construction and is prepared to commence operation.

19. The Department of Industry has advised the Commission that this application is conditionally technically acceptable, and that a Broadcasting Certificate will only be issued once it has been determined that the proposed technical parameters will not create any unacceptable interference with aeronautical NAV/COM services.

20. In accordance with section 22(1) of the Broadcasting Act, the Commission will only issue the licence and the authority will only be granted at such time as written notification is received from the Department of Industry that its technical requirements have been met, and that a Broadcasting Certificate will be issued.

21. The Commission acknowledges the intervention submitted by l'Association québécoise de l'industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo (ADISQ) with regard to this application.

This decision is to be appended to the licence.

Laura M. Talbot-Allan
Secretary General

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