Public Notice CRTC 1998-62 | CRTC


Public Notice

  Ottawa, 9 July 1998
  Public Notice CRTC 1998-62

Exemption order respecting certain native radio undertakings

  1. In Public Notice CRTC 1998-4 dated 28 January 1998, and pursuant to section 9(4) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act), the Commission proposed to exempt from licensing requirements persons carrying on certain native radio undertakings. The Commission received submissions from four interested parties in response to its proposal: the Association for Indigenous Radio (AIR), a native broadcasting society; Television Northern Canada (TVNC), a native broadcaster; the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC); and one individual.
  2. The Commission acknowledges the comments and suggestions contained in these submissions, and has taken these into account in developing various modifications to the exemption criteria proposed in its January 1998 public notice. These modifications are reflected in the Exemption Order Respecting Certain Native Radio Undertakings (the Order), which is attached as Appendix A to this notice.
  3. This Order exempts native radio stations in remote areas from licensing and from most sections of the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the regulations). The Commission is satisfied that this exemption is the most efficient way to ensure that the broadcasting undertakings falling within the exempted class are able to devote the maximum amount of their limited resources to the provision of service, rather than to the fulfilment of administrative requirements.
  4. At the same time, given the important role played by this sector within the Canadian broadcasting system, the Commission will wish to maintain a record of the number and location of native radio stations operating in Canada. It is satisfied that a simple registration process will enable it to do so. Accordingly, the Commission expects new native radio stations that meet the exemption criteria and wish to take advantage of the exemption order to fill in the registration form included as Appendix B to this notice and submit it to the Commission.
  5. This registration is for information purposes only, and completion of the registration form does not constitute a Commission determination that the undertaking in question meets the exemption criteria. The registration process need only be completed once, when a new station in the exempted class begins operation. Native radio stations that have been licensed in the past need not register with the Commission.
  6. In its submission, the CBC raised certain concerns about the proposed exemption order. These concerns relate primarily to the degree of recourse available to members of a community in situations where they believe an exempted station is not adequately fulfilling its mandate. The Commission acknowledges these concerns, but is confident that the criteria set out in the purpose and description sections of the final Order provide a clear outline of the mandate and function of these services. Members of a community who believe that their local station does not meet the criteria set out in the exemption order may bring their concerns to the Commission.
  7. In Public Notice CRTC 1998-4, the Commission specifically asked for comments on whether persons operating exempted stations should be required to adhere to regulations relating to Canadian content and the retention of logger tapes.
  8. TVNC, in its comment, noted that native radio stations "usually feature local, Canadian talent and have no desire to diminish the number of hours devoted to Canadian programming." At the same time, however, it indicated that the limited resources available to these services make it "difficult to comply with the current requirements of providing broadcast logs and monitoring [Canadian content] levels."
  9. The Commission agrees with TVNC that native radio stations can continue to contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system without being required to adhere to specific regulations regarding Canadian content in music programming. The Commission further agrees that a simpler requirement would allow exempted stations, in TVNC's words, to "comply without allocating valuable resources to the necessary paperwork which could be better utilized producing and broadcasting aboriginal programs."
  10. Accordingly, persons carrying on native radio undertakings that meet the exemption criteria are exempted from the Canadian and musical content requirements contained in section 2.2 of the regulations, as amended from time to time. The text of the purpose section of the Order has been changed from that contained in the Commission's original proposal to note that "[t]hese undertakings...make the greatest practicable use of Canadian creative and other resources in the creation and presentation of programming."
  11. Both AIR and TVNC indicated that exempting native radio stations from the requirement to retain program logs and logger tapes would free significant amounts of financial and other resources that could be devoted to improving the service provided to communities. The Commission agrees that placing such a focus on improved service would be a productive use of the limited amount of resources available to these stations. Accordingly, stations that meet the exemption criteria are exempted from the logs and records requirements contained in section 8 of the regulations.
  12. In their submissions, TVNC and the CBC commented on the broadcasting of religious programming by native radio stations. The Commission considers that it would not be appropriate to include within the scope of this Order undertakings that offer a service that is primarily religious in nature. Accordingly, the Commission has added a new criterion to the exemption order to address this concern. This criterion states: "The primary purpose of the undertaking is not to provide a religious programming service." The Commission considers that this criterion will ensure that an exempted station is not used primarily as a vehicle to promote the views of one religious group or denomination in a community.
  13. The Commission emphasizes that the Canadian content, logger tape, program log and balance in programming requirements remain important components of its regulatory and policy framework for the Canadian broadcasting system. The Commission's decision to exempt certain native radio stations from those requirements is based on the fact that, although culturally important, these stations have limited resources, provide radio services in unique circumstances and, by definition, operate in areas where no commercial stations are operating.
  14. The Commission notes that AIR, although generally supportive of the proposed exemption order, raised two concerns in its submission. AIR noted that "digital radio will be the radio mechanism of the future" and questioned whether exemption would reduce the entitlement of native radio stations to digital radio frequencies. AIR also commented on the definition of a "low power" radio station and the use of low power frequencies by native radio stations.
  15. The Commission considers that the exemption of native radio undertakings should not be permitted to have any negative impact on their ability to make use of digital technology. It notes in this regard that all Type A native radio stations currently in operation have been included in the Department of Industry's allotment plan for digital radio. Although broadcasting certificates from the Department of Industry will still be required for native radio broadcasting undertakings that are exempted from CRTC licensing, the Commission expects that future requests for certificates from exempted native radio stations will not be given lower priority for digital radio frequencies than those from licensed services. Nevertheless, all stations using unprotected low-power frequencies may continue to be treated differently from stations using protected frequencies.
  16. With respect to AIR's comments about the use of low power frequencies by native radio undertakings, the Commission notes that neither the definition of a native radio undertaking nor the exemption criteria includes any reference to the level of power used by such an undertaking. Thus, a station's eligibility for exemption is not affected by this technical parameter. In the Commission's view, any other issue or concern about the definition of low-power radio stations should be raised in the context of the Commission's policy on low-power radio frequencies (as set out in Public Notice CRTC 1992-21 dated 21 March 1992).
  17. The exemption order applies to native radio undertakings whose service contours do not enclose any area in which a commercial radio programming undertaking is licensed to operate. The Commission wishes to clarify that this restriction includes areas served by the retransmission facilities of commercial stations, as well as the service areas of terrestrial radiocommunication distribution undertakings that rebroadcast the programming of a commercial radio station. In other words, native radio undertakings are exempted only where there is no commercial radio station, no rebroadcaster of a commercial radio station, and no terrestrial radiocommunication distribution undertaking of a commercial radio station operating in all or any part of the area served by the native radio undertaking or its rebroadcasters.
  18. The Commission notes that a station must meet the exemption criteria at all times. Thus, in situations where a commercial radio service, including that provided by a rebroadcaster or a terrestrial radiocommunication distribution undertaking, begins operating in all or any part of the area served by a previously-exempted native radio station, or where the previously-exempted station ceases to comply with any of the other exemption criteria, the native radio station will no longer fall within the scope of the Exemption Order and will thus be subject to licensing requirements and all applicable regulations under the Act.
  19. Finally, the Commission notes that certain native radio undertakings that do not meet the strict definition of a Type A native radio station may have been given "Type A" status on a case-by-case basis in the past. Any such station that does not meet the exemption criteria set out in the exemption order attached to this notice will not, of course, be exempted and will continue to require a broadcasting licence from the Commission.
  20. In addition to the modifications noted above, other minor changes are reflected in the final Order in the interests of increased clarity and precision.
  Laura M. Talbot-Allan
Secretary General
  This document is available in alternative format upon request.

Appendix A to Public Notice 1998-62



  The Commission, by this order made pursuant to section 9(4) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act), exempts those persons carrying on radio programming undertakings of the class defined below from the requirements of Part II of the Act, with the exception of the requirements set out in sections 32 and 34. Such persons shall also be subject to the requirements of sections 3, 3.1, 4 and 5 (broadcasting content) of the Radio Regulations, 1986, with the necessary modifications
  I. Purpose
  The purpose of these radio programming undertakings is to provide radio programming that reflects the interests and needs of, and is specifically oriented to, the native communities they serve. These undertakings have a distinct role in fostering the development of aboriginal cultures and, where possible, the preservation of ancestral languages. These undertakings broadcast programming in any native Canadian language or in either or both of the two official languages, and make the greatest practicable use of Canadian creative and other resources in the creation and presentation of programming.
  II. Description
  1. The undertaking is owned and controlled by a not-for-profit organization whose structure provides for board membership by the native population of the region served.
  2. The primary purpose of the undertaking is not to provide a religious programming service.
  3. No commercial AM, FM or digital radio programming undertaking or terrestrial radiocommunication distribution undertaking that distributes the programming of a commercial radio undertaking is licensed to operate in all or in any part of the undertaking's geographical area enclosed within: (a) in the case of a native AM station, the 5 millivolt-per-metre daytime official contour; or (b) in the case of a native FM station, the 500 microvolt-per-metre official contour. For greater clarity, the official contour includes the service contour marked for each transmitter on the map that pertains to that station and that is most recently published under the Department of Industry Act by the Minister of Industry.
  4. The Commission would not be prohibited from licensing the undertaking by virtue of any Act of Parliament, of the Direction to the CRTC (Ineligibility of Non-Canadians), the Direction to the CRTC (Ineligibility to Hold Broadcasting Licences) or of any other direction to the Commission by the Governor in Council.
  5. The undertaking's programming complies with the guidelines on gender portrayal set out in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming and the provisions of the CAB's Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children as may be amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.
  6. The undertaking meets all technical requirements of the Department of Industry and has acquired all authorizations or certificates prescribed by the Department.

Appendix B to Public Notice CRTC 1998-62


Registration for Exempted Native Radio Stations

  New native radio stations that meet the exemption criteria set out in the Exemption Order Respecting Certain Native Radio Undertakings and that have never held a licence from the Commission should complete and submit this form. This form is also available on the Commission's web site, at .
  Name of station or Call sign
  Band O AM O FM
  Transmitter power (watts)
  Name of person or group
responsible for the station
  Mailing address of station
  Name, address and/or
email address of person
who completed form
(if different from above)
  This registration form is for information purposes only. Completion of this form does not constitute a Commission determination that the undertaking identified herein meets the exemption criteria set out in the Commission's Exemption Order Respecting Certain Native Radio Undertakings.
  Please complete and submit to: CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2, FAX: (819) 994-0218.
  Forms may also be submitted to one of the following CRTC Regional Offices:
Bank of Commerce Bldg. Place Montreal Trust 275 Portage Ave.
1809 Barrington Street 1800 McGill College Ave. Suite 1810
Suite 1007 Suite 1920 Winnipeg, Manitoba
Halifax, Nova Scotia Montreal, Quebec R3B 2B3
B3J 3K8 H3A 3J6 FAX: (204) 983-6317
FAX: (902) 426-2721 FAX: (514) 283-3689
530-580 Hornby St.
Vancouver, B.C.
V6C 3B6
FAX: (604) 666-8322
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