ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 99-518

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Decision CRTC 99-518

  Ottawa, 3 December 1999
  Tri-Co Broadcasting Ltd.
Cornwall, Ontario – 199904587 – 199906319
  Applications processed by Public Notice CRTC 1999-129 dated 9 August 1999
  In this decision, the Commission denies the licensee's request to broadcast an overall minimum Canadian content level of 25% for popular music broadcast on CFLG-FM and CJSS-FM. The Radio Regulations, 1986 require commercial radio stations to broadcast a minimum level of 35% of Canadian popular music. The Commission considers that the Cornwall radio market does not qualify for programming flexibility under the Commission's border and small markets policy.
  1. Tri-Co Broadcasting Ltd. (Tri-Co) filed applications to amend the licences for its radio programming undertakings CFLG-FM and CJSS-FM Cornwall. Tri-Co requested conditions of licence that would have allowed only 25% of the (category 2) popular music selections broadcast each week on its stations to be Canadian and only 25% of the category 2 music broadcast over the 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. high listening period, Monday to Friday, to be Canadian.
  2. In Public Notice CRTC 1998-132, the Commission announced amendments to the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the regulations) that would give effect to the programming aspects of the new commercial radio policy announced in Public Notice CRTC 1998-41. Among other things, radio stations are required to ensure that 35% of the popular music musical selections broadcast each week be Canadian. Prior to these amendments, the Canadian content level was set at 30%. The amendments also required stations to meet the 35% requirement over the 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. listening period, Monday to Friday. The amendments came into force on 3 January 1999.
  3. According to Tri-Co, a Canadian content level of 35% places it at a competitive disadvantage with neighbouring U.S. radio stations.
  4. In Public Notice CRTC 1992-3, the Commission set out a policy for border and small markets and established guidelines to be followed in assessing requests from radio stations for programming flexibility. To be considered as a border market, a market must have 20% or more tuning to U.S. stations. The market must also be unprofitable, based on the profit before interest and taxes (PBIT) average over the previous five years for all commercial stations in the market. To be considered small, a market must be unprofitable based on the criterion noted above. In addition, the market’s population must be less than 100,000.
  5. According to the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM) Fall 1998 survey, the market share of tuning in Cornwall to U.S. stations was 6% in 1998. In 1997, it was 6% and in 1996, 8%. Cornwall’s population is less than 100,000. However, the Cornwall market’s PBIT average for the previous five years has been positive in every year. According to the guidelines set out in Public Notice 1992-3, the Cornwall radio market does not qualify for programming flexibility either as a small or as a border market.
  6. BBM surveys indicate that the share of in-market tuning of Tri-Co’s stations was 47% for Fall 1998. This share is an increase from Fall 1997 when Tri-Co’s stations accounted for 36% of in-market tuning. In Fall 1996, Tri-Co’s stations received a 33% share of such tuning. BBM ratings also demonstrate that the main competition for listeners is from a group of Ottawa stations that can be picked up in Cornwall.
  7. The Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) and the Canadian Independent Record Production Association (CIRPA) filed interventions opposing these applications. Both interveners argued that the applicant had failed to submit evidence to support its claim that "the listener does not want more than 25% Cancon levels."
  8. SOCAN maintained that competition from U.S. stations does not justify granting exemptions from the regulations. It further claimed that there is no objective evidence that broadcasting Canadian music is detrimental to a station’s economic health. In addition, SOCAN noted that the amendments to the regulations are intended to increase, not decrease, the level of Canadian music played by radio stations. SOCAN also claimed that there is ample popular Canadian music available to enable the stations to meet a 35% Canadian content level for popular music.
  9. In response, Tri-Co, among other things, reiterated its argument that a reduced Canadian content level will permit its stations to compete on a level playing field with neighbouring U.S. radio stations.
  10. Based on all of the foregoing, the Commission is not convinced that a reduced Canadian content level is warranted for CFLG-FM and CJSS-FM and denies Tri-Co’s applications.
  Secretary General
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