ARCHIVED - Public Notice CRTC 2000-84

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Public Notice CRTC 2000-84

Ottawa, 16 June 2000
Introduction to decisions on competing applications proposing new radio stations in Toronto


In Public Notice CRTC 1999-119, the Commission called for applications for AM and/or FM radio services to serve Toronto. At a public hearing in Toronto beginning on 31 January 2000, the Commission heard 16 applications from 13 different parties, most of whom were competing for licences to operate new radio stations in the Toronto area. Three other applications had been scheduled for consideration at the hearing, but were withdrawn by the applicants before their proposals were heard.


The 13 applicants sought authority to make use of one or more of four different radio frequencies, namely 93.5 MHz, 106.3 MHz and 106.5 MHz on the FM band, and 740 kHz on the AM band. In the case of 106.3 MHz and 106.5 MHz, the use of one in the Toronto area would technically preclude use of the other. This effectively reduces to three the number of proposals that the Commission could potentially approve.


Included among the competing applicants were three parties that proposed to offer new services using both an AM and an FM frequency. Three other applications were by existing licensees. One requested either an amendment to its current Toronto AM licence authorizing it to make use of the 740 kHz AM frequency, or a new licence to flip this existing operation to the FM band. The second applicant proposed use of an FM frequency to rebroadcast the signal of its FM station in Timmins, Ontario. The third applicant proposed to use one of two FM frequencies to broadcast the signal of an existing Ajax radio station in Toronto.


The applications were considered by the Commission against the background of an Order in Council issued on 7 May 1998. The Order directed the Commission to "…reserve frequency 93.5 MHz or any other appropriate frequency on the FM band and frequency 740 kHz on the AM band, for the use of radio services in Toronto which will contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the Commission's broadcasting policy set out in subparagraph 3(1) (d) (iii) of the Broadcasting Act." The objective contained in the Act and cited in the Order is that the Canadian broadcasting system should:

through its programming and the employment opportunities arising out of its operations, serve the needs and interests, and reflect the circumstances and aspirations, of Canadian men, women and children, including equal rights, the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the special place of aboriginal peoples within that society…


In its assessment of the applications, in addition to the Order, the Commission took into account four main factors, or bases of comparison, that it has identified as usually being relevant to the evaluation of competing applications for new radio services. While their relative importance will vary depending on the specific circumstances of the market concerned, the four factors are as follows:
  • quality of the applications, including the provision they make for optimal use of the frequency applied for,
  • impact on the market of a new entrant,
  • competitive state of the market, and
  • diversity of news voices in a community.


The Commission discussed the Order in Council, the factors set out above, and the technical alternatives that may be available to each of the applicants at the public hearing, and considered all these factors in reaching its decisions.


The services licensed today will bring additional points of view and variety to Toronto radio, but it was clear from discussions with all applicants that the diversity of news voices was not at issue in this proceeding since Toronto residents already have access to news from a large variety of sources. It was also clear that the Toronto radio market could absorb a number of new entrants without a significant negative impact being felt by existing Toronto radio licensees, and that the licensing of additional stations would have no long-range effect on the competitive state of the market except perhaps on certain ethnic stations. The Commission is therefore satisfied that the primary factor in the consideration of the applications to serve Toronto is the multi-faceted issue of the quality of the individual applications, in all the circumstances. This issue is discussed in detail in Decisions 2000-203 to 205.


In the decisions that accompany this notice (Decisions CRTC 2000-203 to 2000-206, the Commission has approved an application by B. Denham Jolly, on behalf of a company to be incorporated (Milestone). Milestone applied for a licence to carry on a new radio station on the FM frequency 93.5 MHz, operating in an urban music format. The Commission has also approved an application by Gary Farmer, on behalf of a company to be incorporated (Aboriginal Voices Radio; AVR), which will offer a service of particular interest to Aboriginal audiences in the Toronto area. The new station will operate on the FM frequency 106.5 MHz. Finally, the Commission has approved an application by CHWO Ontario Inc. (on behalf of a limited partnership to be known as AM 740 PrimeTime Radio; PrimeTime Radio) for a licence to carry on a new AM station, on the frequency 740 kHz. It will provide a service focused on entertainment and information of interest primarily to those 50 years of age and older - one of the fastest growing age demographic groups in Canada. All of the other applications have been denied.


The Commission is satisfied that the licensing actions described above are fully in keeping with the Order in Council.


Of the AM applications, three made the strongest cases as representing the most appropriate use of the frequency 740 kHz. These include the PrimeTime Radio application described above and ultimately approved by the Commission. They also include an application by 914258 Ontario Inc. (Infinity) proposing an ethnic programming service that would have been directed to a number of third-language communities in the Toronto area, but most particularly to audiences of South Asian origin. The third application was by AVR. AVR had sought the FM frequency subsequently awarded to it in Decision CRTC 2000-204, as well as the AM frequency 740 kHz, to deliver its proposed Aboriginal programming service to as large an audience as possible in Toronto and south-central Ontario.


The AM frequency in question is one of a small number of Class A "clear channel" frequencies allocated to Canada by international broadcasting agreements. The frequency has the capacity to provide exceptionally wide coverage both day and night, giving it the ability to consistently reach audiences living far beyond the range of most other Toronto-based AM frequencies. It was assigned for use by the public broadcaster in the early days of Canadian radio. In fact, for many years, the CBC used this frequency to deliver its "Radio One" service to audiences in Toronto, south-western and south-central Ontario. In 1998 the Corporation moved its Radio One service from 740 kHz to the FM dial, in large part because of the more reliable signal coverage provided by the FM frequency in the downtown core of Toronto.


Concerning the Infinity application, the Commission is mindful of the rapidly changing demographic characteristics of the Metropolitan Toronto population and, in particular, the growth that has occurred in recent years in the size of several of its visible minority groups such as the South Asian communities.


With respect to AVR’s AM application, based on the available evidence, including statements made by AVR at the hearing, the Commission considers that the applicant’s plans can be implemented most appropriately and manageably through the use of the single FM frequency (106.5 MHz). Reasons for the Commission’s determination are set out in Decision CRTC 2000-204 of today’s date.


In the case of both of these denied applications, the Commission notes that they have proposed use of a frequency (740 kHz) capable of reaching more than 7 million Canadian listeners day and night to target relatively small sectors of this overall population. In the Commission’s view, the optimum use of the frequency spectrum entails the exploitation of this frequency to deliver a radio service that appeals to the largest audience possible.


Accordingly, and for the reasons set out in detail in Decision CRTC 2000-205, the Commission has approved the application by PrimeTime, which is predicated on use of the AM frequency 740 kHz. The Commission notes that, based on discussions with applicants at the Toronto hearing, there appear to be other radio frequencies available for use in the Toronto market.
Secretary General
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