ARCHIVED - Decision CRTC 2001-136

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Decision CRTC 2001-136

  Ottawa, 27 February 2001
  Fairchild Radio (Vancouver FM) Ltd.
Vancouver, British Columbia
  Application processed by Public Notice CRTC 2000-147 dated 27 October 2000

New Punjabi-language SCMO service

1. The Commission approves, by majority vote, the application to amend the licence for CHKG-FM Vancouver, by adding a condition of licence allowing the licensee to use a subsidiary communications multiplex operations (SCMO) channel for the purpose of broadcasting a predominately Punjabi-language radio service. The new service will replace CHKG-FM's predominately Korean-language SCMO service.
2. Punjabi Akashwani 2000 Ltd. will produce the programming: at least 70% will be in Punjabi with the remainder in other "national languages of India." The service will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
3. Programming broadcast using an SCMO channel is not accessible with standard radio equipment. Instead, it requires use of a special receiver.
4. The Commission has noted the concerns expressed in interventions opposing this application, including those claiming that an approval would harm the predominantly Hindi-language SCMO service operated by Rim Jhim and carried on CJJR-FM Vancouver.
5. The applicant responded that its proposed service would target Punjabi-speaking listeners and would, therefore, not be directly competitive with Rim Jhim's service.
6. The Commission's policy regarding services using the SCMO channel of FM stations is set out in Public Notice CRTC 1989-23. In accordance with that policy, licensees are expected to be fully accountable for the content of SCMO services broadcast by their stations.
7. The policy also states that the Commission would be concerned if an SCMO service were to cause any undue negative impact on existing local licensed broadcasting services. Unlike licensed radio undertakings, SCMO services are not required to offer a minimum level of Canadian content, to make financial contributions to Canadian talent development, or, in general, to make specific programming commitments. Despite the concerns raised in the opposing interventions regarding the possible negative impact of the proposed SCMO service on an existing SCMO service, the Commission is satisfied that approval of this application will not cause undue negative impact on any existing local licensed ethnic radio stations.
8. The Commission acknowledges the interventions submitted in support of this application.
  Related CRTC documents
  • Public Notice 1999-117 - Ethnic broadcasting policy
  • Public Notice 1989-23 - Services using the vertical blanking interval (television) or subsidiary communications multiplex operation (FM)
  Secretary General
  This decision is to be appended to the licence. It is available in alternative format upon request, and may also be examined at the following Internet site: 


  Dissenting opinion of Commissioner Andrew Cardozo
  I would not have approved this application at this time for two reasons.
  First, I am concerned that as radio frequencies are becoming increasingly scarce, there is a need to regulate the usage for SCMO channels (subsidiary communications multiplex operations) in a manner similar in principle, to the licensing of radio stations, i.e. primarily to ensure that there is a diversity of services among SCMO services. I recognize that this would require a change in Commission policy and regulations. As such, the competitive effect of a new SCMO service on existing SCMO services would be a factor in approving applications such as the one in question here. More and more, SCMOs are being looked to in meeting the growing demand for third-language broadcasting despite their limited reach due to technical limitations.
  In this case, Rim Jhim, a long-time and very popular SCMO service carried on CJJR-FM Vancouver, which provides programming in Hindi as well as Punjabi, Urdu and Gujarati, naturally operates on a slim budget and will be affected by competition in similar languages. With the strong demand for ethnic services in Vancouver the commercial viability of each should be one of the issues for consideration by the Commission.
  Second, while I agree with my colleagues in the majority where they state in paragraph 6 of the majority decision, that "licensees are expected to be fully accountable for the content of SCMO services broadcast by their stations", I believe that the Commission should have looked further into some of the concerns raised on the record with regards to abusive or offensive comments on air in the lower mainland area. It should nevertheless, be quite clear to Fairchild Radio (Vancouver FM) Ltd., and all licensees with sub-carrier services, that the Commission holds the licensee accountable with regard to all programming on this SCMO regardless of the amount of spoken-word programming or the language it is broadcast in. Use of the public air-waves warrants these obligations. CHKG-FM has been a responsible broadcaster and it needs to ensure that it maintains this reputation with its sub-carrier.
  For these two reasons, I respectfully dissent from the majority on this decision and would not have granted approval at this time.
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