ARCHIVED - Decision CRTC 2001-500

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Decision CRTC 2001-500

Ottawa, 17 August 2001

CKUA Radio Foundation
Calgary, Alberta 2001-0220-3

Application processed by Public
Notices CRTC 2001-49 and 2001-49-1
dated 8 and 17 May 2001, respectively

New SCMO service in East Indian languages


The Commission approves the application by the CKUA Radio Foundation (CKUA) to amend the licence for CKUA-FM Edmonton, by adding a condition of licence. This condition authorizes the licensee to use a subsidiary communications multiplex operations (SCMO) channel at CKUA-FM-1 Calgary for the broadcast of programming that is predominantly in the East-Indian languages of Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu and Gujrati. Programming broadcast using an SCMO channel is not receivable on standard radio equipment, and requires use of a special receiver.

Intervention and reply


Fairchild Radio Group Inc. (Fairchild) opposed CKUA's application. Fairchild holds a 50% ownership interest in CHKF-FM, an ethnic radio station that serves Calgary.


Fairchild argued that CKUA's proposed SCMO channel would unfairly jeopardize the service that CHKF-FM provides. It noted that CHKF-FM offers 10 hours per week of East Indian ethnic programming on a brokered basis, and that the producers of these programs rely on their audiences of East Indian origin to generate advertising revenues. The intervener claimed that audience fragmentation caused by the proposed SCMO channel would decrease the advertising revenue earned by the producers of this programming, thereby causing a reduction in program quality.


Fairchild further noted that research submitted by CKUA concerning the programming currently available to Calgary's East Indian community mentioned only a weekly program broadcast on campus station CJSW-FM, and failed to mention the East Indian programming broadcast by CHKF-FM. Nor did CKUA mention a weekly two-hour East Indian radio program broadcast from High River, or a weekly audio program distributed by cable.


Finally, Fairchild stated in its intervention that it planned to file an application for authority to use an SCMO channel on CHKF-FM to provide service to the East Indian community. The intervener considered that, given its status as a licensed ethnic broadcaster, it should have priority over CKUA in providing such a service.


In reply, CKUA acknowledged that it had miscalculated the number of hours of East Indian programming available in the market. It considered, however, that there is a need for more East Indian programming and that its proposed service would provide such programming on a 24 hour a day basis. The bulk of the programming would originate from Calgary and Edmonton.

The Commission's determination


The Commission set out its policy for SCMO services in Public Notice CRTC 1989-23 entitled Services using the vertical blanking interval (television) or subsidiary communications multiplex operation (FM). In its policy the Commission indicated that it would be concerned if introduction of an SCMO service were to "cause undue negative impact on existing local broadcasting services."


The Commission notes that, according to Fairchild's intervention, CHKF-FM broadcasts ten hours per week of programming in East Indian languages. This means that introduction of CKUA's SCMO service would have a potential impact on 8% of CHKF-FM's total programming, at most. However, two factors appear to further limit the potential effect of the SCMO service on Fairchild's service.


First, CHKF-FM's programming is available to anyone with a standard FM radio receiver. An SCMO service, on the other hand, requires the listener to obtain a special receiver. Second, none of CHKF-FM's East Indian programming is currently broadcast during the prime morning or afternoon drive periods, time periods from which radio stations traditionally derive their highest revenues.


The Commission therefore does not consider that the proposed SCMO service will have an undue negative impact on CHKF-FM. It further notes that Fairchild is a well-established and experienced ethnic broadcaster.


The Commission notes that Fairchild has now submitted its own application for authority to operate an SCMO service to provide programming in the East Indian languages. It also notes Fairchild's argument that it should, as a licensed ethnic broadcaster, be given priority to provide such a service. Unlike licensed radio undertakings, however, SCMO services are not required to offer a minimum level of Canadian content, make financial contributions to Canadian talent development or, in general, to make any specific programming commitments. The Commission therefore considers that SCMO services should generally be allowed to compete with one another. Today's approval of the CKUA's SCMO service thus does not, in and of itself, affect future consideration of any similar SCMO services.

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: 

Date Modified: 2001-08-17

Date modified: