ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-128

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Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-128

Ottawa, 6 May 2002

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Montréal and Cowansville (including Granby and Sutton), Quebec

Radio Communautaire Missisquoi
Lac-Brome (including Sutton, Cowansville and Mansonville), Quebec

Applications 2001-0526-4 and 2000-2144-4
Public Hearing at Montréal, Quebec
19 November 2001

Addition of a transmitter and denial of a community radio station

In this decision, the Commission approves the application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to amend the broadcasting licence for CBME-FM Montréal, by authorizing the licensee to add a transmitter at Cowansville to rebroadcast its national English-language Radio One network. The Commission also denies the competing application by Radio Communautaire Missisquoi (RCM) for a broadcasting licence to operate a community FM radio station at Lac-Brome.

Since the CBC and RCM both proposed to operate on 101.9 MHz, their applications were mutually exclusive on a technical basis. The Commission has determined that the CBC's proposal represents the best use of the frequency 101.9 MHz and would better serve the public interest. The Commission, nevertheless, reaffirms the importance it attaches to the role that community radio stations play in the Canadian broadcasting system.



The Commission received an application from RCM for a broadcasting licence to operate an English-language Type A community FM radio station on 101.9 MHz to serve part of the Brome-Missisquoi region. Initially, the Commission scheduled RCM's application to be heard at a public hearing beginning on 26 March 2001. However, the CBC submitted an intervention indicating its intention to file an application to add a transmitter of CBME-FM at Cowansville operating on 101.9  MHz. Accordingly, the Commission withdrew RCM's application from the March hearing in order that it could be considered at a later date in conjunction with the CBC's application.


The Commission advised the CBC that, in preparing its application, it should "make a solid effort" to identify another frequency so that its proposal could be accommodated with the one presented by RCM. In an effort to resolve the technical conflict, the CBC suggested that RCM use 98.1 MHz (channel 251A) with the same parameters as it had planned for 101.9 MHz. RCM responded that 98.1 MHz would not be acceptable because its use at Lac-Brome would cause interference to the signals of two Montréal stations: CHOM-FM and CKOO-FM. RCM also provided copies of letters from these two stations, indicating their concerns and objections.


Once it had received a completed application from the CBC, the Commission scheduled both applications for consideration at the public hearing held at Montréal in November 2001.

RCM's application


RCM indicated that its station would operate at an effective radiated power of 800 watts and at an effective antenna height above average terrain (EHAAT) of 50.2 metres. The applicant estimated that its station would serve approximately 15,000 English-speaking potential listeners. Its 3 millivolt per metre (mV/m) contour would enclose Lac-Brome, Knowlton, Sutton and Sweetsburg, and its 0.5 mV/m would enclose Dunham, Cowansville, Brigham, Waterloo and Foster.


RCM stated that its proposed community radio station would respond to the needs of the community by presenting 84 hours of local, original programming each week in its first year of operation, increasing to 105 hours each week in the second year. Although the primary language of broadcast would be English, the applicant also planned to offer some programming in French and German.


The applicant also indicated that it would implement an ongoing training program either through Massey Vanier High School at Cowansville or the Knowlton Campus of Bishop's University. RCM also planned to hire a station manager and a consultant. Each would have responsibilities for training volunteers.

CBC's application


The CBC planned to operate its transmitter at an effective radiated power of 3,400 watts, the maximum use of 101.9 MHz, and at an EHAAT of 123.5 metres. With these technical parameters, the CBC's Radio One service would reach some 90,000  English-speaking people in the area. The transmitter's proposed 3 mV/m contour would enclose Cowansville, Brigham, Sutton, Dunham and Bedford, and its 0.5 mV/m contour would cover Granby, Waterloo, Lac-Brome, Mansonville, Clarenceville and Iberville.


The CBC stated that, although it currently provides Radio One to a large portion of the Eastern Townships through its stations CBME-FM Montréal and CBMB-FM Sherbrooke, the region's rolling terrain and interference from WVPA-FM Vermont make it impossible to deliver a good quality signal and, in many cases any signal at all, to the Brome-Missisquoi radio market. The licensee also cited its obligation to provide the national radio service to all Canadians and in this case, in particular, to the English-speaking minority in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Use of 101.9 MHz


At the hearing, the Commission questioned each applicant in order to determine the best use of 101.9 MHz from a technical perspective as well as the availability of viable alternative frequencies.


RCM stated that its search for another FM frequency that would reach all the communities it wished to serve failed to identify any viable alternative to 101.9 MHz. RCM reiterated that using 98.1 MHz, as suggested by the CBC, was unacceptable because it would cause interference to CHOM-FM and CKOO-FM. Since the licensees of both stations indicated that they are not willing to accept interference from the proposed community station, the Department of Industry (the Department), in accordance with its coverage area protection rules, would not certify RCM's use of the frequency. RCM also rejected other options proposed by the CBC to solve the interference problems associated with 98.1 MHz that involved using directional antennae and/or additional transmitters. While RCM acknowledged that it was possible to operate at 98.1 MHz without causing interference to the two Montréal stations if it used directional antennae or broadcast at a lower power, the revised contour that would result from the technical changes would not serve Cowansville adequately. RCM stated that the population of Cowansville represents approximately 40% of its intended audience, including about 60% of the merchants in the proposed service area. It contended that the viability of its project would be jeopardized if it could only reach 60% of its projected audience. At the hearing, RCM stated that "both CBC and ourselves could not find a solution to 98.1 aside from the interferences" and claimed that "all the solutions that were presented were, in fact, not solutions."


For its part, the CBC stated that it had investigated the possibility of expanding CBME-FM Montréal's coverage through a power increase. Its technical studies revealed, however, that it could not increase the power of CBMB-FM Sherbrooke's 88.5 MHz signal to the east or the south without causing interference to WVPA-FM St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The CBC also considered moving CBMB-FM's transmitter site from Fleurimont to Mont Orford, or stretching the signal either by means of directional antennae or by an increase in power. It concluded, however, that relocating the transmitter site would not be a reasonable solution because it would be very costly and, while improving reception to some of the population to the west of Mont Orford in the Magog area, would, at the same time, impair reception in the Sherbrooke and Lennoxville areas. Expanding CBMB-FM's signal with directional antennae or a power increase would still not fill in the gaps in the current service, nor provide clear reception to those listeners currently experiencing interference from WVPA-FM.


The CBC also examined the feasibility of using an AM transmitter, but found that the $1.2 million costs associated with installing it as well as the difficulties involved in locating an appropriate piece of land for the facility made this option unrealistic. Furthermore, although the available AM frequencies would have offered adequate coverage in the daytime, the Department's rules require that their night-time coverage be substantially reduced to protect existing AM stations in Canada and the U.S. Accordingly, an AM transmitter would not resolve the reception problems currently experienced by night-time listeners to Radio One.


In addition, the CBC considered RCM's suggestion to use 98.1 MHz. The CBC's investigation revealed, however, that, if it adopted this option, its coverage would drop from 90,000 residents to only 22,000 residents, leaving large areas without service and other communities with an impaired signal. The CBC maintained that, at 98.1 MHz, its coverage would be so deficient that it would need to install an extensive series of low power transmitters to fill in the gaps. While solving some reception problems within the area, the use of a number of transmitters would create other difficulties. The CBC was particularly concerned that listeners driving through the coverage area would have to tune the radios in their vehicles back and forth just to maintain reception.



Many interventions were filed in support of each of the two competing applications. In addition, an intervention was submitted by Communications Michel Mathieu supporting the CBC's proposal and opposing RCM's application. That intervention stated, in part, that every Canadian citizen has the right to receive service from the CBC, as Canada's national broadcaster. The intervener also claimed that RCM had failed to provide a credible market study to demonstrate whether there are sufficient revenues in the community to support the proposed undertaking.


RCM responded, among other things, that it has support for its proposed station from the community it wishes to serve.

The Commission's analysis and conclusion


The Commission has analysed the claims submitted by the CBC and RCM respectively, concerning the problems associated with operating their proposed undertakings at 98.1 MHz and agrees that this frequency does not represent a suitable alternative in the present circumstances.


In addition, the Commission has evaluated the other possible solutions to the technical conflict presented by each applicant at the hearing, and concludes that use of 101.9 MHz is the best option for delivering a good quality signal to the proposed communities in the most efficient manner and at a reasonable cost.


The CBC's proposed transmitter would operate at 101.9 MHz's maximum effective radiated power of 3,400 watts and serve some 90,000 English-speaking listeners in the Eastern Townships who either currently do not receive Radio One's service or who now receive a poor quality signal. While the Commission is cognizant of the importance of the role that community radio stations play in the Canadian broadcasting system, it also notes the clear objectives of the CBC, outlined under subsection 3(1) of the Broadcasting  Act (the Act).


Given that subparagraph 3(1)(m)(vii) of the Act specifies that the programming provided by the CBC should "be made available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means and as resources become available for the purpose", and taking into account, in particular, the CBC's technical plan for the use of the frequency, the Commission finds, in the present case, that the CBC's proposal represents the best use of the frequency 101.9 MHz, and will, therefore, better serve the public interest than that of RCM. For this reason, the Commission approves the CBC's application and denies RCM's application.

Issuance of the licence amendment


The Department has advised the Commission that, while this application is conditionally technically acceptable, it will only issue a broadcasting certificate once it has determined that the proposed technical parameters will not create any unacceptable interference with aeronautical NAV/COM services.


In accordance with section 22(1) of the Broadcasting Act, the Commission will only issue the licence amendment when it receives notification from the Department that its technical requirements have been met, and that a broadcasting certificate will be issued.


The transmitter must be operational within 12 months of today's date. The licensee's failure to meet this deadline will cause the authority to become null and void, unless a request for an extension of time is submitted and approved by the Commission within that period.

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: 2002-05-06

Date modified: