ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-364

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Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-364

Ottawa, 13 November 2002

Rogers Broadcasting Limited
Ottawa, Ontario

Application 2001-1212-8
Public Hearing in the National Capital Region
6 May 2002

Transitional digital radio undertaking associated with CIOX-FM Smiths Falls

The Commission denies the application for a new transitional digital radio undertaking that would have been associated with CIOX-FM Smiths Falls.

The application


The Commission received an application by Rogers Broadcasting Limited (Rogers) for a broadcasting licence to operate a transitional digital radio undertaking (DRU) associated with its existing station, CIOX-FM Smiths Falls.


Rogers proposed to simulcast the programming of CIOX-FM on the transitional DRU together with no more than 14 hours of other non-simulcast programming in each broadcast week.


Rogers acknowledged that the service area of the proposed transitional DRU would not enclose CIOX-FM's market, but would enclose the principal portions of the markets of several stations licensed to serve the Ottawa-Gatineau radio market, including its own stations CIWW and CKBY-FM as well as CHEZ-FM which is operated by its subsidiary CHEZ-FM Inc. The applicant explained that the Department of Industry's digital coverage plan for the area currently has no frequencies set aside for use in Smiths Falls.


In Transitional digital radio undertakings in Ottawa, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-365, 13 November 2002, the Commission approved the applications by Rogers and CHEZ-FM Inc. for broadcasting licences to operate transitional DRUs in Ottawa associated with CIWW, CKBY-FM and CHEZ-FM.


Rogers contended that the proposed transitional DRU would not be serving the Ottawa-Gatineau radio market, but would continue to serve the Smiths Falls radio market by offering a digital transmission of CIOX-FM that included local news, traffic and community information.



Standard Radio Inc. (Standard), licensee of CKQB-FM Ottawa, filed an intervention that opposed this application. The intervener argued that, since the service area of the proposed transitional DRU would not enclose Smiths Falls, it would be inconsistent with CIOX-FM's existing licence. Standard also submitted that Rogers' proposal was contrary to the common ownership policy set out in Commercial Radio Policy, Public Notice CRTC 1998-41, 30 April 1998 (Public Notice 1998-41). The intervener noted that the common ownership policy states that, in markets such as the Ottawa-Gatineau radio market, a single entity may own no more than two FM stations operating in the same language.


Rogers responded that, while it would be impossible to implement the digital transmission of CIOX-FM in Smiths Falls at the present time, it would work towards the development of the second phase of the digital transmission plan for the Ottawa-Gatineau area that would enable low-power transmitters to be installed in communities such as Smiths Falls. The applicant stated that it would not be operating another FM station in the Ottawa-Gatineau radio market because the proposed digital transmission of CIOX-FM would not change its role as a station that serves Smiths Falls.


Rogers also submitted that the Commission may wish to re-examine its common ownership policy to take into consideration the fact that, while FM provides a higher quality signal than AM in analog transmission, that distinction is eliminated in digital transmission. Rogers suggested that, instead of restricting the number of AM and FM stations that a single company may own in a given market, the Commission should limit the total number of stations that a single company may own in a market.

The Commission's analysis and conclusion


In A policy to govern the introduction of digital radio, Public Notice CRTC 1995-184, 29 October 1995, the Commission announced a two-stage approach to the introduction of digital radio broadcasting in Canada. For the short term, the Commission has established a process for licensing digital radio undertakings on a transitional basis. At the appropriate time, the Commission will initiate a public process to consider all aspects of digital radio broadcasting for the longer term.


All of the transitional DRUs that the Commission has licensed since 1995 have been associated with an existing FM or AM radio station and provide digital service to the community that the respective associated radio station is licensed to serve. The Commission will continue to license transitional DRUs on that basis and will also examine, on a case-by-case basis, applications for transitional DRUs whose digital radio service would spill over to markets adjacent to those served by the respective associated FM or AM stations.


The Commission considers that it would not be appropriate, at this time, to revise the common ownership policy set out in Public Notice 1998-41, as suggested by Rogers in its response to Standard's intervention. In considering applications for broadcasting licences to operate transitional DRUs, the Commission will continue to examine whether a proposal conforms with the existing common ownership policy regarding the number of FM and AM stations in a given market.


In the present case, Rogers proposed to operate a transitional DRU in association with CIOX-FM, which is licensed to serve Smiths Fall and the Ottawa Valley. The proposed undertaking would not deliver a signal to Smiths Falls, but would provide digital radio coverage that would be identical to that of radio stations licensed to serve the Ottawa Gatineau radio market, including the applicant's own two Ottawa FM stations.


In its evaluation of this application, the Commission has also taken into consideration Rogers' previous record in providing service on CIOX-FM to Smiths Falls and the Ottawa Valley. Most recently, in Complaint from Standard Radio Inc. concerning Rogers Broadcasting Limited's operation of CIOX-FM, Smiths Falls and CKVX-FM, Chilliwack, Decision CRTC 2001-257, 4 May 2001, the Commission determined that Rogers was not fully respecting the guidelines for CIOX-FM with respect to the provision of service to the community it was licensed to serve. This was the second occasion that the Commission made a determination that upheld a complaint by Standard regarding substantially the same issue.


The Commission considers that the proposed undertaking would, in fact, serve the Ottawa-Gatineau radio market rather than Smiths Falls and would eventually become, in effect, the third FM station operated by Rogers in that market. Accordingly, the Commission finds that Rogers' proposal is contrary to the common ownership policy contained in Public Notice 1998-41.


For all the reasons stated above, the Commission denies the application by Rogers for a broadcasting licence to operate a transitional DRU associated with its existing station, CIOX-FM Smiths Falls.

Secretary General

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Date Modified: 2002-11-13

Date modified: