ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-376

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Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-376

Ottawa, 15 November 2002

Astral Radio inc.
Saguenay, Quebec

Application 2001-1382-9
Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2002-23
6 May 2002

Short-term licence renewal for CKRS Saguenay

The Commissions renews the broadcasting licence for the radio programming undertaking CKRS Saguenay from 1 December 2002 to 31 August 2005. This three-year term will enable the Commission to next consider the renewal of CKRS's licence at the same time as those of other stations owned by Astral Radio inc. in the same market.


In Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2002-23, 6 May 2002, the Commission announced that it had received an application by Astral Radio inc. (Astral) to renew the licence for the radio programming undertaking CKRS Saguenay. Since it was unable to rule on this application before the licence expired, the Commission, in Three-month administrative renewals, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-236, 22 August 2002, renewed CKRS's licence from 1 September 2002 to 30 November 2002.



The Commission received four interventions in connection with this application. Jean Tremblay, Mayor of Saguenay, André Harvey, MP for Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, and Isabelle Simard, President of the Association des centres-villes de Chicoutimi, all supported CKRS's licence renewal, but also expressed some concerns. While not opposed to the renewal, Luc Vallée, on behalf of the Syndicat des employés de CKRS-CJAB (the Syndicat), proposed certain amendments to CKRS's licence.


In his intervention, Jean Tremblay noted the importance, for the residents of the City of Saguenay and the surrounding area, of having a continuous radio service that covers national, provincial and, most importantly, regional current events.


André Harvey stated in his intervention that 35 hours of local programming was inadequate to serve the Saguenay-Lac St-Jean area, that there were too many programs originating in Montréal and that these programs did not reflect news and current events in the area. Moreover, Mr. Harvey suggested that CKRS's licence be renewed only for a two- or three-year period to ensure that the station complies with the Commission's requirements.


Isabelle Simard underlined the importance of having a local broadcasting service and asked the licensee not to reduce the number of hours of local programming offered on the station.


The Syndicat also expressed concern over the downward trend in the number of hours of programs produced locally by CKRS. The intervener requested that the licensee be required to broadcast a minimum of 12 hours of local programs each day. It asked that the "Montrealization" of the airwaves be stopped. Moreover, it requested that the Commission require the licensee to [ translation] "maintain a larger team of journalists on site" and, consequently, that they provide more extensive news coverage. Lastly, the Syndicat considered that the Commission should renew the licence for a two-year period to ensure that Astral meets the commitments it made when it acquired Télémédia,1 and [ translation] "that CKRS can develop in conjunction with the extensive resources available to Astral Media."2

The licensee's response


The licensee's response addressed the interventions collectively because they essentially raised the same concerns.


With respect to local programming, the licensee stated that its commitment to broadcast 35 hours of local programs was a minimum since it had committed to broadcast a total of 160 hours of local programs among its three Saguenay stations: CKRS, CJAB-FM and CFIX-FM. The licensee added that CKRS's minimum commitment is consistent with the condition precedent imposed by the Commission in Decision 2002-90 for CHLN Trois-Rivières and CHLT Sherbrooke.


With regard to local information, as set out in Decision 2002-90, Astral made a commitment to establish a common newsroom that would be better equipped from a technical standpoint and staffed by a team of journalists.


The licensee also stated that, contrary to allegations made by certain interveners that CKRS is making impressive profits and that it should, in return, increase the number of hours of local programming, the station is, in reality, only marginally profitable and its profits are declining each year.


Finally, Astral stated that a seven-year licence renewal would be fully justifiable because it met all of its conditions of licence and complied with, and even exceeded, regulatory requirements during the current licence term.

The Commission's analysis and conclusion


The Commission is sensitive to the interveners' comments regarding a downward trend in the level of local programming in the region. However, in Policies for local programming on commercial radio stations and advertising on campus stations, Public Notice CRTC 1993-38, 19 April 1993, the Commission decided not to impose a minimum level of local programming on AM stations. Nevertheless, in Commercial Radio Policy 1998, Public Notice CRTC 1998-41, 30 April 1998, the Commission maintained that "in the future, all AM stations will be asked to make commitments in their licence renewal applications to a minimum level of local programming, and to describe how they will provide sufficient service to their local communities."


In evaluating the present licence renewal application, the Commission has noted that the licensee's proposal regarding the hours of local programming is consistent with what was required of Astral following its acquisition of the Télémédia stations. Astral has made a commitment to maintain a minimum level of local programming in the several markets involved, with 160 hours of local programming among its three Saguenay stations and a minimum of 35 hours on CKRS's airwaves.


With respect to CKRS's profitability, the financial data available to the Commission does not support the interveners' argument that the station is reaping impressive profits.


Taking into account the concerns raised by the interveners, the Commission renews the broadcasting licence for the radio programming undertaking CKRS Saguenay from 1 December 2002 to 31 August 2005. This term will enable the Commission to evaluate CKRS's performance, particularly in connection with the percentage of local programming, in light of the licensee's commitments made as part of its licence renewal application and as part of its acquisition of the Télémédia's stations approved in Decision 2002-90, as well as in light of the performance of other Astral stations in the same market acquired as a result of Decision 2002-90.


The licence will be subject to the conditions set out in New licence form for commercial radio stations, Public Notice CRTC 1999-137, 24 August 1999.

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:

1 This transaction was the subject of Transfer of control of 3903206 Canada Inc., of Telemedia Radio Atlantic Inc. and of 50% of Radiomedia Inc. to Astral Radio inc., Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-90, 19 April 2002 (Decision 2002-90).

2 Astral Radio inc. is a subsidiary of Astral Media.

Date Modified: 2002-11-15

Date modified: