ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-466

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Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-466

Ottawa, 20 December 2002

Corus Radio Company
Brampton, Ontario

Application 2002-0139-3
Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2002-26
17 May 2002

CFNY-FM Brampton - Use of the SCMO channel

The application


The Commission received an application by Corus Radio Company (Corus Radio), licensee of CFNY-FM Brampton, for authority to use a subsidiary communications multiplex operations (SCMO) channel1 for the purpose of broadcasting an Urdu-, Hindi-, Punjabi- and English-language radio service.


AJIT Newspaper, Advertising, Marketing and Communications Inc. (AJIT) would operate the service and offer 168 hours of programming per week. A maximum of 30% would be in Urdu, 10% in Hindi, and 10% in Punjabi. The remaining 50% would be programming in English targeting all South Asian communities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The programming would consist of information and entertainment, including news magazines, international newscasts, local information, music, open-line shows and contests.


AJIT stated that the current availability of programming in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi is inadequate for the size of the South Asian population in the GTA and that, of the three language groups, the Urdu-speaking population was the most underserved. In AJIT's view, the proposed service would increase the availability of brokered time for new South Asian programming in the GTA.


AJIT also pointed out that SCMO services are available to a limited audience and that, as a subscription service, it would have to "provide high quality programming with much lower advertising content overall than is currently found on local conventional ethnic radio programming." AJIT noted further that a part of the revenue would come from mainstream national advertisers, which local ethnic radio stations do not solicit. AJIT indicated that, for these reasons, it did not anticipate that the proposed service would have a "significant" impact on the existing ethnic radio stations in the GTA.



The Commission received two interventions in support of this application, including a petition of 590 signatories. Balraj Deol, of Khabarnama Punjabi Weekly, a newspaper published in Brampton, Ontario, expressed the view that the South Asian community in the GTA, with a population of 400,000, needs additional radio services. Mr. Deol stated that the current shortage of airtime available to advertisers targeting South Asian communities has led advertisers to purchase time on American radio stations that target these communities. According to Mr. Deol, the proposed service would provide required airtime for these advertisers. Mr. Deol also submitted a petition with 37 signatories supporting the application.


The Commission also received 15 interventions opposing the application. Most of the opposing interveners were of the view that there is currently an ample number of broadcasting services available to the South Asian community in the GTA. CJMR 1320 Radio Limited (CJMR Limited), owner of the ethnic radio station CJMR Oakville, pointed out that all the ethnic radio stations in the GTA provide service to the South Asian population with CJMR devoting almost half its service to this community.


According to the interveners, approval of the application would cause undue negative impact on the existing services available to the South Asian community. CJMR Limited stated that one of the reasons it opposes the application is the already "fierce" competition for advertising revenue directed towards South Asians. The intervener noted a variety of South Asian media including the "plethora" of South Asian programs produced by the existing ethnic radio stations of the GTA and the increase in conventional and specialty television services.


University of Toronto Community Radio Inc. (CIUT) stated that the proposed service would have a negative impact on the SCMO that operates on its side-band and currently broadcasts in Punjabi and Hindi. This SCMO service was approved by the Commission in New Punjabi- and Hindi-language SCMO service, Decision CRTC 2001-644, 11 October 2001.


Finally, Bhajanawali Devotional Services Inc., a non-commercial radio program producer, expressed the concern that approval of the application would fragment the audience for its programming, currently broadcast on CJMR. The intervener stated that this fragmentation would lead the audience, made up mostly of seniors, to the "unnecessary financial burden" of purchasing an SCMO receiver.


Corus Radio requested that AJIT provide a reply to the interventions received by the Commission. In reply to the interventions, AJIT argued that there is a need for additional broadcasting services targeted to the South Asian community in the GTA. AJIT pointed to the 627 signatories on the petition letters to indicate the demand for the proposed service. In support of its argument, AJIT opposed CJMR Limited's claim that the South Asian community living in the GTA is "very well served" and compared the size of the community to the number of hours of programming available to this group. AJIT concluded that no argument could support that "a population of close to one-half million people could be adequately served by the equivalent of less than one radio station." Furthermore, AJIT noted that, of the six existing conventional ethnic radio stations currently operating in the GTA, only one intervened in this proceeding. According to AJIT, this lack of intervention on the part of the other ethnic radio stations suggests that there is "ample room" for the proposed service.


AJIT further stated that, as a result of its business plan being based on the sale of a smaller amount of advertising inventory than that of a conventional radio station, the proposed service would not have an undue negative impact on the existing ethnic radio services.


In response to the intervention by Bhajanawali Devotional Services Inc., AJIT pointed out that it does not plan to broadcast religious programming and, therefore, the proposed service would not have an impact on the intervener's service.

The Commission's determination


The Commission's policy regarding services using the SCMO channel of FM stations is set out in Services Using the Vertical Blanking Interval (Television) or Subsidiary Communications Multiplex Operation (FM), Public Notice CRTC 1989-23, 23 March 1989 (Public Notice 1989-23).


The policy states that the Commission would be concerned if an SCMO service were to have a negative impact on existing local conventional ethnic broadcasters. 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. Consequently, the Commission considers that CIUT's objection to the application, on the grounds that the proposed service would have a negative impact on its SCMO service, does not raise any concern.


The Commission also notes that the 1996 Census numbers the South Asian population in the GTA at 162,190; this population continues to increase. However, only seven hours per week of programming in Urdu is currently available in the GTA. The Commission recognizes that AJIT plans to target the Urdu-speaking population as its primary audience by providing a maximum of 30% of its programming in Urdu. As a result, approval of the application would increase the availability of Urdu programming in the GTA.


AJIT also plans to limit its programming in Hindi and Punjabi - linguistic groups that are better served by the existing ethnic radio stations in the GTA - to a maximum of 10% of its total programming. The Commission concludes that AJIT's business plan will help mitigate the impact on the existing ethnic radio stations that target Hindi- and Punjabi-language groups.


Despite the concerns raised in the opposing intervention regarding the possible negative impact of the proposed SCMO service on other ethnic radio stations in the GTA, the Commission is satisfied that approval of this application will not cause undue negative impact on existing local conventional ethnic radio stations.


Accordingly, the Commission approves the application by Corus Radio to use an SCMO channel of radio station CFNY-FM Brampton, for the purpose of broadcasting an Urdu-, Hindi-, Punjabi- and English-language radio service.


The Commission reminds Corus Radio that, as stated in section 3(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act, it is responsible for the programs that it broadcasts. It is therefore expected to ensure that its SCMO service is operated in a responsible manner and to adhere to the guidelines regarding the provision of SCMO services set out in Appendix A to Public Notice 1989-23.

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 Programming broadcast using an SCMO channel is not accessible with standard radio equipment, and requires instead the use of a special receiver.

Date Modified: 2002-12-20

Date modified: