Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2017-228
Ottawa, 30 June 2017
International Harvesters for Christ Evangelistic Association Inc.
Saint John, New Brunswick
Application 2016-0311-8, received 28 March 2016
Public hearing in the National Capital Region
7 December 2016
English-language commercial FM specialty (Christian music) radio station in Saint John
The Commission denies an application to operate an English-language commercial FM specialty (Christian music) radio station in Saint John.
- International Harvesters for Christ Evangelistic Association Inc. (International Harvesters) filed an application for a broadcast licence to operate an English-language commercial FM specialty (Christian music) radio station in Saint John, New Brunswick. The proposed station would operate at 104.9 MHz (channel 285A) with an effective radiated power of 860 watts (non-directional antenna with an effective height of the antenna above average terrain of 72.3 metres).
- The station would offer a specialty Christian adult contemporary music format and would be subject to a condition of licence requiring that 100% of the music broadcast each broadcast week be drawn from content subcategory 35 (Non-classic religious). Further, in each broadcast week, the station would broadcast 126 hours of programming, including at least 4 hours and 52 minutes of local programming.
- Finally, the applicant committed to exceed the minimum contribution to Canadian content development (CCD) required by section 15 of the Radio Regulations, 1986. Specifically, it committed to contribute, by condition of licence, over and above the basic annual contribution to CCD, a total of $10,500 over seven consecutive broadcast years upon commencement of operations.
- The Commission received opposing interventions from New Song Communications Ministries Ltd. (New Song) and DARR FM Radio Ltd. (DARR), licensees of the low-power, English-language commercial specialty (Christian music) radio stations CINB-FM, and CJRP-FM Saint John and its transmitter CJRP-FM-1 Rothesay. The applicant did not reply to the interventions. The public record for this application can be found on the Commission’s website at www.crtc.gc.ca or by using the application number provided above.
- In its intervention, New Song requested that the Commission deny the present application. It also expressed concern that its station CINB-FM would be negatively impacted if a third station with a Christian format were licensed in Saint John.
- While DARR submitted that the new station, as proposed, would not pose a threat to its station CJRP-FM, it also suggested that it would have a negative impact on CINB-FM. DARR added that the majority of CINB-FM’s revenues derive from the same source that International Harvesters intends to target with its proposed station.
- After examining the public record for this application in light of applicable regulations and policies, the Commission considers that the issues it must address are whether:
- approval of the application would have an undue negative financial impact on stations operating in the Saint John radio market;
- the proposed station would meet the needs and interests of the local community in the Saint John radio market;
- the application adheres to the Commission’s Local Programming Policy; and
- the proposed station would contribute to the diversity of programming available to listeners in the Saint John radio market.
- In its application, International Harvesters indicated that nearly two-thirds of the overall projected revenues for the proposed station would derive from the sale of airtime for the broadcast of Bible-teaching programs. The remainder of its revenues would be drawn from modest amounts of local advertising and donations.
- With respect to CINB-FM, its revenues are derived exclusively from sponsorship and donations as it is not permitted to broadcast commercial messages. Further, New Song and DARR did not provide any evidence in their interventions to support the claim that CINB-FM would be negatively impacted by approval of the present application.
- Given the above, the Commission finds that approval of the present application would not have an undue negative financial impact on stations operating in the Saint John radio market.
- As set out in Broadcasting Public Notice 2006-158 (the Commercial Radio Policy), applicants are required to address local programming in their applications to operate new radio stations. They must also describe how their proposed stations would meet the particular needs and interests of the local communities to be served.
- Further, the Commercial Radio Policy stipulates that licensees of commercial radio stations must incorporate, in their local programming, spoken-word material of direct and particular relevance to the community served, including local news, weather, sports coverage, and the promotion of local events and activities.
- In its application, International Harvesters committed to broadcast at least 4 hours and 52 minutes of local programming each week, which would include approximately 40 minutes of local news reports, 40 minutes of local weather and traffic reports, 100 minutes of interviews with local community members and 112 minutes of voice-tracked community segments. The applicant indicated that the remaining hours of programming would be shared across its existing radio stations, originating from its studios in Riverview, New Brunswick. In total, the amount of local programming would represent less than 4% of the total programming broadcast on the station.
- The Commission considers that the applicant’s commitment to local programming is insufficient to ensure that the station would adequately serve the local community in Saint John with a significant amount of programming of direct and particular relevance.
- The Commission therefore finds that International Harvesters has not demonstrated how the proposed station would meet the needs and interests of the local community in the Saint John radio market.
- As set out in Public Notice 1993-121 (the Local Programming Policy), licensees of commercial FM radio stations in markets served by more than one commercial radio station must devote at least one-third of the broadcast week to local programming. Further, in accordance with Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2009-62, licensees of commercial FM radio stations that devote less than one-third of the broadcast week to local programming must refrain from soliciting or accepting local advertising.
- The Saint John radio market is currently served by more than one commercial radio station. While International Harvesters proposed to devote far less than one-third of the programming to be broadcast to local programming, its financial projections for the proposed station reveal that a modest portion of its revenues would derive from local advertising.
- Consequently, the Commission finds that International Harvester’s application does not adhere to the Commission’s Local Programming Policy, nor does it provide any basis for the Commission to grant an exception to that policy.
Diversity of programming
- In Broadcasting Decision 2014-36, the Commission approved an application to remove CJRP-FM’s spoken word requirement and replace it with a condition requiring that at least 90% of the music broadcast on the station be drawn from subcategory 35. In that decision, the Commission indicated that the Christian country music format proposed for CJRP-FM would complement the contemporary Christian format of the other Christian music station in the market, namely CINB-FM.
- The Saint John radio market is currently served by the Christian music radio stations CJRP-FM and CINB-FM. In the Commission’s view, the Christian adult contemporary music format proposed by International Harvesters is very similar to that of CINB-FM.
- The Commission is therefore not satisfied that the proposed station would significantly contribute to the diversity of programming available to listeners in the Saint John radio market.
- In light of all of the above, the Commission denies the application by International Harvesters for Christ Evangelistic Association Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate an English-language commercial FM specialty (Christian music) radio programming undertaking in Saint John, New Brunswick.
- CJRP-FM Saint John and CJRP-FM-1 Rothesay – Acquisition of assets and licence amendment, Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2014-36, 3 February 2014
- Conditions of licence for commercial AM and FM radio stations, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-62, 11 February 2009
- Commercial Radio Policy 2006, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-158, 15 December 2006
- Local programming policy for FM radio – Definition of a single-station market, Public Notice CRTC 1993-121, 17 August 1993
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