Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2023-10
Ottawa, 16 January 2023
Malayalam Community Radio Inc.
Public record: 2021-0853-9
Public hearing in the National Capital Region
8 September 2022
Low-power ethnic commercial specialty FM radio station in London
The Commission approves an application by Malayalam Community Radio Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate a low-power ethnic commercial specialty FM radio station in London, Ontario.
- Malayalam Community Radio Inc. (Malayalam Community Radio) filed an application for a broadcasting licence to operate a low-power ethnic commercial specialty radio programming undertaking in London, Ontario.
- Malayalam Community Radio is a not-for-profit corporation incorporated in Canada and controlled by its board of directors. The chair and 80% of the directors of the board are Canadian as defined in the Direction to the CRTC (Ineligibility of Non-Canadians). Therefore, the applicant is in compliance with that direction and eligible to hold a broadcasting licence in Canada.
- The station would operate 90.9 MHz (channel 215LP) with an effective radiated power of 50 watts (non-directional antenna with an effective height of the antenna above average terrain [EHAAT] of 45.2 metres). These technical parameters reflect those approved by the Department of Industry (the Department).
- The applicant indicated that the station would broadcast 126 hours of local programming per broadcast week, at least 87.5% (111 hours) of which would be devoted to third-language programming and at least 87.5% of which would be devoted to ethnic programming. A total of 50% of the programming would be spoken word programming. The programming would include 5.5 hours of newscasts per broadcast week including information on local and regional events, programs about health and weather reports.
- The applicant stated that the station would adhere to the Ethnic Broadcasting Policy set out in Public Notice 1999-117 (Ethnic Broadcasting Policy). The programming content would target at least five Indo-Dravidian cultural groups in a minimum of seven different languages including Tamil, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Malayalam, English and French. Musical selections would be drawn mostly from content subcategory 21 (Pop, rock and dance) and subcategory 22 (Country and country-oriented). The remaining musical selections would consist of music from content category 3 (Special Interest Music), including content from subcategory 32 (Folklore and folk-oriented) and subcategory 35 (Non-classic religious).
- The Commission received an intervention in support of this application from an individual. In addition, another individual submitted an opposing intervention stating that the proposed station would cancel plans for a future station in Glencoe, Ontario, since not many frequencies are available in Glencoe.
- The Commission has the authority, pursuant to subsection 9(1) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act), to issue broadcasting licences for such terms not exceeding seven years and subject to such conditions related to the circumstances of the licensee as it deems appropriate for the implementation of the broadcasting policy set out in subsection 3(1) of the Act.
- After examining the record for this application in light of applicable regulations and policies, the Commission considers that the issues it must address are the following:
- appropriate use of spectrum;
- the economic impact on incumbent stations;
- the proposed programming; and
- Canadian content development contributions.
Appropriate use of spectrum
- The Department has granted conditional technical acceptability of the proposed station. Therefore, the applicant’s proposal adheres to the rules governing FM spectrum coordination.
- The applicant proposed to operate the station at 90.9 MHz. The Commission notes that multiple frequencies are available in London and surrounding areas that could support a low-power FM radio station. Consequently, 90.9 MHz is not the last frequency available to London and surrounding areas.
- Moreover, pursuant to the Department’s BPR-3: Application Procedures and Rules for FM Broadcasting Undertakings, a low-power FM radio station, which is the type of station that the applicant has requested authorization to operate, is considered a secondary assignment operating on an unprotected channel. As such, the operation of the applicant’s proposed station would not remove the availability of this FM allotment nor preclude the Commission from later approving an application for a full-power radio station with protected status operating at 90.9 MHz.
- In light of the above, the Commission finds that the use of the frequency 90.9 MHz by the applicant for its proposed radio station represents an appropriate use of spectrum.
Economic impact on incumbent stations
- The primary contour of the proposed station would overlap with that of a number of other London radio stations’ primary contours. However, none of these stations is an ethnic station, and as such, they do not target the same audience.
- In addition, the local advertising revenue projected by the applicant over the first seven years of operation represents a negligible percentage of the revenue generated by the market.
- In light of the above, the Commission finds that approval of this application would not have an undue economic impact on incumbent stations in the market.
- The Commission notes that the proposed radio station would be the first ethnic radio station serving London. In the Ethnic Broadcasting Policy, the Commission specified that ethnic stations are expected to serve a range of ethnic groups in a variety of languages. However, a balance must be struck between serving as many groups as practical and providing high quality programming to the groups served.
- The applicant proposed to devote 87.5% of its programming to third-language programming serving the Indo-Dravidian communities of London. The applicant also proposed to serve a minimum of five cultural groups in seven different languages from these communities.
- In addition, ethnic radio stations are required to comply with Public Notice 2006-158, which requires radio stations to broadcast a certain amount of local programming of direct and particular relevance to the communities served. The applicant proposed to provide 126 hours per broadcast week of local programming including information updates on local events, news and weather.
- In light of the above, the Commission finds that the programming proposed by the applicant is consistent with the Ethnic Broadcasting Policy.
Canadian content development
- Malayalam Community Radio committed to devote, by condition of licence, a total of $3,000 over and above the basic annual contribution to Canadian content development (CCD) in equal payments over six consecutive broadcast years, starting in the second year of operations. Of this amount, 15% would be devoted to the Community Radio Fund of Canada, 45% would be devoted to FACTOR or Musicaction, and 40% would be devoted to music industry associations that assist artists directly, to be selected by the board of directors.
- Any development initiatives that have not been allocated to specific parties by condition of licence must be allocated to the support, promotion, training and development of Canadian musical and spoken word talent, including journalists. Parties and initiatives eligible for CCD funding are identified in paragraph 108 of Broadcasting Public Notice 2006-158.
- In light of all of the above, the Commission approves the application by Malayalam Community Radio Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate a low-power ethnic commercial specialty FM radio programming undertaking in London, Ontario. The terms and conditions of licence are set out in the appendix to this decision.
- As set out in section 16 of the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the Regulations), licensees have obligations relating to the broadcast of emergency alert messages received from the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination System. The Commission reminds the licensee that compliance with section 16 of the Regulations will require that any alert broadcast decoders (e.g., ENDEC) used for the purposes of broadcasting emergency alert messages be installed and programmed to properly account for the authorized contours of the radio station. A confirmation of the installation and test of the alert broadcast decoder is to be provided to the Commission within 90 days of installation.
- Commercial Radio Policy 2006, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-158, 15 December 2006
- Ethnic broadcasting policy, Public Notice CRTC 1999-117, 16 July 1999
This decision is to be appended to the licence.
Appendix to Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2023-10
Terms, conditions of licence, expectation and encouragement for the low-power ethnic commercial specialty radio programming undertaking in London, Ontario
The licence will expire 31 August 2029.
The station will operate at 90.9 MHz (channel 215LP) with an average effective radiated power of 50 watts (non-directional antenna with an effective height of the antenna above average terrain [EHAAT] of 45.2 metres).
Pursuant to subsection 22(1) of the Broadcasting Act, no licence may be issued until the Department of Industry notifies the Commission that its technical requirements have been met and that a broadcasting certificate will be issued.
Furthermore, the Commission will only issue a licence for this undertaking once the applicant has informed the Commission in writing that it is prepared to commence operations. The undertaking must be in operation by no later than 16 January 2025. To request an extension, the applicant must submit a written request to the Commission at least 60 days before that date, using the form available on the Commission’s website.
The Department of Industry’s BPR-3: Application Procedures and Rules for FM Broadcasting Undertakings specifies that a low-power FM radio station is considered a secondary assignment operating on an unprotected channel. Should an FM station or transmitter with protected status be granted a frequency that is incompatible with that used by the low-power station considered in this decision, the applicant may need to cease the operation of that low-power station or file an application to change its frequency and/or technical parameters.
Conditions of licence
- The licensee shall adhere to the conditions of licence set out in Revised conditions of licence for commercial AM and FM radio stations, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2022-334, 7 December 2022, with the exception of condition of licence 7.
- The station shall be operated within the specialty format as defined in A Review of certain matters concerning radio, Public Notice CRTC 1995-60, 21 April 1995, and Revised content categories and subcategories for radio, Public Notice CRTC 2000-14, 28 January 2000.
- The licensee shall devote a minimum of 87.5% of the programming broadcast during each broadcast week to ethnic programs, as defined in the Radio Regulations, 1986.
- The licensee shall devote a minimum of 87.5% of the programming broadcast during each broadcast week to third-language programs, as defined in the Radio Regulations, 1986.
- The licensee shall offer, on a weekly basis, programming directed to a minimum of five cultural groups in a minimum of seven languages.
- In addition to the basic annual contribution to Canadian content development (CCD) set out in section 15 of the Radio Regulations, 1986, the licensee shall, upon commencement of operations, make a total contribution of $3,000 over and above the basic annual contribution to CCD for its first seven years of operation to the promotion and development of Canadian content, to be allocated as follows starting in the second year of operation:
- Year 2 - $500
- Year 3 - $500
- Year 4 - $500
- Year 5 - $500
- Year 6 - $500
- Year 7 - $500
Of this amount, at least 45% per broadcast year shall be devoted to FACTOR or Musicaction, and 15% must be devoted to the Community Radio Fund of Canada. The remainder (40%) shall be allocated to parties and initiatives that fulfill the criteria for eligible initiatives set out in Revised Commercial Radio Policy, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2022-332, 7 December 2022.
For the purposes of these conditions of licence, “broadcast week,” “content subcategory” and “musical selection” shall have the same meanings as those set out in the Radio Regulation, 1986.
The Commission expects the licensee to reflect the cultural diversity of Canada in its programming and employment practices.
In accordance with Implementation of an employment equity policy, Public Notice CRTC 1992-59, 1 September 1992, the Commission encourages the licensee to consider employment equity issues in its hiring practices and in all other aspects of its management of human resources.
- Date modified: