Highlights of the 2020-2021 Broadcast Year Financial Summaries for Non-Commercial Radio Stations and Individual Discretionary Services

Non-Commercial radio

Non-commercial radio station revenues have generally increased over the past five years which is contrary to the trend observed in the commercial radio sector. This trend began prior to the pandemic and, buoyed by COVID-related government run advertisement campaigns and COVID-related supports, continued and even accelerated in some cases during the pandemic.

Over the past five years, community radio stations reported the highest growth with revenues increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.3% followed by Indigenous radio stations at 8.5%, campus radio stations at 3.2% while religious radio station revenues have declined since 2017 at a -3.4% CAGR.


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Source: CRTC Annual Returns
2021 Number of Reporting Stations PBIT Margin 2020-2021 Revenue Growth 2017-2021 CAGR Advertising Revenues* Government/Corporate Grants* Tuning Share
Campus 47 12.2% 13% 3.2% 14.4% 16.9% 0.2%
Community 118 25.7% 32% 11.3% 43.7% 18.5% 0.3%
Indigenous 31 15.8% 19% 8.5% 35.4% 20.8% 0.1%
Religious 29 -0.7% -3% -3.4% 41.8% 5.5% 0.2%
Total Non-Commercial Radio 225 19.5% 23% 7.9% 38.0% 17.8% 0.8%

*As a percentage of total revenues

Source: CRTC Annual Returns and Numeris

Individual licensed discretionary and on-demand services

Prior to the pandemic, discretionary and on-demand service revenues were relatively stable with services owned by vertically integrated (VI) entities, which include mainstream sports services, slowly increasing their proportion of total revenues. Since the start of the pandemic, independently-owned discretionary services have, however, fared better compared to VI-owned discretionary services. In 2021, independent and mainstream sports discretionary services reported increased revenues whereas VI discretionary services (excluding mainstream sports) registered their lowest total revenue level in the past five years.

Despite this apparent slowdown in revenues, VI-owned discretionary services remain very profitable with profits before interest and taxes (PBIT) exceeding 29% while independent discretionary services posted a more moderate 12% PBIT in the 2020-2021 broadcast year.


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*Excluding Mainstream Sports

Source: CRTC Annual Returns

The makeup of the discretionary services market is varied and for the 2021 broadcast year included 130 English-language/Bilingual services (81% of the total discretionary revenues), 32 French-language services (18% of the total discretionary revenues) and 119 Ethnic services (2% of total discretionary revenues).

Depending on the broadcast year, five or six of the top 10 earning discretionary services have historically been mainstream sports services. Below are lists of top five earning discretionary services among independent services, English-language and bilingual services, French-language services and ethnic services, all excluding mainstream sports which garnered 35% of total discretionary services revenues.


  • APTN
  • Family Channel
  • TV5-Unis
  • The Weather Network/MétéoMédia
  • Super Channel


  • Crave (The Movie Network)
  • W Network
  • CBC News Network
  • Discovery Channel
  • HGTV Canada


  • Super Écran
  • LCN
  • TV5-Unis
  • Canal Vie

Ethnic Services

  • Fairchild TV
  • Telelatino
  • Talentvision
  • NTD Television
  • Mediastet Italia

The following describes the relative importance of the top five earning services in relation to each of their groups:

  • The top five independent discretionary services reported about 21% of total independent discretionary service revenues.
  • The top English-language/bilingual discretionary services represented about 16% of the total groups’ discretionary service revenues;
  • The five noted French-language services reported about 27% of the total French-language discretionary service revenues; and
  • The top ethnic discretionary services reported about 59% of the total ethnic service revenues.

Additional data is available from the Communications Market Report – Open Data Portal and Financial Summaries for Broadcasting Sector web pages.

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