Posted in Montreal, Radio

Clear Channel Cagematch: CKGM frequency change

This week, I’m taking a closer look at the applications for Montreal’s AM clear-channel frequencies 690 and 940 kHz that were presented at CRTC hearings in October. Today, I’m looking at CKGM’s application to change the frequency of TSN Radio Montreal (formerly The Team 990) from 990 to 690.

What used to be called Team 990 hopes that number will change

Unlike the other applicants for stations on 690 and 940, the one from CKGM is to move an already existing station. It’s a perfectly legitimate request, but it makes writing articles about this hearing difficult. You can’t refer to “five new radio stations”, because one already exists. Oh well, that’s my problem.

The biggest strength of this application is that it’s an established station with an existing audience. It’s been on the air forever, but more significantly it has had just over a decade of experience as an all-sports station.

So why change frequencies? Coverage:

Propagation patterns for CKGM (Team 990AM) in red (day) and black (night) vs. CINW (940AM) in purple and CINF (690AM) in blue, as provided in Bell's CRTC intervention

Because 990 isn’t a clear channel, it has to ensure it doesn’t interfere with clear channels on the same frequency, namely CBW in Winnipeg and CBY in Corner Brook, N.L., both CBC Radio One stations.

This is only an issue at night, when skywave propagation carries signals in the AM band farther. During the day, it can broadcast 50,000 watts and cover most of the region (the red line in the map above). But when the sun goes down, CKGM has to alter its signal, making it highly directional, essentially pointing it due north-northeast toward downtown (the black line). This is the problem.

Two things make this problem even worse: The nighttime pattern is awful for the West Island and areas west of Montreal, where a lot of anglos live. And the biggest new feature of the station – Canadiens games – air at night.

These lines aren’t absolute, of course, The signals don’t disappear when you cross them. But they’re an indication of relative strength of the stations. The station estimates it loses 30% of its potential audience as a result of the change to a nighttime pattern.

Because 690 (blue) and 940 (purple) are clear channels, they don’t require nighttime pattern changes.

Bell Media, which owns CKGM, is so convinced that this change is necessary that it painted a doomsday scenario if the application fails.

“CKGM has been unprofitable for more than a decade, and Bell expects that the station – if it remains at its current operating frequency – has little probability of being profitable for the foreseeable future,” it writes in its application (it specified at the hearing that it has lost $4.9 million since 2007). “We are confident that the better signal quality will make CKGM financially viable for the long term, while having no material impact on the other stations in the market.”

The application talks about how they’ve tried to cut costs to make themselves profitable – they’re down to 14 full-time and four part-time employees. It also talks about investments to increase its audience, notably the acquisition of Canadiens broadcast rights.

The station says it tried to also acquire Alouettes rights, but was turned down specifically because of its signal:

… several years ago when the broadcast rights for the Montréal Alouettes were up for renewal, CKGM was not invited to bid for the rights.  The station was explicitly told by Alouettes management that to be considered, the station would need a stronger signal.

All told, CKGM predicts that if given the 690 frequency it would be profitable in five years. At the hearing, it said the frequency change would mean about $200,000 a year in additional ad revenue.

To bolster its case, Bell Media brought in audio recordings taken of a radio tuned to the station from just off Highway 40 in Vaudreuil-Dorion, during the day (4:45pm) and at night (10:50pm). It’s a cherry-picked spot, for sure, but it showed the situation pretty clearly. The day recording was clear as a bell. The night recording sounded like it was taken from the bottom of the sea.

It didn’t stop there. The station also encouraged listeners to write to the CRTC directly, resulting in dozens of interventions directly from the public. Four intervenors – all businesspeople – appeared at the hearing to support the application.

Sheldon Harvey speaks to commissioners at the CRTC hearing

The controversy

CKGM had a wrench thrown at it at the hearing by Sheldon Harvey, the Radio in Montreal forum moderator, shortwave radio listener and co-host of CKUT’s International Radio Report.

Harvey filed interventions against the applications from Cogeco for an all-traffic station and from Dufferin Communications for a gay-themed station. He also filed interventions in favour of the applications for news-talk stations from Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy, saying clear channels should be reserved for such stations.

Harvey didn’t file an intervention for or against the application from CKGM. But at the hearing, he did mention something about the station that seemed to surprise the commissioners:

I have monitoring reports from listening colleagues west of Montreal and far beyond which appear to indicate that the station may not, in fact, be currently switching power or patterns at night.

Harvey produced a handful of reports from near and far that suggests “more than regularly” the station seems to fail to adjust its signal at night.

Wayne Bews, the station’s manager, said he had no information to suggest the claim was true, saying he would have gotten phone calls if this was the case. But he said he couldn’t be absolutely certain that the night adjustments are being made. He referred me to Bell Media’s Dave Simon (no relation to Ringside Report host Dave Simon). I emailed Simon to ask him about whether CKGM was making the required changes. I didn’t get a response.

The sell

Bell’s argument in favour of the CKGM frequency change is mainly a simple question of getting more West Island listeners, translating them into higher ad revenue and maybe becoming profitable.

To sweeten the deal, Bell is promising more local programming at the station. They say their goal is to have it be all local from 6am to midnight or 1am, seven days a week. They also want to expand their Canadiens postgame show from two to four hours.

Otherwise, the biggest selling point for CKGM is the station itself. It doesn’t need to project what its programming will be, it’s already there.

What’s more, a change in frequency would free up 990 for another station, and Bell Media said if they got 690 they could host a 990 station at their transmitter site using the same antenna.

TSN Radio 990 General Manager Wayne Bews (centre)

Another radio station?

It was mentioned in passing, and Bell didn’t get specific, but they hinted that they want to “expand our radio presence” here:

We want to contribute more to radio broadcasting in Quebec, but first we must stabilize TSN Radio Montreal and put it on a strong financial footing. Once done, we can look to expand our radio presence in Montreal, and indeed Quebec.

The most obvious option for them would be a French-language all-sports station. Bell owns RDS, so it has plenty of talented sports analysts. The only issue is that Bell would need to acquire the rights to Canadiens, Alouettes and other sports matches (and, of course, they’d need a radio broadcasting license).

The opposition

Though the applications aren’t directly competitive – one was for 690 and the other for 940 – much of the back and forth was between Cogeco and Bell. Bell suggested that Cogeco be assigned 990 when it moved to 690, arguing the all-traffic station would do fine with the 990 pattern, particularly since traffic is a daytime thing.

But Cogeco called Bell on its argument. Bell said specifically that its morning and and afternoon shows were affected by its nighttime signal reduction, because some of the morning show was before sunrise and some of the afternoon show after sunset. As Cogeco points out, these are also prime traffic hours, and if it’s unacceptable for Bell it should be unacceptable for Cogeco as well.

Bell responded that it didn’t really care who got 940, and that it was just offering 990 as an option for another broadcaster. It even agreed that it would submit to binding arbitration if negotiation for use of its site didn’t produce an agreement in a reasonable timeframe.

One thing brought up by independent intervenors though not much during the hearing is that 690 was a French-language frequency for decades. Of the three applications for 690 being heard here, the two others are French-language stations. Both applications for 940 are English-language. (Though the CRTC has suggested it could give people frequencies they didn’t apply for.) It has been suggested that the CRTC awarding both channels to English-language stations might anger francophones in Quebec, who will then see three (or even four) English AM stations and only one French one.

The alternatives

Like the other applicants, Bell was asked about alternative frequencies. Bell said it could take 940, but that would exclude the possibility of having another station on 990 at the same site (the two frequencies are too close to make the necessary filtering practical). It also said it could take 940 from Cogeco’s site, if Cogeco will let them.

It also looked at 600 AM, but concluded the frequency would require building a whole new set of towers, at a prohibitive cost of $2 million. Otherwise, it’s already on 990, so other frequencies are moot.

The transmitter

Bell said it tried to negotiate a deal for the former CINW and CINF transmitters in Kahnawake, but Corus (and later Cogeco) wouldn’t speak to them. It says it can reconfigure its current site southeast of Mercier to function on 690 or 940. For 600, the only site capable of using that frequency is the Cogeco site.

The bottom line

Bell Media makes a strong case for CKGM being clear-channel worthy. Because it covers sports, its audience extends across the region. People in Sherbrooke and Quebec City won’t be interested in Champlain Bridge traffic, but they will be interested in listening to Canadiens games.

Its financial projections are a bit suspect. It feels like Bell Media is exaggerating how bleak the prospects are without the change and how good they are with it. It’s hard to see an improved pattern, even as significant as this one, is going to make such a huge difference in profitability.

The chances

The commissioners seemed swayed by Bell’s argument, but whether the application is approved will probably depend more on the other applications, particularly Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy. If the CRTC decides the big-budget news-talk stations are worthy of the channels, The Team might get stuck where they are now. If not, it has a good chance of getting the frequency.

I rate this application’s chances good.

Start date

Bell Media says the frequency change could happen in as little as three months after approval if 690 is awarded to them. For 940, they would expect double, about six months.

27 thoughts on “Clear Channel Cagematch: CKGM frequency change

  1. ATSC

    I really like these reports you’re doing. You should be assigned these special features over at The Gazette. But, either way, I like all of your efforts to cover this very interesting story. Who would have thought in 2011 we would be having such a big fight/argument/stink over the AM radio band in Montreal!

    I kinda think that CKGM-AM will get the 690 AM spot. It’s the least questionable thing to do by the CRTC. The station has been around for decades. It’s simply asking to move up the block on the AM band for a better position. I see no problem with it.

    In a earlier post, I suggested (with a wink) that the CRTC do the following…

    690 AM – CKGM (TSN Radio Montreal)
    730 AM – The New French All News/Talk
    940 AM – The New English All News/Talk
    990 AM – CKAC (Traffic Radio in French)

    You did respond to this suggest. So, I’m not posting it again to bet on a old post. Your response post of why this would not happen was clear. The reason I’m posting it to see what Sheldon Harvey has to say about such an idea. As also anybody else of course. Mind you I don’t expect this will happen any way. I’m also interested in Sheldon Harvey’s opinion on the use of HD Radio (with it’s multi-casting ability) to make room on the FM Band for new radio stations?
    Again, this is also related to a earlier post. But I don’t think Mr. Harvey may have spotted it.

    As well, the suggesting that Bell Media may want to expand it’s sports stations in Quebec would suggest to me a plan for a RDS Sports Radio network. This would require another channel request in the future by Bell Media. Are there any other AM clear channels available in the Montreal area? Again, would a HD Radio solution (multi-casting on FM) be the way to go if there are no more good spots on AM & FM analog?

    Lot’s of every interesting things seem to be going on? I look forward to your other reports on the remaining applicants. Plus a follow up on CKDG-FM and CKKI-FM would be interesting as well. You have an excellent blog site when it comes to covering the media outlets in this city. Please continue your excellent work.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Are there any other AM clear channels available in the Montreal area?

      Sheldon Harvey suggested 650AM might be a clear channel (or at least clear-channel-ish). The closest clear channel on that frequency is in Nashville, and the closest station is a 40 watt Première Chaîne station in Lebel sur Quevillon, northeast of Val d’Or.

      But based on the agreements between Canada and the United States from decades ago, the only clear-channel stations in Montreal are 690, 730 and 940.

      850 might be a better choice. The closest clear channel is KOA in Denver, and the closest stations are in Penn Yan, N.Y., and Boston (about equidistant from Montreal). And there’s 600, which has no clear channels and whose closest station is in northeast Maine.

      I look forward to your other reports on the remaining applicants. Plus a follow up on CKDG-FM and CKKI-FM would be interesting as well.

      There is a follow-up on CKDG in the works. As for CKKI, that’ll have to wait until they get settled in or make any big announcements. Even under its optimistic business plan, the station would be mostly automated country music.

      Reply
      1. Michael D

        The question here then is why can’t TSN Radio 990 consider 730 as a clear channel option….

        also I beleive that the CRTC should not be in the business of looking out for organinzations in terms of their money making abilities…… the CRTC can’t be considered as a keeper or guardian of People making bad investment choices…Bell Media knew what they were getting when they bought 990….

        I lived in Nothern Ontario ( Timmins area) for a year in the 70’s and from where I was living , and also in the car, days when radios weren’t as good, I would listen to CJAD nightly to stay informed of what was going on back home…….So really I don’t buy Bell Media’s claims that they can’t be heard at night.. when I could listen to ‘AD about 600 miles away..

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          The question here then is why can’t TSN Radio 990 consider 730 as a clear channel option….

          Because there’s already a station on that frequency.

          I beleive that the CRTC should not be in the business of looking out for organinzations in terms of their money making abilities…… the CRTC can’t be considered as a keeper or guardian of People making bad investment choices…Bell Media knew what they were getting when they bought 990….

          The CRTC’s concern isn’t profit, it’s viability. That’s why they want to see financial projections, so you can show a strong likelihood that you will at least break even and contribute positively to the broadcasting scene for years to come. It’s not in anybody’s interest to see stations fail and have to go through this process all over again (or, just as bad, see a struggling station be forced to sell it to one of the big players after only a couple of years).

          Reply
  2. AlexH

    For me, this is the application with the most direct merit, for a bunch of reasons.

    First and foremost to me, this is an existing station, with all the indication of programming and such there. No guess work, no “maybe”, nothing like that. We know what we have, and we know that the new frequency would make this known product available to a whole lot more people.

    Second, I think that the nature of sports broadcasting (especially live sports like hockey, football, etc) requires a good coverage pattern at the times when these key events occur. As a sub-part of this, being that this in an english station, having good coverage towards the west end of Montreal and west from there key, considering that is where a significant part of the anglophone community lives. It would seem that their current night time pattern would make it very hard for anglo listeners between Montreal and the Ontario border to enjoy the Canadian’s games.

    Third, their ability to host another transmitter on another frequency at the same antenna site is a boost, which might allow one of the other applications (like Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy) to get on the air for a somewhat lower cost than setting up a new transmitter and antenna farm from scratch.

    Finally, I have to say that this group is the only one that, during the time since 940/690 went silent, have expressed an interest in those frequencies. Had Corus / Cogeco answered the phone and negotiated for the sale, the application to move would have likely been made in time for the new hockey season.

    As for Mr Harvey’s claims that they were not dropping power, I would say that if this was true, one of the other two licensees would likely have complained because their listeners on the clear channel would have been unable to hear the stations and likely complained. I suspect it is much more likely effects of weather, time of day, and so on that have lead to signal reports that show better than expect results.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Third, their ability to host another transmitter on another frequency at the same antenna site is a boost, which might allow one of the other applications (like Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy) to get on the air for a somewhat lower cost than setting up a new transmitter and antenna farm from scratch.

      This part is, I think, a bit of a red herring. The other applicants already have plans for broadcasting locations (Dufferin would share the CJAD site, Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy would modify the former CJMS-AM site in St. Constant). But their commitment to submit to binding arbitration in this matter did not go unnoticed.

      As a sub-part of this, being that this in an english station, having good coverage towards the west end of Montreal and west from there key, considering that is where a significant part of the anglophone community lives.

      Three of the five applications are for English-language stations, and all three make the point that they would need good coverage in the west end of Montreal.

      Finally, I have to say that this group is the only one that, during the time since 940/690 went silent, have expressed an interest in those frequencies. Had Corus / Cogeco answered the phone and negotiated for the sale, the application to move would have likely been made in time for the new hockey season.

      Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy argued that they also expressed an interest in those frequencies. Not long after the licenses were returned, Corus announced a sale to Cogeco, and Tietolman and Tétrault tried to counter-offer with a bid that would have revived them.

      As for Mr Harvey’s claims that they were not dropping power, I would say that if this was true, one of the other two licensees would likely have complained because their listeners on the clear channel would have been unable to hear the stations and likely complained.

      That’s Bews’s argument. He says that when the station has failed to switch in the past, he has gotten an earful. But Harvey counters that the other stations probably don’t have the kind of technical expertise necessary to properly diagnose this problem and find out that CKGM is the cause. CBC in particular, which has both clear channels on 990, seems to have lost a lot of its radio experts.

      Reply
  3. Sheldon

    On the evening of October 20th, I decided to test out the night-time coverage of CKGM TSN Radio 990. I had a meeting to attend at 7:30 pm at the Morgan Arboretum in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, in the northwest sector of the island, a location in the geographical area that Bell Media/CKGM claims cannot adequately be reached with the night-time pattern of the station on 990 kHz.

    I arrived at the parking lot of the Arboretum at about 7:10 pm, well after dark, and well into the period where CKGM should have already made their switch to night-time pattern. I was using the radio in my 2005 Chevrolet Astro. At this time the station was broadcasting the pre-game show of the Canadiens/Penguins hockey game. The signal was loud and clear; no noise, no fading, no deterioration of the signal whatsoever.

    I left the meeting at 9:30 pm, working my way back to Greenfield Park on the South Shore. My route was Highway 40 east to Highway 13; south on Highway 13 to Highway 20; Highway 20 east to the Champlain Bridge and across the bridge to the South Shore. I left the radio tuned to 990 kHz for the duration of the trip home. Throughout out the complete route there was no deterioration whatsoever of the signal, including through Beaconsfield and Pointe Claire, two more “dead zones” according to the Bell Media CRTC presentation.

    The most surprising part of the trip was as I passed through the Highway 13 Dorval Airport tunnel. I didn’t even lose the signal as I passed through the tunnel!

    This exercise led me to speculate on two different scenarios. Either CKGM 990 had not switched to its night-time pattern that night and, as a result, a full-scale signal was available in the West Island, or the station had switched to its night-time pattern and the reports of poor coverage problems, particularly in the western sector of the island of Montreal, presented by Bell at the CRTC hearing are incorrect.

    On this particular night, I tend to lean towards the pattern not having been changed. However, as I stated in my presentation at the CRTC hearing, I believe that there are a number of factors at play when it comes to how well the station, and other AM stations for that matter, can be heard at night.

    1) The quality of today’s AM radio receivers
    2) The difference in quality between car radios and in-home tabletop or portable radios
    3) The ever increasing levels of interference, some atmospheric, but mostly man-made, that is present today, and the effect it has particularly on frequencies low in the radio spectrum, particularly AM (mediumwave).
    4) A general lack of knowledge on the part of the casual radio listener with respect to simple methods that can be employed to improve AM radio reception.

    As Steven stated in his article, four intervenors – all business people – appeared at the hearing to support the application by Bell Media. All four claimed to suffer from poor night-time reception of CKGM, predominantly in the West Island, but also in the Chateauguay area.

    I approached Wayne Bews, GM of CKGM, after their presentation, and told him that if I could spend 5 or 10 minutes with each of the four intervenors, I could probably evaluate their reception problems and offer some possible solutions. I even told him that if they were to be turned down on their request to move to 690 kHz. I would be more than willing to go on-air with one of their hosts and talk to their listeners (during daylight hours of course!) and provide them with some basic suggestions on how to go about improving their reception of the station.

    Still waiting for the response on that…

    Sheldon

    Reply
    1. AlexH

      Sheldon, let’s be realistic here. Not everyone wants to “make changes” to get radio reception. They want to turn on their radio in their house and hear the station, point. That radio may not be position well (many would have it in the basement, example), or may not have what you consider an appropriate antenna, or may be near other sources of interference.

      We aren’t talking about optimized reception here. We are talking average people with radios in their house, trying to get reception with what they have. If they cannot receive 990, but they can receive CJAD, they would be reasonable to assume that they don’t have a problem, but that the station does.

      You and I may both be licensed and understand how to build antennas and how to properly position them for optimum results, but the average citizen just isn’t going there. Forget 5 to 10 minutes, they aren’t going to spend 1.

      Reply
  4. Michael Black

    For most of its life, CKGM was “980”. I can’t remember the reasoning for the change to 990, but it was in 1990, during the CHTX days. I seem they got more power during the day, and a different antenna pattern. They were able to take down CFOX in the seventies on 980KC, which sold itself to CKO and the all news network.

    Of course, moving 10KC was really easy technically, and at the time there wasn’t much choice for other frequencies. Now with virtually no AM stations locally, I’m not even sure why everyone is fussing over just the old CBC frequencies, clear channel issues aside.

    CKGM went though a lot of format changes , starting about 1986. I remember when they went to “Talk with Attitude” in 1986, Lowell Green did promos and talked about how the other station was talking about fixing things, or maybe it was garage sales, and CJAD promptly dumped the informational programming in the afternoon with Chuck Phillips. “Talk with Attitude” didn’t last that long. The sad part is that every time there’s been competition to CJAD, it’s either failed or CJAD has grabbed it, Tommy Shnurmacher was fine on CFCF (or whatever it was calling itself by that point),
    but when CJAD grabbed him, he was no longer an alternative. The world isn’t served by Coast to Coast on CJAD, not when almost any station up and down the dial at night offers the show, many with fine reception in Montreal, if people actually tuned up and down the band to see. I started listening to CJAD when I got tired of whatever was on Larry King (on CFCF circa 1986) that night, so started listening to CJAD overnight. Now CJAD has nothing overnight, not local.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      For most of its life, CKGM was “980”. I can’t remember the reasoning for the change to 990, but it was in 1990, during the CHTX days. I seem they got more power during the day, and a different antenna pattern. They were able to take down CFOX in the seventies on 980KC, which sold itself to CKO and the all news network.

      Signal improvement was indeed the reason. The change allowed them to increase from 10,000 to 50,000 watts. The CRTC decision is here.

      Of course, moving 10KC was really easy technically, and at the time there wasn’t much choice for other frequencies.

      Except they moved their transmitter site. That must have been somewhat of an undertaking.

      You can read more about CKGM’s history on Marc Denis’s tribute page, which I just noticed is still being updated.

      Reply
  5. What's In A Name?

    Sheldon Harvey, it should be noted, spoke to the CRTC as a proponent of a group not named TSN 990. And while I get it that he is a fan of the station I don’t think he should hold his breath waiting to appear on the radio, during the hockey season, to explain to listeners how they can get better reception of an AM station that struggles to be heard even in the downtown core.

    Reply
    1. Sheldon

      I wonder what’s in a name that can’t be revealed, but that’s beside the point and trust me, I’m not holding my breath. It is an honest offer to assist their listeners. A station that struggles to be heard in the downtown core? Sounds like someone has serious radio problems. I’m in the downtown core three days a week and my radio is almost exclusively on 990 during those three days without an issue

      Reply
      1. ATSC

        You would think that businesses in the business of broadcasting would help their viewers/listeners in supplying tips on improving reception. And what to look for when considering buying a radio or TV. Perhaps this is something you can do on your website. Or Mr. Fagstein can do another report on.

        But for those who can’t wait. Here are another few links that might help them in their research for improving reception. I’m not advocating anybody buy any of this stuff. But is only supplied as a starting point in understanding on how they can improve their AM/FM/HD Radio reception.

        From Vermont Public Radio

        http://www.vpr.net/help_center/guide_to_good_reception/

        From Two Online Retailers:

        http://www.fmdxantenna.com/resources.php#.TrVEZ2C4JWD

        http://www.fmdxantenna.com/products.php?cat=FM+Reception+Antennas#.TrVE-GC4JWA

        http://www.amazon.com/Kaito-200-Tunable-Passive-Antenna/dp/B001PNNXGO/ref=pd_cp_e_1

        http://www.amazon.com/Petra-880-1100-Fm-Dipole-Antenna/dp/B000EIOQBM/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1320502543&sr=1-4

        http://www.amazon.com/Parts-Express-FM-Dipole-Antenna/dp/B000M9EREE/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1320502579&sr=1-2

        Reply
      2. What's In A Name?

        Ever take a taxi? Ever sit in a downtown office for hours at a time – w/out a computer to listen to? There are many
        Montrealers who live and work downtown who struggle to hear The Team 990. Not based on cheap hardware but location. I’m one of them.

        Reply
        1. ATSC

          Does your radio accept a AM and FM Antenna in the back of the unit?

          If it doesn’t, then it’s a hardware issue as far as I’m concerned.

          If you really want to get CKGM-AM 990, I suggest you investigate ways to improve your reception. Or you can wait a year or so for it to move to 690 AM. If it even gets the go ahead to do so. And believe me, even if it’s on 690 it still doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get it if your location is a problem.

          The hardware and antenna combination is to make up for the variable of ones location. So, if you’re in a difficult location, then you need to take better steps to improve your reception. The location won’t change. The broadcast signals will still be effected by your location. So, you need to take the proper steps to make it happen.

          As for AM reception in Cars. Car Radios are excellent. But, the AM band is subject to interference from too many things. I personally can’t stand AM radio. I turn a corner and dependent on what is near by, there is a increase in buzz. But hey, that’s the AM Band. It sucks.

          Reply
          1. Fagstein Post author

            Does your radio accept a AM and FM Antenna in the back of the unit? If it doesn’t, then it’s a hardware issue as far as I’m concerned.

            Fine, but your judgment of the situation isn’t going to change human nature. People who have trouble picking up the station will do something else.

            Reply
  6. Just Me

    Quote : ‘ CKGM has been unprofitable for more than a decade ‘ . Grasshopper does not understand. Why have they kept the station on air for that long if they were losing money for more than a decade ? Were they anticipating the eventual availability of 690 & 940 ? If so, why didn’t they leap in to apply for one or the other spot last year ? I’ve heard of a loss-leader for business purposes, but I don’t see what this could have been a loss-leader for ( unless the company wished to able to present the Montreal market to advertisers as a component of total network sales ) .

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Why have they kept the station on air for that long if they were losing money for more than a decade ?

      For the same reason anyone keeps a business running even though it’s losing money: The hope that in the future it will turn profitable and start paying off the initial costs.

      why didn’t they leap in to apply for one or the other spot last year

      Bell said it tried to negotiate the purchase or lease of the 690 or 940 transmitter and antennas, but Corus/Cogeco refused to. They were also focused on securing the rights to Canadiens games during this time.

      Reply
      1. Just Me

        Thank you ! That would be implying that Corus/Cogeco were being, erm, disingenuous when they asserted that no-one had been demonstrating an interest in the 2 vacated slots before the Quebec traffic deal had been announced. One side or the other has been trifling with verisimilitude … or both. Thank you for your site : waves of nostalgia wash over me in reading it.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          That would be implying that Corus/Cogeco were being, erm, disingenuous when they asserted that no-one had been demonstrating an interest in the 2 vacated slots before the Quebec traffic deal had been announced.

          Well, it’s all a matter of perspective. Nothing stopped anyone from applying for the frequencies, whether or not they had approval of Cogeco for the site (though the CRTC would require them to have some plan).

          I think what’s unsaid here is that nobody applied for the frequencies because nobody expected that anyone else would want them, because nobody applied for them. Kind of circular logic, sure, but I think it’s valid. Bell/CKGM was busy with getting Canadiens rights, and Tietolman-Tétrault was trying to butt in on the Cogeco/Corus deal, and neither really expected that there would be a rush for these frequencies.

          Reply
          1. AlexH

            I think the issue is that, without being able to buy the existing transmitters and antenna site, it might not be such a good business deal to try to start from scratch. What Cogeco / Corus did wasn’t against the law or anything, but they seemed to have no real goal for the equipment, butrefused to part with it. Seems pretty obstructionist to me. Perhaps they already knew that this contract with TQ was coming down the line, and thought they could just walk into it.

            Reply
  7. Teddie

    Mr. Fagstein:

    Thanks for your blog.
    You have interesting background and insight.
    I also appreciate your contributions to The Gazette.
    Please gain a higher profile. Your opinions are of value.

    Re: JustMe 3 Nov 2011. Why does Bell keep a station if it loses money?

    1) Hope for future profit.
    2) Tax picture allows reduction in overall profit picture.
    3) Maintaining a national presence.
    4) Bragging rights as to total Canadian coverage.
    5) Ability to attract talent.
    6) Media tie-ins (Radio, TV, Newspapers, Magazine, Blog, Internet Access, International Prestige and Tie-ins).
    7) Attracting of talent.
    8) Ability to attract high value interviews.
    9) National Syndication Coverage available.
    10) Usefulness to advertisers as to Canadian and Syndication coverage and ad reach.

    Hope this assists in allowing a more extensive understanding of their business model.

    But now that 690 has been awarded, let’s hope things will be much much better and we will be guaranteed great sports coverage.

    Teddie

    Reply
  8. Teddie

    Mr Fagstein:

    A friend has just reviewed my comments and suggested that a more clear explanation of points number 5 and 7 would assist understanding.

    5) Ability to attract talent:
    This means that persons already working in the field (Radio / TV / Print) see added value in applying for any position which may become available and/or may be willing to pitch a new show or improvements in shows by adding proven talent (i.e. the person making the application or pitch). It will also be a separate valued entry in any future CV. The fact of being seriously considered for any position in itself becomes newsworthy and elevates the status of the applicant.

    7) Attracting of Talent:
    A clearer explanation is such that in the day to day operations, the very existence of a national presence allows any person in the field to more easily accept an invitation to appear on the network or individual station. Commentary on a network often requires corroborating views from others recognized as experts in their field and these experts are attracted to a more important and far reaching network where their views will be heard and re-interpreted, commented upon, quoted and listened to. The commentator will thus acquire greater trust in his comments.

    TSN, in acquiring 690 AM frequency and resulting expansion of potential audience, expands its sports listener value and ad reach potential. This means greater ad revenue and a longer future guarantee of higher quality coverage delivery across Canada and border states.

    Teddie

    Reply
  9. Douglas

    Leave 990 where it is use 690 and 940 as repeter stations when they change patern at sunset.Bell has made money off me and other people.

    Reply

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