Posted in Radio

CRTC limits musical montages on French radio stations

It’s no secret that Canadian radio stations don’t like the content requirements imposed on them by the CRTC. For stations that broadcast popular music, 35% of the songs they play must be Canadian (that term being defined by meeting certain criteria). That’s why we hear a lot of Nickelback or Kim Mitchell.

For French-language radio stations playing popular music, there’s an additional and more serious limit the CRTC imposes: 65% of their songs must be in French (55% during the day, to prevent them from getting around this by playing all their French songs at 3am).

A few years ago, some genius found a way to get around this requirement: montages.

Because the CRTC counts “musical selections” by number, and not by length, a two-minute song and a 20-minute song have the same weight. And because the CRTC specifically counts music montages as one selection, you can have large (but not complete) parts of 20 songs in there and have it counted as one selection for the purpose of French-language minimums.

ADISQ, Quebec’s musical industry group, objected to the abuse of this by radio stations, and complained to the CRTC, which held hearings into the issue, specifically focusing on CKOI-FM Montreal, owned by Cogeco, CKTF-FM (NRJ) Gatineau, owned by Astral, and CFTX-FM (Capitale Rock) Gatineau, owned by RNC Media.

The statistics are pretty telling. The CKOI and NRJ stations were found to be using montages to a significant part of their broadcast week. CKOI was the worst, using 101 montages in the studied week, representing 17.9% of its total broadcasting time (this works out to an average of about 20 minutes per montage, though one case was found that was 55 minutes long). The NRJ Gatineau case was only slightly less, with 75 montages representing 14.5% of their 126 hours of broadcasting.

The study found these montages were almost all English-language American songs.

Astral and Cogeco argued they were not breaking the rules as they were written, which is true. They also presented public opinion polls showing that francophone audiences want to hear more English music, and in many cases francophones are tuning in to English stations.

There’s some irony in all this: 13 years ago, the CRTC set definitions of montages as they are to prevent the reverse from happening: radio stations using short clips from French-language songs in a montage and counting each one individually.

On Thursday, the CRTC addressed this, and imposed limits on the use of music montages. CKOI and CKTF can use montages for only 10% of their broadcast week. (CFTX was already well below this limit, so the CRTC did not impose one.) It also said it would study this matter further, and possibly impose new regulation generally.

The most obvious solution, to me, is to count musical selections based on length, not number. Under such a system, a four-minute song would count for twice as much as a two-minute song, and musical montages would be split up for the purposes of counting French-language or Canadian content requirements.

This is obviously more complicated for the station, but it would eliminate the problem.

The CRTC says it will begin looking into this issue in 2012.

Other coverage:

UPDATE: Cogeco Diffusion has issued a statement saying it will comply with the ruling, and suggesting the whole montage thing was Corus’s idea, that it’s using less of them, and its other radio stations don’t do it. Astral and RNC Media issued a joint statement also saying they would comply with the decision. Both said they would participate in hearings about French-language requirements, undoubtedly in an effort to get the CRTC to lower them.

ADISQ also issued a statement, praising the decision as a victory for francophone artists.

10 thoughts on “CRTC limits musical montages on French radio stations

  1. Jordan

    What Cogeco Forgot to Mention is that the “Montage Cheating scam” was created by none other than their program director Mr. Andre Saint Amand while he was working at Corus, Andre departed CKOI-FM for Cogeco’s CFGL 105.7 FM.

    Its unfortunate that the CRTC did not look into this before Cogeco was granted an anti competitive approval for the purchase of Corus Quebec. L’adisq and Madame Drouin is greatly to blame for not speaking up earlier and protecting her members, also Pierre Rodrique who was a board member of L’adisq joined Astral and his ideas of values and protecting his own Quebec artists and acts changed, the corporate greed sometimes does that.

    I am happy to see the CRTC act on this matter and I truly hope they do not change the rules and lower the quotas in the future, remember having a broadcast licence has a purpose and that is to promote and support English and French Canadian content and musical selections, but we all know its about the money.

    Reply
  2. Jordan

    Cogeco are liars because they continued to cheat after purchasing Corus Quebec, they continued the cheating up until today

    Reply
  3. wkh

    CRTC would do well to stop imposing language restrictions period. Yeah, I said that. I know, I can’t believe I did either but I really do believe it would work out. Yes, really.

    Reply
  4. ATSC

    The CRTC should butt out of imposing language limits. The stations try and play what people want. Else they would change the content. We all may not agree with what is being played, but would we then agree to listen to stuff we don’t want.

    I’ve posted in the past about HD Radio, and about Internet ready Radios that just plug into your wall unit connection. Also about SiriusXM. The CRTC will drive people away from local AM & FM radio towards other delivery sources. Don’t they see that?

    I’m no fan of mixed music packages on some of these stations, but, there has got to be a large audience that listens to them if these stations continue to pump them out.

    If the CRTC wants to really improve local Radio, then they need to respect the limits on how many stations any station group can own in a market. This will allow other stations to try and play other music, and programs in different ways. Telling Cogeco, RNC, , and Astral to stop playing pop music that people want is no way productive.

    With all of this going on, WYUL-FM 94.7 must be very happy. More people will tune in. And they have FCC rules. They can run french ads, and even supply other info in french for the people that will run away from CKOI-FM.

    End of story, the CRTC tries to satisfy a special interest group, and in the end drives listeners to other delivery sources. Does anybody on the CRTC board actually own and us a iPod? Wake up!

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The CRTC should butt out of imposing language limits.

      That would be a pretty fundamental shift in how the commission operates, and might even require changes to the Broadcasting Act. You’ll probably need to lobby your MP, not the CRTC, to push this through. And … well, good luck with that.

      End of story, the CRTC tries to satisfy a special interest group, and in the end drives listeners to other delivery sources.

      Perhaps, but I don’t think too many people are going to leave Rythme FM for Hits FM.

      Reply
  5. Kevin

    The irony of having significant numbers of francophones tuning in to American dreck radio while other groups of francophones complain about people posting handwritten english signs is highly amusing.

    Reply
    1. lop

      I too, find it amusing, that while some scream about loosing the French language, they neglect the fact that many of their ‘own’ are listneing to english / amercian songs & content, have adopted english words & phrases as slang in conversation, and seem to frequent english movie theaters..

      Shouldn’t the OLF maybe look at these sources as , maybe, one of the main influences of English in their coveted french culture?

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        I too, find it amusing, that while some scream about loosing the French language, they neglect the fact that many of their ‘own’ are listneing to english / amercian songs & content, have adopted english words & phrases as slang in conversation, and seem to frequent english movie theaters..

        I don’t think this problem has escaped the sight of people who complain about the dangers facing the French language in Quebec. It’s why we have minimums on French-language content in the first place.

        Reply
  6. Derek Cassoff

    In my humble opinion, anytime you need laws or regulations to impose a culture or language on people, it doesn’t bode well for said culture in the long-term. I’m just saying…

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      In my humble opinion, anytime you need laws or regulations to impose a culture or language on people, it doesn’t bode well for said culture in the long-term. I’m just saying…

      Since the people who are in favour of such laws believe their culture is threatened, I think they agree with you.

      Reply

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