Posted in Montreal, Radio

Bell to convert TSN Radio to French

Well, this is a shock.

As part of its acquisition of Astral Media, including CJAD, CHOM and CJFM in Montreal’s English market, Bell Media has decided that rather than sell one of the four English stations it would own here, it is going to keep all four of them but convert one to French.

As such, Bell announced Tuesday that it has applied to the CRTC to convert CKGM (TSN Radio 990) to a French-language all-sports station named RDS Radio 990. (Actually it would be RDS Radio 690, since the station is moving to that frequency.) Bell expects the switch to happen by Jan. 1, 2013, though that’s dependent on how fast the CRTC makes a decision. It says it is prepared to make the change within 120 days of the CRTC’s decision.

The CRTC’s competition rules require that a common owner control no more than three stations in a market of fewer than eight commercial stations (English Montreal has five), and no more than two AM and two FM stations in a market of more than that (French Montreal has eight). Since neither Astral nor Bell have a French-language AM station in Montreal, converting the station to French would allow them to keep it.

TSN Radio 990, formerly The Team 990, has always struggled as a low-rated station, but there was a feeling over the past few years that it had finally found a niche that worked after various other failed attempts at different formats.

How many jobs will be lost?

This is devastating news for TSN 990′s employees, most of whom probably would not work at a French-language sports station. They were told of this at a meeting at 10:30am Tuesday. It’s unclear how many of them will lose their jobs, how many will stay on with the French station and how many will get other jobs within the company, at CJAD, TSN television or elsewhere.

“It is difficult to say at this time how many employees will be affected by the converting of TSN Radio,” Bell Media’s Matthew Garrow tells me. “Staffing decisions will be determined on a case-by-case basis.”

Because the Bell purchase of Astral is conditional on CRTC approval, job cuts might not be known until after the CRTC’s decision. The Globe and Mail’s Steve Ladurantaye tells me he’s been told “the vast majority of employees at TSN 990 will land elsewhere within the company.”

Canadiens games to move to CJAD

Bell has already announced that Canadiens games will move back to CJAD. When this will happen is unclear, though it appears they will stay on CKGM until that station changes formats.

Alouettes football games and Impact soccer games already air on CJAD. It’s unclear what would air on RDS Radio. French radio rights to Canadiens and Alouettes games are currently with Cogeco, which airs them on 98.5FM and other stations in Quebec. To be viable, they’d almost certainly need Canadiens games. The Impact are currently without a French-language radio broadcaster, so would almost certainly quickly find a home on RDS Radio.

Among the things Bell says in its application:

  • RDS Radio is not expected to make money in its first seven-year license term.
  • CKGM’s programming is currently 92% local. Bell says it plans to continue this high level of local programming in French (though it has not proposed a minimum amount of local programming). It plans to rely particularly on RDS personalities and give more opportunities to specialized broadcasters and analysts.
  • Audience projections show a market share of 0.5% in its first year, and 3.5% by Year 7. CKGM currently has a 3.3% market share, according to the latest BBM numbers. CKAC Sports had about a 4% market share in the year before it changed from all-sports to all-traffic.
  • Financial projections show a budget of between $3.5 million and $4.8 million, climbing slowly through the seven-year license. Revenue, most of which would be local advertising, would climb from $600,000 to $4.4 million. The station is projected to lose money throughout its seven-year license term.
  • Bell sees this switch as balancing the language scales in Montreal, in terms of radio stations per listener (by its calculations, Montreal has 370,500 people per francophone commercial station and 168,600 per anglophone commercial station). “As it stands today, Anglophone listeners in Montréal are very well served while Francophone listeners are underserved.”
  • Bell focuses on CKAC’s disappearance as a sports station as evidence of a need, saying franco Montreal is the only one of the top five markets in Canada without a sports radio station. The application makes no mention of sports programming on CHMP 98.5.
  • The application hints at what kind of live sports events the station might carry. Besides Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, it mentions auto racing, boxing, Carabins football, QMHJL Armada and even the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s Montreal Stars.
  • With Cogeco holding a commanding market share among young men, and Quebecor having an increasing sports broadcasting portfolio, Bell sees this application as increasing diversity.
  • RDS Radio would offer its programming to other Quebec stations in other markets, much like Cogeco does with its news-talk programming.

Bell says that if the CRTC denies the application, it will divest itself of one of its four English-language stations to comply with the CRTC’s common ownership policy. That would mean selling one of the stations, or if no buyer can be found, shutting one down.

An open call for applications?

Normally, applications for new radio stations are considered as part of an open call for applications. That means that the CRTC, once it decides that a market can support a new radio station, issues a public notice calling for competing applications and then evaluates which proposals best fit the market. That’s what it did last year when Cogeco applied to reinstate CINW and CINF to start all-traffic stations. While initially it was going to just judge those applications, objections from competitors prompted the commission to issue an open call and accept competing applications.

The result was five applications (Cogeco withdrew the French all-traffic application, preferring to instead change CKAC into an all-traffic station). The two that were eventually approved for 690 and 940 AM were a news-talk station by independent group Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy and a frequency change by CKGM. CKGM’s former frequency of 990 is being given to Dufferin Communications for a French-language LGBT music/talk station.

Cogeco, whose applications started the whole process, was left out. It has yet to reapply to the CRTC for an English all-traffic station though it has said it is working on one.

There’s some irony in that Bell profited from an open call for applications when someone else applied for new stations but now feels it is unnecessary.

This could be the biggest obstacle to Bell getting CRTC approval, and could rest on a simple semantic question: Is this an application for a new station, or a change to an existing one? If it’s the former, competitors like Tietolman and Cogeco could have a case for demanding the CRTC issue an open call, where it would compete with their applications.

Bell says if the CRTC does issue an open call, it might consider withdrawing its application for TSN’s language change. That would mean moving to Plan B, which involves selling or shutting down CKGM or one of the English-language Astral stations.

Paul Tietolman, who with his partners have applied for an English news-talk station at 600 kHz, declined to say whether his group would oppose Bell’s application or ask for an open call for applications.

Reaction

The news hurts especially for its listeners. Randy Tieman and Mitch Melnick devoted much of their shows Tuesday to the news and reactions from listeners. Tieman made it clear he disagrees with the decision and blames the CRTC (and to a lesser extent Bell). Melnick said the news was sad, but bit his tongue a bit. “I cannot say what I’d like to say. It wouldn’t serve any purpose,” he told listeners on air. But a look at his playlist, with songs like Shattered, When The Whip Comes Down, Angry Young Man, Going Nowhere Fast, Wish I Was Drunk, I’m Not Angry, No Banker Left Behind, It’s a Shame and Baby Let Me Follow You Down, you can guess at his mood.

On-air comments and comments to the media apparently prompted this email from station manager Wayne Bews, forbidding further discussion of this on air and saying people who don’t silence callers wanting to talk about it will be pulled off the air.

Two Facebook groups have already been started (one of which has a corresponding Twitter account) for people who want to “save” the station. There’s also an online petition with 138 signatures so far. Comments to the CRTC are much more likely to be successful in blocking the move, though people who argue for saving the station would have to suggest some alternative. If Bell buys Astral, owning four of five stations in English Montreal simply wouldn’t fly.

A “rally” has been planned for Aug. 4 at McLean’s Pub on Peel St.

FAQ

Lots of people are asking questions or speculating on social media, so here’s some answers to things I’ve been asked:

  • Why is the CRTC forcing them to do this? It’s not. The CRTC’s rule says Bell can’t own more than three stations in this market, that’s all. How Bell chooses to come into compliance with this rule is up to them. It could sell the station (or another one), or shut it down. In this case, it has chosen the latter option so that it can use the same frequency for a French-language station.
  • Why did the CRTC deny Bell’s request for an exemption from this rule? It didn’t. There is no ruling denying such a decision and the CRTC says Bell never asked for one. In any case, it’s unlikely they would get this because it would mean owning four of five commercial stations.
  • Could CJAD become an all-sports station? It could, but it won’t. CJAD has a 25% market share, while CKGM’s is about 3.5%. A more likely scenario is a format similar to what exists on Cogeco’s 98.5FM in French: news-talk during the day and sports/sports-talk during evenings and weekends.
  • Could TSN personalities start their own (online-only) station? Considering that CKGM has never made money, and an online-only station would not have big draws like Canadiens games, it’s highly unlikely such a station would be profitable.
  • Would TSN personalities move to CJAD? Maybe. But there’s no word on this yet. CJAD certainly wouldn’t accommodate all of TSN’s employees.
  • Would the new Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy station create sports programs or hire people from CKGM? It’s too early to say, Paul Tietolman tells me. Even if there’s nothing official, it stands to reason that some people who are let go from one station might be hired to work at the other.
  • Who would handle Canadiens play-by-play on CJAD? This is unclear at this point.
  • What happens to the 990 frequency? Couldn’t TSN stay there? The CRTC awarded it to Dufferin Communications for a French-language music/talk station. CKGM will change frequency, whether or not this change is approved. The frequency change is likely to happen before the format change.
  • Why weren’t staff given a heads-up? Bell and Astral are publicly-traded companies, and this is a $3.8-billion deal. They don’t have the luxury of announcing major deals to staff before announcing them publicly to shareholders.

Bell’s application to change CKGM’s language (along with its larger acquisition of Astral) requires CRTC approval. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 10 at the Palais des congrès on both matters.

People wanting to file comments with the CRTC or appear at the hearing can file an intervention here (the application number is 2012-0573-2 - Bell Media Canada Radio Partnership). The deadline is Aug. 9. Note that comments – including names and contact information – are on the public record.

Coverage

See also: Campaign to save TSN 990 should focus on the CRTC

140 thoughts on “Bell to convert TSN Radio to French

    1. Michael D

      And just for the hell of it to add to the insult of us anglos….all English print has been abolish in the 3 southwest weekly papers of Transcon Publications…in Verdun, LaSalle, and Nuns Island…

      they were down to a so-called English page, so about 5% of the paper for a size of about 20% Anglo population in the southwest, for an area that’s the most bilingual on the island. Go Figure !!

      Reply
  1. Mario

    I guess now we know why CJAD were awarded the Montreal Impact broadcasts. TSN Radio branding no more. Unless Bell decides to convert CJAD or CHOM or Virgin to TSN radio. Highly unlikely.

    Reply
  2. Marc

    I wonder if the CRTC will have a moment of glory and deny this move.

    On the other hand, I wonder if the writing is now on the wall for CJAD; could it become TSN radio 800?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      On the other hand, I wonder if the writing is now on the wall for CJAD; could it become TSN radio 800?

      CJAD is the No. 1 station overall in Montreal. TSN Radio is fifth out of five commercial stations.

      Reply
      1. Transplanted west coaster

        What are the other 3 english stations in Montreal? Please don’t tell me the beat and virgin. I want sports and entertainment a la Melnick in the afternoon. Hate CJAD. For seniors only.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          What are the other 3 english stations in Montreal? Please don’t tell me the beat and virgin.

          Montreal’s five English-language commercial stations are CKBE-FM (The Beat), CJFM-FM (Virgin), CHOM-FM, CJAD and CKGM. Whether you like them or not is irrelevant.

          Reply
  3. Scotty

    So anyone want to bet on how long it will take Bird to fly back to CHOM?

    Don Scarey back with Dimonte. Oh joy. NOT.

    I am soooo glad my new car has Sirius.

    Reply
      1. Scotty

        Well I rarely listen anymore, but I do check in early in the morning sometimes and I have to say, other than those ludicrious “drunk dad” spots, Heather has turned out to be not so bad (I thought she was far worse on Virgin, coming across something like the kids who’ve taken over MuchMusic). I love that Heather holds her own when Moe-reen tries to ignore her and treat her as if she’s intruding on a private chat with Dimonte. Heather mostly refuses to back down and shut up. What she says isn’t always rocket science, but it’s great to see her stand up to Holloway (what’s she doing on Montreal radio anyway? Her snobbery oozes from the radio speaker!).

        If Bird goes go back to CHOM I just won’t listen it all. Couldn’t stand the childish, lame “laugh at our own jokes” combination when he and Dimonte were together before. As I wrote above, thank God for Sirius!

        As for 990, it’s obviously a market decision. Like it or not, anglos are a minority in this market, so obviously a company that exists to make the most money possible for its shareholders is going to go with whatever’s the most profitable.

        Reply
  4. Danno

    This really bites! Looks more and more like I may go to satellite radio to get my sports talk fix. Would prefer to stay local but won’t go to the other station a few numbers down at all… Good luck to all at TSN990 in the future!

    Reply
  5. Gazoo

    Dear Bell…

    Cancel my residential line, my internet service and my satellite receiver….. I will be moving to another provider.

    Reply
    1. Richirp

      I agree this is the last straw for Bell – Overcharge on phones and take the profit to mess up local media. The only voice is to drop them and let them know why.
      Is this CRTC regulation really helping Canadian listeners in this situation.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        Is this CRTC regulation really helping Canadian listeners in this situation.

        Ask yourself this question: Would you rather that Bell own four of the five English commercial radio stations in Montreal?

        Reply
  6. Ericinmtl

    Well let’s see what happens, fact is though BellMedia should have advised the on air personnel about the move/decision. But that’s Bell, whoever forgot to put in to place a PR plan should get fired on the spot. Bush league quite honestly.

    And people complain about Videotron.

    A conglomerate is a conglomerate is a conglomerate.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Well let’s see what happens, fact is though BellMedia should have advised the on air personnel about the move/decision.

      I don’t know if they could, legally. Bell is a publicly-traded company, and a move like this can’t be announced to some people before it’s announced to the public.

      Reply
      1. Ericinmtl

        Well listening to the trainwreck at TSN990 and at least they got a meeting at 10:30 AM.

        Maybe, just maybe this is a brilliant ploy to get some support and get instant publicity. Not the best way mind you, but a threat is never a bad thing….

        Reply
  7. Mike Lafontaine

    This is absolute bloody garbage as far as a decision is concerned. Might as well block all english radio and TV from reaching Kebec !! I mean really ! 990 was the ONLY station on the AM dial that has , not only sports, but everything under the sun! There is no way in HELL that I’m going to listen to CJAD all day ! Puhleeeze! I want to stay awake all day! FIrst it was R.I.P. am600, and now we have NOTHING! I am p!$$ed off !

    Reply
  8. Tallboy

    Quick question…when did Bell announce that they were switching the Habs back to CJAD? Will Rick Moffatt get the play-by-play back? That would be an even bigger travesty, as John Bartlett did a great job of calling with Momesso/Dolles.

    Another reason I’m thinking of leaving this province…so sad and frustrating to be an Anglophone here.

    Reply
        1. Cameron A.

          Not to be flippant, but most press releases are glorified advertisements.

          I don’t see too many press releases in Canada centre around CRTC applications, though.

          Reply
  9. Marc

    If this bad news were to materialize, I wonder if Melnick, Bird, and the rest of the team would form their own Internet sports station?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      If this bad news were to materialize, I wonder if Melnick, Bird, and the rest of the team would form their own Internet sports station?

      Considering how much money that would lose, I don’t think so.

      Reply
  10. Max

    Wow! Since 730 switched to an all traffic station, I switched to the the last all sports channel in Montreal. I will not complain the switch to French, but man I feel for the great bunch that livens up my mornings.

    Reply
  11. evelyn mckeil

    maybe all the English speaking people should cancel their bell service to other provider . . what is next to come ? will they take away everything away from us. after all Quebec is still a part of CANADA.

    Reply
  12. evelyn mckeil

    maybe we all should cancel our bell service and go to other provider. what next are they going to take away everything from us , after all QUEBEC is still in CANADA.

    Reply
    1. Michel

      Unfortunately, if you live in Montreal, your only other option is Videotron.
      So, that’s a choice of giving up one shit sandwich for another shit sandwich.

      Reply
  13. Pingback: I hope @TSNRadio990 is saved, but I understand if it’s not #CRTC « Off-Sidel

  14. News Guy

    I have always wondered which was more evil, Bell or Quebecor. This move proves the winner is Bell. Here’s another slap in the face to Quebec anglos. We don’t need an independant Quebec to get rid of English-language media outlets, it’s happening right now with what is sure to be the blessing of the CRTC.

    Melnick ought to take this opportunity to finally leave for a real radio market.

    Reply
  15. Darryl

    This is insane. Don’t just talk and complain folks, write to the CRTC. I’ve already done it. If you can think of another way to save TSN 990 let us all know. I feel totally let down by Bell. I am glad I have service with the other guys. This is really the first time that I feel like a first hand victim of corportate greed. I am pissed!

    Reply
  16. William

    “As it stands today, Anglophone listeners in Montréal are very well served while Francophone listeners are underserved.”

    That line is comedy gold.

    Reply
  17. Jason

    oh goodie, more #$!!!#@ sports on CJAD.
    So much for NEWS talk radio…

    There needs to be an AM station in English and one in French where all they do is sports.
    Keep the news on one station and the boring a$$ sports on another.

    Reply
  18. Ericinmtl

    Jeez people get a grip. This station was not making a whole lot of $$$, there are only so many english listeners in the Montreal area who listen to an all hockey radio station.
    This is economics + radio reality in MTL.

    This is not a big French Canadian plot to get rid of anglos. Potholes and construction on the other hand…..

    A conspiracy means some people are actually thinking and making plans to achieve something.

    Reply
  19. Charlie

    One can imagine that there will be even more local programming under the RDS banner, only because it’s impossible to simulcast ESPN Radio en français. Consider this: in order to cut costs, CKGM oftentimes doesn’t have primetime programming (e.g. Picard’s old spot) – why would Bell Media be willing to pay a host or hosts to having some kind of evening programming now? Being able to air Sunday Night Baseball, Monday Night Football, and the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals were a blessing for CKGM, as they needed to buy rights, not pay salaries (besides producers).

    So, having said that, what would a Francophone all-sports do for overnight? Just shut down for 5-6 hours?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      One can imagine that there will be even more local programming under the RDS banner, only because it’s impossible to simulcast ESPN Radio en français.

      True, but they can simulcast RDS television.

      Reply
  20. MTLskyline

    Internet radio has been done before. After Comcast/G4 bought TechTV, they effectively just shut the station down in a ploy to get more providers to carry G4TV. A while later, a bunch of former TechTV personalities created TWIT.tv and make podcasts now.

    Reply
  21. Apple IIGS

    Let’s see, in one month…. Not one, but TWO English newspapers gone. Now an English radio station. Just waiting for an English TV station to disappear next (will it be CTV, CBC or Global?).

    I can’t help but think there is something political behind this, especially with a provincial election call rumored to be just a month away.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I can’t help but think there is something political behind this

      Like what? Broadcasting is a federal jurisdiction. And TSN, Hour and Mirror have three separate owners. Would have to be a widespread conspiracy, and what’s the point again?

      Reply
      1. Apple IIGS

        I was only being half-serious, but then again, this is Quebec. Canadian rule of law (or other common sense) doesn’t always apply here. Nothing would surprise me in this province.

        At one point there was talk about changing the broadcast standard in Quebec to what is used in Europe. If this were ever done, it would essentially block reception of ATSC signals coming from the States and other provinces, putting a bubble around Quebec for TV broadcasts. There has also been talk of a French version of the CRTC (think of the OQLF, but as a broadcast regulator!).

        Reply
  22. Rick

    990 is the only Montreal Radio Station that people listen to all over the world via internet. If we lose 990, This puts up another border around Montreal & makes us less Global. ….Very Sad.

    Reply
    1. Isaac Lin

      Many radio stations, including a number of Montreal ones, stream live over the Internet. My brother-in-law knows someone in the U.S. who’s a big fan of CHOM over the net…

      Reply
  23. MTLskyline

    What are the chances of the CRTC rejecting this? All 3 clear channels would be francophone stations.

    Also, what are the chances of the Tietolman group launching a sports station on AM 600 if this goes through? (The Fan 600?)

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      What are the chances of the CRTC rejecting this? All 3 clear channels would be francophone stations.

      That’s an interesting point, and might be an argument for asking for an open call for applications. But the CRTC doesn’t have any rules requiring language parity for clear-channel stations.

      Also, what are the chances of the Tietolman group launching a sports station on AM 600 if this goes through? (The Fan 600?)

      That’s a possibility, but it would be a pretty serious change in format for that station. And all-sports won’t work without Canadiens, Alouettes and/or Impact broadcast rights, which are all held by Bell and Astral with games airing on CJAD.

      Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Team990 lasted 9 years without any broadcast rights at all until the Impact came along.

          And it lost money for all nine of those years.

          Reply
  24. Sheldon

    What bothers me most about all of this is that Bell first went ahead and secured the Canadiens broadcasts in English for TSN 990. The old Team 990 never would have got it without Bell behind them. Then Bell applies to the CRTC to move TSN 990 to 690 kHz. because on 990 kHz they couldn’t reach their English audience at night based in the West Island. Yeah, right! Bell has long known what they were planning. They wanted the clear channel 690 kHz frequency knowing full well that this would open the door to them putting a French language sports station on the frequency; a frequency that has historically always had a French language station on it.

    I think back to the hearings in Montreal last fall where TSN Radio put on this dog and pony show about how they so desperately needed the frequency change to help them grow in advertisers and to serve their listenership better. Was this nothing more than a ploy to acquire the frequency that they truly wanted for the French station all along. I wondered why they brought in Denis Casavant to speak on their behalf at the hearings when he had already left the station.

    I would also imagine that Bell knew very well that they were planning on making the move on the Astral radio stations. By securing the Canadiens English contract for 7 years, they knew that they could hold on to it by simply moving it back to CJAD once they had ownership of that station.

    Things like this don’t happen overnight and a company like Bell, without a doubt, had a long-term plan when they started this ball rolling.

    What bothers me most is that the loyal audience to TSN 990, and even the staff and management, plus ultimately the CRTC, were most likely sold a bill of goods by Bell, telling them how this move to 690 kHz for TSN Radio would be the best thing.

    Perhaps the CRTC should refuse their application to make this switch from English to French.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Your conspiracy theory is based on the assumption that the people who made the application to move CKGM to 690 were aware of a coming deal to purchase Astral Media, and that everything that came after was planned a year ago. I’m skeptical.

      Reply
      1. Sheldon

        Why do you think that Bell would have even got behind The Team 990 unless they had bigger fish to fry? As I said, Team 990 would have had little chance of getting hold of the Canadiens contract on their own without the Bell money and machine behind them. All you have to do is to look at the size of the Anglo audience in Montreal and look at Bell’s desire to acquire one of the strongest, clearest channels in all of North America. That signal alone can easily cover the entire province of Quebec, day and night, and they didn’t need to reach that amount of territory in English. They wanted it to be in French. AM listeners are creatures of habit. Just like CJAD didn’t choose to move to a clear channel frequency when they had the chance because they didn’t want to give up what they called their “heritage spot” on the dial, 690 kHz has historically been the clear-channel French frequency in Quebec, just as 940 has been in English. That is why Tietolman’s group wanted both 690 and 940 for French and English respectively.

        The Bell takeover of Astral is a massive undertaking. These kinds of things don’t happen overnight and I remain totally convinced that they had an all-French sports-talk station in mind for TSN 990 before anything was made public about their interest in Astral. 990 kHz was more than sufficient to reach the Anglo audience in the immediate Montreal area, but 690 kHz has the ability to reach the whole province, and Francophones in eastern Ontario and New Brunswick, with easy.

        Would Bell have put in the effort they did to establish TSN 990 on 690 kHz with the intention of continuing to broadcast in English? No way.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          All you have to do is to look at the size of the Anglo audience in Montreal and look at Bell’s desire to acquire one of the strongest, clearest channels in all of North America. That signal alone can easily cover the entire province of Quebec, day and night, and they didn’t need to reach that amount of territory in English. They wanted it to be in French.

          Both Cogeco and Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy also wanted clear channels for English stations, arguing that other options would not have enough coverage in the West Island and other communities west of Montreal.

          690 kHz has historically been the clear-channel French frequency in Quebec, just as 940 has been in English

          And both of those frequencies have been dead for two and a half years. I don’t think too many people are tuning into them out of habit anymore.

          Reply
          1. Sheldon

            Trust me, I will do my best to do so. The best place to do it might be in front of the CRTC commissioners in September. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put all the pieces together to see that this was all part of the business plan. You don’t honestly believe that Bell really thought they would get an exemption from the CRTC to own 4 English properties, do you? Why else would Bell have gone to the lengths they did to convince the CRTC that they needed 690 kHz. It was only step one towards creating RDS 690, and the CRTC went for it. What I think Bell didn’t anticipate was the CRTC treating an “RDS 690″ French station as a “new” station and opening up a hearing and intervention process based on it.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put all the pieces together to see that this was all part of the business plan.

              So long as “the pieces” is actual direct evidence and not speculation.

              You don’t honestly believe that Bell really thought they would get an exemption from the CRTC to own 4 English properties, do you?

              Clearly not, since they’re not trying for one.

              Why else would Bell have gone to the lengths they did to convince the CRTC that they needed 690 kHz.

              For the reasons it presented at the hearing? That a clear channel is better than what they could get on 990?

              What I think Bell didn’t anticipate was the CRTC treating an “RDS 690″ French station as a “new” station and opening up a hearing and intervention process based on it.

              Well, they seem to anticipate this in their application, in arguing that it shouldn’t be considered a new station and asking that they be notified if the CRTC disagrees. Since the CRTC hasn’t issued an open call for applications, it seems so far it’s not considering this an application for a new station.

              Reply
  25. Ron Zoiks

    Anything involving Bell is a scam. If they are not allowed to own more than two English language radio stations, why did the CRTC approve the sale???
    I quit everything Bell more than a year ago because it is such a crooked company.
    It’s time to take out the chainsaws to their cell towers!

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      If they are not allowed to own more than two English language radio stations, why did the CRTC approve the sale?

      They didn’t. This application is to be heard at the same time as the application by Bell to purchase Astral.

      Reply
  26. Mario

    Amazing how a radio station can go so high (with the Canadiens games being acquired by CkGM) followed by a rebranding to TSN radio. And to a low following this bitter news of the demise of TSN 990. All this in a span of a year.

    And to have Bell back stab their own personnel at TSN990.

    What will happen to the TSN radio brandind in the rest of Canada? So far only two stations; Toronto and Winnipeg.

    Reply
  27. Ericinmtl

    Chill out people, the english market is not big enough for an all-sports radio station.

    Montreal is a 1 (read 1) sports city. At best a bandwagon city. If it’s an event great, if it’s a routine ooops.

    You have to promote each game as an event, soccer hey it’s Beckham, NY Red Bulls = Henry but he was injured.

    The other teams have no great player = sucky crowds.

    The only people to blame for this is the media (TV, printed, radio etc)

    Reply
    1. Marc

      Chill out people, the english market is not big enough for an all-sports radio station.

      Montreal is a 1 (read 1) sports city. At best a bandwagon city. If it’s an event great, if it’s a routine ooops.

      Not sure what Montreal you’re talking about here…

      The other teams have no great player = sucky crowds.

      I guess that’s why the Alouettes have sold out every single game for years on end?

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        I guess that’s why the Alouettes have sold out every single game for years on end?

        The Alouettes aren’t selling out home games anymore.

        Reply
    2. Phil

      the english market is not big enough for an all-sports radio station, you say…

      And Winnipeg is?

      I never understood that argument that the English market in Montreal is not big enough for certain types of media. If that were true, and the numbers didn’t allow for it, then that would mean markets like Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Halifax have no radio stations, no TV stations and no newspapers.

      Reply
      1. josh

        Phil, In Montreal english media competes with french media for the advertising dollar, this is why english media is dieing here. In Winnipeg, and the other anglo markets all you have are english media outlets with the rare ethnic station. Montreal is a small town compared to Winnipeg and Halifax when it comes to english, not french.

        Reply
  28. William

    Steve, do you think if the takeover is ultimately approved that bodies will move over at CJAD to absorb some of the names at 990? Bell will have the upper hand and I have to assume that Bell will want to max it sports presence there (I’m think maybe Melnik takes Aaron Rand’s spot or gets a nightly show there)

    Thought?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Steve, do you think if the takeover is ultimately approved that bodies will move over at CJAD to absorb some of the names at 990?

      Maybe. But it’s a big maybe. Some names like Melnick will undoubtedly get offers. But this will almost certainly result in lost jobs for English broadcasters. And even if some TSN personalities move to CJAD, that could mean people at CJAD losing their jobs to make room.

      Reply
  29. Walker33

    Just another slap in the face to Anglos by the incompetent, disconnected corporate conglomerate that is Bell Media and the navel-gazing, jingoistic government agency that is the CRTC. Bell should send its clients a bottle of lube to accompany its “services”, because frankly, you get done one way or another by them every time.

    Not that Quebecor/Videotron and any of its products or services pose an appealing alternative, of course… Wow, the horrors.

    I really have to question what point or good the CRTC does, honestly – it seems to serve the interests of corporations and politicians far more than it does the public at large. Remind me again why it’s so important to mandate Canadian content, limiting U.S. channels and hijacking my U.S. commercials during the Super Bowl so I’m forced to watch the same putrid loop of six or seven shit local ads every year?

    But I digress. Folks, long live the grey market of DirecTV and Sirius subscriptions activated in Plattsburgh – I may need to make a ride down there this weekend.

    RIP TSN 990.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I really have to question what point or good the CRTC does, honestly – it seems to serve the interests of corporations and politicians far more than it does the public at large.

      If that was true, Bell would not be forced to sell or convert radio stations in order to meet common ownership limits.

      Reply
  30. Sheldon

    There is a great paragraph in Brendan Kelly’s piece on this news in his Gazette article. It reads “For sure, it’s an aberration that there is currently no French-language sports radio outlet in Montreal. That’s bizarre. But that’s not TSN 990?s fault. That’s the fault of the French media companies. Last fall, Cogeco closed down all-sports station CKAC and turned the AM station into an all-traffic station – I know, it makes no sense whatsover.”

    What makes even less sense is that taxpayer dollars are being turned over to Cogeco by the Quebec Department of Transport to run the all-traffic station than basically no one listens to. And on top of that Cogeco is still taking about putting an English language traffic station on the air, another station that even fewer people will listen to, yet Cogeco will receive another chunk of taxpayer money for this as well!

    There are two other radio stations on the AM band in the Montreal region, both French language and both failing miserably. CJMS 1040 in St. Constant and CJLV 1570 in Laval. Both have fewer listeners and fewer advertisers than TSN 990 yet they are still on the air.

    There is so little variety and so few alternatives in radio in either language in Canada’s second largest city. The FM frequencies allocated to Montreal are basically full. The AM band has a huge number of frequencies available for this region, but everyone wants to be on the “sexy” band, FM. At least we should be seeing alternatives to CJAD and CHMP coming along soon with the TTP Group’s two new AM news/talk/info stations. The Evanov/Dufferin group will be providing a French language station on 990 kHz targeting Montreal’s gay community, but how successful a station planning 50% music content will come across on AM remains to be seen.

    Reply
  31. ATSC

    Wow, a lot of reaction concerning this matter.

    Here is what I think.

    1 – Bell should be forced to sell off at least two of those English radio station (1 AM, and 1 FM). Before the CRTC even approves the Astral purchase. Why two? It would be easier to sell a AM station if grouped together with a FM station. Also, it would insure that there is another entity running English radio in Montreal.

    2 – No English station can be converted from it’s present obligations to a non-English station.

    3 – If Bell wants a RDS Sports Radio station, then it should have to apply for a new CRTC license. With a new frequency.

    4 – I think the CRTC should look very carefully at the number of stations owned by certain media outlets. Such as Cogeco, and Bell. And force certain stations be sold off to other parties that want to enter the market but are being shut out.

    5 – And most importantly, everybody who is upset about this possible conversion of CKGM-AM to a french language station needs to file a intervention with the CRTC. Follow the link that Mr. Fagstein has provided, and file a complaint. This is the only real way to show ones disagreement with what Bell is planning to do. Basically this deal with Astral means that a English station will be shutdown. Today CKGM-AM. Perhaps in two years, they’ll try it with another station. So, it’s really important to file an intervention.

    Reply
      1. News Guy

        It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. This is not something that will happen right away, but down the line, maybe… Bell had no problem eliminating historical television call letters like CFCF and CFTO…

        Reply
        1. Cameron A.

          To be fair, CTVglobemedia’s “CTV _____” rebrand was an extension of what Baton Broadcasting was doing in Ontario and Saskatchewan, during the mid-to-late 1990s – building a surrogate program service in BBS, acquiring the CTV trademark, and folding BBS into CTV Inc. Baton eroded local branding as early as 1994.

          As for CTV Radio, I don’t see it. CP24 Radio 1050 in Toronto lasted two years, then gave way to the TSN Radio brand. Granted, CP24 Radio was just the audio from CP24 itself, and not a standalone format. I still don’t see the necessity in rebranding.

          Reply
      1. Alex H

        I do feel bad for Ted Bird in this case. He just made the jump back into the true mainstream, doing something he appears to really love (sports related radio), and now this.

        The only saving grace here is that it does open up the potential for him to be a good “Team” player and go back to doing mornings with Terry DiMonte. It’s sort of a natural.

        Reply
    1. Marc

      That will be as useful as a flyer plastered to a lamp post.

      You need to file an intervention at the CRTC’s web site. Steve provided the link.

      Reply
  32. Lorne

    This is a terrible development for English radio in Montreal. We lose our sports station and have no one to take its place. Bell should not be doing this to the English community, they should sell one of the stations instead. We have gotten used to having a sports station and now it is taken away from us by a corporate whim, it is not the right thing to do.

    Reply
  33. Ericinmtl

    Memo to the next incarnation of TSN990. Do not put 4 people on a morning show, also 3 is too much. Leave it at 2, and do not put an AIR HOGGER (Price) in that mix. Give him a noon time slot ALONE. I cannot stand him. I should petition the CRTC not to have him on air.

    Reply
  34. Can't take the heat

    Here’s one very good reason why regardless of whether you like this move or not, companies should not be allowed to own multiple media assets.

    CTV Montreal had a story on their website about the transfer. Last night it had dozens of comments. The link is way up there at the top of the page.

    This morning: no comments at all. They’re all gone, no explanation, no possibility to make more comments. Just wiped out because too many are critical of Bell.

    Reply
  35. Mario

    The English sportsa media landscape will be changing big time it seems.
    Already The Gazette’s Red Fisher has retired. His colleague Mike Boone is being forced to retire in late August.
    And now TSN990 is dealt a death blow.

    Reply
  36. Mario

    Quesation. If the CRTC is Sept 10, and a decision won’t be rendered for months after, how does impending demise of TSN990 affect short term ad sales?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Quesation. If the CRTC is Sept 10, and a decision won’t be rendered for months after, how does impending demise of TSN990 affect short term ad sales?

      Good question. Frankly, there are a lot of issues inherent in the fact that TSN 990 is now a lame duck. Staff exodus would be another. It’s why Bell isn’t revealing which 10 stations elsewhere in Canada it wants to put up for sale.

      Reply
  37. Michael D

    Ok. It was just a matter of time that Michael D would weigh in here….Been doing a lot of reading here, and quietly talking to a lot local media names, including one person somewhat close to the TTP group..

    So here’s my summary or take on how should I say it…As Pierre Trudeau said, when he was elected in 1980 in his final term..”The universe is unfolding as it should”

    1–Don’t blame the CRTC here, those regulations are there to prevent concentration by one corporate owner,in fact, they really shouldn’t be allowed 3 stations, one in each band is sufficient.

    2–Yes, I am shocked by this turn of events, but not surprised, I really thought like many of us, they would sell CHOM, and keep CJAD, and the two brands. TSN Radio and Virgin, I’m not surprised as this is just an end-run around regulations, and just being greedy wanting to hang on to everything.

    3-CRTC, which I still have faith in, but with a not-too-long leash, should look seriously into the language change as Sheldon and others have said, Bell said they needed 690 to better serve the Anglo market, if so, and with this change, can one think that they lied to the CRTC. Sheldon’s argument really makes sense. CRTC should tell Bell to apply for a new French all-sports staion. Why not at open frequency 850 khz..if TTP can go for 600 khz,, why not.

    4- If I had deep pockets, I would buy CHOM.

    5- YES, there is a cult following for TSN Radio. But, can it support the market support an anglo station in terms of ad dollars.NO, But lots of sports coverage when sports really happens and part of another station.

    6-Yes to No. 5.. There is some merit to the CJAD increased sports content. CJAD won’t touch their core daytime M-F format. Afternoons are now solid with Ric Peterson and Aaron Rand, considering I am not a Rand fan. Never was..But this would be a good time to have a new morning man and, more importantly, Mr. Schnurmacher should be allowed to retire gracefully. A change is so desparately needed here.

    7- It would make sense for CJAD to go mostly all-sports evenings and weekends, considering they will have all 3 sports teams’broadcast rights. Recent ratings, clearly posted here by Steve, show that recent weekend changes haven’t panned, ratings haven’t increased or have slipped. But don’t touch Dave Fisher on weekend mornings, but then get him to move to replace Andrew Carter. There will be no public outcry here. He’s close to a George Balcan that you can get. But would he take it ?
    So a sort of News/Talk and Sports Combo would seem to be the way to go..which is why CHOM looms in importance here. CHOM will probably broadcast an Als’ Game when it conflicts with a Habs’ game in the fall. After all, football and rock and roll are a good mix once in a while.

    8-TTP, CRTC must give them now the English all news station at 600khz, they will be more needed now than ever. BUT, and a big BUT…they must not allow themselves into taking in or recycling old ‘AD names as has been suggested at Steve’s TTP story on their 600 khz application, and as I said over there, they have to get newer fresher names to show their a new station, an alternative, and new programming with different features not around right now, but sorely needed. But soft non-controversial names would be a good fit e.g. Kathy Coulombe and Sharman Yarnell.

    9–Martin Spalding might now want to look at the leadership of Chris Bury. His weekend and M-F evening decisions have generally failed. So going all-sports would probably be welcome.

    10- Last, but not least, as what others here are saying, and Steve suggesting, it’s nice to vent here and other such sites, but written interventions to the CRTC is what counts. the argument by interventionists should be centred around the angle that 990 needing 690 to better reach the anglo market was the reason for that application in the first place, and if they want a French station then make it for a new station. It would make any money anyways sonce COGECO has the rights for a while.

    LET THE BROADCAST GAMES BEGIN !

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      [TTP] must not allow themselves into taking in or recycling old ‘AD names

      The CRTC obviously has no say in what on-air personalities are hired. The impression I got from Paul Tietolman is that there’s plenty of people outside the broadcasting scene right now – castaways from 940 like Jim Connell or people who were let go from Astral like Steve Kowch, or people who haven’t worked in this scene at all – that he wouldn’t need to raid other stations to secure talent.

      That said, why shouldn’t they pick up CJAD’s bigger names? If they can lure away top talent, they can create serious competition. And competition above everything else is what’s going to ensure that both stations invest heavily in strong content.

      Reply
    2. Alex H

      1 – I blame the hell out of the CRTC for stuff like this. They have set the bar so high, that media concentration is just par for the course. When most commercial radio in Montreal is run by a handful of companies, you have a problem. Shouldn’t be more than 1 FM and 1 AM per company, end of discussion.

      2 – They shouldn’t even be in the position. The CRTC should just say no, end of discussion.

      3 – CRTC should say no again here. There is no reason to shift from English to French. If there is a market for French sport radio in AM, apply for a new license.

      4 – if Grandma had wheels, she would have been a streetcar. Not very relevant either!

      5 – There is enough of a following for TSN radio (especially with them playing hockey games) that it would be a going concern. Bell is working hard to kill it.

      6 – CJAD is a better station now without the sports angle. It stops it from being the only topic that gets discussed all day, and makes the sportscasts in the mornings and afternoons a little more balanced with more sports covered.

      7 – CJAD could run a ham sandwich in the morning and get great ratings. AC is possibly the worst morning man in decades, but because he is on ‘AD, he gets ratings.

      8 – They should raid them as best they can. They might also want to give Peter Anthony Holder a call, there’s a guy who could use to be back to in the air in Montreal.

      9 – Do you honestly think that Martin Spalding would (a) make better decisions, and (b) still be employed once the borg take over?

      10 – write to the crtc. Don’t just object to the language change, object to Bell getting any more control. Object to any one company getting singular control of such a big part of Montreal English radio. Complain and ask for the Astral near monopoly to be broken up.

      Reply

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