Posted in My articles, Radio, West Island

CRTC approves Hudson/St. Lazare radio station

Coverage area of proposed FM station in Hudson/St. Lazare provided by Dufferin Communications

The Montreal area is getting another radio station. On Friday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved an application from Dufferin Communications Inc. for an English-language radio station in Hudson/St. Lazare.

The station would be a local one, with 500 watts of effective power, operating on 106.7 MHz and playing easy-listening music, similar to that of its other stations that are part of the Jewel network. (Dufferin says the station’s branding hasn’t been decided yet, but “Jewel” is an option.) The application called for 110 hours a week of local programming, including four hours and 22 minutes a week of “pure news”, of which half would be local to the area.

I summarize the decision in this story for The Gazette’s new Off Island section, which targets this community.

This will certainly mean jobs for journalists and radio workers in the region. Dufferin vice-president Carmela Laurignano tells me they plan to hire 15-20 people in total to work at the station. The proposed station’s financial projections show revenue gradually growing from $480,000 the first year to $1 million in the seventh year of its license. Expenses would start at $700,000 (including a $90,000 startup cost) and reach $850,000 in the seventh year.

About 95% of its advertising revenue is expected to be local, with 20-30,000 minutes sold a year at an average rate of between $22 and $34 a minute.  Under these projections, the station would start making money in Year 4 and pay for itself in the seventh year.

The application was not without opposition:

  • Cogeco objected that there wasn’t an open call for applications for what can be considered Montreal’s last available FM frequency. (The frequency was used by Aboriginal Voices Radio until it shut down here, then on an unlicensed basis by Kahnawake Keeps It Country until it got a formal licence for 89.9FM.)
  • Groupe CHCR, which owns ethnic stations CKDG-FM and CKIN-FM in Montreal, objected that the station would negatively affect its station and others
  • CJVD-FM, which is a French-language commercial station in Vaudreuil, objected that the region could not accomodate two local stations that would have to compete with the larger stations in Montreal.
  • Groupe Radio Enfant told the CRTC it planned its own application for a station at 106.7 (the group had a temporary permit to operate a transmitter on that frequency in late 2009). The CRTC says it has received no such application.

In the end, the CRTC dismissed the objections. The commission found that the station’s pattern would not significantly compete with large Montreal radio stations because the signal does not reach far into Montreal. It did not compete with CJVD-FM because they’re in different languages, and most importantly 106.7 FM is not a viable frequency to use in Montreal itself because it is too close to CHCR’s CKIN-FM 106.3 and would cause too much interference. (Though CHCR itself applied to move CKDG-FM to that frequency from 105.1, thinking it would get a better signal. It later withdrew that application.)

Dufferin Communications is also the company behind Radio Fierté, a French-language music and talk station aimed at Montreal’s LGBT community that got CRTC approval to broadcast at 990 AM after CKGM vacates that frequency. Laurignano said they expect to get moving on that station in the new year.

Though Radio Fierté has already been approved, the Hudson/St. Lazare station’s application predates it. It was first filed in February 2010.

Dufferin Communications has two years to get the station running unless it asks for an extension from the CRTC. That means it must be up by Oct. 19, 2014. The licence expires on Aug. 31, 2019. Laurignano said they expect to have it on the air by the fall of 2013.

And by the way, fans of National Public Radio can breathe. Dufferin had listed as an alternative frequency in its application 107.9FM, which is the frequency used by the Vermont Public Radio transmitter that covers northern Vermont and much of Montreal. Unless someone else applies for that frequency (which isn’t protected from interference here), VPR can still be heard on it.

10 thoughts on “CRTC approves Hudson/St. Lazare radio station

  1. Rick

    Is There a point to such small area casts in 2012, with Internet they could reach the whole country? is this a BINGO Channel?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Is There a point to such small area casts in 2012, with Internet they could reach the whole country?

      So can everyone else. The entire point behind this station is that it would be a local media for people in Hudson/St. Lazare.

      Reply
  2. Sheldon

    I find it interesting that this story, although having been on the blog since October 19th, hasn’t attracted a single comment to date from a group of people who generally have a lot to say about stories that appear hear. I can’t help but think that if people like many of us here seem to have little interest in this story, then the Anglophone population of the target area might just ignore the station completely.

    I just took a look at the webpage of the French language station in the area, CJVD 100.1 Vaudreuil-Soulanges. There’s not much there other than a link to live streaming, an e-mail address and telephone number. They bill themselves as playing “les plus grands succes des annees 70 a 95″. Odd, not 70s, 80s and 90s, but 95! What’s wrong with 96 to 99 I wonder?

    There is no schedule or programming grid.

    I have no idea how much advertising they have, but throw a second station into the region fighting for the same advertising dollars from the same merchants and it will certainly be tough for both of them.

    Honestly given the size of the Anglophone community in the Hudson/St-Lazare region, I’m really surprised the Dufferin though they could make a go of this, and just as surprised that they were awarded a license.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Honestly given the size of the Anglophone community in the Hudson/St-Lazare region, I’m really surprised the Dufferin though they could make a go of this, and just as surprised that they were awarded a license.

      Dufferin is one of the companies that specializes in small-market radio stations. It thinks it can make a case by being the only local outlet for local businesses to advertise. (CJVD, as a French station, can’t really be considered the same market.) It’s certainly not as easy to make money with this plan as with the major Montreal radio stations, but I don’t think it’s impossible to make a modest profit.

      Reply
    2. Alex H

      I think that Dufferin correctly identified a sort of community that exists between say Hawksbury, Cornwall, and the edge of the West Island in Montreal, a larger market than one might think. These are people who may not identify themselves as being “from Montreal” and may want a station that talks to them and deals with their community.

      it’s also an area that is very, very active with local events, fairs, and so on. It’s a series of communities that sometimes act almost as one.

      I don’t think there is a lack of interest in the story Sheldon. Rather, I think there is a lack of controversy. What they are doing makes perfect sense, doesn’t really take away from the Montreal market, doesn’t really hurt anyone, doesn’t really block any signals, and doesn’t really duplicate a market already served. It’s hard to find fault, except as you noted that perhaps their sales goals are a little too high.

      That being said, Dufferin seems to be very much into the small market / niche market radio, and perhaps they have a long term goal of packaging up stations to make is possible for national level advertisers to buy into these markets at good prices, and thus filling in their ad space. Clearly, they have seen something that others have not seen.

      There is really nothing there to poke at. It perhaps does show that there might be a use for 106.7 on the other side of Montreal as well, depending on other signal patterns.

      Reply
      1. Fagstein Post author

        It perhaps does show that there might be a use for 106.7 on the other side of Montreal as well, depending on other signal patterns.

        Won’t happen because of interference from CFEI-FM on 106.5 in St. Hyacinthe.

        Reply
        1. Sheldon

          Correct. CFEI 106.5 in St. Hyacinthe, part of the “Boom FM” network, is an Astral property that desperately would like to be a Montreal area station. They have 3000 watts and an omni-directional antenna which allows them to get their signal out easily into areas of Montreal. They are only about 40 km from Montreal with pretty much of a clear shot to the eastern part of the island.
          Here’s some interesting info about the station from the Canadian Communications Foundation page on the station:

          On March 24, 2006 the CRTC denied an application to change the authorized contours of CFEI-FM by increasing the effective radiated power from 3,000 watts to an average ERP of 33,200 watts and by relocating the transmitter. CFEI-FM operated at 106.5 MHz. Astral stated that the purpose of its application was to improve the reception quality of CFEI-FM’s signal in that part of its licensed service area that was currently underserved from a technical perspective. Astral stated that CFEI-FM’s service area contained natural obstacles, such as Mont Saint-Hilaire, Mont Saint-Bruno and Mont Rougemont and that with its current ERP, CFEI-FM was not able to offer quality signal reception to residents of Beloeil, McMasterville, Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Otterburn Park, Saint-Basile-le-Grand, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Sainte-Julie and Saint-Mathieu-de-Beloeil. The applicant submitted that its proposal was not intended to add communities to CFEI-FM’s service area, but rather to improve its signal quality and thus better meet the needs of commercial, government and association advertisers, expand its listener base and
          compete more effectively with other media in the market. Astral indicated that it would be prepared to accept a condition of licence prohibiting it from soliciting or accepting advertising in the Montréal, Longueuil, Iberville and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu markets. Given the short distance between Saint-Hyacinthe and Montréal and the proximity of CFEI-FM’s current frequency of 106.5 MHz to the 106.3 MHz frequency proposed by the two other applications to operate new radio stations in Montréal, the three applications were competitive on a technical basis. Although the two applications proposing to use 106.3 MHz in Montréal were denied in decisions issued today, the Commission noted that approval of Astral’s application could prevent future use of 106.3 MHz in the Montréal area, which was one of the last FM frequencies available in this large market. The Commission noted that Astral stated in its application that its primary goal was to improve the reception quality of CFEI-FM’s signal within its current licensed area. Despite the presence of natural obstacles that were a challenge to the propagation of any FM signal in the current service area, the Commission considered that a proposal resulting in the significant expansion of the coverage area by increasing CFEI-FM’s ERP was not an appropriate solution under the circumstances. The CRTC was not convinced that the technical solution proposed by Astral was the only solution that would enable it to improve the quality of CFEI-FM’s signal in its current market. It was felt that there were other possible technical solutions and that these solutions merit further consideration.

          Reply
          1. Alex H

            The indication here is that 106.5 doesn’t generate enough interference in it’s current operation to block 160.3, so it shouldn’t be any more of a burden on 106.7 either. Clearly you couldn’t put a high power station on it in Montreal, but you could potentially put a station in a place like, say, Terrebonne or Mascouche, with a similar power level, to server that region and parts of eastern Montreal.

            Reply
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