Earlier this month, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved a request from CKIN-FM, the commercial ethnic station at 106.3 FM, to increase its power, from 300 to 1200 watts.
The station (pronounced "Skin FM"), which is owned by CHCR, the same company that runs Mike FM 105.1 (the two operate from studios in the same building), was approved in 2007 and began broadcasting in 2010. It operates on a format similar to Mike, only its rush hours have French-language programming instead of English.
The application resulted in some very strongly-worded opposition from CKIN's competitors, Radio Humsafar, Radio Shalom and Yves Sauvé of CJVD-FM in Vaudreuil. Some of their beefs go back to the competitive process that saw CKIN's original licence awarded. Sauvé also applied for 106.3 for his Vaudreuil-based station, but the CRTC gave it to CHCR and forced Sauvé to find another one. He picked 100.1, which restricted the station's coverage on the island of Montreal, mainly because there's a community station in LaSalle on the same frequency. He opposed the new application because he had applied for use of the then-vacant frequency of 106.7 FM to give CJVD a better signal, and allowing CKIN to increase its power at 106.3 would have affected the signal on 106.7.
That was all made moot when the CRTC approved a new radio station in Hudson/St-Lazare on 106.7 FM last fall.
The other opposition was mainly about self-serving competitive needs, with station owners crying about how doomed their business model is if they don't get their way. Humsafar, which applied for an AM radio station in that same 2007 hearing and was denied, operates a South Asian service on a subcarrier. It tried to apply again for an AM ethnic station serving the South Asian community in 2011, but was denied. Then it tried to convert the AM station it owns, CJLV 1570 in Laval, to an ethnic station, but that was denied too. The main reason behind these denials was the inability of the Montreal market to sustain another ethnic radio station.
Humsafar opposed the application, arguing that CKIN-FM was already encroaching on its audience after increasing the amount of South Asian programming well beyond what it first proposed. But the CRTC points out in this month's decision that Humsafar, as a subcarrier service, does not provide financial information to the commission that it could use to evaluate the possible impact on its service, and in any case CKIN is not violating its licence obligations by having the amount of South Asian programming that it does.
Radio Shalom opposed for the same reasons as Humsafar and Sauvé, though it's not clear what interest Montreal's Jewish radio station has here.
The commission noted in its decision that other ethnic radio stations didn't oppose the application, and the power increase doesn't have an adverse effect on anyone else on a technical level. While CKIN didn't show a pressing economic need to increase its coverage, the CRTC was satisfied of the technical need to improve reception by listeners who complained about difficulty receiving the station.
As a result, the CRTC has said yes to CKIN increasing its power. The pattern remains the same, pointing mainly to the northwest.
Leeja Murphy, a PR representative for CHCR, says she does not know when the technical changes required to increase the station's power will take place.