CRTC approves TTP Media’s French-language sports radio station at 850AM

Proposed propagation pattern of station at 850AM

Proposed propagation pattern of station at 850AM

Two years after CKAC abandoned the all-sports format to switch to a government-subsidized all-traffic station, Montreal is one step closer to getting a French-language all-sports radio station again.

On Wednesday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved a licence for 7954689 Canada Inc. (Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy Media) to operate a French-language sports-talk radio station in Montreal at 850 AM.

The station, whose transmitter would be in a field on Ile Perrot and be pointing toward Montreal, would operate at 50kW daytime and 22kW nighttime, which as the graphic above shows would pretty well cover the Montreal area and its shores.

Its format is a bit unclear. The CRTC decision describes it as “among other things, debate programs, sports news, live games, interviews and open-line programs.”

The “live games” part will be difficult, at least at first. Canadiens games air on Cogeco’s CHMP 98.5FM, and Cogeco retains Canadiens French-language radio broadcast rights until the end of the 2013-14 season. The station also airs Alouettes games. And it’s unlikely to easily give up on either.

This leaves Impact games which could be picked up by the new station. The Impact doesn’t have an official French-language radio broadcaster. And there’s plenty of out-of-market programming like tennis and golf and baseball. But the lack of other French-language sports radio stations in North America means it will have to at least translate all the coverage itself, unless it does something weird like sharing play-by-play guys with RDS.

The commission evaluates a market before awarding a licence for a new radio station to determine if the market can sustain it. In this case, the CRTC did not find any evidence that other stations could be threatened by this new one (competitors didn’t write to the CRTC to oppose this application), but did raise a concern that it “may face significant challenges when attempting to establish its presence in the market.”

But, taking into account the two existing licences and the potential for cost-savings by sharing resources, the commission felt it had a good chance and “would be a valuable proposition for listeners and small advertisers in Montreal” now that the market lacks a French-language all-sports radio station.

The CRTC has given the group exactly two years to get the station on the air, though it can grant an extension if necessary.

The 850AM frequency in Montreal has been silent since CKVL (which was started by Paul Tietolman’s father Jack) went off the air in 1999, replaced by Info 690.

TTP Media has licences for English- and French-language news-talk radio stations at 600 and 940AM, respectively. Neither has launched, but the French one at least is expected to be on the air by its deadline in November.

The group has promised an announcement within the next few weeks outlining its plans.

Statistics also released on Wednesday show that the three French-language AM stations in Montreal collectively (CKAC 730, CJMS 1040*, CJLV 1570 and CJWI 1610/1410) were back in the black for the first time since at least 2008. But that came at a price. From 86 employees when Info 690 still existed, to 47 after it shut down, it now has only 27 spread across the three remaining stations.

*CORRECTION: It turns out CJMS didn’t report financial figures, so it’s not included in the list of stations. That leaves CKAC, CJLV and Haitian station CJWI as the only French-language commercial AM stations in Montreal.

23 thoughts on “CRTC approves TTP Media’s French-language sports radio station at 850AM

  1. Media Man

    Well maybe now we will get somewhere with a new voice in town. Wouldn’t it make sense to have both 600 and 940 both launch at the same time?

    Maybe this is what they were waiting for to announce all their plans. Have you heard anything about studio location as of yet or any hints of personnel or names being dropped..

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Wouldn’t it make sense to have both 600 and 940 both launch at the same time?

      That was the plan originally. But when I last spoke to Paul Tietolman, he said they wouldn’t necessarily have to launch simultaneously.

      Have you heard anything about studio location as of yet or any hints of personnel or names being dropped..

      No, and neither have many people who are looking for jobs at these stations.

      Reply
      1. Media Man

        I seem to remember in another posting or reply to one of my comments or somebody else’s, that you had stated here I believe sometime in June that you had spoken to TTP’s Rajiv Pancholy..and he mentioned to you that there would be some news in mid-july is what you had estimated, it’s now August 2nd…????

        Reply
  2. Noah

    Great news overall and even better if they can wrest Habs and Als games away from 98.5FM. I don’t generally believe in boycotts, but I refuse to listen to a station that airs a guy like Dutrizac. Haven’t listened to a game in French since his rant about farting and making noise in Hampstead on Yom Kippur.

    Reply
  3. John

    Do you think that they will come through this time ?
    It seems that Tietolman has been promising us a new station for years and hasn’t delivered anything yet.

    Is the father still in this with Tetrault or is it the only the son now ?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      It seems that Tietolman has been promising us a new station for years and hasn’t delivered anything yet.

      The French station got its licence in November 2011, with two years to get on the air. Tietolman is certainly behind compared to his original schedule, but the plan is still to launch these stations.

      Is the father still in this with Tetrault or is it the only the son now ?

      I’m not sure what you’re referring to here. From what I’ve seen, the private money is coming directly from the three partners.

      Reply
  4. Chris

    A french sports radio station will be tough to survive without the rights to the Canadiens games. The exception may be if it is a brand like RDS

    Reply
  5. Jon P.

    Can’t seem to get in touch with TTP, I sent my resume back in February, they told me they’d get in touch with me in March, but since then, I tried to call and the number they gave me is out of service, and they don’t reply to me emails!

    Anyone knows if they started hiring?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Anyone knows if they started hiring?

      Other than the two station managers, I’m not aware of any hires. I have heard from plenty of people like yourself who were promised news months ago but haven’t heard anything since. But I have no indication that suggests this is anything more than unintended delays.

      Reply
      1. Media Man

        Do they even have a website? I didn’t know they had one..Maybe there were waiting for the 850 licence…

        Do you think they might go for a purchase of TSN 690 now that they have 850..? would make sense.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Do they even have a website?

          Nothing that’s active.

          Do you think they might go for a purchase of TSN 690 now that they have 850..?

          The group confirmed it had inquired about buying CKGM, and is interested in CJAD as well. But Bell has to be willing to sell.

          Reply
          1. Media Man

            The CKGM thing of course makes sense to go along with 850, but I don’t get the CJAD idea seeing they’re set for a 24/7 news/talk station.

            Am I missing something here? And buying AD, I’m sure that Steve Kowch or Paul Teitolman would get rid of lots of deadweight..

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              I don’t get the CJAD idea seeing they’re set for a 24/7 news/talk station.

              They would obviously prefer to buy CJAD than to launch a station from scratch. In the unlikely event that were to happen, they would probably either abandon the 600 AM station’s licence, turn it into something else or try to sell it.

              Reply
              1. Media Man

                Unlikely to happen, but if that were to happen, would you see them making wholesale changes as ‘AD is everything that AM 600 will not be…

  6. Dilbert

    I love the part about profits. By getting rid of 70% of the salary expense in a single year, they managed to eek out a minor profit (under $100,000) for 2012. Yet, they did so in losing 57% of their income. By this logic, if they completely automated all the of the stations down to a handful of technicians and “content loaders”, they can pretty much assure themselves of small returns every year for the foreseeable future.

    Shrinking into profitability is never a good idea. Postmedia keeps trying it, and they keep discovering that the costs are just too high.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Shrinking into profitability is never a good idea.

      Go ahead and try to convince a business owner that losing $500,000 a year is better than making $100,000 a year.

      It’s hard to draw conclusions form these numbers about CKAC for a few reasons. First of all, the numbers are for three stations. Secondly, because CKAC and CHMP 98.5 are owned by Cogeco, and the latter also aired Canadiens games, costs could have been shared between the two stations. And reductions in spending on CKAC could have been offset by increases in costs to 98.5, especially if it was CKAC paying for the rights to Canadiens games.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        It’s pretty easy actually. There is only so much you can cut before you run out of places to save money. However, there is no limit to how much income can drop until it gets to zero.

        Any profit this year is very likely transitional, if the ad sales keep dropping, they are pretty much doomed. Cutting your sales staff is rarely a good way to improve your sales!

        Also, the question is 98.5 is relevant, but remember: if having Canadian games was the main reason for losses, you don’t think that they just moved the loss from one place to another?

        Reply
          1. Dilbert

            Umm, yes, I know that they are getting paid by the Quebec government. But that would appear to be really poor situation, good for them short term, until someone wakes up and says they aren’t going to pay anymore. I also cannot see where in the numbers to the CRTC that is represented, until it’s considered part of “local sales”, otherwise the stations are profitable by 1.6 million, if you look at it that way.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              I also cannot see where in the numbers to the CRTC that is represented, until it’s considered part of “local sales”

              That appears to be the case. The station provides advertising time to Transport Quebec, so it could be argued that this is merely an ad sales agreement, at least in terms of accounting.

              Reply
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