TTP Media, the company of three Montreal businessmen who have three licences for AM radio stations and hasn’t launched any of them yet, remains quiet. I haven’t heard anything from them since I wrote this story in October trying to explain what happened to them.
In that story, I report that the company, officially 7954689 Canada Inc., asked for a one-year extension on their first radio station (a French-language news-talk station at 940 AM), whose deadline to launch had been Nov. 21, 2013, and that it was granted.
Last week, the CRTC finally published that request, as part of a bimonthly dump of decisions that are not subject to public comment. (The same day, it announced it would publish such decisions as they’re made instead of doing so in bulk months later.)
The application consists of a single document, a form requesting an extension. The document is undated, but the filename carries a timestamp of Sept. 16. The decision approving the request is dated Sept. 30.
Though it’s brief, the document provides reasons for requesting the extension. It specifically cites the Bell-Astral acquisition process, which caused uncertainty in the market and it says stopped the company from going forward with its plans. It also cites the licence granted to it in November 2012 for an English-language news-talk station at 600 AM, and its desire to launch both stations simultaneously. (It makes no mention of its third licence for a French-language sports talk station at 850 AM, approved in June.) And it says changes are needed to the transmitter site to make it work at 600 AM, and that can only be done in the spring.
Citing the Bell-Astral situation as reason for a delay seems a bit odd, until you remember that the group had expressed an interest in buying CKGM if Bell was forced to sell it as a result of the deal. (Buying CJAD was also something they would have been interested in.) Had they bought one of the stations, their plans would have changed dramatically.
But the Bell-Astral deal was approved in June, and it’s not clear what’s keeping them beyond that, other than the technical changes to the transmission site (the former CINF/CINW site in Kahnawake, which is currently run by Cogeco).
With this extension, the deadlines to launch both stations are now November 2014, which all points to both stations launching some time next fall.
Unless they don’t.
Here is the full text of the reasoning TTP Media gave to the CRTC in asking for the extension (I’ve added links for context):
On November 21st, 2011, 7954689 Canada Inc. was awarded a license for a French language commercial radio station, broadcasting on 940 kHz, covering Montre?al and surrounding area. The decision gives the company till November 21st, 2013, to commence broadcasting on this frequency. For a variety of reasons, we are requesting that this deadline be extended till November 21st, 2014. The rationale for this request is enumerated in section (g) below.
g) Provide the rationale for the proposed amendment(s) including a clear and concise statement of the relevant facts as well as the grounds of the application.
In the original applications submitted to the CRTC, the company had clearly stated that the economic viability of mainstream “talk-news” format stations requires scale and synergies. Consequently, the company had applied for two licenses, one each in French and English. These sister stations were to have used 690 kHz and 940 kHz frequencies respectively.
In its decision (CRTC-2011-721), the CRTC awarded the 940kHz frequency for the launch of the French language station, but denied the application for the English language station, primarily because of a heavier than expected demand for these frequencies.
However, the commission did note the merit of our original application, and suggested that we apply for alternate frequencies for the proposed English language station. This necessitated the investigation of other available frequencies, as well as the complexities of re-locating the transmitter to a new site. The application was re-submitted to the CRTC, requesting a license for 600 kHz frequency for the launch of an English language “talk-news” station serving Montréal. This application was approved by the CRTC approximately one year later, on November 9th, 2012 (CRTC 2012-370). Till both decisions had been obtained, the company was unable to take any tangible steps towards the launch either of the stations.
Subsequent to the grant of both licenses, news about the proposed acquisition of Astral Media by Bell created tremendous uncertainty in the market. Investors, talent, and just about everybody in the ecosystem took on a cautious “wait and watch” approach. In this environment, the company was unable to move forward with its plans.
In recent months clarity has returned to the market, enabling us to finally move forward with our launch plans. However, it is no longer possible to be on air before the expiry of the current deadline. Moreover the changes required to the transmitter site for 600 kHz (tower height and ground system) are too extensive to be completed prior to the onset of winter. These changes will be possible only after April 2014.