Mike FM (CKDG-FM 105.1), the station that is trying to make money by pairing popular English music during rush hour with multicultural programming for the rest of the schedule, is getting a break from the broadcast regulator to allow it to have 12 more hours a week of English programming.
On Friday, the CRTC approved licence renewals for CKDG and sister station CKIN-FM (which airs French programs during rush hour). Both are getting short-term three-year renewals, which indicate important non-compliance with their licences.
Canadian Hellenic Cable Radio, which owns both stations, requested changes to the licences for both stations, dropping the amount of ethnic programming a week from 70% to 60%, the amount of third-language programs from 60% to 50%, and to be allowed to broadcast in fewer languages (six instead of eight) but to more cultural groups (eight instead of six). The requested changes would have put both stations on par with standard conditions for ethnic radio stations.
Because the broadcast day is 6am to midnight, there are 126 hours in the broadcast week, which means English non-ethnic programming on CKDG could go up from 50 hours a week to 63 hours a week, or from 10 to 12.6 hours each weekday if there’s no such programming on the weekend. English-language ethnic programming would stay at a maximum of 10% of the schedule if the English non-ethnic hours are used to their maximum.
CHCR said it planned to offer more programming in Spanish and Russian, bring its Mandarin programming to a daily show on CKIN, and introduce monthly shows for other communities not currently represented.
The CRTC approved the licence changes for CKDG to give it more flexibility. But CKIN is finishing its first licence term and has only been on the air for three years, and it got its licence in a competitive process, beating other stations applying for licences in part because of these promises to go beyond the standard conditions of licence. The CRTC denied its licence amendments for that reason.
The CRTC found issues with both stations complying with their licence obligations. In the case of CKDG, it found the station had not properly shown proof of payment for Canadian content development contributions, that it failed to meet a 2011 deadline to repay CCD contribution shortfalls dating as far back as 2003, and that it failed to provide annual financial returns on time. For CKIN, it also found it failed to meet deadlines for CCD payments.
CHCR blamed administrative errors for its bookkeeping failures, and has promised to rectify that. It has since paid back its financial shortfalls.
Nevertheless, because of the seriousness of the errors, and the fact that CKDG’s last licence renewal in 2010 was also short-term for similar reasons, the CRTC decided to give only a three-year renewal.
The new licence, and the flexibility to air more English non-ethnic programming on CKDG, takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014. We don’t know what will be done as far as the schedule is concerned, but expect the afternoon drive show to be extended from 6pm to 7pm, or maybe more English programming during the work day.