TTP Media gets extension for 850 AM, plans to move transmission site

Nine months after it said it was six to nine months from launching, there’s still radio silence from TTP Media (7954689 Canada Inc.) about its news-talk AM radio stations in Montreal at 600 and 940 kHz.

But we do have some news from the company about its third radio station, a French-language sports-talk station at 850 AM. The CRTC approved that station two years ago and so the deadline to launch it passed on June 19. The company has applied for and the CRTC has approved a one-year extension to that deadline, giving them until June 19, 2016 to launch.

In a letter dated just four days before the deadline (normally the commission asks for 60 to ensure it’s processed on time), managing partner Nicolas Tétrault explains the problems 850 has had in securing a transmission site.

While the 600 and 940 stations were to use a four-tower site in Kahnawake leased from Cogeco that used to broadcast CFCF/CIQC 600, 940 News and Info 690, the site was deemed unusable for 850 and so TTP Media proposed a new site in Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot where new towers would be built, beaming a signal straight toward Montreal while meeting technical limits to protect other stations.

Tétrault explains that they got permission from the land owner, and government authorizations, but could not get the city on board because of concerns from “part of the population.” NDIP refused to grant them a permit to construct the towers.

So TTP Media went back to the drawing board, and tried again to find some way for it to work from Kahnawake. Finally, after hiring a Canadian engineering company working with “an American engineering firm ultra-specialized in broadcasting telecommunications”, they recently found a way to make it work, with modifications to the site. (This study happened a few weeks ago, which likely explains the presence of vehicles at the site reported by some observers.)

Tétrault says these modifications to allow the transmission site to broadcast on 600, 850 and 940 kHz will take “a few months” to plan and put in place.

It will also require a separate application to the CRTC to approve a technical amendment to the station’s licence.

Since the delay affects the transmission site of all three stations, it could also prevent the 940 and 600 stations from launching this summer. But the French-language news talk station at 940 must launch by Nov. 21. The last extension from the CRTC is the final one.

We’ll know by that date whether the TTP Media project has been a success or failure at even getting off the ground.

I’ve asked Tétrault for additional comment. I’ll update this if I hear back.

24 thoughts on “TTP Media gets extension for 850 AM, plans to move transmission site

  1. Mimo

    I’m wondering if 940 will have to launch from Kahnawake in order to meet the deadline, and then file to move it to the new site. I don’t know if that’s feasible, legal or possible. I’m sure that’s a possibility they’re thinking of. Thanks for the update.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I’m wondering if 940 will have to launch from Kahnawake in order to meet the deadline, and then file to move it to the new site.

      There is no new site for 940. It’s authorized by both the CRTC and Industry Canada to broadcast from the Kahnawake site and the plan is to keep it there.

      Reply
  2. Media Man

    To cut TTP some slack, does this give them some direction and now more excuses for delaying 600 and 940?

    Shouldn’t staffing be starting soon at least for 940 if having to launch in November?

    One would also assume, according to your last post in October that studios somewhere near the Atwater market, that have begun to get furnished by now, some initial testing to be done soon. Any word where exactly is studio location? The only decent spot one would think would be that new trendy area along St.Ambroise.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      To cut TTP some slack, does this give them some direction and now more excuses for delaying 600 and 940?

      Maybe, but that November deadline still looms for 940. I doubt the CRTC will accept excuses for not meeting that final deadline.

      Shouldn’t staffing be starting soon at least for 940 if having to launch in November?

      Steve Kowch, who supposedly was going to be managing the English station, said hiring would start once they have a firm start date. That may happen soon, but it’s not like on-air talent needs four months to prepare for the job.

      Any word where exactly is studio location?

      No.

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      1. Dilbert

        “I doubt the CRTC will accept excuses for not meeting that final deadline.”

        I suspect that if the CRTC and Industry Canada are in process of accepting technical changes are the common transmitter site, that it’s likely they will say “can’t go on air until it’s all done”, followed by “and we can’t work on it in the winter”, meaning they will likely ask for another extension.

        Even Steve Kowch says it on his site “From where I sit On The Kowch, there is still a lot of work to be done by the owners before we can start the hiring process. That’s why there have been delays and we’re now looking at a launch sometime in 2016.” It seems like the plan is pretty much to push the whole thing off for ANOTHER year.

        (quote taken from: http://kowchmedia.com/on-the-kowch-comments-about-my-role-in-montreals-new-newstalk-radio-station-2/ )

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          I suspect that if the CRTC and Industry Canada are in process of accepting technical changes are the common transmitter site, that it’s likely they will say “can’t go on air until it’s all done”, followed by “and we can’t work on it in the winter”, meaning they will likely ask for another extension.

          Industry Canada has the power to accept temporary operations of transmitters without requiring CRTC approval first, and there are ways to get the station on the air even while the towers are being modified. I doubt the CRTC will be swayed by this. It has already said that the French station’s extension is the final one it will give.

          Even Steve Kowch says it on his site “From where I sit On The Kowch, there is still a lot of work to be done by the owners before we can start the hiring process. That’s why there have been delays and we’re now looking at a launch sometime in 2016.” It seems like the plan is pretty much to push the whole thing off for ANOTHER year.

          Since Kowch is referring to the English station, they can do that. The 600 station can request a second extension until November 2016.

          Reply
      2. Anonymous

        ” but it’s not like on-air talent needs four months to prepare for the job…”

        Agreed to a point, and not knowing the full in and outs of a new stations, but one would think it takes more than a few weeks to set up the programs, contents, and being a news-talk station, lining up potential guests for the first few weeks., the various contacts and sources, etc..

        So at least, for the French station, we really should start hearing names pop up of who’s going to be some of the main hosts to start attracting ad dollars..and who might be poached from other stations…..doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

        Reply
  3. Bill

    I doubt we’ll ever see this anglo station, shrinking demographic and probably not enough advertiser’s to support it and the monopoly on the AM dial.

    Reply
  4. Dilbert

    “I’ve asked Tétrault for additional comment. I’ll update this if I hear back.”

    I am assuming by the lack of the update that the standard TTP media solution was applied to your request, which is radio silence.

    I am totally shocked that the CRTC is allowing this many licenses to basically float. I guess it’s AM and they know there isn’t that many people trying to get in there. But still… 3 licenses and 0 on the air… and absolutely nothing in the media, no press releases, no nothing.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I am totally shocked that the CRTC is allowing this many licenses to basically float.

      You think the CRTC should set limits on the number of unlaunched stations an owner can have in a given market? That’s maybe something to consider, but in this case it would only have extended the delays even further.

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      1. Dilbert

        I think that the CRTC seemed to be in too much of a rush to hand licenses to a group who has no real track record. Awarding 3 licenses that pretty much locks up most the remaining useful AM frequencies in Montreal seems like a bit of a risk.

        Moreover, it means that with these licenses locked up (for now) other parties who may be interested to start a station in the Montreal area have a limited selection of frequencies to work from. You have to consider that all of this has been dragging on since BEFORE Bell tried to get it’s hooks into Astral for the first time, which is quite a long time ago. All that TTP has brought to the table so far has been delays, extensions, and an unworkable transmitter plan. It’s not like they got one on the air and the other two are dragging, it’s 100% nothing at this point. No media information, no build up, no projected date, no nothing. It’s static and nothing else so far.

        Remember, we are July 2015. The 940 station needs to be on the air and in use by November, that means less than 4 months from now. You don’t think that by now they would have SOMETHING, anything to show? Studios, on air staff, logos… something.

        My feeling here is the same as it always has been: I don’t think the partners get along or are working together on this project. One partner has left the country and moved on, and apparently another is off working on other things of his own. Tetrault appears to be the only active partner at this point. I have a feeling that within a very short period of time, the group will petition the CRTC for a change of ownership (at least one partner leaving), saying that it’s required to get someone new in as an investor to make this all possible, and again asking for an unprecedented extension on the 940 project due to the changes in ownership and “technical problems related to the changes to integrate other stations into the common transmitter site”.

        We have a very short period of time to see this one play out. It’s really not looking good at this point.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          I think that the CRTC seemed to be in too much of a rush to hand licenses to a group who has no real track record.

          Setting aside that Tietolman does have a history in radio, what would slowing down the process accomplish?

          Awarding 3 licenses that pretty much locks up most the remaining useful AM frequencies in Montreal seems like a bit of a risk.

          There are still AM frequencies available. And the awarding of any licence is a risk. Besides, TTP Media’s business model was based on synergy between multiple stations, and the CRTC acknowledged this. It wouldn’t have worked launching one station at a time.

          And the CRTC has a time limit system in place. If 940 doesn’t launch by November, it’s up for grabs again. Not that too many people who aren’t already on the air showed interest.

          You don’t think that by now they would have SOMETHING, anything to show? Studios, on air staff, logos… something.

          Maybe, maybe not. This would probably be about the time those things are announced, with on-air testing to begin in the coming weeks. But it’s not impossible to keep that stuff secret and launch a station in four months.

          Tetrault appears to be the only active partner at this point.

          Tietolman was an active partner last time I spoke with him. He may be pursuing his own projects as well, but he hasn’t abandoned this one.

          Reply
  5. Media Man

    Hey there Steve, I almost forgot about TTP, but November 21st is coming up quickly, so is this it for 940, and is 600 gonna follow, even if they get an extension and 940 no,how does that affect 600?

    Any news from CRTC?

    This is really a strange situation.. You also mentioned back in July about getting an update or additional comment from Tetreault.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Hey there Steve, I almost forgot about TTP, but November 21st is coming up quickly, so is this it for 940, and is 600 gonna follow, even if they get an extension and 940 no,how does that affect 600?

      We’ll see in a month. The licenses are not dependent on each other, though the business model falls apart without both stations.

      Reply
  6. Mimo

    If 940 goes on in test mode on November 20th, does that count as being on the air? What happens if the station does go on in test mode after the 21st, would that be allowed or is the license cancelled automatically on the 22nd?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      If 940 goes on in test mode on November 20th, does that count as being on the air?

      It counts as being on the air, but not as commencing operations, which is what the CRTC is looking for.

      What happens if the station does go on in test mode after the 21st, would that be allowed or is the license cancelled automatically on the 22nd?

      The CRTC only issues a licence once the station says it’s ready to begin broadcasting and Industry Canada has approved it. Presumably, the CRTC would refuse to issue the licence if that happened after the 21st, unless a request for an extension was granted. But the commission has already said the previous extension would be the final one.

      Reply
  7. Media Man

    Well any news on the almighty new 24-hour all-sports station!
    The June 19 deadline is looming large. We do really need the competition to those heartless conglomerates..

    Reply
    1. Marc

      At this point, if anyone truly believes those three stations will launch this year, they may as well go buy themselves some 6/49 tickets.

      Reply
  8. Brett

    In 2016 it doesn’t look like anything will launch. Maybe its time to cancel the licences and open it up to people who ate serious and already own stations in other parts of Canada.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Maybe its time to cancel the licences and open it up to people who ate serious and already own stations in other parts of Canada.

      Like whom? There are other frequencies available on AM, and nobody else is applying to launch stations (except Evanov, and we all know how Radio Fierté turned out).

      Reply
  9. Mimo

    Do they have to notify the CRTC if they’re operational? And couldn’t they apply for one more extension, or is this also their last one?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Do they have to notify the CRTC if they’re operational?

      Yes. And Industry Canada must certify the transmitter setup.

      And couldn’t they apply for one more extension, or is this also their last one?

      The 850 AM station was approved in 2013, and a first extension was given last year. Normally they can ask for one more one-year extension.

      Reply
  10. Media Man

    Well I see that June 19th has come and gone and no new French all-sports station.
    I was searching the CRTC site but I get lost there, so have you seen any letters of requests for extensions or any grant given.

    This could shed some light I’m sure on 600 and 940 stations . Maybe launch all in one big blitz..

    Reply

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