CRTC changes its mind, gives TTP Media yet another extension on AM radio stations

Le Conseil proroge le délai de mise en exploitation de ce service jusqu’au 21 novembre 2015. À défaut de respecter ce nouveau délai, l’autorité accordée dans la Décision 2011-721 deviendra nulle et sans effet. Cette prorogation est la dernière extension de temps accordée par le Conseil pour la mise en exploitation de ce service.
— CRTC, Sept. 14, 2014

This was going to be it, the deadest of deadlines, the date of no return when we can finally declare that the Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy Media project for AM radio stations is dead and not coming back. The CRTC had promised a year ago that the first of them would not be given an extension past Nov. 21, 2015. It even bolded the word to make it clear.

But it seems the commission is willing to give this phantom company one more chance. In a decision dated last week and posted online yesterday, it has given a rare third one-year extension for the establishment of a French-language AM radio station at 940 AM, and a second one-year-extension for an English-language station at 600 AM. They now have until Nov. 21, 2016 and Nov. 9, 2016, respectively, to begin operations.

In a letter to the CRTC dated Oct. 20, managing partner Nicolas Tétrault explains that the company is finalizing a deal to acquire from Cogeco Diffusion the transmission equipment at the Kahnawake site, as well as the rights to use the land (subject to Kahnawake band council approval, which they believe is a mere formality).

Tétrault says the site is ready for transmission at 940 kHz, and requires only “minor modifications” to be ready for 600 and 850 (the latter is a French-language sports radio station first approved in 2013).

The letter requested “six to twelve months maximum”, but then again the last extension made a similar months-away promise that was never realized.

So we have another year of guessing and arguing whether this project will ever see the light of day. There still have been no announcements as far as studio location, on-air staff, management, name, callsigns or anything else.

The letter approving the third extension doesn’t give reasons for the exceptional treatment, and only states again that this will be the final extension (a similar letter says the same about the second extension for 600 AM). CRTC’s media relations offered this explanation when asked:

Usually, the second extension granted by the CRTC to start a service is final. However, in certain exceptional cases, the CRTC grants a third extension to commence a service when the justification given in the request is sufficient and that the service appears to be imminently commencing. This was the case for 7954689 Canada Inc.

I guess this means final doesn’t always mean final.

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22 thoughts on “CRTC changes its mind, gives TTP Media yet another extension on AM radio stations

  1. Media Man

    Well the plot thickens. Weren’t they already leasing the site from COGECO or is this a purchase?

    If the site is ready for transmission why not get into the ” testing ” stage and start talking and hiring staffers and looking at programming schedules..

    We also recall you’re saying in a past post about studios being somewhere near Atwater market..

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Weren’t they already leasing the site from COGECO or is this a purchase?

      Yes and yes.

      If the site is ready for transmission why not get into the ” testing ” stage and start talking and hiring staffers and looking at programming schedules..

      Good question. It could be they want to make the modifications to the antenna before testing, or wanted to get the CRTC extension first.

      We also recall you’re saying in a past post about studios being somewhere near Atwater market.

      That’s what Tietolman said, but that was a while ago and it’s unclear if they still plan on using it.

      Reply
      1. Media Man

        Actually, it’s not clear, in this decision that the English station is also extended, as I believe the effective dates are or were different. Can we assume that this is a blanket approval for both news/talk stations.?

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Actually, it’s not clear, in this decision that the English station is also extended

          There’s a separate, nearly identical letter for the other station.

          Reply
  2. Steve Kowch

    WOW … it ain’t over until it’s over and the fat lady sings at the CRTC. Nicolas Tetrault gets the save on this one. He wrote the letter that convinced the CRTC to give TTP Media more time to finalize what needs to be done at the transmitter site and get the necessary approval at the Band Council. Paul Tietolman, Rajiv Pancholy and Nicolas Tetrault have been working hard behind the scenes to get their ducks in order to launch their three AM radio stations. I’m happy the CRTC is recognizing their hard work by giving TTP Media a new extension to November of 2016. English and French Montrealers will be the real winners with more choice on the AM dial come this time next year.

    Reply
  3. Marc

    I don’t see a problem for 600 kHz and 850 kHz coming off the same towers as 250 kHz is plenty of buffer. But I’m concerned about 850 kHz and 940 kHz with just 90 kHz of buffer; especially since the latter will be 50 kW class-A blaster.

    Reply
  4. Dilbert

    The CRTC are suckers, sorry to say. They made a huge mistake in granting 3 licenses to a company that didn’t have it’s first station on the air, and now 3 years later there is still nothing more than a mailing address – and the partners seem to all be off on other things.

    At this point, the CRTC is likely saving face, issuing extensions hoping like hell that TTP either gets something on the air, or comes to the CRTC with a transfer of ownership plan to people who might actually want to run radio stations. At this point, TTP appears to have little actual interest in moving forward. I have a feeling it is about the money – perhaps not enough to start up properly, a real concern about running three money losing stations for the forseeable future in a marketplace that is pretty much locked into it’s current habits.

    This time next year, we will be discussing either the complete failure or ANOTHER extension… why doesn’t the CRTC just say “whenever you feel like it” and stop bothering with the yearly begging exercise?

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      They made a huge mistake in granting 3 licenses to a company that didn’t have it’s first station on the air, and now 3 years later there is still nothing more than a mailing address – and the partners seem to all be off on other things.

      How is it a mistake to grant the licenses? How would it have been better to leave 600 and 850 vacant?

      At this point, the CRTC is likely saving face, issuing extensions hoping like hell that TTP either gets something on the air, or comes to the CRTC with a transfer of ownership plan to people who might actually want to run radio stations.

      I don’t buy the saving face argument. The CRTC hasn’t shown a serious hesitancy to pull licences when it’s deserved, as we saw with Aboriginal Voices Radio and CKLN-FM in Toronto. As for a transfer of ownership, that seems unlikely since there isn’t much demand for unlaunched commercial AM radio stations these days. Such a transfer would also need to convince the commission that it’s not a case of licence trafficking, which is harder to do for a station that hasn’t begun operations yet.

      I have a feeling it is about the money – perhaps not enough to start up properly, a real concern about running three money losing stations for the forseeable future in a marketplace that is pretty much locked into it’s current habits.

      And yet TTP Media has just bought all the equipment at the Kahnawake transmitter site.

      This time next year, we will be discussing either the complete failure or ANOTHER extension… why doesn’t the CRTC just say “whenever you feel like it” and stop bothering with the yearly begging exercise?

      The CRTC can’t set indefinite timelines like that.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        You usually do a better job of critical reading.

        They are “finalizing” a deal. That doesn’t mean they bought anything yet, only that a deal is being completed, and at that point they will have bought something. That deal is also pending approval of the band council (never a given), and likely hinged also on the CRTC granting the current extension.

        So no, they didn’t buy anything yet. They are perhaps trying to, but nothing is cast in stone. It’s also worth noting that pretty much everything else about this project (from the original transmitter site in the West Island) to the studios on Atwater has turned out to be a whole lot of not much. It just seems to be more than a little, well… convenient that these things always come up just as they get to their deadlines.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          They are “finalizing” a deal. That doesn’t mean they bought anything yet, only that a deal is being completed, and at that point they will have bought something.

          That is correct, though the wording of the letter suggests it would be hard for TTP to back out of the deal at this point. Why they would do this if they have no intention of going through with it or are desperate to save money is beyond me.

          It’s also worth noting that pretty much everything else about this project (from the original transmitter site in the West Island) to the studios on Atwater has turned out to be a whole lot of not much.

          The 600 station was always supposed to broadcast from Kahnawake. The 940 station had originally been supposed to transmit from the CJMS antenna, but was moved to the Kahnawake site after the 600 station was approved. The 850 station had originally been planned for a new set of towers on Île Perrot, but local opposition to the towers forced them to change their plans.

          As for the studios, I have no information to suggest that their plans have changed or that they don’t still intend to use the space they had planned to.

          It just seems to be more than a little, well… convenient that these things always come up just as they get to their deadlines.

          The timing isn’t that convenient. The project has met several delays related to the transmitter site, and the group is waiting until that’s all solved before they move on to other things. How much they already have planned I don’t know.

          Reply
  5. Media Man

    Well, had nothing better to do on a lazy night, no Habs in the playoffs,etc,etc…

    So they did say 6 to 12 months. I guess the 6 month gig is up…so any news on any thing? Any potential starts at other outlets been poached or approached yet….?

    Have you heard anything yet Steve, while we’re still stuck with this CJAD bland monopoly that doesn’t break out ” scoops” anymore.
    Oh Claude Beaulieu where have you gone.

    Reply
      1. Media Man

        Maybe we should get a better idea of what’s going on with the 850 French all-sports station supposed launch in June!!

        Reply
  6. Mimo

    I think it’s safe to say that 850 won’t be going on the air after all. The deadline passed, no news about another extension, and it isn’t on the air. It’s not looking good. They may have requested a final extension, but no news doesn’t sound very promising.

    Reply
    1. Marc

      As I’ve stated before – if you think, at this point, any of the TTP proposals will make it to the airwaves, take your money and go to the casino.

      Reply
    2. steve

      True…with the two sports stations already on air now (TSN and 91,9 sports), it just can’t work. But what about the news/talk stations promised!?! I can’t believe there is nothing happening with this for so long…TTP media, wake up!

      Reply
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