TTP Media comes back from the dead with weeks to go until deadline

After five years of almost nothing happening, could the mythical TTP Media be on course to get an AM radio station on the air in a month?

Though it looked this summer as if the company had all but abandoned its quest to become a news-talk radio powerhouse in Montreal, a major development suggests the project has been revived, even though there’s less than a month to go until the first final deadline to get a station on the air.

Nicolas Tétrault, one of the partners in 7954689 Canada Inc., posted two videos to YouTube last week that showed the Kahnawake transmitter site that the new stations at 600 and 940 AM are set to broadcast from. In one of them, Tétrault describes the installation as having been purchased that week from Cogeco Media.

The videos were removed shortly after they were noticed and I sent an inquiry to Tétrault about the status of the stations.

But Richard Lachance, president of Cogeco Media, confirmed to me that the transmitters, towers and other assets at the site were indeed sold. The purchase price, he said, is confidential.

Meanwhile, the ttpmedia.ca domain name that the group had let lapse was re-registered about the same time, Oct. 11. It’s a parked domain and the records don’t indicate its owner. An email sent to Tétrault’s address, which bounced this summer, seems to have gone through this time, but I don’t know for sure if he received it.

Though these signs are encouraging — the transmitter purchase would make no sense if they weren’t serious about putting these stations up — the group is up against tight deadlines.

On Nov. 9, the CRTC’s “final” deadline to launch the English news-talk station at 600 AM hits. And Nov. 21 is the “final” deadline to launch the French station at 940 AM. I write “final” in quotes because the CRTC’s first “final” deadline to launch at 940 was actually November 2015, but they changed their mind and granted another one.

Technically, the deadlines are to get the stations operational, which requires a period of on-air testing first. But it’s possible the CRTC would be lenient if at the deadline the station is at least doing said testing. This, of course, says nothing about all the other issues involved, like programming. There have been no high-profile (or even, to my knowledge, low-profile) poachings of staff from other radio stations or other announcements that would suggest they’re lining up talent yet.

A check of the 600 and 940 AM frequencies also shows no test signal on either.

It’s a small step and we know little else, since the partners still won’t talk. But the purchase of the site, even though it was supposedly being finalized a year ago but only closed this month, is a solid step forward.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post said the YouTube video mentioned only the 940 station. Someone who watched it heard mention of 600 as well, so maybe my memory is faulty.

40 thoughts on “TTP Media comes back from the dead with weeks to go until deadline

  1. Mimo

    The video did say that 600 would be broadcasting an English news talk format and would cover the greater Montreal area. I saw it twice before it was deleted.

    Reply
      1. Mimo

        Thanks, Steve. I had to watch more than once just to make sure I heard everything. The part about 940 was in French but I understand just enough to know they were saying it would cover from Ottawa to Quebec City. The part about 600 said an English talk station that would cover the greater Montreal area. The rest of the video mentioned everything else biligually.

        I had noticed that the website had been re-registered (tried it on a lark) but it just says that it’s a parked domain. I had no idea what that meant but your article explains it.

        If you type in am600.ca a blank website comes up….but that could be for anything.

        Reply
  2. Lance C

    Great read… I’m holding on to hope that they will launch on 600… CJAD’s programming lineup is getting stale. TSN’s on air quality has improved steadily since the merger. Now if only they could stop shoving Bell Canada products down my throat during EVERY SINGLE COMMERCIAL BREAK.

    I dirges, but Montreal is in dire need another English channel on the AM dial.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      Now if only they could stop shoving Bell Canada products down my throat during EVERY SINGLE COMMERCIAL BREAK.

      If that’s happening, then it’s because other advertisers aren’t filling up the breaks.

      Reply
      1. jonedmonton

        Are you sure about that? A former Corus employee told me that Shaw spots took precedence over all other commercials, even during Morning Drive when the highest rates prevailed, and the time period was fully booked with paying commercials.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          It depends. The company can reserve must-run ad spots, but internal ads also act as filler. If an entire commercial break is Bell ads on a Bell station, chances are a lot of them are filler.

          Reply
      1. dilbert

        Steve, considering the circumstances, I would place a bet on a seriously “sweetheart” deal here, for very simple reasons:

        There are no other potential buyers. Quite simply, there aren’t that many people lining up to open AM stations in Montreal. It’s one of the reasons TTP got approved for 3 licenses without bringing anything more to the table than a smile and a decent presentation. So Cogego faces the reality that the site would likely be decommissioned and destroyed if not taken by TTP.

        The value of the land isn’t that high, considering it’s on the reserve. I am not even clear that Cogego owns it outright, or just held a 99 year lease on it.

        AM radio equipment isn’t exactly flying off the shelves, and the resale market for old, somewhat outdated broadcasting equipment isn’t that strong. Selling it “as is where is” to someone else for anything more than the scrap value of the metal is probably not a bad thing.

        It’s only a guess, but I would suspect that Cogeco basically said “we’ll give it to you for $1 today and payments in the future if you stay on the air” with a reversion clause if the stations fail to make it to air or go dark in a given period of time. It seems to be the only way sudden movement came to the project. Someone made a last minute offer that was too good to refuse. If it costs little to try, why not, right?

        Reply
          1. dilbert

            Goes further to suggest the deal would be a small number, except for the assumption of the lease. Otherwise, Cogeco would likely have decommissioned the site due to lack of any potential future use.

            Reply
  3. Sol Boxenbaum

    Here’s hoping. Montreal needs an English language radio station to compete with CJAD. Most people I meet won’t listen to Coast To Coast or the Infomercials that they fill the overnights with.

    Reply
    1. Media Man

      Actually I don’t have a problem with Coast, as it’s good to hear about stuff that mainstream corporations or conglomerates won’t touch. And overnight is usually rehashing the day’s news anyways.

      Their weekend phony medical vitamin infomercials are nauseating though.

      Reply
    2. Media Man

      Actually Mr. Boxenbaum, Coast to Coast most night is really stimulating, it gets one thinking…With all due Respect to your overnight show you once had, it was depressing and to me one dimensional. Sure addiction to gambling is a real issue, but every night almost was depressing, it’s a subject that could have been handled on daytime as well.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        I guess you didn’t listen to my show often. To call it one dimensional is ludicrous. The thing people enjoyed most was when we talked about the old movie theatres, Belmont Park, and nostalgia in general. We discussed topics in the news and I went out of my way to be politically incorrect in addressing issues concerning Pauline Marois and Mayor Tremblay, who I renamed Gerald Tramway. I was instrumental in bringing down a crooked director of the SPCA who was funneling money meant for animal protection into his own pocket. Yes, the show had addictions, not limited to gambling. as a theme because addicts don’t have problems in the daytime. It is in the overnight when they seek help and there is no place open for them to go to. Although you find that unimportant I do have evidence that on several occasions I saved a life. I continue to receive e mail from former listeners who would like me back on the air and believe me, I am more than anxious to be there. So with all due respect if I do end up back on the air you have the freedom to change stations. You can find Coast To Coast on plenty of syndicated stations.

        Reply
  4. Media Man

    So if I’m not mistaken, something in the video say about 940 on the air or testing has started?

    If that is the case, wouldn’t they need a studio to do that from, and is it the same location that you previously mentioned near Atwater market I believe.??

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      So if I’m not mistaken, something in the video say about 940 on the air or testing has started?

      No. Just that the site has been purchased and the station is coming.

      If that is the case, wouldn’t they need a studio to do that from

      Not for testing. They could put up a recording, with contact information for people to send reports of interference or other issues.

      is it the same location that you previously mentioned near Atwater market I believe.??

      I have no idea where their studios would be. So far the company has two addresses, both of which are the same as Nicolas Tétrault’s real estate offices.

      Reply
  5. dilbert

    The developments are interesting… or perhaps better described as amusing.

    What we are getting here is perhaps the perfect exposure of the reality of TTP. Two of the three partners appear to be “gone”, and the sole remaining partner appears to be playing a last minute hand of cards hoping to hit the jackpot.

    My guess is this: With the expiration of the license coming up, Cocego was coming to the realization that the site they have held on to for a number of years was about to run out of value. AM transmitting equipment isn’t exactly in demand these days, and without any other licensee in the wings wait, the site likely would have been dismantled. So an offer is made that Nicolas Tétrault couldn’t resist, and he took it. Cogeco could very well have financed the whole deal.

    Given that the equipment has been used in the past for 940AM, setting it up shouldn’t be a big deal. Setting up a small studio (or for that matter, just a PC) isn’t a big deal either, so the whole deal could be on the air within a matter of a couple of weeks – not as anything other than an automated music station, but it would be a start.

    At that point, Nicolas Tétrault could file with the CRTC to have the other two partners removed, and move forward with the business.

    Again, just like you, it’s all guessing because the company is as silent as it gets.

    Reply
  6. Brett

    If they are really going on air soon wouldn’t call letters be assigned by now? Even a station name should be announced. Guess they are waiting last minute ti release that information if going to launch at all.

    Reply
  7. Media Man

    The main thing here, if something is indeed happening then this would hopefully end the complacency of CJAD and Bell Media might be tested and end the monopoly, and we can get real investigative journalism back in Montreal..

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      The main thing here, if something is indeed happening then this would hopefully end the complacency of CJAD and Bell Media might be tested and end the monopoly, and we can get real investigative journalism back in Montreal..

      I think people are setting themselves up for disappointment if they expect this station to be of significantly higher editorial quality than CJAD. TTP Media hasn’t promised any investigative journalism.

      Reply
      1. Lance C

        I’ll suggest that the offering of a few English radio jobs in Montreal would attract a lot of established on-air talent looking for airtime… no matter what the format.

        Reply
    1. Brett

      Have yet to check it out. Maybe I should check it out. That’s a good sign but we will never know until they announce something.

      Reply
    2. Mimo

      It must have been brief because I checked around that time and didn’t hear anything. I’ll keep trying, maybe it will show up again soon.

      Reply
  8. Brett

    Yesterday (Tuesday October 25th) at 10am I heard what I assume was a test tone on 940AM. Hope that’s a sign that they are one step closer to launching.

    Reply
  9. Sheldon

    I have confirmation that testing is being conducted at the transmitter site in Kahnawake today. There is a high-pitched continuous tone being transmitted this afternoon. Still going at 2:30 pm today (October 26)

    Reply
  10. Media Man

    This is definitely getting interesting and potentially exciting, but I can’t figure out if we’re to believe the comments are only tests for 940, why can’t that engineering company do tests for 600 at the same time?

    Both stations are under similar deadlines, 940 a year more, or those listening in aren’t trying to listen for a 600 test.

    Reply
  11. Media Man

    So Steve, you’ve stated that you’ve made some inquiries from the CRTC, but any news or response about a 600 extension, since their date was first before 940..

    Reply

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