Tag Archives: CHOI

Posted in Radio

Ratings prove benefits of talk format

In June, Cogeco Diffusion announced that it would take three stations outside Montreal using the CKOI brand and turn them into talk stations similar to CHMP 98.5. Three months after the changes took effect, we have our first publicly-available ratings data for two of these stations.

On Thursday, BBM Canada released top-line radio ratings for diary markets (PDF). Diary markets are those that measure ratings through the use of diary surveys of listeners, asking them to fill out forms saying what they listened to. They exclude the five largest markets (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary), which have switched to the Portable People Meter, an electronic device that logs what people actually listen to. PPMs are more expensive, but more accurate.

The BBM diary survey data gives us snapshots of markets including Quebec City, Sherbrooke and Ottawa/Gatineau, the latter in both French and English. Cogeco has a talk station in each of these metro areas.

In Sherbrooke (CKOY-FM 107.7) and Gatineau (CKOF-FM 104.7), the stations both saw ratings boosts compared to this spring and a year ago.

Sherbrooke’s CKOY has an 8% market share, which is actually last-place among metered commercial stations in the market now that CJTS-FM has been shut down. But that number is up from 6.6% a year ago, 4.9% in fall 2010 and 5.2% in fall 2009.

Gatineau’s CKOF has a 7.6% market share, its highest since the spring of 2009, and up from 4.3% in fall 2011.

The third former CKOI station, Trois-Rivières’s CKOB-FM 106.9, is not part of the publicly-available data, so we don’t know how it did as far as ratings didn’t do as well, according to Astral’s BBM analysis. It lost ground overall, and particularly among young adults and women. But among adults 25-54 (the key demo), it’s about where it was a year ago – in last place.

In Quebec City, where Cogeco already had a talk station and the CKOI-branded station there was sold to an independent company when Cogeco bought Corus, the numbers also look good for talk radio. Controversial talk radio station CHOI-FM, which had been as far down as fifth and sixth place in the market in 2009, is now the top-rated station in the market with a 15.9% market share. Cogeco’s Quebec City talk/rock station CJMF-FM (FM93) is in third place, and its 14.7% market share is its best since at least 2009.

The Journal de Québec has some details of the Quebec City market.

Combined with data showing that CHMP in Montreal keeps getting higher ratings, it’s clear that there’s a pattern here, and the switch from music to talk has had some (at least modest) success in terms of ratings.

Radio-Canada was also crowing about these numbers. In Ottawa/Gatineau, Radio-Canada’s Première Chaîne had a reach exceeding 100,000 listeners for the first time ever. (Reach is defined as the number of people tuning into a station at least once a week.) It also breaks down some numbers for each of its shows.

Spin cycle

Lots of broadcasters issued their own statements on their ratings numbers, including for many small markets that BBM doesn’t give numbers for directly. Here’s a few I’ve found for Quebec’s diaried markets:

  • Astral gives an overall picture and rundown by market (with only the good news highlighted). Astral’s ratings analysis folks also have details in terms of age, gender and time of day for the Quebec, Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Trois-Rivières and Saguenay markets.
  • Cogeco Quebec: FM 93 might be losing to CHOI, but it does better in the city of Quebec itself, and FM 93 and sister station 102.9 are stronger as a pair than the pair of stations owned by RNC and Astral. (Wow, that’s some heavy spin)
  • NRJ Abitibi: A brief pointing out that they’re No. 1 in Rouyn-Noranda and Val d’Or
  • Radio-Canada Saguenay: Third place, but some interesting gains
  • Planète Dolbeau-Mistassini: We’re No. 1! Share this news on Facebook!
  • Planète Alma: More women are listening to us! Share this news on Facebook!

Other less biased analysis by market:

Posted in Montreal, Radio

CHOI Radio X launches in Montreal

CHOI Radio X has arrived in Montreal.

On Monday morning, at 5:30 a.m., CKLX-FM 91.9 officially rebranded from Planète Jazz to CHOI Radio X Montréal with sounds of jazz music getting interrupted and its heartbeat flatlined. The station has gone from smooth easy-listening music to opinionated talk during the week and rock music on the weekend.

Actually, Planète Jazz isn’t completely dead. The station’s license is still as a specialty station carrying jazz music, and 70% of its musical selections must be in the category of jazz and blues, according to its latest license renewal.

Owner RNC Media applied to the CRTC months ago for the station to change its license, saying a jazz-only station simply can’t survive in Montreal. The application received a lot of opposition from Montrealers who didn’t want the formula used by CHOI-FM in Quebec City imported to this city. (UPDATE March 14, 2013: The application has been denied by the CRTC.)

Whether deserved or not, CHOI-FM has a reputation as “radio poubelle”, a right-wing shock-jock station that appeals to the lowest common denominator. Much of that reputation is based on second-hand accounts of what airs on the station, and in many cases stuff that is years old, about former personality Jeff Fillion, for example. Though it has been investigated by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council many times since then for comments by its radio hosts.

The opposition caused the CRTC to call a public hearing into the license amendment changing the station from a specialty jazz music station into a mainly spoken word station. The license amendment application will be dealt with at a hearing in Montreal on Sept. 10, the same hearing the commission considers the proposed Bell purchase of Astral Media, the conversion of TSN 990 from English to French, and the application for a new English news-talk station at 600 AM.

Until a decision is reached, CKLX will continue to air jazz music, weeknights from 7pm to 5:30am, and on weekends, except from 11am to 4pm when it airs rock music. Provided 70% of its music continues to be jazz, the station will still be respecting the letter (if perhaps not the spirit) of its license.

Though the switch was announced for 5:30am on Monday, it actually happened on Sunday at 11am, when the afternoon rock music show took over the airwaves. Planète Jazz listeners who still hadn’t heard about the change expressed shock and outrage on the station’s Facebook page. After 4pm, the station returned to jazz music until 5:30am Monday.

The new brand’s schedule is as follows:

  • Le show du matin (5:30am to 9:30am): Carl Monette, Martin Pelletier, Gabriel Grégoire, Évelyne Audet
  • Maurais Live (9:30am to 12pm): Dominic Maurais (syndicated from CHOI-FM in Quebec City)
  • Le midi (12pm to 2pm): Éric Duhaime
  • 2 à 4 (2pm to 4pm): Sophie Bérubé, Vincent Rabault
  • Le Retour (4pm to 7pm): Jean-Charles Lajoie, Marie-Claude Savard et Vincent Dessureault
  • Légendes du Rock (weekends 11am to 4pm): Jeff Paquet

Everything not in the shows above will continue to be jazz music.

UPDATE: Some coverage:

UPDATE (Aug. 26): A petition has been started to convince the CRTC to keep Planète Jazz. It already has 1,500 signatures. Radio X has responded with its own petition.

Posted in Montreal, Radio

RNC wants to turn Planète Jazz into Radio X

Update (March 14, 2013): The application has been denied.

If owner RNC Media gets its way with the CRTC, Montreal could soon be getting its own “radio poubelle” station by next fall.

CKLX-FM 91.9 has applied to the CRTC for permission to change its format from jazz to talk radio, citing its poor financial situation and the lack of francophone talk radio options in Montreal.

You can download and read the application here (ZIP).

Planète Jazz, which launched Dec. 14, 2004, is the last commercial jazz radio station in Canada, its owner says, after similar formats in Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton and Winnipeg abandoned it for other more popular formats. Though it won’t release full details to the public, RNC says CKLX has revenues “well below” $1 million a year, about 18% of what was forecast in the station’s business plan.

It has come to the conclusion that the format does not work, and it must either change formats or consider shutting down the station.

Though it’s not stated explicitly in the application, it’s hinted that the new format would be similar to that of CHOI-FM in Quebec City, a station also owned by RNC Media that has controversial opinionators who talk more than they think (people like Stéphane Dupont). It’s been dubbed “radio poubelle” and compared to right-wing talk-radio stations in the United States, but it’s popular, with more than 200,000 listeners.

RNC Media also owns the similarly-styled CKYK-FM in the Saguenay region, as well as music stations Capitale Rock in Gatineau, Planète-branded stations and other Radio X and Radio X2 stations across Quebec.*

CHOI is so controversial, in fact, that the CRTC ordered it be shut down because of its comments. Only the sale of the station from Genex Communications to RNC Media (and the issuing of a new license) saved it from going dark.

RNC conducted a survey of Montreal listeners to gauge their interest in a new station “that would have a style that discusses subjects in the news, that asks real questions and isn’t afraid of its opinions”. Based on that, it predicts a new talk-radio station would have a 10% market share, and 20% among the key demographic of men 25-49. It also sees its revenues going from $2.6 million in the first year to $8.2 million in the seventh year of its license, far above what they could have hoped for Planète Jazz.

The market for French-language talk radio has been open for opportunity, particularly since CKAC turned into all-traffic last September. Other than Radio-Canada and community/campus stations, the only talk radio station is CHMP 98.5, which has shot to the top of the ratings. It also has to do double-duty as a sports station in the evenings.

The application, survey and other documents curiously make no mention of the license for a talk-radio station recently given to the Tietolman-Tétrault-Pancholy media group. That station is also expected to launch next fall. It’s unclear if they’re unaware of the license or if they’re just ignoring it in their projections.

RNC Media President Raynald Brière declined to comment on the application, saying “le dossier n’est pas complet.”

The application, which would see the license changed from requiring 75% jazz to requiring 50% talk, is a Part 1 application, which means the CRTC has not called a hearing to discuss it, and if there’s no significant opposition it could be approved without the owners having to appear in front of the commission.

The deadline for interventions is 8pm on Feb. 13. You can file an intervention or comment here, by clicking “submit” next to the item about RNC Media.

*UPDATE: This move is strangely the opposite of one being done in Abitibi, where RNC Media is abandoning the Radio X format in favour of Capitale Rock, replacing talk radio with music. (Thanks Psychodork for pointing this out.)

Reaction

UPDATE (Jan. 20): The Journal de Québec reports about this move, getting the manager of its Quebec City stations to comment. The company wants to export the CHOI format to Montreal, but adapting to the market. Less talk of bringing back the Nordiques, more talk about traffic. (Is this really what separates Montreal from Quebec City?) The paper also talks to André Arthur, who thinks they should put Stéphane Dupont (the guy who told Haiti “fuck you” after the earthquake) in Montreal.

There was also a discussion on Tuesday on CHOI itself about the application, with an interview with Patrice Demers. They even discuss potential hosts, saying Patrick Lagacé is unlikely and Jeff Fillion is very doubtful, but nothing is set in stone.

The proposal also was discussed on Radio-Canada’s Les Lionnes, which prompted not one but two discussions on CHOI. You can imagine how Radio Poubelle and a public broadcaster TV show hosted by three women think about each other.

La Presse covers this in the form of a column from Marc Cassivi. There are also blog posts at Voir from Sportnographe’s Olivier Niquet and journalist Fabien Loszach. Each of these got criticized on CHOI, which blasted Cassivi for being uninformed about what can be heard on CHOI, and said Voir’s complaints that CHOI’s programming is sexist, racist or homophobic are simply false.

Stéphane Gendron reacted to the news on Radio X, in which he said he would be interested in an on-air position at the station, because he’s more of a radio guy than a TV personality.

Jeff Fillion himself also comments the news on his Radio Pirate.

At least one blogger has called for people to rise up against this move, and another defends the sophistication of Radio-Canada against its Radio X-supporting critics.

Quebec’s FM93 wants to go mostly-talk

Coincidentally, the application from RNC Media comes about the same time as one from Cogeco Diffusion to change the license of CJMF-FM (FM 93.3) in Quebec City to allow for more talk. Currently the station offers a hybrid format of talk and music, but its survey numbers show more than 60% of its listeners tune in only for talk programming.

The new schedule would see talk programming in the mornings and evenings on weekends (noon to 4pm would remain music) and weekday evenings. Weekday mornings and afternoons are already all-talk.

As an added bonus to Quebec City listeners, the change would mean the station broadcasts all Montreal Canadiens games. Currently it offers only a selection. This will be welcome news to Canadiens fans in the region who may have been able to tune in to the bleu-blanc-rouge on AM station CKAC but have no hope of listening to 98.5.

The deadline for interventions or comments in the CJMF-FM application is Feb. 6. It is also a Part 1 application and can be seen on this page.

Posted in Montreal, Radio, TV

CRTC Roundup: They saved local TV!

Well, not quite.

The CRTC on Monday decided to hike the fee (temporarily, at least) for its Local Programming Improvement Fund from 1% to 1.5% of cable and satellite provider revenues (revenues, not profits), which would give broadcasters an additional $32 million a year ($100 million total in the new fund) to devote to local programming.

You can see all its arguments in the official decision. It’s less than the 2.5% that a parliamentary committee suggested in June.

It’s a victory for broadcasters and a defeat for cable and satellite companies (and probably consumers). CBC is happy. Canwest is happy. CTV is happy. Bell is sad. Cogeco is sad (PDF). Rogers is sad. Videotron is sad. Bill Brioux is annoyed.

Especially when you consider how much the television industry is already subsidized through mandatory fees from cable and satellite companies (now 6.5% of their revenues) and funding from the government, all without us having a say in programming, you have to wonder whether it’s all worth it.

Best of all, the broadcasters say they need more.

The CRTC also released its conditions of license for one-year renewals for the major networks:

Many of the decisions below come from these renewals.

Finally, the CRTC has kicked the fee-for-carriage can (which was in turn kicked to them by a parliamentary committee) and other issues down the road to a hearing in September, where it will discuss that and other issues affecting broadcast television. The indication, however, is that the CRTC supports a fee-for-carriage idea, provided the fees are negotiated with broadcasters and cable/satellilte companies.

Harmonized local programming minimums

And how much more local programming will we be getting for all this extra money? We won’t! In fact, we’re getting less! Thanks to new “harmonized” minimum requirements, most stations in the country will now have to produce less local programming.

For English-language stations, the minimums will be 14 hours a week for large markets (Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver), and seven hours a week for smaller markets (including Halifax, Hamilton and Victoria), with some exceptions. This will mean reductions for CKMI (18 hours a week) and CFCF (15.5 hours a week). Stations with really high requirements might see massive cuts and layoffs. CHCH Hamilton, for example, has dropped from 36.5 hours to only seven, though they’re going to make a go at more local programming, at least in the short term.

For French-language stations (effectively just TVA since TQS has a special exception), it’s on a case-by-case basis:

  • CFCM (Quebec City): 18 hours a week, down from 21
  • CFER (Rimouski): 5 hours a week, up from 3:10
  • CJPM (Chicoutimi): 5 hours a week, up from 3:10
  • CHLT (Sherbrooke): 5 hours a week, up from 3:10

Independent stations owned by Radio-Nord (TVA Gatineau) and Télé Inter-Rives (SRC/TVA/TQS in Rivière du Loup, TVA in Carleton) maintain their current requirements.

Note that for French markets, only Montreal is larger than a million and is ineligible for LPIF funding.

In the same decision, the CRTC also rejected requests from broadcasters to eliminate requirements for priority programming (expensive dramas) and independent production (as opposed to in-house).

Global Quebec is now Global Montreal

After again rejecting union complaints that Global’s produced-out-of-Vancouver plan violates local programming requirements for Global Quebec (not saying it wasn’t in violation, only that there is “insufficient evidence” and it will “continue to monitor the situation”), the CRTC has approved a request to change CKMI from a Quebec City-based regional station to a local Montreal-based station.

CKMI-TV was once based in our provincial capital, but since it was purchased by Canwest and turned into a Global station it has effectively been headquartered in Montreal, with retransmitters in Quebec City and Sherbrooke (technically, the transmitter was in Quebec with a retransmitter, CKMI-TV-1, in Montreal). Global Quebec was licensed as a regional station, which meant it couldn’t take any local Montreal advertising. The license change makes it a local station which opens up that door (as small as it is) and allows the station to compete directly with CFCF and CBMT for local advertising.

A similar move was made for CIII, which is de facto Global’s Toronto station but was technically licensed to Paris, Ontario, which is west of Hamilton.

CJNT keeps ethnic minimum

A request from Canwest to relieve money-losing ethnic station CJNT Montreal of its ethnic programming requirement was denied. Canwest wanted 5 hours a week, but will be stuck at the original 13.5. Since the station is being sold, it won’t sadden Canwest too much to lose this battle.

Mandatory digital transition (or not?)

The CRTC recognized that some broadcasters are lagging behind in transitioning to digital. U.S. broadcasters were forced to make the switch last month (in a deadline that was delayed from February), but Canadians have until August 2011. The CRTC’s decision doesn’t suggest that this deadline will change for smaller markets (though it suggests perhaps a “hybrid model” may emerge), but it does say it “expects” that major markets will make the transition. It released a list of markets larger than 300,000 it “expects” will do so without complaint, and says it will discuss the issue further in September. The list includes Montréal, Quebec, Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke, Rivière-du-Loup, Saguenay, Ottawa-Gatineau, territorial and provincial capitals and large cities across Canada. Essentially any market with more than one station.

The issue (which also includes whether there should be U.S.-style subsidies for converter boxes) will be dealt with again in September.

CTV-Shaw rejects get renewed

Even though Shaw’s offer to buy them has fallen through, the CRTC has renewed licenses for CKX-TV in Brandon, Man., CHWI-TV in Wheatley/Windsor, Ont., and CKNX-TV in Wingham, Ont., for another year, despite CTV’s request that they be terminated. They’re still expected to shut down in August, although CTV says it is “reviewing” CHWI in light of the new funding. UPDATE: CTV says it will continue operating CHWI until Aug. 31, 2010. CKNX will be converted into a retransmitter, and CKX is still being shut down.

Other CTV stations which had the bare minimum of local programming have been relicensed as strictly retransmitters only:

  • CKCO-TV-3 Oil Springs (Sarnia), Ont.
  • CFRN-TV-3 Whitecourt, Alta.
  • CFRN-TV-4 Ashmont, Alta.
  • CFRN-TV-6 Red Deer, Alta.

No copy-copy

Separate requests from Canwest and Rogers to allow them to duplicate content on E!/Global and City/OMNI respectively were denied by the CRTC. The stations (CHAN-TV Vancouver/CHEK-TV Victoria, CIII-TV Toronto/CHCH-TV Hamilton, and City/OMNI pairings in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver) are currently limited to 10% overlap since they are stations with the same owner in the same markets. Requests to be relieved of that restriction were denied.

City stays special

In addition to allowing more overlap between City and OMNI, Rogers asked to be allowed to redirect “priority programming” money (money for expensive Canadian dramas) into local programming, and remove an unusual requirement at City to air Canadian feature films. Both were denied. The Globe has a story.

CHOI News Talk?

RNC Media has applied to the CRTC for a license amendment for CHOI-FM in Quebec City, which would change it from an alternative rock format to 50% spoken word. CHOI has a rather rocky past with the CRTC.

Radio was doing OK last year

The CRTC has released financial statistics of Canadian radio stations (taken as a whole). Looking at all of Canada and Quebec in particular, the numbers are fairly stable on both sides of the balance sheet. Of particular note is AM radio in Quebec, which shows significant losses year after year while the rest of the country just about breaks even.

Asians Asians Asians!

Asian Television Network has gotten approval for a slew of new specialty channels:

Another two networks – ATN Multicultural Channel and Commonwealth Broadcasting Network – were denied, as their nature was judged to be too broad for a specialty service.

ATN announced on Tuesday that nine channels, including some of the ones above, will premiere on Rogers Cable in the fall. The channels are being renamed to more interesting names.

CHEAR!

Ultimate Indie Productions has received authorization to start a specialty channel devoted to emerging Canadian Artists called CHEAR! (and CHEAR! HD)

Ashes to ashes, SCREAM to DUSK

Corus is rebranding its SCREAM! horror channel to DUSK, and expanding its niche to include “paranormal” and “supernatural” stuff that might not be so scary. I guess this means more X-Files? The change takes effect on Sept. 9 (09/09/09, as if that’s scary or paranormal or something).

In other news

  • TVA got a slap on the wrist (hell, not even that) for failing to meet expectations regarding airing of Canadian films and closed-captioning. The CRTC “expects” they’ll meet those requirements in the future, or else they’re going to get a sternly-worded letter, I guess.
  • The Globe and Mail is reporting that Al-Jazeera English may be close to approval as a specialty channel.
  • CPAC has gotten approval for a license amendment that would allow it to broadcast non-CPAC-sounding stuff like music on Canada Day every year. Now it can let loose in an explosion of patriotism on July 1.
  • Vision TV has given up and is now asking viewers to figure out its programming.
  • Cogeco has asked to move its transmitter for CFGE-FM (Rhythme FM) in Sherbrooke and increase its transmitter power to improve reception.
  • MusiquePlus has gotten authorization to hand over its 3.4% of revenues required for the production of Canadian music videos to MaxFACT instead of VideoFACT. The difference is mainly that MaxFACT is what MusiMax gives its money to and this would simplify things for them. The request got an intervention from ADISQ which was concerned that there would be less money for youth-oriented music videos as well as those from Quebec anglophones. MusiquePlus responded that it has no control over the procedures used by MaxFACT to allocate it money.
  • The CRTC is mad at CHRC in St. Catharines for violating a number of conditions of its license. There is, of course, no actual penalty associated with such violations as long as you promise not to do it again.
  • The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has dismissed a complaint against CJMF-FM in Quebec City regarding a promotion related to driving while on a cellphone. The CBSC concluded that the station was not, in fact, advocating that people drive while illegally talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device.