Tag Archives: CKLX

Posted in Radio

Radio X Montreal rebrands as Radio 9

Louis Lemieux, former weekend morning host at RDI, is the new morning man at "Radio 9"

Louis Lemieux, former weekend morning host at RDI, is the new morning man at “Radio 9″

Radio X is officially dead in Montreal. As of Tuesday, 9/9, the station at 91.9 FM is known as “Radio 9“.

The rebrand of the RNC Média-owned station comes with several personalities leaving and several others joining on. Dominic Maurais’s Maurais Live remains syndicated from CHOI Radio X in Quebec City. Caroline Proulx also sticks around, hosting the midday show.

The station, which finally got approval in April to become a mainly talk station and drop jazz music, follows a similar schedule from the Radio X days, with original talk programs only during the day on weekdays.

Jean-Charles Lajoie hosts the afternoon show, which is now completely focused on sports, clearly trying to fill the void left by the disappearance of CKAC Sports in 2011, a station Lajoie worked for in those days.

Evenings feature repeats of Proulx and Maurais. Overnights and weekends are rock music, according to the schedule (though I’m listening to it at 12:30am and I’m hearing repeats of talk shows).

Though management insists this isn’t a right-wing station, its programming is clearly supposed to be populist. It reminds me of what was done at 940 News after the all-news format failed. Hopefully it won’t have the same fate.

Stories about the rebrand at La Presse, Canoe and the Huffington Post.

Posted in Montreal, Radio

CRTC says Radio X Montreal can remove jazz music programming

Planète Jazz is no more.

Two years after RNC Media first requested that CKLX-FM 91.9 in Montreal be relieved of its conditions of licence requiring a specialty jazz format, and a year after an initial denial, the CRTC approved the request on Tuesday as part of the station’s licence renewal.

Under the new licence, the station would remain under a specialty format, but one that requires at least 50% of its programming to be spoken word.

The new licence, which is for a short term because the CRTC found that the station failed to comply with terms of its existing licence (including incorrectly classifying some popular music as jazz to meet its specialty licence requirements), takes effect on Sept. 1. But a CRTC spokesperson tells me that the change relating to format takes effect immediately.

When it denied the same application a year ago, the CRTC cited two main reasons: the fact that the station appeared to be failing to meet its current licence, and the fact that it has approved another French-language talk station in Montreal (TTP Media’s news-talk station at 940 AM) and that granting this request could threaten the financial viability of that station.

So why the change of heart? Two reasons: One, since this is a licence renewal decision, the CRTC is more open to changes to that licence. The commission doesn’t like rewarding non-complying stations by changing their licence conditions during their licence term. And it says in this decision that it monitored programming last fall and found the station had rectified its licence compliance issues.

As for competition with TTP Media, the CRTC said that “the Commission’s standard practice is to not consider applications for new stations intended to serve the market in question within two years of the publication of its decision to approve a new station when it was licensed following a call for applications.”

The French TTP Media station was approved on Nov. 21, 2011. It was supposed to launch two years later, but was granted a one-year extension to Nov. 21, 2014. But there’s no similar extension to a de facto moratorium on new competing formats. So the CRTC felt it no longer had to consider that issue. The commission also notes that TTP Media did not write to the commission to oppose this application.

Those issues dealt with, it came down to the basic question: Is there an economic need to justify this change?

The CRTC found a year ago that there was one. And that situation hasn’t changed.

CKLX-FM was first approved by the CRTC in 2003, along with others including CJLV 1570 AM in Laval, CKDG-FM 105.1 in Montreal, and the 104.7 FM transmitter for CBC Radio One.

The logic at the time was that because the Montreal International Jazz Festival was so popular, a jazz music radio station would also be so, or at least popular enough that it could be profitable. So Spectra, the company that runs the festival, partnered with broadcaster RNC Media and applied for a licence for a radio station, which was later approved.

But it didn’t work that way. Jazz music simply wasn’t that popular. Some fans have argued that’s because the station’s music was poorly programmed, but after a decade, it was clear it could not be made profitable. Spectra was bought out as a partner, and RNC made the decision to change Planète Jazz to Radio X, copying its mega-successful programming format in Quebec City.

That decision hasn’t been that successful either. The station has only a 1% market share among francophones in the latest BBM ratings, and 3% among francophones age 25-54. The station has argued that it’s growing, but it still has a long way to go.

The new CRTC licence means that now Radio X Montreal must have at least 50% talk programming, and has no requirement at all for jazz. It would likely mean a more CHOI-like programming schedule, with more talk in the evenings and more rock music on weekends. Right now, the station switches to jazz music at 7pm every day, and runs jazz all weekend except in the afternoons when it has a rock music show.

In an on-air discussion after the decision was published, station management said there would be an evaluation of programming options over the coming weeks, and no changes would be announced right away.

Radio X has posted photos of staff drinking champagne after the decision.

Correction: An earlier version of this post said that Radio X’s licence change takes effect Sept. 1. Though RNC Media apparently believes this to be the case, the CRTC tells me that it actually takes effect immediately.

UPDATE (April 15): Jazz was removed from Radio X’s schedule over the weekend. It now airs rock music all weekend and repeats overnight.

Posted in Radio

Radio X Montreal tries again to rid itself of jazz

CHOI 91.9Only a few months after the CRTC denied a request from RNC Media to change the licence of CKLX-FM 91.9 so it could go from Planète Jazz to Radio X, the company is trying again.

On Wednesday, the commission published the station’s renewal application, and set a hearing for Nov. 5 in Gatineau to discuss it.

CKLX-FM, which launched in 2004, is licensed as a specialty music station, and one of the requirements is that 70% of the music it airs must be in the jazz/blues category. When it launched, it was thought that because Montreal has a successful jazz festival every year, there would be a market for a jazz radio station. As it turned out, the ratings were very poor, and the station continuously lost money. (It wasn’t the only one. Other commercial jazz stations in Canada also changed formats after deciding it wasn’t working.)

It changed formats a year ago, going from all-jazz to a talk format during the day on weekdays, rock music on weekend afternoons, and jazz otherwise. The new format met the letter of the licence, if not its spirit. But RNC wanted to rid the station of jazz completely, and for that they need a change of the licence.

As it did last time, the application is to modify the licence so that instead of a specialty music station focused on jazz/blues, it becomes a specialty talk station, with a minimum of 50% talk during the broadcast week.

The CRTC doesn’t deny that the station is struggling financially enough to warrant a licence change. But it cited other reasons why the request should not be granted. The new application (which was first filed before the decision denying the licence change was issued) attempts to address those concerns:

Potential harm to new competitor: The CRTC took note that TTP Media has a licence to launch a news-talk radio station in French at 940 AM, and said that having a new competitor right off the bat might cause them harm. TTP Media opposed RNC’s request to change the station’s licence the first time around. RNC counters this time by saying that the AM and FM audiences are different (it suggests 940 AM would target an older audience because its programming would include call-in shows), but also that the licence change would affect hours after 7pm weekdays when Radio X currently airs jazz music, and that those hours represent a small portion of listening hours to talk radio stations.

The possibility of a new specialty musical format: RNC shot down the idea that CKLX-FM try a different musical specialty format, in part because it felt its experience was in the talk format that makes CHOI-FM a top station in Quebec city, and in part because it feels the other music stations in Montreal have a huge competitive advantage because they are owned by the same two companies (Astral, now Bell, and Cogeco).

Non-compliance with licence obligations: The CRTC doesn’t like to reward broadcasters who aren’t in compliance with their licences by approving changes to those licences. It prefers that broadcasters come into compliance, and then present a case for a licence amendment. In this case, the CRTC found that RNC was classifying hit songs as jazz/blues songs, and that with proper classification, the station wasn’t in compliance with the minimum level of jazz/blues songs, and with another standard condition that 65% of popular music that airs on French stations be French songs.

RNC responds to this mainly by disagreeing with the way the commission proceeded. It said the CRTC rejected songs that aired on the station as being in that category because they were hit songs, but there’s no rule that says songs that reach positions on sales charts are ineligible for inclusion in that category. One document attached to the application even goes so far as to define “jazz” and “blues” by copying the introduction to their Wikipedia articles, then justify why it believes the songs are actually jazz/blues. They include these:

  • 1,2,3,4 by Feist
  • Waiting on the World to Change and Gravity by John Mayer
  • Don’t Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin
  • Proud Mary by Ike and Tina Turner
  • Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell
  • Purple Rain by Prince
  • Oye como va by Carlos Santana
  • Rehab by Amy Winehouse
  • Roxanne by The Police
  • You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon
  • These Eyes by The Guess Who

Justifications include their artists’ profiles on allmusic.com, and participation in the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

Nevertheless, it said it has removed these songs from its playlist.

And $350,000 to sweeten the pot

As part of its request, RNC has said it would commit to adding $350,000 over seven years (but only starting in the fourth) to its Canadian content development contributions, with $200,000 going to journalism/broadcasting scholarships, and $150,000 to Fondation NewRock.

According to financial projections it filed, if the application is approved its advertising revenue would go up from $1.4 million in the first year to $7.9 million in Year 7, its expenses would go up from $3.5 million to $5 million a year (including the proposed additional contributions), and it would make money starting in Year 4. Without the licence change, it would lose between $1.1 million and $1.5 million every year of its licence and the company would have to consider shutting it down.

While normally that would be a bad thing, here the CRTC has to consider that Montreal does not have available FM frequencies, and opening up one that allows for a 4.6kW transmitter on Mount Royal might mean a lot of great ideas for new radio stations.

But as much as some people don’t like the Radio X format, RNC is an independent in this market, and talk radio is an expensive format that the commission usually encourages. I suspect that here, finally, RNC will get its wish, and we’ll be rid of jazz music for good.

The CRTC is accepting public comment on the proposed licence change, and on the overall renewal of the licence of CKLX-FM in Montreal, until Sept. 27. You can file comments here, by selecting Option 1 and then Application 2013-0237-2: RNC MEDIA Inc. Note that all information submitted, including contact information, goes on the public record.

Posted in Montreal, Radio

CRTC says no to Planète Jazz/Radio X licence change

CHOI 91.9

Planète Jazz lives! Well, kinda.

On Thursday morning, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission released a decision denying a request from owner RNC Media to amend the licence of CKLX-FM Montreal (91.9 FM), changing it from a specialty jazz format to a spoken word one.

RNC said in its request that the jazz format did not bring nearly enough revenue, reaching only 18% of projections. So it proposed a spoken word format that, at the time of its application, was on only one other commercial station in French: the very successful CHMP 98.5.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this would have meant Montreal getting a Radio X station, as RNC owns the brand and its Quebec City station CHOI is very successful.

Sure enough, in August, the station switched formats anyway, launching Radio X Montreal. In order to remain in compliance with its licence, the station kept jazz music during the low-rated evenings, overnights and weekends (except a few hours on weekend afternoons when it airs rock music). The licence says that “a minimum of 70% of the musical programming broadcast to musical selections from content subcategory 34 (Jazz and blues)” — but there’s nothing that requires music itself to take up a certain percentage of the broadcast day. So theoretically it would have to air no jazz music at all so long as it aired no other type of music.

The CRTC’s decision doesn’t really address this issue, and the appearance that the station, while respecting the letter of its licence, doesn’t seem to reflect its spirit. In fact, it said: “The Commission analyzed the broadcast levels of CKLX-FM’s spoken word programming and notes that the licensee is in compliance with its obligations in that regard.”

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Posted in Montreal, Radio

Montreal radio ratings: “a solid book” for The Beat, but …

Station Winter 2011 Winter 2012 Fall 2012 Winter 2013
CJAD 25.9 24.8 25.2 25.0
CJFM (Virgin) 18.2 17.3 18.6 15.9
CKBE (Beat) 17.2 14.9 16.6 18.6
CHOM 10.3 11.9 13.7 13.5
CKGM (TSN) 2.6 4.4 2.3 2.6
CBME (CBC1) 7.5 8.2 7.2 7.0
CBM (CBC2) 2.9 2.7 2.4 2.5

BBM ratings, anglo 2+ audience

I don’t normally pay that much attention to the quarterly BBM ratings of Montreal radio stations. Not because I don’t care, but just because there’s rarely anything in them that’s newsworthy. A share point up here, a share point down there. Some stations do better in some time periods, others do better in others. There isn’t usually much movement.

Lately, CJAD has been first overall among all audiences, while the three music stations have been fighting for audience in key demographics: men for CHOM, young women for Virgin and somewhat older women for The Beat. CBC falls significantly behind, and TSN Radio even further. Other stations don’t even register. Things have been a bit more interesting on the French side with the rise of CHMP 98.5, which is now Quebec’s most-listened-to radio station.

But today’s numbers (PDF) showed a significant change for once: In overall audience (ages 2+), The Beat has leaped ahead of Virgin Radio for the first time, getting an 18.6% share versus 15.9%. That prompted The Beat to send out a press release calling itself “Montreal’s #1 Music Station”.

That was enough for a Gazette story on the matter.

But as the story shows, The Beat’s claim to be ahead of Virgin comes with a caveat: Virgin still outperforms in key demographics (among them, adults 25-54, adults 18-34 and women 25-54) and in key time periods.

In Astral’s press release, in which Virgin also calls itself “Montreal’s number one music station”, it focuses on the key advertising demographic of adults 25-54, in which Virgin still leads.

We could play with demographics all day, but if we stick to adults 25-54, the results show a three-way tie among the music stations: Virgin 21.9%, The Beat 20.1% and CHOM 20.0%, with CJAD behind at 13.1%. This represents an upward trend for The Beat and CHOM, but is down from last year for Virgin.

See some analysis here from Astral, and here from La Presse.

Needless to say everyone’s happy and everyone is number one. Here’s how the numbers break down for each station:

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Posted in Radio

Fall radio ratings: CHOM and CJPX gain, The Beat and TSN lose, Radio X struggles (UPDATED)

Fall 2012 ratings from BBM Canada for the anglo Montreal market (Aug. 27 to Nov. 25), with comparisons to the same period a year ago. (Numbers reflect total 2+ audience)

BBM Canada released its fall 2012 ratings for metered markets (including Montreal) on Thursday. While members get detailed information from which they can spin all sorts of good news, the public gets an overall picture (PDF).

On the English side, there’s the usual fluctuations. CHOM gains a point and a half compared to last year (but is down slightly in market share compared to the summer), and also has a larger overall audience than it did a year ago.

CJAD, Virgin and The Beat are also up slightly, and CBC Radio One has lost a bit.

Among francophone listeners, where anglo music stations actually have a larger audience than in English, CHOM has 30,000 more listeners on a daily basis than it did a year ago, and Virgin and The Beat have both lost a bit of ground.

I await their spin, revealing what nuggets of significant gains aren’t being reflected in the overall ratings. (See below)

For TSN Radio (CKGM), there’s no getting around the disappointing ratings period. The station has a 2.3% market share this fall, down from 4.0% a year ago. Its daily audience among anglos has dropped from 60,000 to 43,000. Even simulcasting on two frequencies hasn’t been enough to compensate for the lack of NHL hockey.

The Beat falls among 25-54 demos

But those are for the total audience. What about the key 25-54 demographic, the people with money that advertisers want?

Astral Radio’s BBM analysis (which is much more objective than its press releases) provides the answer:

CKBE (The Beat) has lost the gains it made this spring, falling back into third place overall behind CHOM. It has a 21% commercial market share among adults 25-54, compared to CHOM’s 25% and Virgin’s 32%. Much of that loss is among men, where it had spiked to 22% in the spring but is now back at 16%. Among women, it’s gone down slightly, but Virgin’s lead has increased from four points to 13 points.

Its morning show has dropped back into fourth place after barely reaching second in the spring, with fewer than 7,000 listeners in the average minute (Virgin’s morning show has more than 10,000 listeners) among adults 25-54. Late mornings and lunch hour have dropped from first to third, and early afternoons dropped from first to second behind Virgin. Its drivetime show also dropped from second to third after losing about a quarter of its audience from the spring. On weekends, it was third before and remains so.

Perhaps the most telling statistic is average listening time: 3.1 hours per week, putting it behind CJAD, CHOM and Virgin, which are all between 4 and 4.5 hours a week.

Overall, it’s an awful ratings period for The Beat, bringing them back to what they were at before their notable gains in the spring. That explains why their press release (below) doesn’t mention any numbers.

CJFM (Virgin Radio) is still No. 1 in most key demographics. Among women 25-54, they’re at 41% market share. Its biggest gain is in late mornings and early afternoons, where Nikki Balch and Ryan Seacrest respectively have picked up almost 3,000 average-minute listeners from the spring. Virgin also made significant gains at morning and afternoon drive. It’s now the top station during the morning rush and from 11am to 8pm weekdays among adults 25-54.

Its strength remains in younger audiences – the top nine shows among adults 18-34 are all on Virgin.

CHOM still gets to brag that it’s No. 1 among men, and its market share among men 25-54 has gone up to 35%, though much of that probably has to do with the lack of hockey pushing TSN Radio listeners back to their backup radio option. CHOM has also jumped ahead of The Beat for second place among all adults 25-54.

The morning show with Terry DiMonte and Heather Backman now has about 10,000 listeners 25-54 in the average minute, good for second place after being behind The Beat and CJAD in different ratings periods. It continues a steady climb from 8,000 a year ago and 7,000 the year before that. CHOM’s morning show audience has grown 50% in two years, but still isn’t the high peak of the day. Among men 25-54, there are only about half as many listeners at 7am as there are at 11am.

Tootall had a great ratings report, with the late morning part of his show gaining 20% audience since the spring and now the top-rated show at CHOM. The lunch hour and afternoon parts had more modest gains. The afternoon drive show with Bilal Butt gained slightly to its highest average-minute audience in two years, but it’s still a distant second to Virgin and mired in a tight three-way race with The Beat and CJAD. Even among men 25-54, the show struggles to compete with Virgin and CJAD.

On weekends, CHOM dipped slightly, but it’s still a clear second, and it’s fighting with Virgin for top spot among men 25-54 on weekend afternoons.

CJAD’s numbers didn’t change much. Astral brags about its high-rated morning show, but it’s still third among adults 25-54 (its strength is earlier in the morning, and it dominates the ratings until about 7am). The lunchtime show with Ric Peterson made a significant jump from 2,500 to 3,500 listeners in the demo (but still well behind the three music stations), and the afternoon drive show with Aaron Rand also gained more than a thousand listeners in the 25-54 demo. Rather than fighting TSN for fourth place, it’s fighting CHOM and The Beat for second.

Among all audiences, CJAD is still the top rated station among English listeners, and has the five top-rated shows.

CKGM (TSN 690) is clearly wishing for hockey to come back. Among men 25-54, it has a 7% market share, about half what it did a year ago. Every major time slot is down, and its hopes of competing with CJAD in some of them (notably afternoon drive) are gone for now.

Radio X disappoints

On the French side, not much has changed from a year ago. CHMP 98.5 is still the No. 1 station with a 22.5% market share, followed by CFGL (Rythme FM, 18.6%), CITE (Rouge FM, 12.3%, up more than two points from a year ago) and CBF (Première Chaîne, 11.3%).

NRJ (CKMF) and CKOI continue to be stuck in the single digits, with CKOI hitting a new market share low of 5.7%, even though it’s third-highest in total weekly audience reach. At this point, CKOI barely beats out classical music station CJPX, which has grown a point and a half in French and gained 30,000 daily listeners since last year.

NRJ’s market share is 7.1%, down from 10.3% a year ago.

The most interesting information on the franco side concerns CKLX-FM 91.9, which went from being Planète Jazz to Radio X this fall. Reports that ratings had actually dropped as a result of the change have turned out to be true. Planète Jazz had a 1.3% market share, 64,300 daily listeners and 902,800 weekly listeners a year ago. In the summer, it had a 1.2% share, 62,700 daily listeners and 944,800 weekly listeners. But in its first ratings period as Radio X, it has a 0.8% market share, 54,500 daily listeners and 640,100 weekly listeners.

Radio X, in other words, has only 2/3  the audience that Planète Jazz had, after a programming change designed to bring in more listeners.

Radio X, owned by RNC Media, will counter that this kind of change takes time to build an audience, though that’s not necessarily true.

To be fair, it also made some gains in the key 25-54 demos. Its morning show and afternoon drive gained quite a bit, while early afternoons took a nosedive. Weekends show a significant increase during the hours when it airs rock music (we’re still waiting for a CRTC decision on an application to strip it of its specialty jazz status – until then it has to devote 70% of its music to the jazz/blues format).

Overall, though, the station’s ratings are very poor, behind even Radio Classique (CJPX) and fighting for last place with Radio Circulation (CKAC).

Big gains for Radio Classique

While not much has changed for the other commercial radio stations in French in Montreal, there’s a noticeable increase in the ratings for CJPX Radio Classique, particularly among men.

Consider this: During the lunch hour, it had 630 average-minute listeners this spring, but 4,730 this fall, an astounding increase of 651%. It had similar jumps during all hours of the day, except afternoon drive where it saw a mere doubling of audience.

It makes sense to assume that Radio Classique picked up many former Planète Jazz listeners, but its increases are larger than CKLX’s entire audience was. Is there something else at play here, or is this just a case of sampling error spouting out random variation in small numbers?

Either way, Radio Classique beats out Radio X in all time periods among the 25-54 demo. Radio Classique’s overall commercial market share among 25-54 is 3%, up from 1% in the spring.

More ratings coverage

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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

CRTC gets an earful from Radio X opponents/Jazz supporters

Updated with interventions published Feb. 14, including one by ADISQ.

Montrealers opposed to an application from RNC Media to change CKLX-FM 91.9 from Planète Jazz to talk radio (likely a Montreal version of their Radio X format in Quebec City and Saguenay) have filed interventions with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission asking them to deny the company’s request for the necessary change in license.

The CRTC website lists 68 74 75 interventions having been filed as of Feb. 14. All but three are in opposition.

The number of interventions is high for an application like this, probably because of campaigns like the one by CIBL to get people to send comments to the CRTC.

Some are factually incorrect. One says RNC already has a talk station in Montreal at 98.5, when CHMP is actually owned by Cogeco. Another seems to think this is about changing the format of a show on CIBL.

Best of the interventions

You can download and read all the interventions yourself, but I’ve compiled a few highlights below. Almost all are either against Radio X, against removing Montreal’s only jazz station, or both. None of those opposed to the application answer the simple question of what the CRTC should do in the face of RNC’s threat to shut down the station if the change in license is not approved, with some suggesting it should continue playing jazz even if it’s not profitable.

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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

CFQR gets license renewal – and a slap on the wrist

This week, the CRTC gave approval for a license renewal to CFQR-FM, commonly known as Q92 (but who prefer to refer to themselves now as “92.5 the Q”). They can keep broadcasting until Aug. 31, 2014.

The approval is considered “short-term” because CFQR was in violation of one of its conditions of license, a minor one that requires that 20% of music from the jazz and blues category be Canadian. (The station exceeded its requirements for Canadian content overall.)

The station blamed this on improper labelling involving a new program:

Our non-compliance related solely to the introduction of a new three-hour program on Sunday evenings called Chill. This program is a showcase for Canadian smooth jazz. We experienced a problem with the labelling of songs in this three hour program block. The result was that we could not correctly identify individual selections as to whether they did or did not qualify as Canadian content. This in turn led directly to the compliance question raised by the Commission.

We deeply regret our failure to comply with the category 34 requirement. We take our responsibilities seriously and understand the importance of meeting our regulatory obligations. The non-compliance was not intentional and it was for a short duration.  It only related to this program feature.   We want to assure the Commission that it will not happen again.

This isn’t the first time CFQR has gotten a slap from the national regulator. The last time their license was up for renewal, the commission noted that the station was not in compliance with a condition of license requiring no more than 49.9% of music broadcast be hits. (You know, so it doesn’t sound too much like CJFM AM radio.</sarcasm>)

The CRTC has also renewed the license of CKLX-FM, Planète Jazz 91.9, even though the station was in non-compliance on its financial obligations.