Tag Archives: RNC Media

Gatineau’s Capitale Rock to simulcast shows from 91.9 Sport in Montreal

It’s still too early to determine if the new format of Montreal’s CKLX-FM 91.9 is a winner, but RNC Media has decided it’s good enough to start copying some of that programming on its Gatineau station Capitale Rock 96.5 (CFTX-FM).

Starting Monday, Capitale Rock adopts a hybrid format of rock music and sports talk, and will simulcast programming from 91.9, including its morning show, noon show and afternoon drive show. The rest of the schedule will be either local hosts or no host at all.

The announcement of the change did not go well with Capitale Rock listeners on Facebook, with many declaring they would stop listening to the station now that their favourite hosts have been replaced with Montreal-based programming. And though the station promises the programming will be “de-montrealized”, it’s hard to take that seriously.

The change does not appear to affect the three-transmitter station group in the Abitibi region, which also runs under the Capitale Rock brand.

The reason for the format change is obvious: Capitale Rock has atrocious ratings. The latest Numeris report shows it with a 0.5% market share among francophones in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, putting it well behind most anglophone music stations and even anglo talk stations. Even ICI Musique has more than twice the audience, both overall and among adults 25-54.

Will this turn things around? Several factors suggest it won’t. The Montreal station it’s taking programming from isn’t exactly a ratings powerhouse, and Ottawa has different sports teams that won’t be talked about regularly in a Montreal broadcast.

Plus, there doesn’t look like there’s going to be any live sports programming, at least at first. Cogeco has French-language radio rights to Canadiens games, which air on 104.7 FM in Gatineau. And French-language broadcasts of Ottawa Senators, Ottawa Fury and Gatineau Olympiques games air on Unique FM 94.5.

(via John Fowler)

Rythme FM expands with third new affiliate in six months

The network of Véro, Mitsou and Sébastien Benoit is continuing to grow.

Owner Cogeco Diffusion announced on Tuesday that it has added an affiliate in the Abitibi region to the Rythme FM brand, expanding it to seven stations throughout Quebec.

CHOA-FM, which operates at 96.5 FM in Rouyn-Noranda, 103.5 FM in Val-d’Or and 103.9 FM in La Sarre, is owned by RNC Média and operates under the Planète brand. The changeover is expected to happen on March 9.

Like other Rythme FM affiliates, the Abitibi station will carry the noon-hour show hosted by Mitsou Gélinas and Sébastien Benoit, and the afternoon drive show hosted by Véronique Cloutier. Its morning show and daytime programming before and after lunch, will be local. The station promises no reduction in local programming, and that announcers Isabelle Harvey, Amélie Pomerleau and Véronique Aubin will remain with the station.

CHOA is the third station in six months to add itself to the Rythme FM family. CHLX-FM 97.1 in Gatineau, another Planète station, became Rythme FM Outaouais in August. CKRS-FM 98.3 in Saguenay and CKGS-FM 105.5 in La Baie, owned by Attraction Radio, are also adding themselves to the Rythme FM network on Feb. 9.

CKRS, a station formerly owned by Corus but which wasn’t sold to Cogeco, had until recently been a talk station, but last month got approval for a licence amendment allowing it to switch to music.

The expansion gives the Rythme FM network a presence in most major regions of Quebec: Montreal, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, Gatineau, Abitibi and Saguenay, plus CIME-FM in the Laurentians, which is part of the Rythme FM brand but doesn’t carry its network programming.

The big missing link here is Quebec City. CJEC-FM 91.9 used to be a Rythme station, but when Cogeco bought Corus it was forced to sell the station. New owner Leclerc Communication eventually rebranded it WKND. Convincing it to return to the Rythme FM brand would be the most obvious choice, since it’s the only adult-contemporary music station there not owned by Bell Media. Cogeco could also rebrand M 102.9, its classic hits station in Lévis. But since that station just adopted that brand, it’s probably not in their plans.

It might also look to expand in the Bas-Saint-Laurent (Rivière-du-Loup, Rimouski), Centre-du-Québec (Drummondville, Victoriaville) and Gaspésie regions. Attraction has other stations that might fit the bill, but others are owned by smaller companies that might be less interested in replacing local shows with Véro.

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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CTV Montreal to reduce (but continue) local news during Olympics

CFCF’s anchor desk will sit empty until 6pm during the Olympics

Television changes during the Olympic Games. It’s like the usual rules get thrown right out the window. Canadian television stations relying mainly on rebroadcasting American shows in primetime? Not during the Olympics. NBC provides Olympic coverage, but CTV is doing its own thing entirely, focusing on Canadian athletes. TSN and Rogers Sportsnet in fierce competition? Not during the Olympics. They’re coordinating their coverage to give Canadians more choice, and some events (like the opening and closing ceremonies) will be carried on both simultaneously. Spending the bare minimum on Canadian content? Not during the Olympics. CTV and the other broadcasters are spending millions creating their own live, remote, high-definition programming that will dominate the airwaves throughout the Games.

It’s this domination of the schedule that has led to one change that requires approval by the broadcast regulator.

CTV asked the CRTC to temporarily relieve it from some local programming requirements during the Olympics. Currently, CTV’s stations in large markets (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver) are each required to air 14 hours of local programming during each week. Other stations are required to air seven hours of local programming a week. CTV asked the commission to, in light of how much time it needs to devote to the Olympics on its schedule, reduce that to seven hours a week for the entire network.

The CRTC agreed to this in a ruling issued June 27. That ruling lowers the minimum of local programming to seven hours for all stations, solely during the period of the Olympics (July 27 to August 12), and says it expects CTV to make up for the shortfall later in the year. (CTV said it would do so.)

CTV also asked for relief from a license condition requiring four hours a week of described video programming. Since described video is usually applied to things like dramas, sitcoms and documentaries, which won’t air much during the Olympics, the CRTC also relieved the CTV network from this obligation, again with the expectation that CTV would compensate for the reduction with an excess during the rest of the year.

No noon newscasts during Games

CTV Montreal (CFCF) normally airs 16 hours of local programming every week, including commercials (all of which is its newscasts – noon, 6pm and 11:30pm weekdays, 6pm and 11:30pm weekends).

The Olympic broadcasting schedule released Wednesday shows Games coverage throughout the day between the opening and closing ceremonies. Because the Olympics are in London, which is five hours ahead, live coverage begins as early as 4am and ends around 5-6pm Eastern time. This is the opposite of the Vancouver games, which were three hours behind and meant a lot of live broadcasting in the evening.

With the exception of the opening and closing ceremonies, the 6-7pm Eastern hour is left clear on CTV’s network, which leaves room for local news. This is followed by a four-hour Olympic Primetime recap of the day’s events from 7 to 11pm, which can then be followed by CTV National News and late local newscasts.

Mary Anne Gyba, programming manager at CTV Montreal, confirms to me that local newscasts will air daily from 6pm to 7pm and at 11:30pm throughout the Olympics, with the exception of the opening ceremony (Friday, July 27) and the closing ceremony (Sunday, August 12), which both run through the 6pm hour.

This means it will air 11 hours of local news the first full week and 10 hours the second week, far exceeding the reduced minimum requirement. (An alternative way of meeting the quota would have been to repeat local newscasts at 6am the next day, which CTV and Global both use regularly in underperforming markets, but with Olympic coverage starting at 4am, even this option doesn’t work for them.)

V stations get similar relief

In a similar decision issued the day after the CTV one, the CRTC also offered relief to two television stations – CFGS in Gatineau and CFVS in Val d’Or/Rouyn Noranda – from local programming during the Olympics. Both stations are affiliates of the V network, which is the French-language conventional television broadcaster in the consortium, and both are owned by RNC Media.

In its brief application, RNC said it was “highly likely” that V would not offer enough free time in its schedule during the Games for local programming, even though each station must broadcast only one hour and 15 minutes a week of local programming, which averages to about 10 minutes a day.

V’s Olympic schedule is much like CTV’s, with nothing scheduled during the 6-7pm hour (except during opening and closing ceremonies), and nothing after 11pm. V normally offers entertainment programming at 6-7pm instead of local news, to set itself apart from Radio-Canada and TVA. Still, it seems a bit incredible that such stations can’t find 75 minutes a week for local news.

The CRTC’s decision relieves them completely of the requirement to air local programming during the Olympics.

UPDATE (July 16): The CRTC has issued a similar decision relieving Télévision MBS Inc., which owns the V affiliate in Rivière du Loup (CFTF-TV), of its local programming obligations during the Olympics.

UPDATE (July 24): And finally, a decision relieving the owned-and-operated stations of the V network (CFJP Montreal, CFAP Quebec, CFKM Trois-Rivières, CFKS Sherbrooke and CFRS Saguenay) from their obligations. That application prompted a letter in opposition by SCFP union executive Denis Bolduc, saying that there was plenty of time in the schedule for V to air local news, that it should have asked for this exemption during its license renewal hearing last fall, and that the CRTC should maintain some minimum of local programming during the Olympics.

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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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.