UPDATE (May 22): See also a story about this in The Gazette.
Last year, the CRTC received two apparently competing applications for new radio stations serving Montreal’s south Asian community. Today, it approved both of them.
ITR, 102.9 FM
The first, by AGNI Communications, would broadcast at 102.9 FM with a weak 50-watt transmitter on Chabanel St. near Highway 15, which would allow it to reach Ahuntsic and surrounding boroughs, but no farther than that because of interference from stations in Sherbrooke, St-Jérôme, Valleyfield and St-Jacques-le-Mineur on the same or adjacent frequencies.
The service already exists as on a subcarrier of CISM-FM on 89.3. It specifically targets the Tamil community, and the location of its transmitter will, it believes, cover the majority of Montreal’s Tamil-speaking community.
Radio Humsafar, 1610 AM
The second station is Radio Humsafar, which exists as an online, subcarrier and phone-in audio service. Its programming would be in English, Tamil, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati and Pashto.
The station would operate with a 1kW transmitter sharing the transmission site of CJLO 1690 AM on Norman St. in St-Pierre. Because the two would have the same antenna and operate at the same power, their patterns should be similar, so if you can hear CJLO you should be able to hear this station.
Humsafar has been trying for years to get a radio station on the air in Montreal, where it’s based. It had originally applied for 1400 AM, but the long-delayed move of CJWI (CPAM Radio Union) from 1610 to 1410 delayed that application and changed its frequency to 1610. Humsafar also owns CJLV 1570 in Laval and had tried to convert that into an ethnic station, an application the CRTC denied in 2012.
Radio Humsafar’s president, Jasvir Singh Sandhu, tells me he’ll begin discussions with engineers about quickly getting the station on the air, which should happen in the coming months. He projects hiring a handful of people as Humsafar expands the number of languages it broadcasts in. The phone-in and online streaming services will continue after the station is on the air, but the SCMO subcarrier it rents on CKUT will be discontinued after a few months of simulcasting. Sandhu also issued a press release which is republished below.
The CRTC decision notes that the applications received some opposition:
- Neeti P. Ray, a Toronto-based broadcaster, objected saying he also wanted to apply for a new south Asian radio station in Montreal. Ray submitted a competing application, also for 1610 AM. But Ray only stepped up after the Humsafar application was posted (instead of when he AGNI application was in January 2013), and the CRTC decided not to delay the proceeding further.
- Marie Griffiths, owner of ethnic stations CKDG-FM 105.1 and CKIN-FM 106.3, said the Humsafar station would compete with south Asian programming on CKIN and deprive it of advertising revenue. Humsafar replied that the overlap would be small (most of the languages it will broadcast in are not heard at all on CKIN), and that Humsafar would use its existing ad partners and find new advertisers for its station rather than steal advertisers from CKIN. It also notes that the south Asian community is underserved.
- CKUT Radio McGill objected to the AGNI application because of apparent outstanding debts of its owner, which used to operate a subcarrier service on CKUT. The CRTC made no comment about this, apparently deciding that it wasn’t relevant.
Radio Humsafar press release
New Radio Station coming to Montreal
• CRTC awards a commercial radio license to veteran broadcaster Radio Humsafar
• Station will broadcast ethnic language programming on 1610 on the AM dial
Montreal, Quebec, 16th of May 2014
Radio Humsafar is pleased to announce it has been awarded an AM license by the CRTC to serve the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean populations of the Greater Montreal Area on 1610 AM. A tentative launch date will be announced as soon as the transmitter is ready. Radio Humsafar will provide live, local programming and community updates to 10 different ethnic groups in 8 different languages; Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Tamil, Gujarati, Bengali, Pashto and English. This will make Radio Humsafar the first full-time commercial radio service for the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean populations in Montreal and the surrounding area.
President Jasvir Singh Sandhu of Radio Humsafar has been providing service to the South Asian community of Montreal for over 20 years by means of various radio and television channels, in addition to frequent community events. For the past 13 years, Radio Humsafar has been providing non-stop, 24/7 service to the community by means of SCMO radio. However with the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean population now over 200,000 strong in the Greater Montreal Area, Radio Humsafar felt the community deserves a greater voice that can meet their needs, and this need will soon be met. Along with his very experienced and reputable team, Mr. Sandhu hopes to provide the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean people with a means of staying connected to their culture and up to date with community events.
Radio Humsafar would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of its listeners for their support, loyalty and good wishes. It is with great pleasure that Radio Humsafar will now offer its services to the community on commercial radio. Until then, listeners can continue to enjoy Radio Humsfar’s programming both via SCMO radio and via our website.