The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has renewed the licence of ethnic station CFMB 1280 AM for seven years, and as part of that decision has agreed to reduce the requirements in that licence as far as the number of languages it must broadcast in and the number of cultural groups it has to serve.
CFMB’s existing licence had been to serve 19 cultural groups in 18 different languages, but as co-owner and president Stefan Stanczykowski explains in the application, it is difficult to maintain that many different types of programming:
“(An) ethnic broadcaster, unlike (a) conventional broadcaster, has very limited pool of talent to choose from. More often than not our on-air staff has to be trained on the job to fit this description, therefore in the event of loss of an announcer for specific ethnic program, it is very hard and sometimes impossible to replace immediately or for a long time such a person.”
“Adding to this problem is also ethnic community for which the program was produced. Many ethnic producers are discouraged by the feedback or lack of it; others give up for lack of sufficient revenue or personal time.”
Another factor is increased competition. Montreal has many ethnic broadcasters, including CINQ 102.3 (various), CKDG 105.1 (mainly Greek), CKIN 106.3 (various), CJWI 1410 (Haitian), CHOU 1450 (Middle East), CJRS 1650 (Jewish), plus two licensed but unlaunched stations serving South Asian communities. And there’s ICI, the ethnic TV station, plus plenty of third-language TV channels and online services.
“In the Commission’s view, the request would represent only a slight decrease in the number of groups served and languages broadcast by the station,” the commission said in its decision. “The licensee would maintain a fairly high level of diversity of languages and cultural groups and would continue to meet the broad service requirements of the Ethnic broadcasting policy as set out in Public Notice 1999-117. In addition, the Commission considers that the ethnic communities in the Montréal radio market are well served by the six ethnic stations and notes that two additional ethnic stations have been approved by the Commission but have not yet launched.”
CFMB already operates in 16 languages and will continue with its current programming targeting these cultural groups:
- Algerian (Berber)
- Cambodian (Khmer)
- Chinese (Mandarin)
- Haitian (Creole)
- Jewish (English/Hebrew)
- Moroccan (Maghreb/Arabic)
- Pakistani (Urdu)
- Latin-American (Spanish)
There’s an argument to be made that, in a market like Montreal with several ethnic radio stations, they should be allowed to reduce the number of languages they broadcast in to reduce duplication. CINQ, CKDG and CFMB all have programming for the Greek community, for example. Several stations target the Middle East or South Asia. You’d think these communities would be better served if all their programs were on the same station rather than being scattered across the dial.
You’d think these communities would be better served if all their programs were on the same station rather than being scattered across the dial.
You would likely be thinking wrong.
See, one of the things here is a question of control. If only one station had greek programming, there would only be one gatekeeper that would decide what is and what is not on the air. When you have multiple stations that allow some time to different groups, they can find situations that allow them to do things on one station that another might not permit, or discuss a political opinion that may not be popular with another group.
Having more than one source is the optimal solution, which is why there is so much hope for TTP and others to try to take on Bell in the English marketplace.
92.5 The Beat is one of the only stations broadcasting in Montreal playing music not owned by Bell.
None of the multicultural stations in the city air any programming for First Nations people of Quebec which many live in the city. When will First Nations get it’s own programming?
There’s K103 and KIC Country in Kahnawake, which have coverage in the western half of Montreal. Perhaps that’s not enough and there needs to be more for urban-dwelling First Nations people. Why not propose something? CFMB’s argument is mainly that it’s difficult to find people who can reliably contribute and maintain programming in this many languages and for this many cultures. They or another station would probably welcome a decent proposal for a new show serving a different community.
K-103 is the station that should be providing the First Nations programming in the Montreal region. Aboriginal Voices Radio tanked when they had a station in Montreal, and they aren’t doing much better anywhere else in Canada either.
K-103 calls itself “community radio” but there really isn’t a lot of First Nations programming. The noon hour talk show is definitely community related but what about the rest of the days broadcasting? With a few exceptions, hardly any music performed, recorded and/or produced by First Nations artists gets played on the station. Back in 2008 I asked K103 staff member Marsha d’Ailleboust to host a weekly 2-hour show of music by Native artists. I co-hosted the show with her. It was called “Eagle Cries”. It was a solid two hours of all types of music. The only criteria was that the music was performed by Native artists. The show was very popular, not only with Native people in the community, but with many listeners outside of Kahnawake. Now, of course, with a few exceptions, K-103 is a commercial radio station like most others, with pop music during the weekdays and mostly country on the weekends. Street Sounds, The Sky (Bingo Lounge) and the Open Files, plus a reggae show and metal show on Sunday nights fill in the schedule.
The Native music show was dropped. There were dozens of CDs coming into K-103 from Native artists and record companies all across North America. The station had built up an impressive library of this music over the years. Who knows where it all is now? If a station like K-103 doesn’t choose to play music by Native artists, then who else in this market will?
As for Kic Country, it is by no means a community radio station. It just so happens to have a license in Kahnawake, but it is a commercial country music station serving the country listening audience wherever their signal can be heard.