An application from Radio Moyen-Orient (CHOU 1450 AM) to improve its reception in St-Michel and St-Léonard by adding a 50-watt FM retransmitter at 104.5 FM has been denied by the CRTC.
The reasoning didn’t relate to interference with other stations, but rather the commission finding the station did not meet the requirement of showing a compelling technical need for a second transmitter. The commission found that many of the complaints about poor coverage came from areas at the edge or outside of CHOU’s secondary service contour, which were never expected to receive the station well, and that local interference to AM signals is to be expected.
The application only had one opposing intervention, from CHCR, the owner of FM ethnic stations CKDG 105.1 and CKIN 106.3. That group warned that the new transmitter would cause interference to CKDG and would impact their advertising. Both those arguments were essentially ignored by the commission because the two stations are far enough in frequency to not have any interference problems and because CHOU is already a licensed station and market issues have already been dealt with.
Interesting, though, is that the CBC, which owns CBME-FM-1 at 104.7, did not intervene in this case, even though there was a big potential for interference. This could open the door to another application for 104.5, provided it only interferes with 104.7 in the eastern part of the island where people could hear CBC Radio One better on 88.5 anyway. (Such a transmitter would still have to protect Boom FM at 104.1 in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Espace Musique at 104.3 in Trois-Rivières.)
When I saw this application originally, I sort of wondered if they were trying to move to FM sort of through the back door. Add the extra transmitter, and then over time move to drop the AM one altogether.
If they wanted a better signal, I don’t understand why they didn’t apply to increase power on their AM signal or perhaps to find a better transmitter site that would allow them better coverage in that area.
They said they looked at those options and found them impractical.
It’s just my opinion, but the fact that CBC didn’t intervene here tells me just how unimportant the 104.7 relay of 88.5 is. Every time I am in the areas that supposedly can’t hear 88.5 (Hampstead, Cote-St-Luc, etc), I always check and 88.5 is booming in. I still feel that there were probably a handful of people, most likely with crappy FM radios, who complained that they couldn’t pick up 88.5 when CBC switched from 940 AM to FM, triggered that application for 104.7. Given the dismal ratings of CBC Radio One in Montreal, just how many could it have been anyway! I wonder if CBC has any numbers to indicate the number of people who actually use 104.7 simply because they can’t hear 88.5. As it turns out, I find that 104.7 has excellent reach, far beyond the targeted area where the supposed problem existed.
Sheldon, I think that the dismal ratings are enough to make you wonder how CBC merits so much to serve so few so poorly! I suspect they don’t complete about possible interference because they don’t want to have the discussion at all.
Now, a question for you. I looked at the CHOU AM transmitter location (you can find it on Google maps) and it appears to be a single element antenna on top of a single story warehouse type buildings, directly in line with the airport (talk about bad planning!). How much do you think they would need to increase the power of their current setup to better cover the mid-eastern (see the pun there) part of the island? It’s pretty flat line of site stuff, there are no real signficant obstructions going that way, there are not even any large buildings in the area. Would an increase from say 2KW to 5KW or even 10KW address the issues? What would be the nearest stations they would have to protect from interference? I am seeing a low power in Chicago, and another in Washington. Is the frequency power limited?