Vermont Public Radio fans in Montreal can exhale. At least for now.
But the commission makes it clear that objections from VPR and its fans had nothing to do with the decision: “because VPR operates a U.S. station, its station was not considered in the examination of this application.”
This is consistent with a previous decision allowing CHLT-FM in Sherbrooke to move to 107.7 FM despite interference problems it might cause VPR listeners in the townships.
Instead, the CRTC determined that CJLO had not presented a compelling technical need to get the new allocation, particularly since 107.9 would be one of the last frequencies available for a station in Montreal.
More about this decision below and in this story in the Montreal Gazette.
Its reasoning, many of the people who had trouble listening to CJLO should have expected to have trouble listening to CJLO because of where they are:
Most of the measurements were taken from locations on the periphery of the secondary contour, and the majority of the complaints were filed by listeners residing near those areas.
The Commission notes that AM signals are sensitive to electromagnetic interference caused by electromagnetic apparatus and power lines, and are affected by reinforced concrete buildings and other large metallic structures. As a result, they are significantly more affected in large metropolitan areas like Montréal, where reception issues in an AM station’s service area are to be expected.
Given that the signal deficiencies are mainly reported near the edge of the station’s secondary contour, the Commission is of the view that the applicant has not demonstrated that the station’s technical difficulties are severe within its licensed service area or that it is subject to more interference than other AM stations in urban areas.
In October, the CRTC denied a nested FM retransmitter for CHOU 1450 AM for similar reasons.
And on top of that, the CRTC argued CJLO’s application would take up an FM frequency that might be used for some other purpose.
The Commission considers that the use of one of the last known frequencies for a nested FM transmitter may not be the best use of frequency 107.9 MHz in a radio market characterized by a scarcity of available frequencies.
The CRTC hasn’t closed the door to a technical change to the signal, but it thinks CJLO and its broadcast consultant should go back to the drawing board:
The Commission considers that the licensee has not provided evidence that it has considered all potential technical solutions to solve CJLO’s coverage issues while remaining on the AM band or without expanding its contours beyond what is necessary to improve service to its downtown campus.
107.9 isn’t safe
The takeaway from this decision is that while CJLO doesn’t get 107.9, it isn’t being protected. If someone else wants to propose a new station there, it can, regardless of VPR’s objections or those of its Canadian listeners.
But setting up a station would be difficult. VPR has a very good signal into Montreal, which would cause a lot of interference to any station that wanted to operate on that frequency. Plus, while such a new station would not have to protect VPR in Canada, it would have to protect it in the U.S., so the station’s signal to the south would have to be limited.
And that’s beside the fact that because 107.9 is at the very edge of the FM band, special measures have to be taken to avoid interference with the aeronautics band right next to it.
So the frequency is available, but finding a use for it won’t be easy.
UPDATE: CJLO has issued this statement:
CJLO 1690 AM statement regarding CRTC Decision 2015-21
This morning the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission released their decision regarding CJLO’s application to add an FM repeating transmitter to broadcast at 107.9 FM in the immediate vicinity of Concordia University’s downtown campus. Since our successful bid to begin broadcasting on the AM band in 2008, we have heard from many of our listeners who report difficulty tuning into our radio signal in the downtown area. To correct this issue, and to better fulfil our mandate to serve both Loyola and Sir George Williams campuses and the Montreal community, we proposed installing a small FM repeating transmitter on the roof of the Hall Building, in the heart of Concordia’s downtown campus. Unfortunately, our application was denied.
In their decision, the CRTC stated that we had “not demonstrated that [CJLO’s] technical difficulties are severe within its licensed service area or that it is subject to more interference than other AM stations in urban areas.” In addition to this, 107.9 FM is one of the last viable frequencies to broadcast from in the Montreal region, and the CRTC is of the opinion that allowing CJLO to broadcast on that frequency “may not be the best use of frequency” and our proposal “does not represent an appropriate use of spectrum.”
The potential interference that our signal would cause for listeners of Vermont Public Radio in downtown Montreal did not enter into the CRTC’s decision making process, and the interventions filed by VPR listeners did not influence the outcome of our application in any way.
The full text of the CRTC decision can be read here: http://bit.ly/1uSEXCg
We respect the CRTC’s decision, and while this isn’t the outcome we were hoping for, it does not change our mandate. We will continue to serve both Concordia University and the Montreal community by producing quality programming, promoting a greater diversity of voices and viewpoints, and by offering a platform for alternate music styles, ideas, and interests not commonly found with local commercial stations. We will continue to reach new listeners at home and abroad, and expand our broadcast capabilities through our web stream, on Bell Fibe TV channel 950, and through our mobile app, which is available for both iPhone and Android. Furthermore, we will continue to investigate all possible options as they relate to improving our signal reception in Montreal.
We’d like to thank our many listeners and volunteers for their continued support, and especially those that took the time to file interventions to the CRTC supporting our application. As always, our doors are always open to new volunteer members. To learn more about CJLO, or to find out how you can get involved, please visit us at CJLO.com!