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.
Putting MTL content on a Gatineau radio station makes as much sense as Toronto based tv stations deciding what local news content to air in MTL. Furthermore it s a well known fact that radio 91.9 is a Habs radio station and broadcasting on someone else s turf (the Sens ) is a bad bad idea. One has to be naive to think that they will offer a variety of topics and teams follow up if only for financial restraints. The number one trademark to succeed in MTL is the Montreal Canadiens and spending daily time on an opponent is also a bad idea for their main market. But this is RNC s way of doing things. Trying to cut costs any way they can while they are still afloat.
For me, the interesting take away in all of this is how robust and active the Ottawa radio market is, and how dead the Montreal market is by comparison.
The difference? Well, Montreal’s market is sewn up and owned by a very few players. Ottawa seems to have both more diverse ownership, and those that are there (including the biggies) seem more willing to make major changes to try to improve their ratings and bottom line. It’s interesting to see so much activity there.
That’s certainly a big factor, though I don’t think it’s the case on the French side as much as the English side. The difference in ownership concentration is caused by a few other differences:
– Montreal has a stronger French-language market than Ottawa/Gatineau
– The Montreal area has more ethnic, community, native and campus stations taking up space on the broadcast bands
– The CRTC’s rules about common ownership treat French and English as separate markets, which allows one company to own more stations
– The CRTC has issued exemptions to common ownership rules for Cogeco to own 98.5 FM and Bell to own TSN 690.
“The CRTC has issued exemptions to common ownership rules for Cogeco to own 98.5 FM and Bell to own TSN 690”
When you have a limited market place, exemptions that allow the ownership of 4 stations (plus TV) is going to be a bad thing. Since Montreal’s market is split into three big segments (french, english, and other including non-commercial, campus, ethinic, and such), each of those groups may only have 10 to a dozen stations, it gets worse. Add to that protection for neighboring market stations and border blasters and you have a VERY small market. Media concentration clearly has a very negative effect.
It will be interesting if the CRTC and the current government decide to move on to breaking up the media monopolies that hurt competition and give the public less choice, especially in Montreal.
there doesn’t look like there’s going to be any live sports programming, at least at first.
Content trumps launguag in this case. Not a sound business plan.
There’s a change afoot for the station. The rock is gone, and they have more of an adult contemporary sound. The facebook page has been deleted. I’m hearing a format change will occur on the 21st.