Montreal’s Haitian radio station, and the AM country station it bought after its previous owner had extensive licence compliance issues, are trying the patience of the CRTC. But the commission is giving each of them another chance to get their administration in order.
On Friday, the commission renewed each of their licences for two years, with requirements that they broadcast messages on air acknowledging their non-compliance, and with three mandatory court orders each requiring them to be in compliance with their licence conditions.
“The Commission is concerned with the licensee’s ability and commitment to operate the station in a compliant manner,” it wrote in each of the decisions.
CJWI 1410 (CPAM Radio Union) was found in non-compliance with licence conditions related to:
- Timely filing of annual financial reports
- Timely response to CRTC requests for audio recordings and information
- Keeping and producing proper records of music played on air (one request for information was never answered)
- Timely filing of proof of financial contributions to Canadian content development
- On-air announcements about previous non-compliance (the broadcasts did not use the exact wording laid out by the CRTC)
This is the third consecutive licence term in which CJWI has been in non-compliance. In other words, the station has never fully complied with its licence conditions since it launched in 2002. In 2008, the commission found the 2007 annual return was filed late and gave a four-year licence renewal. In 2015, the commission found once again annual returns were filed late (four years’ worth were filed simultaneously, and the fifth three months later), as well as proof of Canadian content contributions. It imposed a $2,500 de facto fine and broadcast of shame messages noting their non-compliance.
The excuses given by CPAM for the failure to comply are also getting repetitive, usually blaming some nameless employee or accountant for not knowing the rules. (Though the excuse that records were destroyed in a firebombing is a pretty good one.) Its promise that someone will take charge of ensuring paperwork is filed rings hollow in light of its repeated failures.
CJMS 1040 was found in non-compliance with conditions of licence related to:
- Timely filing of annual reports (one year’s was never filed)
- Responses to requests for information (a request was never answered despite several reminders)
- Production of audio recordings on demand (a request was not fulfilled)
The latter to contradict mandatory orders issued by the CRTC in 2014. Failure to comply with such an order could result in a contempt of court proceeding. But here the commission seems content to simply issue new mandatory orders that may or may not be followed.
This is the fifth consecutive licence term that CJMS has been found in non-compliance, but the first under this owner. Like CJWI, CJMS has never fully complied with its licence. CJMS’s licence had already seen short-term renewals since its launch in 1999:
- In 2006, for two years (French-language music, logger tapes, annual returns, Canadian content contributions)
- In 2008, for two years (Canadian content development, annual returns)
- In 2010, for four years (Canadian content development, music lists, newscasts)
- In 2014, for three years (Canadian content development, annual returns, logger tapes, program logs, requests for information)
Both licence renewal decisions make clear that the commission is losing patience, and that a further failure to meet licence conditions could result in the stations losing their licences entirely.
In the meantime, mandatory orders have been issued requiring each station provide:
- Program logs and audio recordings on request of the CRTC
- Reponses to requests for information from the CRTC
- Full annual returns by the deadline
I’m pessimistic that either station will be fully in compliance two years from now. But hopefully they’ll be close enough that the commission decides to give them yet another chance.